Nico Rosberg reclaimed the lead of the Formula 1 World Championship from his Mercedes team-mate by beating Lewis Hamilton to victory around the streets of Monte Carlo.
Pre-race talk was focused on the Silver Arrows rivarly following the events that took place in qualifying. In which accusation on whether Rosberg had deliberately locked-up into the Mirabeau corner, resulting in a yellow flag period that prevented Hamilton in taking pole position.
The race stewards spent several hours investigating this incident and despite the paddock’s opinion that it was intention, they found no evidence thanks to the telemetry data and television replays.
So Nico Rosberg kept his pole position and with overtaking so difficult, he held that track position to win the Monaco Grand Prix for the second time.
Rosberg made a superb start from the grid and led Hamilton through Ste Devote.
The race was almost immediately neutralised by the Safety Car, as Sergio Perez’s Force India looped into the barriers at Mirabeau after a collision with Jenson Button’s McLaren.
Rosberg held Hamilton back at the restart and edged away slowly through the first stint as his team-mate gave chase.
A second Safety Car period, caused by Adrian Sutil crashing heavily under braking for the chicane, denied Hamilton his only realistic chance in passing Rosberg by pitting earlier than his team-mate.
Both Mercedes headed into the pits one after the other under the Safety Car, allowing Rosberg to retain the lead.
The 2008 Formula 1 world champion questioned his team’s strategy repeatedly over the radio as the drivers prepared for another restart.
Once again Rosberg controlled the restart well, and drove on unchallenged to victory, despite fears over excessive fuel consumption in the early part of the second stint.
Hamilton shadowed his Silver Arrows team-mate for most of the race, but dropped back in the closing stages after complaining he “couldn’t see” out of his left eye.
Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo saw this as an opportunity and closed Hamilton down, but fell short of beating him to second position by just 0.4 seconds.
The Australian thus had to be content with his second consecutive third placed finish.
Ricciardo had earlier made a slow start from third on the grid, but regained the lost ground thanks to problems for his team-mate Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Four-time world champion Vettel ran third initially after a strong start from the second row, but reported a loss of power shortly after the first restart.
Red Bull replaced parts of his Energy Recovery System unit before the race, following the ERS issue that hampered Vettel in qualifying, and the German complained of a loss of boost pressure from his Renault engine in the race.
A frustrated Vettel rejoined the action after some adjustments in the pits, but was told by the team to retire.
Raikkonen then looked as though he might claim his first podium since returning to Ferrari, having got up to fourth by passing his team-mate Fernando Alonso at the start and driving around the outside of Ricciardo’s Red Bull on the first run through Ste Devote.
But The Iceman’s race was undone by contact with Max Chilton’s Marussia during the second Safety Car period.
Chilton was trying to un-lap himself, and the resulting collision forced Raikkonen into a second stop to replace a punctured tyre on his F14 T.
This condemned the 2007 Formula 1 world champion to a recovery drive through the field, while Alonso maintained his third position in the world championship by finishing in fourth place.
Raikkonen ultimately ended up pointless after a desperate pass on Kevin Magnussen’s McLaren at Loews ended in contact with just a handful of laps remaining.
Magnussen had just been passed by team-mate Jenson Button as Hamilton and Ricciardo lapped a battle for fifth between Hulkenberg’s Force India, the two McLarens, and Raikkonen’s Ferrari.
Raikkonen spotted a chance to dive down the inside at the hairpin, but ran out of road, meaning both drivers lost ground.
Hulkenberg thus held on to claim fifth for Force India, narrowly ahead of Button, while Felipe Massa inherited seventh for Williams.
An engine failure for Valtteri Bottas, an exhaust problem for Jean-Eric Vergne, plus a crash for Esteban Gutierrez at Rascasse, not forgetting the incident between Raikkonen and Magnussen, meant Jules Bianchi crossed the finishing line an eighth for Marussia.
A five-second penalty for serving an earlier penalty for an out-of-position start under the Safety Car, means he will be demoted to ninth, but that wasn’t a main issue as Marussia was able to score their maiden points in Formula 1.
The Lotus of Romain Grosjean will thus inherit eighth, while Magnussen recovered from his incident with Raikkonen to round out the scorers in tenth.
So a fascinating intra-team battle between Rosberg and Hamilton. The Mercedes W05 is the quickest car in the field and with the Silver Arrows drivers fighting for superiority, it’s going to be exciting and thrilling contest for the rest of the season.
Monaco Grand Prix race results, after 78 laps:
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1h49m27.661s
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +9.210s
3. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault +9.614s
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari +32.452s
5. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes -1 lap
6. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes -1 lap
7. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes -1 lap
8. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault -1 lap
9. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari -1 lap
10. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes -1 lap
11. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault -1 lap
12. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari -1 lap
13. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault -3 laps
14. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari -3 laps
Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 59 laps
Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 55 laps
Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 50 laps
Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 23 laps
Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 10 laps
Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 5 laps
Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 0 lap
Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 0 lap
1. Nico Rosberg 122
2. Lewis Hamilton 118
3. Fernando Alonso 61
4. Daniel Ricciardo 54
5. Nico Hulkenberg 47
6. Sebastian Vettel 45
7. Valtteri Bottas 34
8. Jenson Button 31
9. Kevin Magnussen 21
10. Sergio Perez 20
11. Felipe Massa 18
12. Kimi Raikkonen 17
13. Romain Grosjean 8
14. Jean-Eric Vergne 4
15. Daniil Kvyat 4
16. Jules Bianchi 2
1. Mercedes 240
2. Red Bull-Renault 99
3. Ferrari 78
4. Force India-Mercedes 67
5. McLaren-Mercedes 52
6. Williams-Mercedes 52
7. Lotus-Renault 8
8. Toro Rosso-Renault 8
9. Marussia-Ferrari 2
10. Sauber-Ferrari 0
11. Caterham-Renault 0
Next race: Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal. June 6-8.