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GP Week : Issue 118
Team-By-Team: Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo McLaren could well have scored a 1-2 finish in Monte Carlo had they played their cards right, but ended up with a relatively poor 3-6 finish with Lewis Hamilton in disarray after a character-building weekend. Button started second and took the lead after a poor pitstop for Vettel, but had to forfeit track position on his three-stop strategy meaning he finished behind Alonso too. Hamilton’s troubles began on Saturday when a strategic error put him 9th on the grid and he failed to make any progress after an accident-prone race. He got a drive-through for hitting Massa at the hairpin and was then handed a 20- second penalty for hitting Maldonado into the barriers in the final five laps. Vettel’s continued to march clear at the top of the drivers’ championship standings with another impressive win, stopping only once and getting saved by a late-race red flag period to score his 15th career win. He didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend and had to cope with a poor pitstop from his team on his way to his first Monaco win. Team-mate Webber suffered even more from a poor pitstop, when he dropped from fourth to 14th. He recovered ground during the race and nabbed fourth from Kobayashi in the final two laps. The Monaco Grand Prix is usually a positive one for the Enstone-based team, but without the feisty Robert Kubica in action for the weekend they were languishing in the depths of the midfield. After qualifying both cars outside the top ten, the R31 performed considerably better in the race, and both drivers had climbed into the points by half-distance. Petrov looked set for 7th on a one-stop strategy before crashing into the back of Alguersuari, while Heidfeld took the flag in eighth place after two- stopping from 15th on the grid. A woeful race for Mercedes saw them fail to score points for the second race this season. The W02 again struggled on high fuel, with Rosberg and Schumacher both dropping to the back of the field after their first pitstops early in the race. Neither were able to make progress from there, as those around them were able to run much longer before pitting, while Schumacher even retired with an airbox fire on lap 33 just as the first safety car period was beginning. Rosberg took the flag in 11th after three- stopping, but finished two laps down on winner Vettel. Rubens Barrichello scored Williams’ first points of the 2011 season in ninth place, but it should have been so much more after a brilliant drive by Monaco debutant Pastor Maldonado. After getting his FW33 into the top ten in qualifying for the second race in a row, Maldonado pitted twice and was looking set for sixth until he was punted off the road by Lewis Hamilton. The clash cost the Venezuelan eight points and his debut F1 top-ten finish. Barrichello two- stopped to ninth, helped by retirements ahead of him in the closing laps. Felipe Massa’s season continues to go from bad to worse after failing to finish the Monaco Grand Prix for the first time since 2002, making it his third non-scoring race in a row. He thinks he could have finished as high as fourth had Hamilton not run into him at the hairpin, but instead crashed in the tunnel because of the damage. Team-mate Alonso was driving the wheel off the other Ferrari up front and could well have emerged the victory but for a late-race red flag period cementing Vettel’s win after a short six- lap run to the flag. 32