Mark Webber took his second victory of the season with a dominant drive at the Monaco Grand Prix. Red Bull Racing team-mate Sebastian Vettel finished in a close second while Robert Kubica took a solid third for Renault.
Webber’s win on the streets of the Principality means he now leads the drivers’ championship with 78 points, sharing the top honour with Vettel although on count back the Australian edges ahead with back-to-back victories.
His race pace was impressive and despite four safety car periods caused by crashes and a loose drain cover at Massenet, Mark Webber was inch-perfect around the tight, narrow and twisty street circuit.
This was the perfect result for the Australian and Red Bull Racing. It follows on from his great weekend at Barcelona seven days ago with pole position and race win. To take the top honours in the jewel event of the Formula One World Championship was a superb achievement.
Equally impressive was Robert Kubica. Despite Sebastian Vettel taking the track position right at the start and into Sainte Devote, the determination from the Renault driver was strong. The Polish driver was pushing his R30 to the limit to keep on tabs from the charging Red Bulls, but third was the best result he could do.
Felipe Massa took fourth for Ferrari followed by Lewis Hamilton in the sole remaining McLaren. His team-mate Jenson Button was forced to retire as early as lap three due to overheating. The team had accidentally left a blanking plate across the MP4-25’s sidepod on the way to the grid, which Button suspected had caused overheating.
Despite starting from the pitlane, the first safety car gave an opportunity for Fernando Alonso. He was able to make up the lost ground caused by Nico Hulkenberg’s Williams crashing into the wall in the tunnel on the opening lap. The Ferrari driver took advantage of a ‘free’ pitstop and came in to switch to the medium compound for the rest of the 78-lap race.
With a fresh set of Bridgestone, better downforce and speed in the F60, Alonso was able to carve past the Virgins, Lotuses and Hispanias with some superb overtaking moves.
He was set to finish in sixth until the final yards of the Monaco Grand Prix, when he got sideways out of Rascasse as the safety car came in to allow a final sprint to the line, and accidentally let Michael Schumacher slip through.
That move on the final lap into Anthony Noghes corner is a major talking point for the race stewards whether Schumacher’s pass was legit or not under the safety car rules. After a few hours the race stewards have decided to penalise Michael Schumacher with a twenty-second penalty and the Mercedes GP driver moves down to P12 with Alonso taking back his sixth position.
Schumacher got in front of his Mercedes GP team-mate Nico Rosberg at the start, although the fast-starting Rubens Barrichello was able to slip his Williams ahead of both as they battled. Despite Rosberg staying out until lap 28 on the soft Bridgestone and setting several fastest laps, he was unable to get back ahead in the stops.
Stopping later worked for Adrian Sutil as the German jumped past Force India team-mate Tonio Liuzzi. By finishing in the top ten, the pair gave the Vijay Mallya’s team its first double points finish.
Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi took the remaining point with tenth following the Michael Schumacher’s penalty. Renault’s Vitaly Petrov finished the race four laps down in P13.
As for Barrichello, who lost ground in the pits and was running tenth until a problem at the left rear (possibly a slow puncture) caused him to crash at Massenet on lap 31, prompting the second safety car caution. The third followed 12 laps later while a suspected loose drain cover at the same location was swiftly checked.
All the new teams’ cars retired, the last of them when Lotus’s Jarno Trulli, who had been delayed by a slow pitstop, vaulted over Hispania’s Karun Chandhok at Rascasse near the finish. The crash, which happened right in front of race leader Webber, prompted the final safety car.
So the perfect weekend for Mark Webber and Red Bull Racing. After playing down its chances going into the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, the RB6 and the drivers delivered the result with a one-two finish in Monte Carlo. Leading both championships as well. It will be deeply fascinating whether anyone can catch the charging Red Bulls as Formula One heads to Istanbul in two weeks’ time.
Race results from Monte Caro, 78 laps:
1. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1h:50:13.355
2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault +0.448 seconds
3. Kubica Renault +1.675 seconds
4. Massa Ferrari +2.666 seconds
5. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes +4.363 seconds
6. Alonso Ferrari +6.341 seconds
7. Rosberg Mercedes +6.651 seconds
8. Sutil Force India-Mercedes +6.970 seconds
9. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes +7.305 seconds
10. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari +8.199 seconds
11. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari +9.135 seconds
12. Schumacher Mercedes +25.712 seconds*
13. Petrov Renault +4 laps
*Twenty-second penalty for overtaking under the safety car
Fastest lap: Vettel, 1:15.192
Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 71 laps
Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 71 laps
Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 59 laps
Senna HRT-Cosworth 59 laps
Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 28 laps
Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 27 laps
Di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 26 laps
Glock Virgin-Cosworth 23 laps
De la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 22 laps
Button McLaren-Mercedes 3 laps
Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1 lap
World Championship standings, round 6:
1. Webber 78
2. Vettel 78
3. Alonso 75
4. Button 70
5. Massa 61
6. Hamilton 59
7. Kubica 59
8. Rosberg 54
9. Schumacher 22
10. Sutil 20
11. Liuzzi 10
12. Barrichello 7
13. Petrov 6
14. Alguersuari 3
15. Hulkenberg 1
1. Red Bull-Renault 156
2. Ferrari 136
3. McLaren-Mercedes 129
4. Mercedes 78
5. Renault 65
6. Force India-Mercedes 30
7. Williams-Cosworth 8
8. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 4
Next race: Turkish Grand Prix, May 28-30.