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F1: Monaco – Rosberg wins, retakes championship lead

Mercedes locked down the front row of the grid, last year’s winner Nico Rosberg besting teammate and 2008 Monaco champion Lewis Hamilton. 2014 points-leader Hamilton continued to whine, this time feeling Rosberg had unfairly impeded his progress on course, preventing him from taking the pole.

Hamilton had won four straight races coming into Monaco and started on the front row for every race of the season. Rosberg, second in the drivers’ championship by just 3 points, won the first race of the year in Australia and had finished on the podium in all five races. One Mercedes or the other had led every lap of the season.

Red Bull occupied Row 2, with Daniel Ricciardo out-qualifying teammate, four-time world champion, and 2011 Monaco winner Sebastian Vettel. Fernando Alonso, winner in 2006 and 2007, took fifth on the grid for Ferrari, one spot ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

Vettel moved to third on the start, with Raikkonen jumping to fourth as Ricciardo slipped. A safety car came out before the end of Lap 1 as Sergio Perez (Force India) was punted from behind by Jenson Button (McLaren). Raikkonen took third on the restart, with Rosberg and Hamilton continuing to run 1-2.

Vettel pitted with turbo issues during Lap 5 of 78, going down a lap in the process. His car, however, was briefly stuck in first gear when it returned to the track. His team asked him to return to the pits and retire the car during Lap 8. Rosberg’s Lap 12 lead stood at 1.1 sec. Ricciardo was 2.3 sec back of Raikkonen during Lap 21.

The leaders pitted a few laps later during the race’s second caution period. Rosberg retained the race lead. Hamilton said “I can’t believe we just had to pit. Can you tell me what my options are?” He is told to race to the end, with no more stops planned. Raikkonen had to pit twice under the yellow, dropping to P14 and ceding third to Ricciardo.

Hamilton ran 0.8 sec behind his teammate during Lap 35. By Lap 41, Mercedes was asking Rosberg to run longer gears to save fuel. On Lap 52, the two Mercedes were 14 sec ahead of the rest of the field. Four laps later Rosberg’s engineer told him the fuel situation had stabilized and to keep doing what he was doing. His lead was just over 1 sec.

Rosberg stretched this to 2.1 sec during Lap 61. Lap 66 had Hamilton wanting to pit with something in his left eye. He remained on track, but was losing 1 sec/lap to Ricciardo. P2 to P3 was 1.9 sec during Lap 73. Rosberg took the checkered flag to notch back-to-back Monaco wins, followed by Hamilton 0.4 sec ahead of Ricciardo.  Ricciardo’s podium moved him ahead of Vettel in the points standings.

Jules Bianchi scored Marussia’s first-ever Formula 1 points, moving from 21st on the grid to finish P8.

 

Driver standings (Top 10)

Nico Rosberg (Germany), Mercedes – 122

Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain), Mercedes – 118

Fernando Alonso (Spain), Ferrari – 61

Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull-Renault – 54

Nico Hulkenberg (Germany), Force India-Mercedes – 47

Sebastian Vettel (Germany), Red Bull-Renault  - 45

Valtteri Bottas (Finland), Williams-Mercedes – 34

Jenson Button (Great Britain), McLaren-Mercedes – 31

Kevin Magnussen (Denmark), McLaren-Mercedes – 21

Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India-Mercedes – 20

 

Team standings (teams earning points)

Mercedes (Rosberg, Hamilton) – 240

Red Bull Racing-Renault (Vettel, Ricciardo) – 99

Ferrari (Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen) – 78

Force India-Mercedes (Hulkenberg, Perez) – 67

Williams-Mercedes (Bottas, Felipe Massa) – 52

McLaren-Mercedes (Magnussen, Button) – 52

STR-Renault (Jean-Eric Vergne, Daniil Kvyat) – 8

Lotus-Renault (Romain Grosjean, Pastor Maldonado) – 6

Marussia-Ferrari (Jules Bianchi, Max Chilton) – 4

 

 Next event: Grand Prix du Canada – Montreal  -  June 6-8

Posted in: Sports
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