Nico Rosberg saw off the challenge of his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to secure back-to-back Monaco Grand Prix wins.
Rosberg was peerless on the day, leading throughout the race to secure his second win of the season, coming home nine seconds clear of Lewis Hamilton, who shadowed his team-mate over the opening 60 laps before dropping away late on with a visibility problem. Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top three for Red Bull, the Australian picking up his second consecutive podium finish.
As the lights went out to mark the start of the Monaco Grand Prix it was pole man Rosberg that defended his lead from his team-mate Hamilton into Ste Devote, as the field streamed through cleanly behind them, Kimi Raikkonen pulling off a brave move around the outside of Daniel Ricciardo for fourth.
The race was disrupted by its first safety car after just a lap, following contact between the Force India of Sergio Perez and McLaren’s Jenson Button into Mirabeau which put the Mexican into the barriers and out of the race.
While the Mercedes duo traded blows out at the front there was drama behind them as defending champion Sebastian Vettel, running third, tumbled down the order, the German forced into the pits for a lengthy stop, retiring a lap later with a power unit issue.
The safety car was back out on lap 26, as Adrian Sutil, who had been making steady progress through the back-markers after an early stop, crashed at the Nouvelle Chicane, its appearance triggering a stream of pit stops, with the top five all ducking into the pits, Rosberg maintaing his lead while Hamilton was momentarily delayed as Mercedes was forced to stack its drivers.
While Lewis Hamilton was left to rue his decision to not stop a lap earlier via team radio, Kimi Raikkonen was forced into the pits for the second time in just three laps, dropping the Finn to the back of the field and out of contention for the podium.
The Mercedes duo continued their battle over the next 30 laps, Hamilton shadowing Rosberg, only for the 2008 champion to drop away late on with a bizarre complaint about his vision.
While Nico Rosberg waltzed on untroubled to a second consecutive Monaco win and the lead in the drivers’ championship, Hamilton, in second, had his mirrors full of Daniel Ricciardo over the final five laps, as the Australian reeled in the struggling Mercedes man, but try as he might the Red Bull racer could find no way through, forced to settle for third and the final step on the podium.
Fernando Alonso came home an anonymous fourth after an uncharacteristically quiet race from the Spaniard, one spot ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, the German fifth for Force India after a strong drive from 11th on the grid which featured a fine pass on McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen into Portier.
The Dane’s McLaren team-mate Jenson Button was sixth, while Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean rounded out the top eight for Williams and Lotus respectively.
Jules Bianchi created a stir with an impressive drive to ninth, to collect both his and Marussia’s first points in Formula One, the first for the team in five years of racing in the sport. The Frenchman had finished eighth on the track, but owing to an error by his team had five seconds added on to his final race time, having served an early five second stop/go penalty under the safety car, in a clear breach of the rules.
Magnussen, who was the victim of a botched overtake by Kimi Raikkonen at Loews late in the race recovered to 10th and the final points position, the rookies first points since his podium on his debut in Australia.
Marcus Ericsson recored Caterham’s best ever finish in 11th, but it will mean little owing to Marussia’s two points for ninth place.
Raikkonen, Kamui Kobayashi and Max Chilton were the final classified runners, in what was a race of attrition, with eight cars failing to finish.
Esteban Gutierrez and Valtteri Bottas were both forced to retire out of the points in the late stages of the race, the Mexican having a minor off at Rascasse, spoiling Sauber’s first chance of points in 2014, while the Williams man pulled up at Loews hairpin with 20 laps to go with a smoking Mercedes engine, ending his run of points finishes.
Monaco Grand Prix – Provisional Classification
1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1h49m27.661
2. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes +9.210
3. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull-Renault +9.614
4. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari +32.452
5. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India-Mercedes -1 lap
6. Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes -1 lap
7. Felipe Massa – Williams-Mercedes -1 lap
8. Romain Grosjean – Lotus-Renault -1 lap
9. Jules Bianchi – Marussia-Ferrari -1 lap
10. Kevin Magnussen – McLaren-Mercedes -1 lap
11. Marcus Ericsson – Caterham-Renault -1 lap
12. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari -1 lap
13. Kamui Kobayashi – Caterham-Renault -3 laps
14. Max Chilton – Marussia-Ferrari -3 laps
Esteban Gutierrez – Sauber-Ferrari – 59 laps
Valtteri Bottas – Williams-Mercedes – 55 laps
Jean-Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso-Renault – 50 laps
Adrian Sutil – Sauber-Ferrari – 23 laps
Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso-Renault – 10 laps
Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – 5 laps
Sergio Perez – Force India-Mercedes – 0 laps
Pastor Maldonado – Lotus-Renault – 0 laps
Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG PETRONAS