On Saturday, we saw Daniel Ricciardo taking Pole Position for the Monaco Grand Prix ahead of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
Before the start of the race, it was announced that Max Verstappen and Felipe Nasr will start from the pitlane due to Verstappen having to change his chassis after his incident in Q1 and Nasr suffering engine failure during his outlap in Q1. Also, Kimi Raikkonen has taken a five place grid penalty after replacing the gearbox after FP3 on Saturday morning.
Just ten minutes before the start of the race, it was announced via Race Control that the race will start under the Safety Car and everyone will start on the wet tyres until further notice.
The Monaco GP starts under the Safety Car and with the drivers on wet tyres. During the first lap, Daniil Kvyat has reported to his team that his car is stuck in constant speed and doesn’t understand why.
Kvyat is now going further down the grid and has to pit in order to rectify the problem. Even though the Toro Rosso driver will be a lap down on the field, he manages to regain onto the track.
With the news that the Safety Car will be in at the end of Lap 7, everyone is looking forward to racing in Monaco; even though Ricciardo backed up the grid before setting the hammer down.
And on Lap 8, the race began and we are racing in Monaco with Ricciardo leading the two Mercedes drivers as they headed into Sainte Devote. The Virtual Safety Car was then deployed at Sainte Devote as Jolyon Palmer crashes into the barriers after lightening up the rear tyres on the start finish straight. This has been a miserable weekend for the British driver who hasn’t had the best start to his F1 career.
As this is ongoing on the track, Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button pit for Intermediate tyres to test the limits of the Monaco track. The Virtual Safety Car ended on Lap 11 and we are back racing in Monaco once again. Ricciardo on Lap 11 leads Rosberg by 3.3 seconds.
On the same lap, on the exit of the Lowes hairpin, Kimi Raikkonen hitting the wall with Romain Grosjean hitting Raikkonen and Felipe Massa also nearly getting involved in this as well; which saw Grosjean able to get going again as Raikkonen has sustained damage to his front wing and officially retiring from the race; with the stewards looking at the incident after the race.
Lap 16 saw Lewis Hamilton finally getting past Nico Rosberg on the way down to Matinee corner after Rosberg has been struggling to get onto the pace of Ricciardo in front of him and has now got 13 seconds to make up in the process. We also see a battle between Felipe Massa, Sebastian Vettel, Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso for sixth place.
On Lap 21 of the race, at the Rascasse corner Daniil Kvyat and Kevin Magnussen had an incident with each other after Kvyat tries to pass Magnussen at the Swimming Pool corner and there was no gap for Kvyat to go and hit Magnussen in the process. This incident will now be investigated by the stewards.
With Ricciardo making his pitstop at the end of Lap 23 for Intermediate tyres, Hamilton now leads the Grand Prix ahead of his team mate as Max Verstappen is now up to tenth place after starting from the pitlane and is absolutely flying at this stage of the race so far; with an hour and seventeen minutes left of the race to run.
With Hamilton leading the race and losing up to a second a lap by Lap 28; Hamilton had to react to what Ricciardo was doing on the track (who was catching him up very quickly indeed) and could be taking a gamble in order to undercut him later in the race by maybe moving onto the Slick tyres instead of the Intermediate tyres.
With drivers such as Felipe Nasr and Kevin Magnussen all pitting for slick tyres; all eyes are upon Hamilton who is slowly starting to struggle to keep Ricciardo behind him and he pits at the end of Lap 31 and hands the lead of the race back to Ricciardo who pits at the end of Lap 32. But with his tyres not ready at his pit stop, Ricciardo loses the lead of the race to Hamilton as a result of that.
By Lap 35, Ricciardo has caught up Hamilton and with backmarkers on the circuit, anything could happen. On the same lap, Max Verstappen officially retires from the race after crashing at the Maintee corner and the Virtual Safety Car has been deployed in order to recover the Red Bull.
Two laps later after the chicane after the tunnel, Ricciardo tries to pass Hamilton for position but wasn’t given it and he waves his arm in the air in disgust. This incident is now under investigation by the stewards. Lap 43 sees Hamilton leading the race by 0.4 seconds. The stewards announce that no further action between Hamilton and Ricciardo after the incident on Lap 35.
On Lap 50, Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr after being instructed by the Sauber team to swap places collide into each other at the Rascasse corner after Ericsson decided to take matters into his own hands; leaving a high amount of debris onto the track which brings out the Virtual Safety Car for the third time and investigation ongoing by the stewards as both drivers retire from the race.
Lap 56 sees Hamilton leading Ricciardo by 1.5 seconds. There was talks by Lap 61 that a small rain shower could hit the Monaco circuit with 8 laps remaining and this also provides more uncertainty to the end of the race. The battle between Perez and Vettel was ongoing for third place; with Vettel closing the gap on the Mexican driver very quickly indeed.
Lap 66 saw Hamilton leading Ricciardo by 2.5 seconds; which is the biggest lead he has had in the race as tyres start to grain and lose grip. On Lap 68, the Virtual Safety Car was then deployed for the fourth time after a cover was put onto the track on the start/finish straight of the circuit that flew off an balcony.
Hamilton leads the field on Lap 73 by 2.9 seconds as there are spots of rain reaching the Monaco circuit. In the final two laps of the race, the rain was starting to progress heavily and many drivers such as Sainz Jr reporting drops of rain on his helmet.
But Hamilton leads Ricciardo on the final lap of the race by 5.8 seconds and wins the Monaco Grand Prix which is his first win of the 2016 season. Ricciardo is a credible second 7.2 seconds behind Hamilton, Perez finished in third place 13.8 seconds behind Hamilton, Vettel was a credible fourth 15.8 seconds behind Verstappen and Alonso finished fifth 1.25 seconds behind Hamilton
Hulkenberg was sixth 1.32.9 seconds behind Hamilton, Rosberg was seventh 1.33.2 seconds behind Hamilton, Sainz Jr was eighth 1 lap behind Hamilton, Button was ninth 1 lap behind Hamilton and Massa was tenth 1 lap behind Hamilton.
Nico Rosberg still leads the Driver’s Championship with 108 points, Lewis Hamilton is in second place with 82 points, Daniel Ricciardo is in third place with 66 points, Kimi Raikkonen is in fourth place with 61 points, Sebastian Vettel is in fifth place with 60 points, Max Verstappen is in sixth place with 38 points, Felipe Massa is in seventh place with 36 points, Valtteri Bottas is in eighth place with 29 points, Sergio Perez is in ninth place with 22 points and Daniil Kvyat is in tenth place with 22 points.
Mercedes still lead the Constructors Championship with 188 points, Ferrari is in second place with 121 points, Red Bull is in third place with 112 points, Williams is in fourth place with 66 points, Force India is in fifth place with 37 points, Toro Rosso is in sixth place with 30 points, McLaren is in seventh place with 24 points, Haas is in eighth place with 6 points and Renault is in ninth place with 6 points.
I feel that McLaren have had an reasonable weekend and have shown that they can still race near the front when they have the opportunity to do so. Button getting ninth place has been the biggest surprise of the race. Jenson drove a superb race to gain ninth today despite a defensive race and it is very well deserved. And for him to secure this result shows that he did a brilliant job and has shown that despite not having the outright pace to challenge their rivals; he drove a great race to claim this result today and showed why he was signed by the team.
With Alonso also gaining points with a fifth place at the team’s fifteenth anniversary is a fantastic achievement and this just shows despite this that even though it is still clear that the McLaren team have a lot of work to do in order to try and extract performance from their car, they are making small gains that are paying off for them in the last few races.
Massa did an okay job to get tenth place and had a great battle to get there after battling with Hulkenberg, Sainz Jr and Alonso for most of the race. This point for himself and Williams are vital and only shows just how much promise he has as a driver if he has the car underneath him to do so and that he is a talented and promising racing driver.
Sainz Jr battled his way through to get eighth place today. He battled his way through the field and created some great overtaking moves to get there. Sainz Jr may not have had the weekend that he wanted with Toro Rosso this weekend but he did the best that he could do and picked up some more points for the team and also started his season well.
Rosberg had a bit of an action packed yet defensive race to finish seventh, scoring more points for the Mercedes team who seem to have having some problems extracting pace and performance out of their package. But there is still a lot of work to be done but the fact that Rosberg scored points on a tough day
Hulkenberg did a great job to get sixth place today. It is a result that Hulkenberg needed after a tough few races and he should be happy; especially gaining the position just before the finish line on the final lap. But in a race where many expected him to finish and to maintain the momentum he has so far, he has managed to gain some points for the team and put himself in good stead for the rest of the 2016 season.
Vettel did a great job to get fourth place today and deserves a mention. He drove a solid race despite not winning the battle with Perez and he did a great job to secure some much needed points for his team after a good performance this weekend and it is clear that the car was working well for them as a result. This will only help him prepare for the rest of the 2016 season.
Perez deserves a mention and has to be my biggest surprise of the day. He drove a solid race to third place and battled his way through to get these points which just solidify Force India’s status in the Constructors Championship and gaining the team’s first podium in Monaco. But he needs to keep the momentum going and see if he can get back to the front in Canada in two weeks time.
Ricciardo drove a solid race to finish second today. He may not have had the race he wanted; and didn’t have a chance to try and get past but he did a great job to secure a podium today. And it was a shame that once again, Red Bull let him down but what a fantastic job from him all weekend and this will only give him a slight satisfaction heading into the next race in Canada.
All that is left to say about this race is that Hamilton deserved to win at Monaco and he needed to in order to show that he cannot be discounted as a driver. His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race. Mercedes has built on the results that they have gained so far since pre-season testing and have shown that they are still the best team on the grid at the moment. All credit to Lewis for doing a superb job this weekend and winning his first race of the season.
With Canada not far away, many will wondering if this season will be Rosberg’s at last or can Hamilton, Ricciardo or Vettel challenge him for wins along the way. But what is for certain is that Formula One is building up rather nicely and we also have the in-season test as well which I will be covering every day.