Monaco GP 2012

Playground for the rich and famous, glamour personified, dream destination, tax haven, too dangerous, boring. Whatever your opinion is of Monaco, it is a race that drivers look forward all year and apart from their home race it’s the other one they want to win. For the kudos of taming the legendary circuit it houses the place of many boyhood dreams. Widely considered the one circuit that drivers have a bigger impact than the car they’re driving, and they way the season has unfolded, anything could happen. And it did, a suspicious package was destroyed, a crane broke down on the last corner on Sunday morning and Maldonado did his best to start at the back. This year we saw Michael Schumacher set the fastest lap in qualifying, but had pole position taken away following a carried over penalty from Spain. Mark Webber inherited it and for him it was reminiscent of 2010, now if he could only get his starts sorted.

Super Seven Moments:

1. Sixth Heaven

First double team win

All eyes were on Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton to get the jump on Webber at the start, it made sense to do so as even the man himself admits his first moments after lights out are less than spectacular. However when it mattered his made a perfect getaway, ensuring that Rosberg could capitalise on his great start, Hamilton voiced his concerns about his slow launch over the radio.

Controlling the race calmly from start to finish Webber took his eighth win from his tenth pole, and became the sixth new winner of the 2012 breaking records as he did so. He also became the first Australian to claim the chequered flag here twice, not bad for a weekend’s work. Bringing himself into contention for the title race he is now tied with Sebastian Vettel (who had a great race from ninth to fourth and making his first since last until lap 46), and their performance have helped stretch out a lead for the team.

2. McLaren, who?

The long walk back

Pre-season testing and after a great start in Australia McLaren were lauded as the team to beat, the lack of the ‘platypus’ nose aiding their cause. My how times have changed. They might have been considered ugly, but now the stepped noses barely get a mention unless a team uses it for a little promotion fun (Angry Birds on Lotus), the lack of one isn’t an advantage.

Pit stop maladies have plagued the team for several races, Hamilton reported a slow stop this time around, but for both drivers a lack of pace and tyre troubles were more evident. Button’s race was going to be tough after his qualifying effort, but was made more so when Heikki Kovalainen nipped ahead of him in the opening laps. Although things may have dropping on his head from pit boards, Hamilton looked set for a podium finish until the sole round of pit stops left the door open for Alonso and Vettel to gain position.

3. Forza Ferrari

Pushing hard

Written off at the beginning of the year, and often throughout the season so far, Ferrari and Alonso are pulling in results no one would have gambled a penny on. Similar to last year Alonso is using his weekends as an opportunity to exhibit why many consider him such a great talent. What he has confirmed is that as an asset to a team struggling to recapture their former dominant glory, he is invaluable and worth the millions of Euros the Ferrari cheque book writes each year.

But perhaps more importantly (for fans of Brazilian drivers) Felipe Massa recorded his best result yet of sixth, bumping him up the standings and finally into double figures. He had the pace over Alonso in qualifying and hopes were high that he could continue this into Sunday, it didn’t happen for the beleaguered driver but he earned a little breathing space. If he can continue.

4. Kovalainen Kapitalises

Keeping Button at bay

The Finn’s time in McLaren was perhaps a part of his career he would perhaps prefer to push to one side, but since he joined Caterham (nee Lotus Racing) he has flourished, gaining unexpected results and has even sneaked into Q2 on occasion. In Monaco he did it again and spent the race ahead of the man who replaced him at McLaren, he forced Jenson Button to stare at his gearbox for the majority of the race.

It sounds so easy, but this was a race between two ends of the spectrum, championship stalwarts versus newcomers, lions versus lambs; so for Kovalainen to keep Button over control lap after lap (and after a great pit stop) is worth noticing and commending. Matching Jarno Trulli’s 13th in Monaco he moves the team up to tenth in the standings.

5. Lotus Lousy on Laps

Bad day at the office

Romain Grosjean was tipped to do well here after showing great pace on Friday and Saturday, and it was possible he could have if he didn’t crash out in the first lap. Kimi Raikkonen featured in the early laps but after the team left him out after he had fallen off the cliff and drifted several miles out to sea he was nowhere to be seen, not helped by a lack of running during practice.

6. Protests and Pool Parties

That’s how you sell a watch

They started Sunday with rumours of a protest against their floor Red Bull’s pole position was in jeopardy, it hung in the balance until they parked Webber’s car in P1. According to Autosport it was McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes that were considering questioning it, it being a hole in the floor just in front of the rear wheels. Christian Horner was confident both cars were legal, but admitted he would be disappointed if a formal protest would be made. Shaking the familiar feeling off they pushed hard and delivered a great race, finishing off (in a growing tradition) in the Red Bull pool.

7. 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…crash

The best flying lap so far this year

If you take from Monaco, be prepared to pay it back. With interest. Grosjean’s scrappy start saw him bump into Alonso before ending his race after squeezing into Schumacher. Alonso triumphed but Schumacher’s bid to go from sixth to win was halted by a fuel pressure problem. Maldonado’s race ended before it began too, losing fifteen grid positions after qualifying (penalty and gearbox change) an untimely lock up finished a terrible weekend. Kamui Kobasyashi showed another version of a flying lap after he launched himself after avoiding Grosjean at the start.

Awesome-o-meter

It wasn’t the most exciting regards overtaking, which is what we like to see, but a sprinkling of rain at the end of proceedings livened things up. Many failed to see the chequered flag, but that didn’t help the the field chase down the leader who was in complete control the whole day. Monaco delivered another new winner, making it the sixth and cementing the season as a record breaker. No other season has started this way, no other season has given us six races without a clear contender for the title.

Race Stats

Qualifying Schumacher Webber Rosberg
Pole M Webber  1:16.013 (Red Bull)
Laps 78
Weather Dry with rain towards the end
Safety Car One
Results 1. Webber Red Bull 1:46:06.557
2. Rosberg Mercedes 1:46:07.200
3. Alonso Ferrari 1:46:07.504
Fastest Lap Perez Sauber 1:17.296
Retirements Grosjean Lotus [0] Accident
Maldonado Williams [0] Accident
De la Rosa HRT [0] Accident damage
Kobayashi Sauber [5] Accident damage
Petrov Caterham [15] Electrical
Schumacher Mercedes [63] Fuel pressure
Pic Marussia [64] Electrical
Ricciardo Toro Rosso [65] Steering damage
Button McLaren [70] Accident damage
Penalties Perez Impeding Raikkonen Drive through
Schumacher/

Grosjean

Collision Investigated after race
Perez/Kovalainen Collision Investigated after race
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