Spectators at and TV viewers of Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix could have been forgiven for thinking that they were in for a procession, such was the first half of the 78-lap race at the legendary street circuit. But that all changed around the midpoint, when Ferrari driver Felipe Massa suffered a spectacular crash that was almost a carbon copy of a similar shunt he had suffered during qualifying. From that point on, as is so often the case at the narrow and windy street circuit in Monte Carlo, all hell broke loose. Only the driver with the coolest head was to prosper, and so it was for polesitter Nico Rosberg, who managed to lead from the first lap and take his Mercedes to the checkered flag.
Spain’s Fernando Alonso, however, did not fare so well. The Ferrari driver, who has been tipped by many as a serious contender for the drivers’ title this year, could only manage seventh place, having started from sixth on the grid. It was one of those days for the former world champion when nothing went well.
The leading drivers had all managed to maintain their positions at the outset of the race, with Rosberg leading teammate Lewis Hamilton, and the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in third and fourth, respectively. The Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen was in fifth, with Alonso holding on to sixth.
If I hadn’t avoided Pérez in the chicane, we would have had a collision"
Massa’s crash into the barriers, however, was sufficiently heavy for the safety car to be called out, which saw the remaining drivers who had not already taken on fresh rubber dive into the pits. That cost Hamilton his second place, relegating him to fourth, where he would stay until the checkered flag fell. Vettel moved up to second and Webber to third, where they would both finish.
After the first safety car session, however, the cars in fifth place and below had plenty of drama to come. The red flags came out to actually stop the race after the Williams of Pastor Maldonado was sent flying into the barriers after contact with the Marussia of Max Chilton. A final safety car period came when Roman Grosjean collided with Daniel Ricciardo at the chicane.
Mexican driver Sergio Pérez was surprising and enraging the other drivers in equal measure with a series of bold moves, but he tried just one maneuver too many in the dying stages of the race, making contact with Kimi Raikkonen that would force him to retire, and send the Finn down to a 10th-place finish.
Alonso had had an earlier spat with Pérez, the Spaniard having to take evasive action on a chicane to avoid a collision between the pair, as the Mexican tried to dive up his inside. Much to Alonso’s annoyance, he was forced to let Pérez through, given that it was he who had cut the corner. Toward the end of the race, Alonso seemed to have lost some of his fighting spirit, which allowed the Force India of Adrian Sutil and the McLaren of Jenson Button to get past him.
“We didn’t have any race pace,” Alonso complained after the checkered flag had fallen. “We were too slow. If I hadn’t avoided Pérez in the chicane, we would have had a collision. He had nothing to lose, but I did. That’s why I had to take action.”
The Monaco Grand Prix has left Vettel with a strong lead in the championship standings, on 107 points. Raikkonen is in second place with 86 points, while Alonso is third, on 78 points.
Alonso, however, is already looking to the next race. “In Canada I hope to be able to recover some places and retake the position where I belong,” he told the press on Sunday.