Well, Mark Webber is our default pole man after Schumacher is demoted with his penalty. He promised to take pole and win from 6th, but we shall see on that promise. Only Lewis Hamilton has won here after not starting from the top 3 in the last 8 years.
We wait for the lights to start the most star spangled GP of the year, and we’re away! A lot of hubbub into the first corner as we have a tangle between Alonso and Grosjean, Grosjean slides sideways clipping Schumacher then wipes out Kobayashi. Maldonado and De La Rosa have a bit of a row and the safety car is out as they both retire. Safety car comes in as we head into Lap 4. Heikki Kovaleinen made a great start in amongst that row, jumping up to 13th in the Caterham.
Webber is starting to pull away from Rosberg now, they’ve already dropped Hamilton slightly. Massa is seriously hussling his team-mate, Ferrari would never tell Alonso to let him past would they? I’m sure Fernando would love to hear ‘Felipe is faster than you’ on his radio! It’s all a bit procession like after that eventful first corner. All about tyre saving today, wanting to hang onto these for as long as possible. And that will be even more so now that we hear rain may be coming in around 15-20 mins. How that could make a difference, the added pressure of concentrating on the wet conditions as well as the tight confines of the track.
Vergne is complaining about people cutting the first corner, asking for punishment, but we’ve already been told no further action will be taken against them, as they were deemed to be taking avoiding action. Rain still expected according to McLaren team radio, Rosberg has slippy rear tyres and may need to pit before rain appears. Webber is now 2 seconds clear of Rosberg with Hamilton 2 seconds behind him. Alonso has gone nearly a second quicker than the leaders on this lap and is definitely not going to be told to let Massa past.
It’s a constant review of what lap the rain will come now, it’s expected nearer the middle of the race which is a worry for cars on the super softs as they will need to pit prior to the rain. The drivers on the softs will be laughing though, as they can get to that point without the stop. Mercedes mechanics in the pits, Rosberg or Schumacher? Schumacher would be a suprise as he’s all over Kimi Raikkonen at the moment. They’ve gone back in anyway, must have wanted to stretch the legs.
Kovaleinen is keeping good pace in the Caterham in 13th ahead of Button, and lapping at the same pace. Alonso has closed down Hamilton, should be in the DRS zone soon, but then again that may be closed after Rosberg receives a radio message of light rain in 4 minutes. Raikkonen has a total train behind him, but Schumacher can’t get close enough in the DRS zone. Rosberg is in for soft tyres, odd if his team believe rain is so close. He feeds back in front of the Raikkonen party, fortunate for him as Schumacher tries a dive out of the tunnel and still can’t get past Kimi.
Alonso is ready to make an attempt on Hamilton as Red Bull throw some new boots on Webbers car. Hamilton also drops in for new tyres. Webber comes out still in front of Rosberg. Raikkonen and parts of his train come in, they’ll be frustrated as he comes out in front of them. Ferrari pit Alonso from the lead and he comes out in front of Lewis Hamilton! Jumped him with a good few laps prior to the pit stop. Massa is in, Vettel takes the lead. Massa is out just behind Schumacher and promptly flat spots his tyres, I’m sure he’ll love that for the next 20-30 laps.
So, still no rain and Vettel leads after not needing to pit. He’s told rain is due in 5 mins as he pulls away from Webber. Schumacher bangs in a great stop and comes out well in front of Raikkonen. In the words of Peter Kay ‘IT’S SPITTING!!’. Webber passes the lonely HRT which kindly holds up Rosberg and Alonso up until the tunnel when it misses the chicane altogether to let them all past. Vettel has 16 seconds over Webber now, almost a pit stop. Perez given a drive through penalty for impeding Raikkonen with a late decision to pit and swiping in front of him.
Button pits for Super Softs and still comes out behind Kovaleinen and into 15th. This is a top job from Heikki and Caterham. Webber has put his foot down and gone quicker than Vettel. Hamilton complaining that his tyres won’t last long at this pace. And now, ‘No more rain forecast’, make your mind up boys! This could be a great strategy from Vettel’s team, he’s got to go onto the Super Softs and according to the earlier evidence would be able to complete the race on a 1 stop. Hamilton is having things ‘dropped from the pit wall that hit him on the head’ in a message to his team.
Vettel comes into the pits, and right out into the action, right in front of Hamilton. Can he close down the leaders? 30 laps to do it, and he’s on the quicker tyre. Everyone is going to need to do a one-stop here, well, if they want to win they do. Although Perez has pitted twice, and is on fresh rubber going over 2 seconds a lap quicker than the leaders. Button is struggling big style, still stuck down there in 14th behind Kovaleinen. Vettel is closing on Alonso now having dropped Hamilton by 1.5 seconds and will be in the DRS zone this lap.
Massa being told to keep his tyres fresh as ‘Old Lewis’ isn’t looking too great according to Felipe’s Race Engineer, Rob Smedley. Although Schumacher is closing in on him so he needs to push over the next few laps and he’s on Lewis’s gearbox. It’s still quite a procession here, not too much space to overtake and I might be tempted to agree with Pedro De La Rosa that F1 may have outgrown Monaco. Schumacher has a problem with his car, he’s driving a lonely race in 7th at the moment and he’s told it’s not a critical issue.
Webber still leading by 1.5 seconds, Rosberg has Alonso 2.5 seconds behind him. Although Schumacher’s problem is not critical his laps are slow and Vergne slams one past him on the pit straight into the first corner. Webber has just been informed there are a few spots of rain at turn 5, no more expected though. Schumacher is 3 or 4 seconds a lap off the pace now and being overtaken rather quickly. Umbrella’s going up in the crowd now. Mercedes clear a space to retire Schumacher, bad way for his weekend to end. Rosberg has closed in on Webber and is less than a second behind him now.
So, can this rain make a big enough difference? Who will call it right and pit at the perfect time? Pic parks his car on track, but out of the way at the swimming pool chicane. Ricciardo retired into the garage. No difference from the rain yet. Webber slowing down has bunched up the pack now, it’s a total train behind him. The top 5 within 2 seconds of each other. Alonso is near enough chewing on Rosbergs rear wing. This is the rain, he’s worried about dropping it.
We’ve got 7 laps left and it’s came to life. The Top 6 are now all over the back of each other. Vergne has came in for Intermediate tyres?! This is pure genius or absolute idiocy and lost them points from 7th. Button is out of the race, banging into Kovaleinen and damaging his car to the point of no return and retiring at turn 1. Kovaleinen is still out there but he’s got a broken front wing from a scrap with Sergio Perez that he will have to change. Stewards to look at that scrap after the race.
Hamilton has been told to bang his engine right up, full revs and go for it. Still no change up front though, they are all holding station on each others gearboxes. 3 laps to go and it’s very overcast and gloomy. Perez still hanging onto the back of them, and going faster but he can’t get past as he’s a lap down! Final lap and Webber is still up there, this has been a well managed, if not spectacular, race by Webber. Hamilton has fell away from Vettel now and the top 4 finish the race within 1.5 seconds of each other! Mark Webber at the top of the pile, 6th different winner in the 6th race of the season. After a quiet start to the season his race was very much the same way, good and steady.
1st Webber (Red Bull) 2nd Rosberg (Mercedes) 3rd Alonso (Ferrari) 4th Vettel (Red Bull) 5th Hamilton (McLaren) 6th Massa (Ferrari) 7th Di Resta (Force India) 8th Hulkenberg (Force India) 9th Raikkonen (Lotus) 10th Senna (Williams) 11th Perez (Sauber) 12th Vergne (Toro Rosso) 13th Kovaleinen (Caterham) 14th Glock (Marussia) 15th Karthikeyan (HRT) All DNF Button (McLaren) Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) Pic (Marussia) Schumacher (Mercedes) Petrov (Caterham) Kobayashi (Sauber) De La Rosa (HRT) Maldonado (Williams) Grosjean (Lotus)
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