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Monaco 2013 - Magnificent Mercedes master Monte Carlo // Red Bull are beaten to the punch as Ferrari suffer setbacks

Published by Christine

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Credit: Daimler AG

The Monaco Grand Prix provides a unique challenge for teams, and coming straight from the high speed power-hungry Barcelona, it's a complete turnaround in the principality. The oppressive streets, the almost impossible corners, and, of course, the appearance of a safety car or two. This year's race was stacked with incidents and each team goes away with a lot to learn.

Mercedes

Driver positions - Mercedes
DriverQualifyingRace
N Rosberg1st1st
L Hamilton2nd4th

Mercedes have shown their supreme pace over one lap for the last three race weekends, but converting a solid qualifying performance into success on a Sunday has been a challenge. Monaco looked to be one of the few opportunities they would have to get on top of the race and stay there, until they can get their long-range tyre conservation sorted out.

A rain shower during qualifying could have messed up their plans, but it held off long enough for Nico Rosberg to secure his third pole position in a row, and Lewis Hamilton to make it an all-Mercedes front row. They lined up on the grid and led the race away from the home straight comfortably.

Rosberg was never really challenged for the lead, the car appeared to be easier on its tyres around the twisting streets, and Nico had plenty in reserve to manage any competition from the following Red Bulls. An odd double-stacked pit stop under the safety car cost Hamilton his second place, and he dropped behind his two rivals, but the Brit blames himself for not sticking to the six-second gap his team asked for.

It was a race in which the Mercedes pitwall micro-managed their drivers, describing the lap times they could stick to at each particular stint. It worked for them, and the drivers put on a good show to bring home another victory for the Brackley outfit, and a home win for Rosberg. However, team boss Ross Brawn doesn't believe they have their tyre problems sorted just yet.

It is a constant challenge and I wouldn't pretend that we are on top of it. This is a race where you were able to manage the situation without anyone getting past you. The purpose of the slow start to the race was to manage the situation. We cannot do that at other tracks, so I think we still have a long way to go.

- Ross Brawn, Team Principal, Mercedes

Red Bull

Driver positions - Red Bull
DriverQualifyingRace
S Vettel3rd2nd
M Webber4th3rd

Red Bull have been unhappy with the way Formula One works in 2013, and with the addition of a secret tyre test from Mercedes, and their belief the Monaco winners managed the race far too much, they leave the principality even more grumpy than when they arrived.

In terms of qualifying and the race, the team were clearly the second-best team on Saturday, and were eligible for the victory on Sunday but just couldn't find any way past the steamroller that was Rosberg. Stifled by lack of overtaking opportunities around the Circuit de Monaco, the team did the only thing they could do to maximise the situation - get both drivers on the podium. They may have lucked into the step forward due to Hamilton's strategy mistake, but it was good clean driving from the pair to keep out of trouble where others failed.

I found it interesting to note Vettel had nothing to give on the restarts - there were at least three Safety Car restarts and the Red Bull driver is usually a king at scampering through and putting pressure on the driver in front. This time, he couldn't make any dent on the Mercedes, or perhaps opted not to. Either way, he stole a fastest lap in the dying moments of the race, so can leave with at least a little bit of satisfaction.

Force India

Driver positions - Force India
DriverQualifyingRace
P Di Resta17th9th
A Sutil8th5th

For all their problems, the Force India team had a really strong showing in Monaco. Adrian Sutil would be forgiven for being a bit nervous about returning to the streets where he was cruelly robbed of his best ever F1 finish. There was a small crash in final practice on Saturday morning, but the team easily patched up the damage. Sutil qualified inside the top ten, and held on to take an important fifth place, gathering a much-needed points haul.

Paul di Resta aired his frustration at the team after a qualifying decision went against him. The Scot remained out on an old set of intermediate tyres during the first session, instead of pitting for a fresh set as those around him did. Di Resta very quickly blamed his team, saying it was a poor decision, and later tidying up his thoughts to add: "There are procedures that probably need to be improved in how we make decisions." Despite being annoyed after qualifying, Sunday was a much better experience for Paul.

The team went for a more aggressive strategy, they were slightly held up by some of the unfortunately timed safety car periods, but gained when others around them lost their heads. To get a double points finish from the weekend is a really strong result for the team and should give them some momentum for Canada.

I think everybody enjoyed [Sutil's] two overtaking moves at the hairpin on two former world champions. It's our best result in Monaco and very well deserved by the entire team. Paul was also superb, showing his overtaking skills into turn one, and recovering from P17 on the grid to score two points.

- Vijay Mallya, Team Principal, Force India

McLaren

Driver positions - McLaren
DriverQualifyingRace
J Button9th6th
S Pérez7th16th

The McLaren pair looked a lot stronger in qualifying than they have for a while. Both drivers got through to the top ten shootout, and both were looking good for a high grid position. Unfortunately, towards the end of the ten minutes, Button's car developed a power problem that saw him crawl back to the pit lane. He still secured a ninth place on the grid, whilst Sergio Pérez rocketed his way to seventh.

Pérez was keen to make a name for himself around Monaco, ducking and diving around that post-tunnel chicane on each and every lap. Occasionally, the moves worked out for him and he moved up the order, but sometimes they didn't come off. The incident with Fernando Alonso was a 50/50 call - Alonso taking the position off-track but only because he'd been forced off by the very wide McLaren. Later Pérez tried a similar move on Räikkönen and the Finn was having none of it, which saw Sergio out of the race six laps from the end.

Button kept his head and pushed through the race to finish sixth, making up three places on his grid spot - which in Monaco is almost like coming from the back of the field. He was much happier post-race, after a healthy points score, and for the team as a whole, it was a (mostly) positive weekend.

Ferrari

Driver positions - Ferrari
DriverQualifyingRace
F Alonso6th7th
F MassaDNQDNF

Ferrari had two completely different races on each side of the garage. Fernando Alonso qualified in fifth place, the Ferrari not fast enough on a Saturday to challenge the Red Bull and Mercedes drivers ahead. On Sunday, he kept his nose clean (aside from the brief spat with Pérez) but the tyres wouldn't give him enough pace to defend his position. Losing just the one place was an achievement in itself, but doesn't help too much in the title battle.

Felipe Massa suffered a huge crash in final practice on Saturday morning, in an unusual part of the circuit. Into the first corner, the Ferrari seemed to lose control, swiping into the left hand wall, before spinning sideways into the outside apex barriers. He climbed from the accident, okay but massaging his shoulder. With no qualifying time, he was sanctioned to race by the stewards but started at the back of the grid.

To experience exactly the same crash on Sunday is very odd - again swiping to the left and coming to an abrupt halt in the barriers sideways on. This time, the Doctors needed to attend to him, a neck collar was put on the Brazilian and he was taken to the medical centre, later released, a bit bumped and bruised, but ultimately okay.

Ferrari have somehow said the first accident was driver error, but the second was a problem with the car. That seems impossible as the crashes were a carbon copy of each other. If it was car error, the team will need to look closely at what went wrong, before packing up and moving on to Canada.

Toro Rosso

Driver positions - Toro Rosso
DriverQualifyingRace
JE Vergne10th8th
D Ricciardo12thDNF

Vergne had one of the better weekends of his Formula One career, particularly in qualifying as he made it into the top ten. Known as one of those who drops out in Q1 often, Vergne wasn't able to do much in the final ten minutes and settled for tenth place on the grid.

Although the French driver described his race as boring, as "I never had a clear track ahead of me" it was still a good Sunday afternoon's work. He also mentions that he watched Sutil pass by two cars ahead of him but they blocked him from being able to do the same. That sounds a bit like an excuse to me.

On the other side of the garage, Daniel Ricciardo had a reasonable qualifying, although he was left disappointed seeing his teammate fly through to Q3, whilst he had to settle for 12th on the grid. The race was a bit of a struggle and in the end all for nothing, as his afternoon's running was brought to an abrupt end by Romain Grosjean.

The Lotus smashed into the back of the Toro Rosso, ending both their races. Both blame each other for the incident but it is Grosjean who the stewards handed a penalty. Ricciardo, and Toro Rosso, will want to put Monaco firmly behind them as they move on to Canada, but must take some hope from the better qualifying performance.

It proves that our car performance is improving and that the team is doing a good job, but Monaco is the one track on the calendar that is more about the driver, so congratulations to Jev for keeping out of trouble and maintaining his concentration on this very long afternoon.

- Franz Tost, Team Principal, Toro Rosso

Lotus

Driver positions - Lotus
DriverQualifyingRace
K Räikkönen5th10th
R Grosjean13thDNF

The inconsistency at Lotus must be catching, as Kimi Räikkönen had a very mixed weekend. Qualifying was very good for the Finn - he managed to be best of the rest behind the dominant Mercedes and Red Bull quartet. In the race, Kimi found himself alongside Pérez and the pair collided after what Räikkönen brands a "stupid move". There's a record going for Kimi, as he keeps on racking up the points finishes, and here at Monaco, it was almost lost. How he managed to get back from 17th to 10th in the final few laps, I'm not entirely sure, but he recovered all he could from what could have been a much more successful weekend.

Grosjean had a poor weekend all round. He crashed several times through the practice sessions, and gave his mechanics an awful lot of work to do to be ready for qualifying. He bemoaned the result of the race because of starting so low down on the grid, but he only has himself to blame for that. The crash with Ricciardo ended his race, after a brief attempt to keep running, and Grosjean ended his weekend tucked away in the garage out of harm's way. With a ten place grid penalty hanging over him for Canada, it will be another difficult weekend next time round.

Lotus still have all the work to do on getting a more consistent set of results - they have the pace on a good day, and Kimi's results record shows what can be done, but they're just not doing it enough.

Sauber

Driver positions - Sauber
DriverQualifyingRace
N Hülkenberg11th11th
E Gutiérrez19th13th

Last year, Sauber were known as the team lightest on their tyres but this year it hasn't carried on as much as they may have hoped. It wasn't long into the second stint of the race on Sunday that Gutiérrez was on the radio saying he would not be able to get to the end on his current tyres. The unforgiving pit wall told him he would have to, because everyone else was. In the end, Esteban made some forward progress after a poor qualifying, and moved up six places to finish 13th.

Hülkenberg qualified 11th and he finished the race 11th, after desperately seeking that final points position at the end of the race. The German admits they just didn't have the pace this weekend, and there was not much in the way of opportunities for them in Monaco. Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn is already looking ahead to Canada, hoping the high-power track might suit them better.

Williams

Driver positions - Williams
DriverQualifyingRace
P Maldonado16thDNF
V Bottas14th12th

Williams continue to struggle in 2013, unable to drag themselves back to anywhere near the performance levels they had last season. Thankfully, this weekend, they managed to get both cars out of the first session of qualifying, although not much further. Someone had to be caught out by the changeable conditions, and this time it was Williams.

Starting lower down in Monaco limits the potential for a good result immediately, but Bottas managed to improve two places to put him within sight of the points. Maldonado was the victim of a terrifying crash at the hands of a Marussia. The Williams front wing was clipped and knocked off, with Maldonado then launched over it, up into the air, down with a bump and into the barriers. It was worrying to see the barriers wrap themselves around the car and block the track, and the race had to be stopped. However, Pastor was unharmed, climbing from the car and later back in the garage with just some scrapes.

With the way this year is going, Williams could do without that kind of bad luck, but you can't rely on luck - it will be better qualifying and a faster car that help them in future.

Pastor was unharmed but disappointed that his race ended early. Valtteri drove a mature race doing a great job in his first Monaco Grand Prix. The red flag allowed those cars around us to change onto new sets of tyres, so strategy didn't come into play as much in the end as it could have. We were chasing a point in the final stages but it didn't quite come to us.

- Mike Coughlan, Technical Director, Williams

Marussia

Driver positions - Marussia
DriverQualifyingRace
J BianchiDNQDNF
M Chilton20th14th

Just like Massa, Jules Bianchi's race weekend looks like a disaster on paper. He was moments into his in lap after the lights went green for the first qualifying session, when the car gave up and he had to pull to the side without setting a lap time. The stewards allowed him to race, but he was caught up in the Maldonado incident - in what became a double Marussia collision.

Max Chilton had qualified 20th and was making some progress thanks to other drivers retiring and suchlike. It was a traditional Marussia race, until the point he swiped into Maldonado and caused the collision. As the barriers moved into the track, Bianchi was in the wrong place at the wrong time, hitting the misplaced Armco and finding himself requiring an extra pit stop for a new nose. He was in the pit lane when the red flag dropped which meant he had to start from the pit exit. He didn't make it to the chequered flag, leaving Chilton to finish 14th, albeit with a bit of a black mark hanging over his head.

Caterham

Driver positions - Caterham
DriverQualifyingRace
C Pic18thDNF
G Van der Garde15th15th

There was an awful lot of excitement in the Caterham garage after qualifying on Saturday, when Giedo van der Garde not only made it through to the second session, but finished 15th in Q2. It's not the team's highest grid position but they've not been up there for a while. Although helped by two drivers not setting a lap time, it still propelled Van der Garde to the lofty heights from where he could start the race. Tyre degradation was a significant problem for the Dutch driver, and he lost out to Chilton at the end, but retained his starting position of 15th.

On the other side of the garage, Pic's qualifying wasn't anywhere near as good, and he was out of the race after just nine laps. The Caterham caught fire, ensuring Pic made a hasty exit from the cockpit. The team believe it was a gearbox problem and an exhaust fire, which will require some close attention to ensure it doesn't happen again. A mixed weekend for Caterham, and one they will be keen to repeat some parts of in Canada, whilst leaving other disappointments firmly in Monaco.

All content in the series Monaco 2013