Sebastian Vettel leads a Ferrari 1-2 at the Monaco GP for first Monaco win since 2001

28 May 2017

At the Monaco GP circuit today, Sebastian Vettel claimed Ferrari’s first Monaco GP win since 2001; extended his lead in the championship to 25 points and finished ahead of his team mate Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo in a race of two halves that saw a lot of brushes with the barriers, frustrated drivers and plenty of incidents down the grid.

With Jenson Button now starting from the pit lane due to changing the car set up this morning and also Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson taking a five place grid penalty (he was near enough last anyway) due to changing his engine; all eyes were upon the front of the grid and seeing if the Ferraris could maintain their advantage they have carried all weekend or can Mercedes or Red Bull carry the fight to them.

But a hilarious moment happened before the race where Fernando Alonso spoke to Jenson Button via the team’s radio to wish him the best of luck for the race and thanked him for the sterling job he did over the weekend. As Button thanked Alonso for his kind words, Alonso replied with “Take care of my seat” to which Button in a moment of comical genius said “Okay, I’ll pee in your seat” which shows the respect and relationship both drivers have for each other just before both of them commenced work in Monaco and Indianapolis.

The start of the race saw Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas getting really good starts. With both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen slightly touching going into Sainte Devote, meanwhile Lewis Hamilton from thirteenth place on the grid managed to gain one place on the opening lap and Kevin Magnussen made up two places from his starting position. At the end of the opening lap, Raikkonen led Vettel, Bottas, Verstappen and Ricciardo as Jenson Button and Pascal Wehrlein pit for new tyres.

In the opening stages of the race, Raikkonen built his lead to 1.8 seconds over his team mate as it was announced on Lap 6 that Wehrlein will be investigated by the stewards after Button was forced to lift off in the pit lane due to the latter being released in front of him.
Within the first half of the race, Raikkonen led his team mate Vettel comfortably by up to two seconds. On Lap 13, Wehrlein was handed a five second time penalty by the stewards for an unsafe release and now dropped to the back of the field as a result of this penalty.

Four laps later, we saw Nico Hulkenberg slowly going around the Lowes hairpin with a gearbox problem, parked his Renault on an escape road safely and officially retires from the Grand Prix.

By Lap 24, Raikkonen still led the race by 1.1 seconds ahead of Vettel, Bottas, Verstappen and Ricciardo. The main battle at this stage in the race was that Williams rookie Lance Stroll was under immense pressure from Sergio Perez for fifteenth place; with all eyes on the young Canadian driver’s ability to keep a more experienced driver behind him on the track.

As we headed towards the halfway point of the race, Vettel was gaining on Raikkonen just as Bottas was catching the two Ferrari’s by up to a second place as the Ferrari duo started to lap the backmarkers of the race. It would seem that this would be the perfect opportunity not only for Vettel to challenge his team mate for the victory but also their rivals (especially Bottas and Verstappen who were battling for third place) who wanted to try and make some ground up for themselves.

With Hamilton being stuck behind the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat; it looked like unless a streak of good luck and fortune helped Hamilton, this is where he would remain for the rest of the race. With Verstappen being the first of the top runners to make his only pit stop on Lap 33 to undercut Bottas. Bottas was then instructed by his team to “push now” as he made his pit stop at the end of Lap 34; with Bottas rejoining still ahead of the Dutchman as a result.

The pit stop of Verstappen then opened the floodgates for the rest of the field to make their only pit stop with drivers such as Raikkonen pitting and handing the lead over to his team mate Vettel. Ricciardo then put in a stonker of a lap time to get track position ahead of Raikkonen in order to try and “overcut” his team mate.

As we headed to the halfway point of the Monaco GP, Vettel was pumping in a sequence of fastest laps in order to build the gap needed in order to pass his team mate for the lead of the race when he made his pit stop. As Ricciardo made his pit stop at the end of Lap 38, he managed to “overcut” his team mate and is now provisionally at this point in third place.

The second half of the Monaco GP saw Vettel after taking over the lead from his team mate leading the field and managing the car and the tyres while extending his lead. Further down the grid, Romain Grosjean and Daniil Kvyat are battling for eighth place with the gap just under a second by Lap 49 as Bottas and Verstappen battle for fourth place and Stoffel Vandoorne is provisionally tenth at this stage in the race.

The Ferrari team called the provisional race leader at the end of Lap 39 and he managed to “overcut” his team mate and now leads the Monaco GP by 1.7 seconds. With a manhole cover breaking up and coming loose just after Turn 1 of the circuit; this then raised safety concerns as to if the race would be yellow flagged or even the Safety Car being brought out in order to fix the problem.

The fortunes of the race changed on Lap 61 when on the exit of Portier, the Sauber of Pascal Wehrlein was upside down by the barriers after Button tried to pass the German driver for position on the track, hit the back of the Sauber and went into the barriers at 90 degrees.

As a result of this accident, Button suffered front suspension damage and officially retires from the race. With the Safety Car and medical car being deployed in order to see if Wehrlein is okay, Wehrlein via team radio announces that he is okay and cannot get out of the car. Two laps later, Wehrlein is able to get out of the car safely with the help of the marshals.

Lap 65 saw Marcus Ericsson officially retire from the race after hitting the barriers at Sainte Devote after trying to drive the car into the corner but it wouldn’t work as the backmarkers were allowed to un lap themselves as the Safety Car would be coming into the pitlane at the end of the current lap.

With seven laps of the race remaining, the safety car left the field and we were back racing in Monaco. On the restart, Ricciardo hit the barriers going into Sainte Devote and lost a considerable amount of time but was able to continue in third place. But the same could not be said of Stoffel Vandoorne who on Lap 67 saw his first Monaco GP ended and his first chance of a point in his F1 career and McLaren-Honda’s first point of the 2017 after hitting the barriers at Sainte Devote.

As we headed into the latter stages of the Monaco GP, Vettel still leads the race in front of his team mate Raikkonen. Verstappen is quickly catching the Mercedes of Bottas and is slowly starting to piece together where he could overtake him on the circuit.

Meanwhile in the midfield, Sergio Perez while trying to pass Daniil Kvyat into the final few corners of the lap hit the side of the Toro Rosso and effectively forced Kvyat’s retirement out of the race, dropped Perez out of the points and the stewards will be looking at the incident after the race.

But it was Sebastian Vettel who claimed a controlled victory at the Monaco GP, their first victory at the circuit since the 2001 season and Ferrari’s 90th 1-2 finish in the sport. He has maintained his record of finishing either first or second so far this season and extends his lead in the championship to 25 points.

Vettel finished ahead of his team mate Kimi Raikkonen in second place who was 3.145 seconds behind him and ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in a brilliant third place who was 3.745 seconds behind Vettel.

Valtteri Bottas finished the race fourth place ahead of Max Verstappen in fifth place, Carlos Sainz Jr in sixth place, Lewis Hamilton in seventh place, Romain Grosjean in eighth place, Felipe Massa in a stunning ninth place and Kevin Magnussen who rounded off the top ten finishers.

Jolyon Palmer finished the race in eleventh place ahead of Esteban Ocon in twelfth place and Sergio Perez in thirteenth place. Lance Stroll, Daniil Kvyat, Stoffel Vandoorne, Marcus Ericsson, Pascal Wehrlein, Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg did not finish the race

The classification of the Monaco GP is as follows:-

1. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1.44:44.340
2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 3.145s
3. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull-TAG Heuer, 3.745s
4. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 5.517s
5. Max Verstappen, Red-Bull-TAG Heuer, 6.199s
6. Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso, 12.038s
7. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 15.801s
8. Romain Grosjean, Haas Ferrari, 18.150s
9. Felipe Massa, Williams-Mercedes, 19.445s
10. Kevin Magnussen, Haas Ferrari, 21.443s
11. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 22.737s
12. Esteban Ocon, Force India-Mercedes, 23.725s
13. Sergio Perez, Force India-Mercedes, 39.089s
14. Lance Stroll, Williams-Mercedes, Not Classified
15. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, Not Classified
16. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren-Honda, Not Classified
17. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber-Ferrari, Not Classified
18. Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber-Ferrari, Not Classified
19. Jenson Button, McLaren-Honda, Not Classified
20. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Not Classified

Sebastian Vettel leads the 2017 Formula One Drivers Championship with 129 points, Lewis Hamilton is in second place with 104 points, Valtteri Bottas is third with 75 points, Kimi Raikkonen is fourth with 67 points, Daniel Ricciardo is fifth with 52 points, Max Verstappen is sixth with 45 points, Sergio Perez is seventh with 34 points, Carlos Sainz Jr is eighth with 25 points, Felipe Massa is ninth with 20 points, Esteban Ocon is tenth with 19 points, Nico Hulkenberg is eleventh with 14 points, Romain Grosjean is twelfth with 9 points, Kevin Magnussen is thirteenth with 45 points, Pascal Wehrlein is fourteenth with 4 poin and Daniil Kvyat is fifteenth with 1 point.

Ferrari leads the Constructors Championship with 196 points, Mercedes are second with 179 points, Red Bull is third with 97 points, Force India are fourth with 53 points, Toro Rosso are fifth with 29 points, Williams are sixth with 20 points, Renault are seventh with 14 points, Haas are eighth with 14 points and Sauber are eighth with 4 points.

Sarah Jones- @jonesy_laaa