• Monaco Grand Prix - The Final Stint

Six from six

ESPN Staff
May 27, 2012
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Webber's resurgence

Mark Webber's win from pole position left little doubt that he has put the disappointment of last year behind him and can once again be considered a championship contender. It was reminiscent of his first win in Monaco two years ago and it has raised his stock in the driver market to a similar level as it was back then. At the Monaco GP in 2010 Red Bull signed him up for another year, and with speculation he might be on Ferrari's wish list for 2013, it might be wise for the team to consider doing the same again. But after the race team boss Christian Horner said he was in no rush just yet. "Why would he want to leave? He's comfortable in the team and I think Mark knows the team very well and the team knows Mark very well. We're only on race six and obviously a lot depends on his desire and motivation going forward, which at the moment looks very clear. He's doing a great job, we're really happy with him and he really deserved today's result. The future will take care of itself." In the meantime Webber has one eye on the championship: "We need to be scoring all the time and then when days like this come along you just cannot let them go at all. You have to grab them with both hands and feet and hang on to them like hell. That was the plan today but consistency is nice, but wins are what wins championships - well, DNFs can shag championships as well, but you need to win and then keep consistent."

The Story of the Weekend

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  • Shock Michael Schumacher - Hadn't really been considered as a contender for pole this weekend, but delivered a strong lap at the end of Q3 to be the quickest in qualifying. Such a shame that an earlier penalty meant he started sixth
  • Shocker Pastor Maldonado - Having sideswiped Perez he then binned it at Casino Square. Keen to redeem himself, he hit de la Rosa at turn one and his race was run
  • Best overtake Sergio Perez - Not for one move as such, but just for actually attempting to make passes in to the Nouvelle Chicane as he had to fight further back in the field
  • Best lap Fernando Alonso - Once released from behind Hamilton at the end of his first stint, Alonso delivered the perfect in-lap to ensure he rejoined comfortably ahead of the McLaren
  • Bad Boy Pastor Maldonado - Was obviously angry at something Perez had done in FP3 so repeated his trick of Spa last year to drive in to another car
  • Drive of the day Sebastian Vettel - Although his team-mate won, Vettel came up from ninth on the grid to fourth place courtesy of a measured drive that allowed him to lead for a spell as he ran long on soft tyres

A protest in the offing?

Rumours of a protest against Red Bull's floor spread through the paddock like wildfire ahead of the race, only to peter out two and a half hours after the chequered flag. The problem centred around holes in the floor ahead of Red Bull's the rear wheels that the team is confident are legal but rivals have said need clarifying. The sudden surge of attention on the floor may have been an attempt by rivals to bluff Red Bull into changing its floor ahead of the race (which would have forced its drivers to start from the pit lane), but after discussions in the paddock with Charlie Whiting and Martin Whitmarsh, Horner kept his poker face on and no changes were made. It was for the good of the sport that nothing happened after the race as a change to the classification after the race would have been confusing for the watching world, especially over such a technical issue. As Mercedes' Ross Brawn said earlier in the year when his team's double DRS was under scrutiny, these things are better off solved on Thursdays and Fridays rather than after qualifying or the race. That didn't mean there weren't a few tense moments post race as the press waited for comments from the parties involved, but it came to nothing. Nevertheless, expect the issue to surface again in Canada.

Maldonado's contrast

After the elation of winning his first grand prix and the first for Williams since 2004, it was a case of hero to zero for Pastor Maldonado. In FP3 a crazy moment saw him sideswipe Sergio Perez and get a ten-place grid penalty before he hit the wall at Casino Square. Starting from the back the Venezuelan locked up and slid into the unfortunate Pedro de la Rosa's HRT in an over eager attempt to make early inroads. "After a good start I was in the middle of the track, and got a bit unlucky caught up in cars fighting ahead. I locked up and couldn't stop the car." What a difference two weeks make.

Bad luck strikes again for Schumi

Having secured his first pole position since the French Grand Prix way back in 2006, the five-time Monaco Grand Prix winner was forced to start from sixth on the grid as a result of his grid demotion for his part in the collision with Bruno Senna in Spain. But Schumacher's chances of adding to his Monaco tally ended when he was forced to retire from the race with a fuel pressure problem. It's been a tale of bad luck for Schumacher this season, the German now failing to see the chequered flag in four out of six races. When he does get the roll of the dice, however, this Monaco weekend has shown that Schumacher is still capable of delivering for Mercedes.

A glimpse of the future?

For the one and only time this season, Formula Renault 3.5 joined the grand prix schedule. With a lack of clashes in the two calendars, it's become a popular choice for young drivers associated with Formula One teams to compete in, and this weekend was the perfect chance to showcase their race craft. So it was an impressive result when the top three in qualifying were all linked to teams; Sam Bird (Mercedes), Alexander Rossi (Caterham) and Jules Bianchi (Ferrari/Force India). Even more impressive were the drives from Bird and Bianchi to leave the rest of the field over half a minute behind, while Rossi completed the podium. Future Monaco Grand Prix winners, perhaps?

Overtaking at Monaco

It was a case of follow the leader this afternoon as Monaco continued to be a notoriously difficult circuit to overtake at. Some action last year hinted at opportunities this year, but the much-discussed Pirelli tyres held up well to deliver a one-stop race that left little difference in tyre performance. With such a close field this year too, even Jenson Button was unable to pass Heikki Kovalainen's Caterham. But that didn't make it a boring race. Like last year, tension was built as this time the top six ran nose to tail, but it was also a similar anticlimax as the classic scrap never really developed.