The Alternative Review: Monaco
The Monaco Grand Prix is a double-edged sword. As magical and mystical as the race is, it can also be one of the busiest and most frantic weekends on the calendar. This time around, we saw biting words spark civil war at Mercedes, Sauber implode once again, and Marussia do the unthinkable: score some points.
Lewis declares war on Nico; Nico wins the first battle
Monaco marked the beginning of full-blown civil war at Mercedes, but there was only one aggressor. From the word go last weekend, Lewis was on Nico’s case. He questioned his hunger to win, and so had every reason to feel a bit silly when he did exactly that. Hamilton implicitly pointed the finger at Rosberg, claiming that he deliberately went off in qualifying to gain pole, but the stewards and the team said he hadn’t. The majority of the paddock said it just wasn’t in Nico’s character. In fact, the only person who agreed with Lewis Hamilton was Johnny Herbert.
In the race, Nico had the last laugh by winning comfortably as Lewis got something in his eye. However, once again, the Briton is refusing to accept he lost. In Monaco, he was second best – and he must accept that.
Red Bull make up ground, but it might be a one race thing
Daniel Ricciardo is quickly doing a lot to prove us all wrong. When he joined Red Bull, many asked whether he was ready, but he has proven that he is more than capable of filling Mark Webber’s shoes. In Monaco, he was fortunate to finish third after Vettel and Raikkonen hit trouble, but his relentless pace in pursuit of Hamilton proved that he had what it took. Red Bull’s pace was always within a few tenths of Mercedes’ over one lap, but when we return to Canada – where straight line speed is king – the gap may grow again. For now, though, Red Bull can bathe in the success of Dan’s second straight podium finish.
Ferrari quiet, but Alonso brings home a tidy haul
Ferrari was expected to struggle in Monaco given the F14 T’s reluctance to get out of slow corners. However, Fernando Alonso produced a near-perfect lap to qualify fifth on Saturday, with Kimi Raikkonen joining him on the third row. The Finn made a rocket start to jump up to fourth behind Vettel, and claimed third when the German hit trouble. After pitting under the safety car, he was still in third place, and looked set for his first podium finish for Ferrari.
However, it wasn’t to be. Whilst letting Max Chilton unlap himself under the safety car, the Marussia hit Raikkonen, giving him a puncture. He managed to fight back into the top ten from last place, but an over-zealous move on Kevin Magnussen meant that both ended in the wall. Raikkonen pitted and set the fastest lap with a fresh set of boots, but it was only good enough for 12th place come the flag. The damage was limited this weekend by Ferrari, but there’s still a lot of time to make up.
Bianchi does the possimpible
Jules Bianchi, you little beauty. Ninth place for Marussia, and the team’s first ever points in Formula 1. What a story. After a poor start, Bianchi came through with some great overtakes (he Kobayashied Kobayashi!) and some wonderful defensive driving against Jean-Eric Vergne and Romain Grosjean. With a five seconds due to be added on for serving a penalty under the safety car, he looked resigned to 11th behind Grosjean, which would have been heartbreaking. However, thanks to Raikkonen’s move on Magnussen, he came home in eighth place on track, which became ninth with the penalty. An outstanding result from the entire Marussia team, who have worked so hard for so, so long.
However, of all the places to want to go for a piss up after the race, Monaco is not the one to do it at if you’re keeping an eye on the wallet. Still, a fine result for JB; I wonder what Mr. Montezemolo was thinking watching that.
You could say he achieved “the possimpible”, which, as defined by How I Met Your Mother’s Barney Stinson, is: “Where the possible and impossible meet. When you go beyond the possible and beyond the impossible.” Just don’t mention how that show ended.
Sauber useless, again
I’ve been a long-running critic of Sauber in 2014, continually pointing out how rubbish the Swiss team has been. In Monaco, though, I started to get excited when Esteban Gutierrez worked his way into the top ten thanks to the retirements ahead. However, it all came crashing down with a rather basic error at La Rascasse. Now, they’re behind Marussia in the constructors’. Oh dear.
A few hangovers on the Monday morning
Monaco’s reputation as F1’s big party weekend continued, meaning that there were more than a few sore heads on Monday morning. Sunglasses and plenty of water required at Nice airport, one would imagine.
However, we must once again thank F1’s smallest principality for putting on quite a show. The swords have been sharpened and Formula 1’s latest intra-team war is set to rumble on. We head to Canada – traditionally a Hamilton stronghold – full of optimism, intrigue and devilish smiles. F1 may be about the racing, but boy do we love the drama.
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic and Marussia F1 Team.
Luke Smith is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Richland F1. Having started the website in March 2012, he has gone on to become one of the youngest members of the Formula 1 paddock after joining American broadcaster NBC Sports at the beginning of the 2013 season. Luke now works as the network's lead F1 writer, supporting the TV coverage on nbcsports.com. Luke's work has also been featured on NBC News, Yahoo! Sports, Driven Magazine and the Bahrain Mirror, and he has also appeared on CNBC's TV series "One Second in F1 Racing".