A creative, alternate strategy from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel allowed him to leapfrog teammate Kimi Raikkonen during the pitstop phase of the race, to take the Maranello’s first Monaco Grand Prix victory since 2001.
Ferrari’s decision to leave Vettel out on a longer opening stint played enormously to his advantage, much to the chagrin of Raikkonen, who was clearly furious at the team’s strategy calls that benefitted the German and disadvantaged himself, the pole-sitter.
Post-race Raikkonen didn’t expand on his obvious annoyance and disappointment with his predicament, “I was called in and that’s about it,” Raikkonen said of the tactics.
“Obviously it didn’t work out very well for me. I got the bad end of the story today,” Raikkonen said.
The second place is Raikkonen’s best finish of the season, as he looks to hunt down his teammate, Vettel and the Mercedes duo, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.
Speaking of Mercedes, Sunday’s race was one of their worst in the last four years. Bottas finished fourth sandwiched between the two Red Bulls, whilst Hamilton made good ground after qualifying 13th, to come home in 7th.
Australian Dan Ricciardo followed the same long first stint strategy as Vettel, much to his advantage as he leapfrogged his teammate, Max Verstappen and Bottas to finish on the final step of the podium.
Like Raikkonen, Verstappen was less than thrilled with this development after his pitstop, and he let his team have it.
“What a f***ing disaster,” Verstappen blasted over the radio.
Verstappen had been quicker than Bottas and Ricciardo over the course of the weekend, but with the nature of the Monaco circuit, that makes overtaking all but impossible, the Dutchman had to settle for 5th.
The enormously impressive Carlos Sainz in the Toro Rosso finished 6th, ahead of a frustrated triple-world champion in Lewis Hamilton.
American team Haas, had their strongest Grand Prix performances of the season, with both cars finishing in the points; Romain Grosjean in 8th and Kevin Magnussen in 10th.
Williams’ Felipe Massa benefited from all the carnage towards the end of the race, to finish 9th and gain some greatly needed points for Williams.
2009 World Champion, Jenson Button, who returned in the place of former teammate Fernando Alonso for the Monaco weekend had a torrid time, hit with a 15-place grid penalty on Saturday, he spent most of his race stuck behind the Sauber of Pascal Wehrlein, before an aggressive overtaking manoeuvre on lap 60, ended with Wehrlein’s car on it’s side up against the barrier, and Button’s car with extensive suspension damage.
Minutes later with the safety car on track, the second Sauber of Marcus Erikson crashed going into turn one, as he attempted to unlap himself under yellows. The guilty party, was a lack of brake temperature.
On the restart, Force India’s Sergio Perez snuck down the inside of Stoffel Vandoorne, only to force the Belgian wide into the barrier and out of the race. Minutes later, Perez collided with Daniel Kvyat, forcing the latter into retirement and the former back into the pitlane with a flat front left, shortly before the races conclusion.
The long-term outcome of this race is a major victory for Ferrari, and in particular Sebastian Vettel, who has extended a now hefty lead over Hamilton in the drivers championship (25 points), whilst Ferrari regained the lead in the constructors title race. All in all, not a bad weekends work for a team that hadn’t won on the tight streets of Monaco since Michael Schumacher in 2001.