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GP Week : Issue 183
M onaco was once described by the novelist Somerset Maugham as a sunny place for shady people. The sun-dappled Monaco Grand Prix grid was cast into shade on Sunday afternoon following a tyre testing row that saw Red Bull threaten to protest the results of the race before the 22 cars taking part had left the pits to line up on the grid. The Milton Keynes racers were concerned that a post-Barcelona tyre test using the current Mercedes car had given the Silver Arrows an unfair advantage in Monaco qualifying, with Red Bull conveniently forgetting that Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton had claimed pole at three of the five races preceding the contentious test. After an action-packed race that saw two Safety Car periods, a red flag, and seven retirements, Rosberg crossed the line in first place, in the process becoming the first second-generation Monaco Grand Prix winner in Formula One history. When the chequered flag fell, it was to the news that Ferrari and Red Bull had both launched a formal protest with the stewards complaining that Mercedes had violated Article 22.4h of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations, but the race result went uncontested. At the race start both Mercedes managed to stay ahead of the Red Bull despite a slowish getaway from Rosberg and a charge into Ste Devote from Sebastian Vettel. The front four drivers held position until the first round of pit stops, which saw Vettel swap to fresh rubber at the end of lap 30. It would later prove to be the perfect move from the Red Bull pit wall: Felipe Massa crashed into Ste Devote as Vettel was pitting, bringing out the first Safety Car of the race and sending the pack into the pits en masse. Race leader Rosberg was first in the Mercedes pits but, while Hamilton was waiting for his turn, he was jumped by both Vettel and Mark Webber, losing two precious places the Briton was unable to make up despite spending the bulk of the 50 remaining laps hanging onto the Australian’s rear wing. Massa’s crash was but one part of Ferrari’s bad day. The Brazilian driver was taken to hospital for checks and has since been released, but the fact that Massa’s Sunday incident was identical to the crash that saw him unable to take part in Saturday’s qualifying session was concerning to the team. In the other Ferrari, Fernando Alonso struggled to maintain track position, ceding places to Sergio Perez, Adrian Sutil, and Paul di Resta over the course of the 78 laps. Where Ferrari struggled, Force India soared. Adrian Sutil delivered an impressive performance that resulted in a well-deserved fifth place finish, vindication for the German racer after recent races have seen him hampered by a string of bad luck. Following the red flag, however Sutil took no prisoners, pulling off a series of impressive overtakes around the outside of the Loews’ hairpin. Di Resta was just as impressive, charging up through the field from 17th on the grid to a P9 finish, overtaking where necessary and deftly avoiding the damage caused by the demolition derby taking place ahead of him on track. For the Monaco race was a demolition derby of sorts, with seven of the grid’s 22 cars failing to make it to the chequered flag. Charles Pic had a purely mechanical retirement, but the other six drivers who saw their afternoons cut short were all involved in collisions, most of which were avoidable. Massa appeared to take himself out, causing the first Safety Car in the process, and less than 10 laps after racing resumed, Pastor Maldonado was pushed into the barriers approaching Tabac by Max Chilton, who was able to race on. The damage to the barriers led to an extended red flag period, followed by a Safety Car restart. Next to go was Jules Bianchi, who had suffered collateral damage in the Maldonado-Chilton shunt but raced on for 15 more laps before crashing out at Ste Devote with a failed brake disc. The final Safety Car came out thanks to Romain Grosjean, who rear- ended Daniel Ricciardo, taking both men out of the race and earning himself a 10-place grid penalty for Montreal in the process. The last man to retire was Sergio Perez, who had delivered a feisty performance from start to finish, dicing with – and passing – teammate Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, before an ill-judged attempt to crowd Kimi Raikkonen into the barriers at the Nouvelle Chicane saw the Mexican racer clip the barriers himself, leading to the suspension damage that eventually caused his late retirement following what had been a spirited performance. On the following pages, Trent Price takes a closer look at the incidents that shaped the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix, from Massa’s shunt to the Maldonado-Chilton collision that led to the red flag and beyond... 28 GPWEEK.com // 28 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> MONACO