The Monaco Grand Prix weekend reassured all of us that after three practice sessions, three sessions of qualifying and 78 tours of the principality’s winding circuit, there can only be one victor. Regardless of any controversies or rivalries.
And this time it was Nico Rosberg.
Followed home by Lewis Hamilton who was hounded in the dying moments by Daniel Ricciardo.Â Rosberg said later, that he had to win this round. Not only because it was his home race, but also because he needed to break the momentum of victories that belonged to Hamilton in the last four outings. With this win, he regains the lead in the Championship standings as well.
The momentum was well and truly broken earlier on Saturday at the Q3-Turn 5 incident which saw Nico run off at Mirabeau and then attempt a reverse gear manoeuvre that yellow-flagged the session. Hamilton was caught unawares. And he wasn’t happy. In fact he repeated the word ‘fair’ to describe his lap, his pace and his race weekend.
Given his current form, P2 was defeat. It was as nightmarish as coming last. His car let him down at Melbourne and now after being robbed of pole he felt his team let him down too. He felt he could’ve been called in earlier than his rival to pit after Sauber driver Adrian Sutil’s crash brought out the safety car. But he also clarified later that the team follows the race-leader-preference policy during pit calls.
Mercedes allow their drivers to race, but it seems they like to play safe when their cars are leading 1-2. That’s understandable.Â But one wonders if they sense that the momentum of winning is going to swing back to Hamilton at Montreal which is up next.
Daniel Ricciardo’s pace towards the end of the race suggests Red Bull Racing may have found some solutions at last. But in Monaco there are no high speed straights…and yet the silver arrows were a good 10 seconds ahead before Hamilton fell back to Ricciardo with an unusual problem. He had some debris in his eye which led him to drive with only one eye open!
Ricciardo was 1.5 seconds faster than the Mercedes but couldn’t find a way past. Which explains what little chances Hamilton had on Rosberg in equally-powered machinery.
It explains further the importance of pole position in Monaco and Nico’s celebrations at parc ferme after nicking it just in time. Although in a hollow sort of way.
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg pulled off a memorable move on McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen at Portier, a corner that seldom sees overtaking, to finish P5 behind the never-say-die Fernando Alonso who took the checker in P4.
Behind them Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen came home in P6 and P10, a decent performance from the otherwise lack lustre McLaren team. Williams’ Felipe Massa held on to P7 from Lotus’ Romain Grosjean on P8 but behind both of them was a fantastic run to P9 for Marussia Racing in the hands of Jules Bianchi. The team’s first ever points-finish after 83 Grand Prix starts, eclipsed their previous best finish of P12 at Singapore and Brazil in 2012.
After six rounds of the 2014 Formula One championship, it’s evident that Mercedes AMG Petronas are on course to clinch the constructors title. But the battle between it’s drivers both psychologically and physically has made the season a truly gripping one, even though the results are almost predictable. Nico Rosberg has had a glitch-free seasonÂ and heads the table with 122 points. Lewis Hamilton has had two glitches so far. A mechanical failure which led to a DNF at Melbourne and an aborted flying lap at Monaco qualifying.
He was riding high before the glamorous weekend, but transformed into a monosyllabic, thought-provoking-answering-machine after experiencing a low blow from Nico.
His reaction suggests he’s never taken one before.Â Whether this punch has left him windedÂ temporarily,Â or knocked-out permanently we’ll have to wait and see at Canada.
Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve is where Lewis took his maiden triumph in Formula One. It could well announce his second coming.
P1 RosbergÂ â€“Â Mercedes AMGÂ 1hr 49m 27.661s
P2 HamiltonÂ â€“Â Mercedes AMG
P3 Ricciardo â€“ Red Bull Renault