Rosberg cleans up in Monte Carlo
Nico Rosberg took an untouchable win at his boyhood home this weekend, topping all three practice sessions, storming to pole and then dominating from the front to deliver an excellent win during an incident-strewn race around the streets of Monaco.
Mercedes put their tyre woes behind them as they led from the front, ignoring the unfolding controversy of “test-gate” as they managed the race perfectly, balancing tyre control with pace to get their season back on track with their first victory of 2013. Controlling the pack as they endured two safety car periods and a red flag, Rosberg picked his way through on a two-stop strategy to take an unstoppable victory and collect a handsome trophy, with Hamilton taking a close fourth to take them within just three points of Lotus in the constructors championship.
Into the Weekend
Two weeks after a fairly typical Spanish Grand Prix, Formula 1 returned to polish the jewel in its crown for the Monaco Grand Prix in the sunshine of the principality. Just about the most demanding track of the year for drivers, required to be almost perfect for 78 laps, it is also one of the most rewarding for those that can win it. After Barcelona revealed a shift in the front-end dynamic with the latest updates, it may be turned on its head at a circuit like no other on the calendar.
Ferrari delivered an excellent result in Spain and looked the strongest race car by far, and after failing to deliver as they’d have wanted in Malaysia and Bahrain, they aimed to give another good points result to re-ignite their championship challenge. Lotus maintained their position in Spain and looked to be as strong after their updates as they had been before them, boding well for them to continue at Monte Carlo, though perhaps with more reliability. Red Bull lacked pace two weeks ago at a track where they’d have been expected to be far stronger, and despite a strong recovery by Webber to fifth place, they hoped to get back to the podium in the face of the tyre situation that didn’t entirely go their way, looking for a fourth consecutive win at Monaco. After another tyre-management disaster in Barcelona, Mercedes needed to find a way to deliver on their cars clear potential by taking significant constructors points and keep them in the hunt for title.
Force India intended to continue their excellent finishes, mainly at the hands of Paul di Resta, and find more luck for Adrian Sutil after he was again struck down by pit stop problems in Spain. As best-of-the-rest, they sought to hold their position ahead of McLaren, who delivered a much better finish in Spain and aimed to try and work more pace out of their upgraded package at a circuit that can always throw up surprising results. Torro Rosso showed excellent pace from their updates as the European season opened and intended to turn that into more points this weekend with a little luck, after only securing a single one last time out. Sauber’s pace was still disappointing as their upgraded package failed to deliver, and were looking to get back into the top ten this weekend, as Williams aimed to get some challenging pace from their own car to get back into the midfield after another woeful weekend in Spain. Marussia aimed to get in front again in the tight battle with Caterham at the back of the grid, as Caterham aimed to maintain their edge following effective upgrades.
Strategy was likely to play a smaller role at this race, as Monaco is not particularly tough on tyres, reflected in Pirelli’s decision to supply the soft and super-soft compounds for the tight, twisting track full of heavy braking and traction zones. The rubber however was a focus though, as lots has been made of the compounds Pirelli is supplying to the teams in the interim, my thoughts on which you can read Here.
On the epitome of street circuits, a location that embodies Formula 1 and all its aspects so succinctly, only perfection would do as in the majority of corners there is simply nowhere to go except the barriers. With overtaking at a premium and two short straights through the tunnel and along the pits, DRS offers less advantage and qualifying would play a more important role than seen so far this season.
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