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GP Week : Issue 155
on the prime tyre, with one stop behind them. The interloper was Sebastian Vettel, who had started on the prime, gained some useful places on the first lap and had run the tyre right through to lap 46, by which time he was leading the race by 16.6 sec. Vettel dropped back to fourth is his pit stop for options, which meant that Mark was leading again, from Nico, Fernando (who had passed Lewis in the pit stops) and, now, Seb Vettel. Had Seb landed in second place – on new tyres – the race would have been, well, something other than a race, I suspect. As it was, Mark was now free to eke out a classic one-stopper. Seb could do nothing about the Ferrari ahead of him. Just as Nico could do nothing about Webber and Fernando could do nothing about Nico. Monaco’s like that: you’re only going to pass someone if they mess it up under braking for Ste Devote or the chicane, do something stupid into a hairpin or run into some kind of mechanical drama. Thus Mark did a beautiful job of winning the Monaco Grand Prix at the slowest possible speed. When a few spots of rain fell late-race at Mirabeau, Mark backed away into the 1min 24s – into Force India territory. Everyone banked up behind him did likewise. Three point three seconds covered the first six – Webber, Rosberg, Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton, Massa – but Rosberg and Co might just as well have been half a minute away. Mark just drove his race. Round and round he went, give or take a lockup at the chicane (or two). And it was a win. From the pole. His second on this glittering stage. There’s something about the shadows that fall towards the end of the Monaco GP – about the stirring of people near the Royal Box as the final laps unfurl. Mark knows the movements, knows the feeling; but he savoured them all the more. Nico was second, as he was always destined to be second when a guy like Webber was in front of him. And Fernando was third, beating (I’m sure he will feel) his nearest championship rival yet again. Which takes us back to the season as a whole. A season where the variables change quickly, from one race to another – variables that are based on the Pirelli tyres versus the prevailing constants (track grip, weather and circuit design). It’s Fernando Alonso who is out there, showing his versatility in the face of that ever-changing baseline. It’s Fernando Alonso who, six races into the year, again leads the Drivers’ World Championship. Despite his car never being the quickest. Despite the combined, on-the-day brilliance of Button, Hamilton, Webber, Vettel, Rosberg and Schumacher. Despite the sweet spots that Lotus, Sauber and Williams frequently find. Despite it all, it’s Fernando. And, on the signs of Monaco, it’s now Fernando backed by Felipe ... For more of Windsor on F1 watch The Flying Lap live every week on http://smibs.tv Massa never really lost sight of his team leader ... 22 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: THREE POINT THREE SECONDS COVERED THE FIRST SIX – WEBBER, ROSBERG, ALONSO, VETTEL, HAMILTON, MASSA – BUT ROSBERG AND CO MIGHT JUST AS WELL HAVE BEEN HALF A MINUTE AWAY. " " F1 >>> MONACO