Sunday, May 25, 2014

Rosberg Rules Monaco: Mercedes Driver Takes Prestigious Street Race

Photo Credit: Andrew Hone/ Pirelli F1 Press

Accepted as a preclusion of racing action on a busy Sunday that also includes the Verizon IndyCar Series' Indianapolis 500 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Coca-Cola 600, the Monaco Grand Prix is one of the most treasured locales on the Formula 1 series circuit. A long-running event within a rich setting, the tight, slow race on the Monaco street course is a conspicuous contrast to the current Formula 1 tour. Whereas many tracks in the 2014 Formula 1 tour have giant run-off areas, the narrow roads of the streets of Monte Carlo leave little margin for error.

The driver in focus through much of this weekend's grand prix was the defending event winner Nico Rosberg. Following his signage of a new deal with the Mercedes AMG team through 2016, Nico Rosberg placed his vehicle on pole for this year's event. Recording a 1-minute, 115.989-second lap time in Q3, Rosberg was a little less than 6/100th of a second ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton. The pole-winning result did come with some controversy as Rosberg caused a yellow flag by overrunning turn five. This action classified as an "error" resulted in Hamilton being unable to better Rosberg's time. Due to the stakes in qualifying at Monaco, there have been speculation the incident could have been intentional.

At the start of the Monaco Grand Prix, the tight circuit claimed its first victim early. Coming out of Mirabeau, Sergio Perez's Force India-Mercedes was tapped by the McLaren-Mercedes of Jenson Button. With Perez's car stricken, a safety car would come out bunching up the Formula 1 field. Sergio Perez would actually be the second driver to retire from the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix. The Lotus-Renault of Pastor Maldonado did not start the race due to an issue with his car's fuel system.

Following the resumption of the race on lap four, a high-profile name would be next to fall on the streets of Monte Carlo. On lap seven, Sebastian Vettel reported drive problems with his Red Bull-Renault. A power unit problem was related to the early retirement of Sebastian Vettel. The 2011 race winner of the Monaco Grand Prix and reigning World Drivers' Champion after four straight titles, Vettel is winless in 2014 and will be buried in sixth place in this year's overall points.  

In the early part of the 78-lap race, Nico Rosberg was holding a lead over his fellow Mercedes AMG race car driven by Lewis Hamilton with the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen in third. Racing action was interrupted again by a safety car on lap 26 when Adrian Sutil crashed into some remaining barriers. Many teams took the opportunity to make pit stops For Raikkonen, his chance for the podium finish was dashed when he needed to return to pit road. Dropped out of the top-10, Kimi Raikkonen was unable to score even a single Formula 1 point after what was a strong start.

Photo Credit: Force India

The fight between the Mercedes AMG remained alive through passed the halfway point in the Monaco Grand Prix. Into the later period of the race, top-10 contenders Jean-Eric Vergne and Valtteri Bottas ended their runs with mechanical problems. The falter by those drivers have led to the emergence of others. In the late stages of the 78-lap race, Romain Grosjean driving a Lotus-Renault and Jules Bianchi piloting a Ferrari-engine Marussia have climbed into the top-10.

It was in the last one-third distance of the Monaco Grand Prix that Nico Rosberg was able to pad his lead over Hamilton. The Mercedes AMG cars were separated by 9.2 seconds when the vehicles crossed the checkered flag. In the case of Lewis Hamilton, his plans for victory changed to defense of second place. Citing problems with vision, the Hamilton fought off the sole Red Bull-Renault in the event piloted by Daniel Ricciardo. The Mercedes AMG driven by the Brit edged out Ricciardo by 2/5ths of a second for the runner-up position.

Photo Credit: Andrew Hone/ Pirelli F1 Press

The big buzz amounting from the conclusion of the Monaco Grand Prix is the potential there may be some growing animosity developing between the Mercedes AMG drivers. A typical result of a top team having two capable drivers, each competitor realizes their main rival is under the same race team banner. Despite Lewis Hamilton winning three of the six races so far this 2014 season, Nico Rosberg has claimed an advantage in the drivers' points standing. Despite the speculation of a Hamilton/Rosberg rivalry, the Mercedes AMG team is benefitting from a mutual effort in widening their F1 Constructors' points gap that is now 141 points greater than second-place Red Bull Racing.

The third and final podium position was happily grabbed by Daniel Ricciardo. His second-straight podium finish, Ricciardo has been experiencing a slightly more consistent 2014 season with Red Bull Racing than his teammate Sebastian Vettel. As a result, Ricciardo is fourth in the overall drivers' standings and has so far outscored Vettel.

In fourth, Fernando Alonso driving for Ferrari was the last car classified on the lead lap. In fifth, Nico Hulkenberg is continuing on a string of consistency resulting in the Force India driver's fifth in the overall points. Climbing from deeper in the starting grid to take points-paying positions is veterans Jenson Button and Felipe Massa. Button's McLaren-Mercedes emerged from 12th to take 6th while Massa soared from 16th starting spot to come across the finish line 7th on the streets of Monte Carlo. Romain Grosjean captured four points for Lotus F1 Team with his eighth place result.

Achieving a feat that must have felt like a victory, driver for the Marussia team Jules Bianchi finished ninth. The first-ever points for the French driver, the result was also the first points-scoring run for the Marussia team. The McLaren-Mercedes of Kevin Magnussen rounded out the top-10 for the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix.

The next race on the 2014 Formula 1 calendar is the tour's first race in the Americas. The Canadian Grand Prix is set for the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 8th.

2014 Formula 1
Monaco Grand Prix
Race Results

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
4 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
5 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
6 22 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
7 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
8 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
9 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia Ferrari
10 22 Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes-Benz
11 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham Renault
12 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
13 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham Renault
14 4 Max Chilton Marussia Ferrari
15 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
16 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
17 25 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
18 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber Ferrari
19 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
20 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault
21 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
22 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Renault

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