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GP Week : Issue 12
The weekend had started well for Honda. Barrichello had placed his car 8th in the morning while Button followed suit in the afternoon, with the Brazilian again making the top 10 in 10th. Despite no major issues on that first day, qualifying was a comparative disaster. Coulthard’s final minute crash brought out the yellow flags just as both Honda drivers were on their best laps of the second session. Theoretically they both could have made it into Q3, but ultimately the duo had to be content with a P15 for Barrichello and P12 for Button. Button’s race was undone on the opening lap as he and clashed at the exit of Swimming Pool, necessitating a new front wing. He rejoined last but fought up to finish 11th. Barrichello was in the mix all afternoon. He raced well to sit sixth, but fell back to eighth after his final pit-stop. Sutil and Raikkonen’s coming together however meant the Brazilian was back in sixth and scored his first points in more than 20 races. McLaren arrived in Monaco with its usual Steinmetz diamond deal, but the team hoped its cars would sparkle more than the diamond encrusted helmets of its drivers at a track which could have proved tricky for them. McLaren has seemed to struggle on tight and twisty sections of track this year, but in practice Hamilton set the overall pace on the first day, with Kovalainen only a few tenths off his pace. Qualifying was ultimately disappointing for McLaren as the pace they had shown suggested at least one driver would get on the front row. But that was Ferrari-land and McLaren ended up on row two. Kovalainen’s race was stunted on the parade lap when first gear failed to engage. He started at the back but rose triumphantly to eighth. Hamilton overcame two punctures to take a glorious and thoroughly deserved win. That McLaren is not leading the constructors’ championship is simply down to luck. While the drivers clearly have the pace, right now the cards simply aren’t falling for them both at the same time. Force India’s Team Principal was born to be in Monaco. Dr Vijay Mallya showed the paddock the time of its life aboard his enormous yacht, and was a gracious and accommodating host all weekend. That the race could have rewarded his team with such a fine result would have been fitting for a man and a team who had given so much to the event, but it was not to be. Fisichella was celebrating his 200th race, and took a best of 10th position in practice. Qualifying slumped the team back to earth with the bottom two slots on the grid, although Sutil made it up to 18th with penalties imposed elsewhere. Fisichella’s race was a huge disappointment. He kept clear of trouble, but lost gears and had to retire. Sutil was the star of the race. He fought hard on a gambling one stop strategy and looked set to come home fourth until Raikkonen’s wayward Ferrari ruined his race. It was a sad end to what could have been a tremendous result. HONDA RACING F1 TEAM 16 17 FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM 20 21 VODAFONE McLAREN MERCEDES 22 23 F1 MONACO >> 35