Mark Webber held off a charging Nico Rosberg to win the Monaco Grand Prix, recording his second victory at the Principality in the space of three years and becoming the sixth different winner in as many races this year. No season before has gone into the seventh round without any driver having recorded two wins.
Starting from pole position after the demotion of Michael Schumacher for his five-place grid penalty, Webber maintained his lead off the line and was able to hold on after his one-stop strategy, winning from Rosberg, Fernando Alonso and team-mate Sebastian Vettel as a rain-threatened race ended with the top four covered by 1.3 seconds. Lewis Hamilton was fifth, the McLaren driver losing ground during the pit window despite starting from third on the grid. Team-mate Jenson Button also endured a frustrating race, sliding out of the race on lap 72 after nudging the back of Heikki Kovalainen's Caterham.
An incident-packed start saw contact between Romain Grosjean and Schumacher, the man who had been quickest in qualifying, tipping the Lotus into a spin and into retirement. Further back, there was also contact between Button and Kamui Kobayashi and also Pastor Maldonado and Pedro de la Rosa, leading to an early safety car situation. Although Button and Schumacher were able to continue, the others were not so fortunate.
When the safety car disappeared, Webber maintained his lead gained from the start with Rosberg, Hamilton and the fast-starting Ferrari duo in close attendance. Vettel, starting on the soft compound tyre and gambling on one stop, was also an early beneficiary, jumping to sixth from his starting position of tenth after cutting turn one to avoid the spinning Grosjean.
With overtaking opportunities around the tight confines few and far between, the key moments were always going to come down to tyre strategy and the all-important pit stops. With rain in the air all of the teams extended their opening stints, causing what had been a tightly bunched field to spread out as different drivers struggled with degradation. Rosberg was the first to blink, pitting for a new set of soft compound tyres on lap 28, followed by Webber and Hamilton two laps later. It triggered a flurry of pit stops, Alonso gaining a place on Hamilton in the process thanks to a quick in-lap and slick work from the Ferrari crew.
Vettel stayed out to take advantage of his harder compound and built up a large lead of nearly 20 seconds. Red Bull was hoping for rain which would have left Vettel in the box seat but when it didn't come he was forced to pit for supersofts, rejoining in between Alonso and Hamilton in the train behind Webber.
Kimi Raikkonen had struggled to make his tyres last but saw his race compromised even more as he dropped behind Nico Hulkenberg having been blocked by the pitting Sergio Perez. Perez was handed a drive-through incident and despite being lapped he still set the fastest lap to show the competitiveness of the field.
As the status quo continued at the front, Schumacher was closing up on the top six despite being half a minute behind. As he reduced the gap he suddenly hit trouble, however, and lost time as he cruised for a few laps before retiring.
Button had been stuck behind Kovalainen for most of the race and eventually outbraked himself out of frustration in to the swimming pool chicane, pitching the car in to a spin but getting a puncture which ended his race.
Rain started to fall with 12 laps to go, and Webber appeared very cautious having led for the majority of the race. The lap times dropped to over seven seconds off the racing speeds, but Webber maintained his lead from Rosberg as the whole top six bunched right up. In such conditions nobody was willing to try a manoeuvre, however, and as the track dried Webber picked up the pace again to hold on for a well-deserved victory in fading light.