Jenson Button took his fifth victory of the season with a masterful drive at the Monaco Grand Prix. Team-mate Rubens Barrichello finished in second earning the Brawn GP’s second straight one-two sweep.
Ferrari had one of its best results of the year so far, with Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa taking in third and fourth positions respectively. The pace of the F60 during the Monaco Grand Prix was impressive, with Massa setting the fastest lap around the tight and twisty street circuit.
As for Brawn GP’s main championship contender Red Bull Racing, this race slipped away from them. Firstly, Sebastian Vettel was unable to benefit from the light fuel load in qualifying, as he was impended by the Williams of Nico Rosberg. Secondly, the young German was struggling with his super-soft Bridgestones, meaning he was losing grip and track position. This led to a crash at Ste Devote on lap 15 as he tried to regain lost ground following his pit stop. As a small consolation, team-mate Mark Webber did get to the chequered flag though it was only for fifth.
Nico Rosberg drove a solid race in the Williams to sixth, ahead of Renault’s Fernando Alonso. Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais took the final point for eighth, just edging out Giancarlo Fisichella’s Force India after a race-long fight.
Despite Button dominating this race, it wasn’t a classic Grand Prix. Yes, the championship leader has match the record of Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher in winning five races, thereby extending his points lead in the drivers’ standings. But in terms of racing spectacle at the 67th running of the Monaco Grand Prix, it lacked excitement.
The only change in the top ten positions in the opening laps was when Rubens Barrichello made the perfect getaway off third on the grid. Any concerns that the KERS assist Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen might get by pole sitter Jenson Button down into the first corner vanished as the five red lights went out.
Sebastian Vettel gave chase in the Red Bull but was unable to catch the leading trio, no thanks to the super soft tyres losing its performance edge after a few laps. Sensing the opportunity behind the gripless Vettel, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa attempted to pass his rival into Nouvelle chicane on lap six.
But the Brazilian was caught out by the early braking from the young German and was forced to take the escape route to avoid making contact. Massa backed off to let Vettel by – or risk taking a penalty for gaining a position after cutting a corner – but that allowed the opportunistic Nico Rosberg to slip by.
Even though Vettel made an earlier than expected pit stop to replace the worn out Bridgestone, his race came to a premature end after crashing at Ste Dévote. This tricky first corner also caught out Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi, who misjudged his braking point and ran into the back of Nelson Piquet Jr. The Renault driver was forced to retire with heavy rear-end damage.
McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen was another driver to hit the barriers after losing control of his car in the Swimming Pool complex – in a similar style to Massa in qualifying – only this time it was harder! It lost him seventh place. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton had a difficult race started from the back but came home in a respectable twelfth position despite damaging his front wing after a brush with Nick Heidfeld’s BMW Sauber in the early part of the race.
Kazuki Nakajima was set to complete the top ten finishers in the Williams until he slid into the Mirabeau barrier with one lap to go. That position went to Toyota’s Timo Glock, who started this race in the pit lane after a change in the set-up to improve the car.
Even with the changes to Glock’s car, both Toyota and the BMW Saubers had a poor weekend in Monte Carlo. The cars simply lacked speed or balance around the twisty street circuit.
As for Button, this was the perfect result for himself and the team. This victory in Monte Carlo stretches his points lead to 51, with team-mate Barrichello 16 points behind. Jenson’s only mistake during the weekend was after the race, when he parked his BGP-001 in the pits instead of the start/finish straight!
In a remarkable display of fitness, he jogged all the way to the podium like the triathlon runner he is. It proved to be a light relief after an intense 78 laps around the streets of the Principality.
In addition, it wasn’t just the driver that showed exceptional longevity but his engine as well. The Mercedes V8 in Jenson’s car was the same one he’d used in the last two Grands Prix, meaning he’d won three races on the trot with the same engine. Remarkable.
Race results from the Monaco Grand Prix, 78 laps:
1. Button Brawn GP-Mercedes 1h40:44.282
2. Barrichello Brawn GP-Mercedes +7.666
3. Raikkonen Ferrari +13.443
4. Massa Ferrari +15.110
5. Webber Red Bull-Renault +15.730
6. Rosberg Williams-Toyota +33.586
7. Alonso Renault +37.839
8. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1:03.142
9. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes +1:05.040
10. Glock Toyota +1 lap
11. Heidfeld BMW Sauber +1 lap
12. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
13. Trulli Toyota +1 lap
14. Sutil Force India-Mercedes +1 lap
15. Nakajima Williams-Toyota +2 laps
Fastest lap: Massa, 1:15.154
Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 52 laps
Kubica BMW Sauber 31 laps
Vettel Red Bull-Renault 16 laps
Piquet Renault 11 laps
Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 11 laps
World Championship standings, round 6:
1. Button 51
2. Barrichello 35
3. Vettel 23
4. Webber 19.5
5. Trulli 14.5
6. Glock 12
7. Alonso 11
8. Raikkonen 9
9. Hamilton 9
10. Massa 8
11. Rosberg 7.5
12. Heidfeld 6
13. Kovalainen 4
14. Buemi 3
15. Bourdais 2
1. Brawn GP-Mercedes 86
2. Red Bull-Renault 42.5
3. Toyota 26.5
4. Ferrari 17
5. McLaren-Mercedes 13
6. Renault 11
7. Williams-Toyota 7.5
8. BMW Sauber 6
9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 5
Next race: Turkish Grand Prix, Istanbul. June 5-7.