Formula One: Monaco analysis – Red Bull gamble and hit the jackpot!

Published on May 31st, 2011

Red flags may have robbed fans of a three-way showdown between three world champions, but they still witnessed the most thrilling Monaco race in years, with more overtaking than anyone had dared hope for. No-one – Sebastian Vettel included – had planned a one-stop route to victory, but racing in the Principality is all about thinking on your feet and when things went wrong for the champions, Red Bull responded in typically bold fashion: a real case of ‘who dares wins’. We take a team-by-team look at an eventful afternoon in Monte Carlo…

Red Bull – Sebastian Vettel, P1  Mark Webber, P4

Red Bull messed up two pit stops, when they didn’t have tyres ready for either Vettel or Webber early on. But after that they barely put a wheel wrong and made up for that snafu with an excellent one-stop strategy for Vettel which was a major gamble that paid off handsomely. The German was sure that he could have held on to win even without the second safety car, and was elated to score his fifth win from six races in 2011 and his first in Monaco. Webber felt he should have made a longer first stint and lost time in his pit stop too, but fought back to capture a decent fourth place.

Ferrari – Fernando Alonso, P2  Felipe Massa, retired lap 34, accident

Team principal Stefano Domenicali said if he had been told going into the weekend that Ferrari would finish second, eleven-tenths off the winner, he’d have signed up for it on the spot. But also that the feeling was tinged with regret that they hadn’t won. Alonso, of course, was very upbeat, but also frustrated that the second safety-car intervention ruined his hopes of beating Vettel in the closing stages when the Red Bull’s tyres would be at their most marginal. Nevertheless, he was very happy with the Ferrari’s race pace.

Massa said he was very disappointed with the manner in which he departed a race in which he lost far too much time early on boxed up behind Rosberg’s slow Mercedes, and blamed Hamilton for his part in their altercation at the hairpin.

McLaren – Jenson Button, P3  Lewis Hamilton, P6

Had it not been for the first safety-car intervention, Button would probably have won as he was racing away on super-soft tyres in his second stint as Vettel and Alonso ran softs. When he couldn’t pass Vettel after his second stop, despite still running the softer compound, McLaren brought him in quickly for the harder rubber and that dropped him to third. Like Alonso, he was frustrated that the second safety car denied him his chances over the final 10 laps.

Hamilton had an awful day, losing a place to Schumacher after deciding to run the harder tyre from the start, repassing the German, then receiving a drive-through penalty for a clash with Massa at the hairpin. After fighting back he was penalised a further 20s after the race for another incident with Maldonado after the restart, and had to be content with sixth in a race he might have won but for Perez’s accident which compromised his qualifying.

Sauber – Kamui Kobayashi, P5

Sauber only ran one car, and a very long opening stint on new soft Pirellis moved Kobayashi up the order. He hung on to a high points-scoring position after switching to super softs on lap 34, gained fourth position after passing Sutil (for which he later received a reprimand), but could not resist Webber’s charge with two laps to go. Nevertheless, it was a great result for the team after a bruising weekend.

Force India – Adrian Sutil, P7  Paul di Resta, P12

Sutil at one time seemed a candidate for fourth place, but couldn’t hold the pace as his rear tyres wore out. He was lucky to get away with changing a rear tyre which had punctured under the second safety car, but later lost places and dropped to a still nonetheless worthy seventh in the closing stages. Di Resta ran comfortably in a point-scoring position early on until receiving a drive-through penalty for a brush with Alguersuari at the hairpin.

Renault – Nick Heidfeld, P8  Vitaly Petrov, retired lap 68, accident

Renault had a tough weekend in Monaco in which neither of the R31s ever really got on the pace. Heidfeld came through to score points for eighth after Petrov was bundled out by Alguersuari in the melee in the Swimming Pool on lap 68 which brought out the second safety car and changed the face of the race. The Russian returned to the paddock after examination at the Princess Grace Hospital revealed that he had not sustained any injuries in the heavy impact.

Williams – Rubens Barrichello, P9  Pastor Maldonado, P18 retired lap 74, accident

Ninth place for Barrichello after a solid one-stop drive finally gave Williams some sorely needed points. They might have scored another, but for Maldonado’s late-race brush with Hamilton after the restart.

Toro Rosso – Sebastien Buemi, P10  Jaime Alguersuari, retired lap 68, accident

Buemi stuck with it and brought his Toro Ross home for a valuable point after a race in which he admitted he lost track of strategy and tyres, but Alguersuari lost ground after his collision with Di Resta and later crashed heavily into Hamilton on lap 68, inadvertently putting Petrov into the wall.

Mercedes – Nico Rosberg, P11  Michael Schumacher, retired lap 33, airbox fire

Rosberg made a great start to run fifth early on, but the Mercedes immediately lacked pace and his first pit stop on lap 15 dropped him back into the lower midfield from which he never really recovered. Schumacher ran quite strongly while coping with the same problems, but dropped out after stopping in the middle of the road in Rascasse due to a fire in the airbox.

Lotus – Jarno Trulli, P13  Heikki Kovalainen, P14

Lotus were very happy with 13th and 14th places for Trulli and Kovalainen after relatively straightforward races in which the safety cars affected their strategy.

Virgin – Jerome d’Ambrosio, P15  Timo Glock, retired lap 31, suspension breakage

D’Ambrosio had a relatively quiet race apart from getting marbles on his tyres after 30 laps while making way for Heidfeld. Glock chased the Lotuses to begin with, until the right rear suspension’s pushrod broke and put him out.

HRT – Vitantonio Liuzzi, P16  Narain Karthikeyan, P17

Liuzzi’s F111 was somewhat cobbled up after its two crashes, thanks to lack of parts, but both he and Karthikeyan put more valuable mileage on their cars as they brought them home 16th and 17th. The Italian struggled with a power steering problem throughout, but compared to his fortunes in practice and qualifying it was a walk in the park.

words & pix: F1


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