The Monaco Grand Prix was actually a pretty good race this year, which is surprising and a general improvement over the parades that the narrow streets have traditionally generated. We talk a lot about how important hometown wins are for drivers, and this race was no different for hometown boy Nico Rosberg.
Tires were again controversial this time around, as it emerged just before the race start that Pirelli had conducted a secret tire test in Spain with Mercedes without telling anyone else. Technically, it was against FIA rules, but Pirelli has a separate contract that allows them to conduct tire testing throughout the year with whomever they want. It looks like it's still under investigation to find out exactly what happened, but most were none too pleased and looked to blame Mercedes' dominance on the extra test.
Rosberg spent much of his life growing up in the principality with his father, former Formula One driver Keke Rosberg. He qualified for the running of the 71st Monaco Grand Prix on pole, which usually sets up drivers in Monaco for a win. That was no different for Nico, who took the checkered flag 30 years after his father did the same.
The story did not follow the words on the page, however, for the rest of the pack behind him. The tall barriers on the track and tight, winding streets of the former Mediterranean fishing village made for exciting and tenuous passes and aggressive moves. Sometimes those moves paid off, as they did for Sergio Perez most of the race, and sometimes they definitely did not.
Right from the get-go front row racers Rosberg and Hamilton maintained position at the start, despite some slight jockeying from the Red Bulls of Sebastien Vettel and Mark Webber behind.
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Pastor Maldonado and Adrian Sutil had a slight bangup right after the start and were forced to pit, and Jenson Button complained over the radio that teammate Perez kept turning into him. Charles Pic, one of the drivers for the Caterham team, had a scary moment shortly after when his car caught fire right near the pit entrance. Thankfully, he made a quick escape and was unhurt.
The safety car has an 80% chance of coming out at Monaco, and of course, it didn't stay parked for long, when Felipe Massa locked up his front brakes on the 29th lap and slammed right into the wall at the first corner, a nearly identical move to one he pulled in the third practice. The safety car came out for a few laps while Massa's car was cleaned up and Massa got a soft neck brace put on, but he looked to be not too badly injured.
The real big crash of the race, however, came on lap 46, when Maldonado collided with Max Chilton's Marussia, sending Maldonado's car flying and putting his rear spoiler right onto Chilton's nose. The red flag was brought out, and the cars lined up once again on the start grid while the race was suspended.
After about a ten minute break the race was re-started from the grid with the cars in the positions they were in when the red flag was brought out, and now it was a 32-lap sprint to the finish.
That's not to say there weren't a few crashes along the way.
Jules Bianchi's brakes locked up on lap 60, taking him out of the race and deploying the safety car once again, and Romain Grosjean rear-ended Daniel Ricciardo's Scuderia Toro Rosso on lap 63 to take them both out of the race. Kimi Raikkonen punished Sergio Perez for his aggressive maneuvers and forced him out by putting him into the wall, but this maneuver forced Kimi (whoknewhathewasdoing) into the pits on lap 71 (out of 78) for quick repairs, and knocking him out of the points standings.
UPDATE: Grosjean has been charged a ten-place grid penalty for the crash.
It all came down to the wire for most of the drivers, and somehow Kimi managed to claw his way back into the points, grabbing one, which sometimes is enough to make a difference in the driver's standings.
In the end, Rosberg eked out the win, mostly by not messing up, followed by Vettel and Webber in their Red Bulls.
Photos credit: AP