Mark Webber put in a masterful drive and resisted a five-car train behind him to scored his second Monaco Grand Prix victory and become the sixth winner in six races.
This impressive statistic is unprecedented in the sport’s rich history, but the Australian’s latest triumph did make Red Bull Racing the first team to notch up a repeat win this season.
Nico Rosberg gave chase to the leading Red Bull throughout the 78-lap race but had little to challenge. Second place is still a solid result for himself and Mercedes.
Completing the Monaco podium is Fernando Alonso. The Ferrari driver now leads the world championship with 76 points.
Thanks to an inspired race strategy from Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel finished in an excellent fourth ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa. The top six were covered by only 6.2 seconds at the chequered flag.
Pole position starter Webber held off Rosberg’s Mercedes away from the grid, then remained ahead through the sole pit-stop sequence, despite Rosberg going for fresh tyres earlier.
Vettel brought himself into contention by getting up to sixth at the start, and then stayed out until lap 45 before switching from softs to the supersofts.
Lapping 1.5 seconds faster compared to the others while leading, the defending champion was able to emerge from his pit-stop in fourth ahead of Hamilton, who had lost out to Alonso in the pits.
Rain had threatened all race, and became slightly heavier going into the final eight laps, just as the leaders’ tyres began to fade.
That brought the top six even closer together, with Rosberg, Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton and Massa – in his strongest drive of the year so far – suddenly right on Webber’s tail.
But as the drizzle eased again, the pace increased and Webber was able to wrap up his first win of this year.
A first corner crash eliminated a potential podium contender with Lotus’s Romain Grosjean tangling with Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes, breaking the front suspension and sending it spinning across the pack at Sainte Devote.
Remarkably none of the front-runners hit it, but Kamui Kobayashi was not so lucky. His Sauber became airborne and would later retired with suspension damage. Further back, Spanish Grand Prix winner Pastor Maldonado ran into Pedro de la Rosa and was forced to retire.
Schumacher was able to continue and ran in seventh place until fuel pressure problems forced him into the pits and out of the race.
Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne then picked up that position – a very early pit-stop on lap 18 having given him chance to run in clean air and vault up the order. But a decision to pit for intermediates in the late shower was a big mistake and dropped him out of the points.
Finishing in seventh and eighth were the Force Indias of Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg, with Kimi Raikkonen taking ninth ahead of Bruno Senna.
The Iceman lost time when his tyres dramatically faded in the first stint and he then spent a while trapped behind Charles Pic’s Marussia following his pit-stop.
Jenson Button failed to make any progress in the McLaren. After taking to the escape road to avoid the Sainte Devote mayhem, he spent most of the race trying to pass Heikki Kovalainen’s Caterham, eventually spinning in the Swimming Pool complex in his efforts, and retiring soon after.
Kovalainen had been on course for eleventh, but had to pit with front wing damage amid a fraught battle with Sauber’s Sergio Perez, so fell to P13 behind Vergne.
It wasn’t a classic Monaco Grand Prix with a high speed train of cars. As each driver was managing their tyres. The lack of overtaking made it difficult around the streets of the Principality and yet it was a close and tense race. Six new winners in the past six events? Awesome.
Monaco Grand Prix race results, 78 laps:
1. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1h46:06.557
2. Rosberg Mercedes +0.643
3. Alonso Ferrari +0.947
4. Vettel Red Bull-Renault +1.343
5. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes +4.101
6. Massa Ferrari +6.195
7. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes +41.537
8. Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes +42.562
9. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault +44.036
10. Senna Williams-Renault +44.516
11. Perez Sauber-Ferrari +1 lap
12. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
13. Kovalainen Caterham-Renault +1 lap
14. Glock Marussia-Cosworth +1 lap
15. Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth +2 laps
Fastest lap: Perez, 1:17.298
Button McLaren-Mercedes 71 laps
Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 66 laps
Pic Marussia-Cosworth 65 laps
Schumacher Mercedes 64 laps
Petrov Caterham-Renault 16 laps
Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 6 laps
De la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1 lap
Maldonado Williams-Renault 1 lap
Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1 lap
World Championship standings, round 6:
1. Alonso 76
2. Vettel 73
3. Webber 73
4. Hamilton 63
5. Rosberg 59
6. Raikkonen 51
7. Button 45
8. Grosjean 35
9. Maldonado 29
10. Perez 22
11. Di Resta 21
12. Kobayashi 19
13. Senna 15
14. Massa 10
15. Hulkenberg 7
16. Vergne 4
17. Schumacher 2
18. Ricciardo 2
1. Red Bull-Renault 146
2. McLaren-Mercedes 108
3. Ferrari 86
4. Lotus-Renault 86
5. Mercedes 61
6. Williams-Renault 44
7. Sauber-Ferrari 41
8. Force India-Mercedes 28
9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 6
Next race: Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal. June 8-10.