17.30: Arrive back from Africa Alive (deceptively located in Norfolk…who knew?).
17.35: Coverage of the Monaco Grand Prix starts on the BBC.
There had been some fast driving to make this deadline (insert our car-doesn’t-have-Pirellis-bashing joke here à la Mr Vettel). The most sensational race may have taken place in Monaco earlier on. Full of crashes, breathtaking overtaking moves (ok this is unlikely) and controversy. Or it could just have been a processional Mercedes 1-2 victory (actually this is even more unlikely). And as at 17.35, I genuinely haven’t a clue how it all plays out. I have spent the day in a Twitter vacuum (yes it was unbearably hard). So on with the BBC extended highlights coverage. While they recap qualifying, I’m going to nail my colours to the mast and call the winner. I’m going for Vettel and the husband is going for Rosberg.
Its 30 years since Keke Rosberg won the Monaco Grand Prix. It would be a nice symmetry if Nico was to win today not least for the husband who often gets confused and calls Nico ‘Keke’. But what is this we’re hearing? Apparently Mercedes have done a spot of secret testing in Barcelona with Pirelli last week. Ferrari is not happy. Red Bull is not happy (but they never are unless they are grinding the opposition into the ground). All sorts of clarifications (kiss goodbye to your weekend lawyers) have been requested.
Time for some pre-race insights from Gary Anderson. We could either have 1 or 2 or 3 stops. Okay that narrows it down. If a driver gets as far as lap 30 without having pitted, then they could be looking at a one-stopper. It being Monaco and all that, we have more Random Celebrities at a Race than you can shake a stick at. Stellar A-listers such as Ron Howard, Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Andre Villas-Boas, the 5 year old’s personal hero the music legend that is Psy and the one and only Hoff. And of course not forgetting Jezza Clarkson. Needless to say we didn’t see the Beeb get anywhere close to interviewing most of these people. Still lets just thank the Lord we weren’t afflicted with the musings of Geri Halliwell.
Its Go Go Go! And all the front runners got away cleanly but Vettel was already all over Lewis Hamilton. Don’t know why but I had a big feeling at this early point there would be accidents in this race.
And Maldonado limped into the pits with front wing damage on lap 2. And in a not unrelated coincidence, Giedo needed a new nose after (as it turned out) banging into the back of Maldonado going into the Loews hairpin.
The McLaren Feud was up and running already with Button freaking out over the radio that Perez is turning in on him and cutting chicanes. Interestingly Hamilton and Button’s seasons are starting to mirror each other’s, both being outshone in recent races by team-mates and both really getting pretty narked about it.
And holy maloney we had an Actual Car On Fire. It’s Pic’s Caterham which was rather inconveniently parked at the entrance to the pits. Meanwhile Maldonado was setting a string of fastest laps. Sometimes I wish you could have a joker Grand Prix where drivers pull a random card to say which car they will drive at a race. This might be the greatest idea I have ever had! A word of praise for Maldonado (as I’m sure he avidly reads this blog), we see a lot more of Good Driver Maldonaldo than Bad Driver Maldonaldo this season. Remember when he was the Enfant Terrible of F1? Now Grosjean fulfils that role all by himself (see below).
Whoops and apparently we were already up to lap 23. What did I miss? Turns out nothing. Monaco is a stunning visual experience but just occasionally it would be nice to see someone overtake someone else.
A micro frisson of excitement as Webber came into the pits on lap 26. And then just to spite me, Di Resta actually overtook Massa on track. Its all going a bit Pete Tong for Ferrari this weekend isn’t it. Kimi then pitted on lap 27 much to everyone’s surprise. Could he really make it all the way to the end of the race without stopping again. Alonso pitted on lap 29 and rejoined just behind Kimi in 9th place.
And then Massa had a HUGE crash at Ste Devote. Almost exactly the same as his big shunt in practice. And a welcome appearance for the Safety Car who we have seen far too little of this season. Gary Anderson thought this was bad news for Mercedes for reasons I could not fathom (surely it was a free pitstop?). Rosberg pitted and retook the lead. Hamilton pitted and rejoined in 4th. I predict tears.
The Safety Car was brought in on lap 38 and Rosberg kept the chasing pack behind him. There was an almost brilliant move by Hamilton on the inside of Webber at Rascasse. Brilliant driving by both to avoid tangling and Webber just clung onto his position. But still: amazing. Applauds Lewis for having the cajones to even think of overtaking there.
There was a bit of wheel-banging contact between Button and Alonso, and then Perez had the audacity to take Button. Ben Edwards said what we were all thinking – Button isn’t going to like that. I’m starting to wonder whether Nigel Mansell hasn’t been reincarnated as Sergio Perez!
We had another horrific accident as Chilton crashed into the back of Maldonado and then Bianchi ploughed into the wreckage. And the race was RED-FLAGGED as the track was cleared of debris. And so another restart. Not what Rosberg needed at all. Alonso was ordered to give up a place to Perez for cutting the chicane? But didn’t Perez cut a chicane earlier? Confused.
Running order with 25 laps to go: Rosberg, Vettel, Webber, Hamilton, Kimi, Perez and Alonso.
There was then a spell of crazy, audacious, suicidal (delete as appropriate) driving from Perez where he pretty much kept forcing Kimi to cut the chicane going into the Swimming Pool Complex. Possibly in the hope that Kimi would be forced to surrender a place? *Innocent face* as Sally would say.
On lap 57, Sutil put an exquisite move on Alonso around the Loews Hairpin. Is this the race where the title race starts slipping away from Alonso. Such a long way to go but I would really have expected him to be much more in the mix and not getting out-muscled by Perez and Sutil.
And the crashes kept coming thick and fast. First Bianchi went off all by himself. Then Grosjean went into the back of Ricciardo quite spectacularly. As Coulthard drily (and Coulthard does a mean line in dry remarks) noted ‘speed is not enough’. Did RoGro have one of those fabled lapses of concentration. His F1 career must be in last chance saloon. Actually isn’t it there already? And YET another skirmish between Kimi and Perez. We saw carbon fibre flying off the Lotus and Kimi was forced into the pits with a slow puncture. Perez had also sustained damage and wildly veered off a couple of laps later almost crashing into Button in the process. I’m guessing a few drivers might want a word in Perez’s shell-like after the race. Please form an orderly queue behind Kimi.
Three laps to go and Nico was hanging on for his first Monaco win? I’m guessing the Tifosi Faithful were probably not best pleased to see a Toro Rosso scrapping like mad with Alonso for 7th place.
In a controversial little twist, Vettel put in a blinding lap at the death which was 2 seconds faster than anything he had done all race. Obviously making the point that if he didn’t have to manage the tyres constantly, he could drive so much faster. Red Bull was quickly on the radio to remind Seb that he knows the score and not to take any risks. Vettel’s response “its just for satisfaction”.
And the chequered flag fell with Nico Rosberg winning the Monaco Grand Prix of 2013. After his appalling run of luck for this season, that is a hugely deserved win for one of the nicest guys in F1.
Here are the results from the Monaco Grand Prix 2013:
- Rosberg – A supremely cool and masterful drive. Kudos to the husband for calling it right with the result. Although he probably thought it was Keke!
- Vettel – Also a winner today looking at where his nearest title rivals finished.
- Webber – Credit where its due, Webber always pulls it out of the bag at Monaco.
- Hamilton – In public: so happy for Nico and for the team yadda. In private: gutted.
- Sutil – What a fantastic result for the comeback kid.
- Button – All in all, Jenson will be pretty happy with his day’s work.
And INCREDIBLY Kimi recovered to take 10th place to keep alive his quest to take the record for the longest run of consecutive points finishes. Perhaps the greatest montage of the race was when we saw footage of Kimi’s overtaking manoeuvres at the end of the race to seal that 10th spot. Proof indeed that it is possible at Monaco. And in breaking news, I see that Kimi thinks Sergio Perez should be punched in the face for his antics in the race. Another member of the Perez Fanclub bites the dust!
Well folks that was Monaco. A hedonistic feast of movie stars, super yachts, evocative helmets (alongside Kimi’s, I loved Jean-Eric Vergne’s tribute to Francois Cevert), absolute havoc on track and the first time a son of a Monaco Grand Prix winner has won the race (although Damon came very close in Monaco 1996 – a race which shattered my heart into a million pieces).
Next up it’s the Canadian Grand Prix. Love love love that race! Its hard to follow Monaco but Montreal seems to have it sussed!