Mercedes error cost Hamilton victory at Monaco

Rosberg 2015 MonacoGP

A pit-stop error by Mercedes cost a guaranteed victory for Lewis Hamilton, which handed the Monaco Grand Prix to his team-mate Nico Rosberg.

For 64 of the 78 laps the race around the tight, twisty streets of the Principality, this was a high speed processional, with the defending champion Hamilton seemingly unruffled from the moment the five red lights disappeared to signal the start.

But then Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen misjudged a move and crashed into the rear-right wheel of the Lotus of Romain Grosjean at Sainte Devote, immediately turning the fortunes on the Grand Prix result.

Hamilton had a 21-second lead at the stage but Mercedes made an unnecessary strategy call in covering off rival Ferrari during this safety car period.

The championship leader was called into the pits to take on the super-soft compound tyres, yet as Hamilton emerged back on track, Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel had passed him.

From a commanding position Mercedes have changed the outcome of the race and for Hamilton, this should have been the 37th win of his Formula 1 career.

Despite being on much faster tyre over the final eight laps after the withdrawal of the safety car, Hamilton was unable to find a way past Vettel, never mind catching Rosberg.

It was an astonishing end to an otherwise dull race, with the opening lap providing a frantic action.

Come the sweep through Mirabeau, double world champion Fernando Alonso was involved in a collision with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, sending the ‘Hulk’ into a barrier, resulting in the loss of his front wing.

The incident forced the race stewards into an immediate investigation, with the blame on Alonso. The McLaren driver was handed a five-second time penalty.

Such was Alonso’s pace, however, throughout the opening 30 laps that by the time he pitted to take on a set of soft tyres – switching from the opening stint super-softs – the additional penalty proved redundant.

Alonso, though, did not last too long after his pit stop, pulling his Honda-powered car off track at Sainte Devote with a gearbox issue caused by rising temperatures a day after an MGU-H problem brought an early end to his qualifying session.

Behind the leading trio Daniil Kvyat scored the highest finish of his career with fourth, followed by his Red Bull Racing team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

Kvyat was ordered to let Ricciardo through in the closing stages, but the Red Bulls swapped back on the final lap once it became clear that Ricciardo could not make any progress against Hamilton.

Force India’s Sergio Perez took seventh, the team’s best result of the season, with Jenson Button claiming McLaren’s first points this season with eighth.

Sauber’s Felipe Nasr and Carlos Sainz in the Toro Rosso completed the top ten.

This was a disappointing race for Williams. Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa – who suffered a lap-one puncture – were classified P14 and P15.

So a hat trick of victories for Nico Rosberg at Monte Carlo and yet the major talking point was the bad strategy call from Mercedes which cost Lewis Hamilton a certain win.

The team will learn from this but the championship leader will need to remain calm and collective. This is racing after all and as Murray Walker would often say: “Anything can happen in Formula 1 and it usually does.”

MonacoGP 2015 SC

Monaco Grand Prix, race results after 78 laps:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes        1h49m18.420s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    4.486s
3    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    6.053s
4    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault     11.965s
5    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault      13.608s
6    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari       14.345s
7    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes      15.013s
8   Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda     16.063s
9    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari     23.626s
10    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault     25.056s
11    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes     26.232s
12    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes     28.415s
13    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari     31.159s
14    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    45.789s
15    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1 Lap
16    Roberto Merhi    Marussia-Ferrari    2 Laps
17    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    2 Laps
– Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault  Collision
– Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    41    Gearbox
– Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    5    Brakes

Fastest lap: Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1m 18.063s (lap 74)

Drivers’ standings:

1    Lewis Hamilton    126
2    Nico Rosberg    116
3    Sebastian Vettel    98
4    Kimi Raikkonen    60
5    Valtteri Bottas    42
6    Felipe Massa    39
7    Daniel Ricciardo    35
8    Daniil Kvyat    17
9    Felipe Nasr    16
10    Romain Grosjean    16
11    Sergio Perez    11
12    Carlos Sainz    9
13    Nico Hulkenberg    6
14    Max Verstappen    6
15    Marcus Ericsson    5
16    Jenson Button    4
17    Fernando Alonso    0
18    Roberto Merhi    0
19    Will Stevens    0
20    Pastor Maldonado    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    242
2    Ferrari    158
3    Williams-Mercedes    81
4    Red Bull-Renault    52
5    Sauber-Ferrari    21
6    Force India-Mercedes    17
7    Lotus-Mercedes    16
8    Toro Rosso-Renault    15
9    McLaren-Honda    4
10    Marussia-Ferrari    0

Next race: Canadian Grand Prix, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. June 5-7.

Hamilton achieves his first pole around Monte Carlo

Hamilton Monaco GP 2015

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton claimed his first pole position around the streets of the principality, beating his Mercedes team-mate to the top spot.

The Silver Arrows continue to have the pace advantage over their competitors and thus engaged in an exclusive battle for P1.

Hamilton trailed Nico Rosberg by nearly four tenths of a second after Q2, but reversed the positions by just over a tenth of a second after their first runs in the all-important top ten shootout.

The defending champion found even more lap time on his final run in Q3, while Rosberg abandoned his after locking up heavily at Sainte Devote.

That left Hamilton 0.342 seconds clear earning his 43th pole position in the sport and his first at Monaco.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was the only other driver to lap below one minute, 16 seconds as he secured third place, just under two tenths of a second ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, who also failed to improve on his second run in Q3.

Team-mate Daniil Kvyat did find time on his second run to take fifth, ahead of the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.

Force India’s Sergio Perez hustled the VJM08 to a superb seventh place, just ahead of Carlos Sainz, Pastor Maldonado and Max Verstappen, who all ended up on the same tenth in eighth, ninth and tenth.

Romain Grosjean failed to join his Lotus team-mate Maldonado in Q3, after locking up at the second part of the Swimming Pool on his quickest lap in Q2.

An expected five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change ahead of the event means Grosjean will start P16 in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix.

McLaren-Honda was confident of getting both cars through to Q3 for the first time this season, but neither made the cut.

Fernando Alonso’s car suffered a suspected electrical problem before he could complete a flying lap in Q2, while team-mate Jenson Button was less than a tenth of a second away from making the top ten.

The 2009 race winner described the situation as “painful” when he learned of his fate, having had to slow for yellow flags – after Rosberg locked up and went off at Ste Devote – on his final flying lap.

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was lucky to get away with striking the wall at Mirabeau in Q1 and ended up P13, just under 0.2 seconds adrift of team-mate Perez.

Williams struggled badly in Monaco, with Felipe Massa winding up P14 while team-mate Valtteri Bottas ended up being the highest-profile casualty in Q1.

Bottas was more than six tenths of a second away from making the cut and wound up P17, between the Saubers of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson.

The Manor/Marussias were over two seconds further back in filling the final row of the grid.

Will Stevens was three tenths quicker than team-mate Roberto Merhi through the first sector of their quickest laps, which proved crucial in the final reckoning.

So an important qualifying for Lewis Hamilton. Track position at Monaco is vital as overtaking is limited around the tight and twisty street circuit.

Nico Rosberg will need to be in a racy mood or have a great strategy to score that hat-trick of wins. Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix is going to be fascinating. Bring on the street fight.

Monaco GP 2015

Qualifying positions, Monaco Grand Prix:

1 Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m15.098s
2 Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m15.440s
3 Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m15.849s
4 Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull/Renault    1m16.041s
5 Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull/Renault    1m16.182s
6 Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m16.427s
7 Sergio Perez    Force India/Mercedes    1m16.808s
8 Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso/Renault    1m16.931s
9 Pastor Maldonado    Lotus/Mercedes    1m16.946s
10 Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso/Renault    1m16.957s
11 Jenson Button    McLaren/Honda    1m17.093s
12 Nico Hulkenberg    Force India/Mercedes    1m17.193s
13 Felipe Massa    Williams/Mercedes    1m17.278s
14 Fernando Alonso    McLaren/Honda    1m26.632s
15 Felipe Nasr    Sauber/Ferrari    1m18.101s
16 Romain Grosjean    Lotus/Mercedes    1m17.007s*
17 Valtteri Bottas    Williams/Mercedes    1m18.434s
18 Marcus Ericsson    Sauber/Ferrari    1m18.513s
19 Will Stevens    Marussia/Ferrari    1m20.655s
20 Roberto Merhi    Marussia/Ferrari    1m20.904s

*Five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change

Rosberg victorious at the Spanish Grand Prix

Rosberg Spain 2015

Nico Rosberg answered his critics and responding back with victory at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The Mercedes driver led away from pole and remained unthreatened during the Spanish Grand Prix.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton recovered from a slow start and had to settle with second. At least he finished ahead of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari thanks to a three-stop strategy.

By winning the race, Rosberg has reduced the gap to his team-mate to twenty points, with Vettel another 11 adrift.

This result showcase the sheer speed of the Mercedes W06 Hybrid as it remains the class of the field, especially aerodynamically which enhances the advantage.

After four exciting Grands Prix to start the season, the first European race will not go down as a thriller, with the track layout not helping in providing much overtaking.

That meant Rosberg, who had only led ten laps this season before arriving in Spain, was always going to be favourite for the win after taking pole position and the Mercedes driver duly controlled the race from the front.

Hamilton lost a track position to Vettel at the start and after struggling to find a way past, Mercedes called him in to the pits to try the undercut.

But a problem fitting the left-rear tyre lost Hamilton three seconds so when Vettel pitted the next lap, he easily came out in front of the reigning world champion.

When Hamilton was told by his race engineer that he had to pass Vettel on track, he responded: “I can assure you that’s pretty much impossible. Find another solution.”

When the Mercedes star pitted for the second time, taking on the hard tyres after two stints on the mediums, it became clear he was on a three-stop strategy.

In contrast, Vettel stayed out to suggest he was on a two-stopper. When the Ferrari driver pitted with 26 laps to go, he rejoined behind Hamilton, who was pushing hard to try to build a gap to enable him to pit and rejoin ahead of Vettel.

And it worked out, with the Silver Arrows exiting the pits after his third stop, and on fresher medium tyres, well clear of the Ferrari.

Hamilton traded fastest laps with Rosberg in the closing stages but the gap to his team-mate was too much to close down and had to settle with second to secure a 14th one-two as a pairing for Mercedes AMG Formula 1 team.

Valtteri Bottas finished fourth for Williams, ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa.

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo continued his solid run in the points this season with seventh place, albeit it a lap down.

At least the honey badger was ahead of Lotus’s Romain Grosjean, who scored points for the third successive race despite a gearbox problem and overshooting his pitbox and scattering his crew, who were unhurt.

Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, Jr finished ninth, after banging wheels and passing Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat on the final lap. The Russian completed the points-finishers.

Max Verstappen was P11 in the other Toro Rosso, ahead of Sauber’s Felipe Nasr, while his team-mate Marcus Ericsson was two positions adrift in P14.

Both Toro Rossos swiftly fell back from their row-three qualifying positions.

Force India, which is expecting to have its updated ‘B-spec’ car in the Austrian Grand Prix, ended a difficult weekend with Sergio Perez P13 and Nico Hulkenberg P15 respectively.

McLaren-Honda’s wait for its first points of the season continues, with Jenson Button – making his one hundreth start for the team – P16 while his team-mate Fernando Alonso retired with brake problems after running in seventh on an alternative strategy.

There was a fright in the McLaren pit box as Alonso couldn’t slow his car down. Luckily, the front jack man jumped out of the way. Quick reaction to avoid serious injury.

Bad luck continued for the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix winner Pastor Maldonado, who ran as high as seventh. He retired having driven much of the race with a broken rear wing.

The Manor-run Marussias brought up the field, with Will Stevens three laps down in P17 and Roberto Merhi P18, a further lap behind.

So an important victory for Nico Rosberg in terms of the championship. Just twenty points the difference between the Silver Arrows. While Mercedes recorded their 24th consecutive finish on the podium which means 70 points advantage over rival Ferrari.

Spanish GP 2015 winner

Spanish Grand Prix, 66 laps:

1    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1h41m12.555s
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    17.551s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    45.342s
4    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    59.217s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m00.002s
6    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m21.314s
7    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1 Lap
8    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1 Lap
9    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
10    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    1 Lap
11    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    1 Lap
12    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
13    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
14    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1 Lap
15    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1 Lap
16    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1 Lap
17    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    3 Laps
18    Roberto Merhi    Marussia-Ferrari    4 Laps
–    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    Retirement
–    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    Brakes

Drivers’ standings:

1    Lewis Hamilton    111
2    Nico Rosberg    91
3    Sebastian Vettel    80
4    Kimi Raikkonen    52
5    Valtteri Bottas    42
6    Felipe Massa    39
7    Daniel Ricciardo    25
8    Romain Grosjean    16
9    Felipe Nasr    14
10    Carlos Sainz    8
11    Max Verstappen    6
12    Nico Hulkenberg    6
13    Sergio Perez    5
14    Marcus Ericsson    5
15    Daniil Kvyat    5
16    Fernando Alonso    0
17    Jenson Button    0
18    Roberto Merhi    0
19    Will Stevens    0
20    Pastor Maldonado    0

Constructors’ standings:

1    Mercedes    202
2    Ferrari    132
3    Williams-Mercedes    81
4    Red Bull-Renault    30
5    Sauber-Ferrari    19
6    Lotus-Mercedes    16
7    Toro Rosso-Renault    14
8    Force India-Mercedes    11
9    McLaren-Honda    0
10    Marussia-Ferrari    0

Next race: Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo. May 21-24.

Rosberg halts Hamilton’s run of pole

Rosberg Spain 2015 driver

Nico Rosberg achieved his first pole position of the season, halting the run from his team-mate Lewis Hamilton, at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The Mercedes driver laid down the marker with a time of one minute, 24.681 seconds on his first Q3 run. That proved enough as Hamilton was unable to beat this on his second run.

In fact, the speed advantage from the Silver Arrows proved significant as Hamilton and Rosberg could afford to run the harder tyre compound and still outpace everyone else in Q1.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was best-of-the-rest and yet he was almost eight tenths adrift of Rosberg, while his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen used a new set of medium tyres to get through Q1 and paid the price.

The Iceman was four tenths slower on his sole Q3 run than he had been in Q2 and ended up seventh on the grid, behind the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and the Toro Rossos of Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen that have looked strong all weekend.

This was a fantastic achievement by Scuderia Toro Rosso, with both drivers recording a top six grid positions in their first appearance at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Felipe Massa ended up ninth fastest, over a second slower than his Williams team-mate Bottas.

The Brazilian split the Red Bulls, with Daniil Kvyat getting the better of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo by 0.141 seconds to qualify eighth.

This was a tough qualifying session for Lotus, as both drivers failed to make it through to Q3 by over half a second. Romain Grosjean will start P11 – complaining of a lack of front-end grip – while Pastor Maldonado is P12.

The McLarens made it through to Q2 for the first time this season, but lacked the speed to be top ten contenders.

Home crowd favourite Fernando Alonso was eleventh fastest on his first Q2 run on used medium tyres, but he failed to improve on new rubber on his second run and slipped down to P13, one position ahead of team-mate Jenson Button.

Felipe Nasr’s Sauber split the Honda-powered cars in Q1, but the Brazilian lost pace in Q2 and ended up P15.

His team-mate Marcus Ericsson joined the Force Indias and Manor Marussias in falling after the first segment of the qualifying session.

Ericsson found six tenths of a second on his final run in Q1, but it wasn’t enough for him to join team-mate Nasr in Q2.

Ericsson was almost half a second slower than Nasr – lapping 0.171 seconds shy of making the cut – just ahead of the struggling Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez.

The Manor predictably brought up the rear of the grid, almost 2.8 seconds adrift of the next quickest car.

Will Stevens again had the better of team-mate Roberto Merhi, to the tune of eight tenths of a second.

Rosberg Spain 2015

Spanish Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1 Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m24.681s
2 Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m24.948s
3 Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m25.458s
4 Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m25.694s
5 Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m26.136s
6 Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m26.249s
7 Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m26.414s
8 Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    1m26.629s
9 Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m26.757s
10 Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m26.770s
11 Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1m27.375s
12 Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    1m27.450s
13 Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m27.760s
14 Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m27.854s
15 Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m28.005s
16 Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m28.112s
17 Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m28.365s
18 Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m28.442s
19 Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    1m31.200s
20 Roberto Merhi    Marussia-Ferrari    1m32.038s