Mark Webber (Red Bull Renault); 1:14.381
1st: Mark Webber (Red Bull Renault), 1hr 46m 06.557s
2nd: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), gap 0.643s
3rd: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), gap 0.947s
S. Perez (Sauber Ferrari); 1:17.296 = 155.557 km/h on lap 49
WONDERFUL WEBBER! THE MONACO GRAND PRIX IN 10 QUICK BYTES
Can you produce the drive of your life… twice? For the second time in three seasons Mark Webber has won the Monaco Grand Prix with what his Red Bull Renault team boss Christian Horner called “an immaculate drive”, catapulting the Australian right back in among the season’s front-runners.
Winner in Monaco in 2010, Webber profited from a fine qualifying performance that would have put him on the outside of the front row. He actually started from pole for the 10th time in his F1 career when Michael Schumacher – 8/100ths quicker in his Mercedes – paid a five-place grid penalty inherited from the last race in Spain.
For once – as he later acknowledged – Webber made a superb start to keep Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes at bay into Ste Dévote. “I knew straight away it was enough to get to Turn 1 in good shape,” said Webber, which was more than could be said for Romain Grosjean. The Frenchman’s Lotus, fifth on the grid, touched Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari, moved left and hit Schumacher, then spun sideways and out of the race.
With hints of rain in the air Rosberg was first of the leaders to pit after 28 laps, rejoining sixth. Webber followed suit a lap later and came back out in fourth place but, crucially, still ahead of the German. By then all eyes were on Rosberg’s compatriot Sebastian Vettel, whose sister Red Bull started on the soft Pirellis (the weekend’s harder compound) and stayed out till lap 45, trying to build the 20-second gap needed to cover another stop. He would just fail in a gallant bid to secure a podium finish after qualifying in ninth place.
Webber was back in command on lap 46 but with rain again a threat he gave his followers some anxious moments, carefully controlling his tyre wear and the gap to a train of four cars behind him to win by just over half a second. It is Webber’s eighth F1 career victory – and he is the only Australian ever to win twice on the challenging Monte Carlo circuit.
Not only that, but for the first time in the World Championship’s 63-year history six different drivers have won the first six races of a season. Webber joins a line made up of Jenson Button, Alonso, Rosberg, Vettel and Pastor Maldonado, with Red Bull the only team to have seen both its drivers take first place this year.
“I’m feeling incredible,” beamed Webber after the 78 laps. “It was a very interesting race: reasonably straightforward at the start, but the next phase was very strange – it was very hard to get the soft tyres warmed up, and Seb was coming into the picture. I didn’t want him to get that magic 20 seconds, that wasn’t part of the plan!”
After a less-than-brilliant opening segment Alonso’s Ferrari came to life after his own pit stop, gained the decisive edge over Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren Mercedes in the round of pit stops and pulled away. Third place puts the Spaniard three points clear of Webber and Vettel, 76-73, at the top of the drivers’ standings. Red Bull now leads McLaren by 38 after a lacklustre weekend for the British team, with Hamilton fifth and Jenson Button last of the 16 classified finishers.
Schumacher, seeking a sixth win in Monaco and the first since he returned to the sport in 2010, recovered from his start-line dramas but succumbed to a fuel pressure problem at three-quarter distance. “What can I say? It was simply a pity to end the race in this way,” shrugged the seven-time champion. “In any case, the fuel pressure problem had nothing to do with the incident at the start. But it made it doubly disappointing because I had secretly been hoping for a podium finish today.”
With Felipe Massa sixth in the second Ferrari, best of the rest were again Force India, for whom Paul di Resta and Nico Hülkenberg were seventh and eighth respectively. Australia’s Dan Ricciardo clipped a Monaco kerb in his Toro Rosso Ferrari with 13 laps left and was one of the eight non-finishers.