When Mark Webber took his second Monaco win on Sunday, he send a message to Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull: I might be number two, but I am faster than Vettel!
The build-up for this year´s Monaco Grand Prix was the usual. Media reported, myself included, about the glamour and the superstars and every single media outlet were as surprised as ever when a Antonio Banderas or a Royal person showed up. The inevitable headlines filled the papers and the websites, but no amount of amazing-ness, a word I picked up from a blog writing about shoes (don´t ask!), could disguise the fact that the race was ultimately a snore fest.
Webber started from pole, his second in the streets of Monaco, bt as the Aussie has had a string of bad starts, most notably in 2011, everyone was looking at Nico Rosberg, starting 2nd, to see if he could leap-frog the Red Bull man. But Webber made a brilliant start, probably the best start he has made in several years and held the other drivers behind him. And so it went. Mark Webber delivered a stunning performance in a place where winning really is everything. He has now fought his way to 3rd in the standings, equal in points with you know who.
Procession, parade, boredom. Well, yes it was. I actually managed to fall asleep a little between lap 56 and 61, which was aok, because nothing happened. But we might be forgetting something. In 2009 everyone was yelling that we need interesting races and overtakings and great drives. Then we got that. Apart form the usual Bore-rain show in that country where ‘nothing is wrong and everyone is doing fine’, seasons 2011 and 2012 so far have been amazing. Simply astonishing to watch. The number of overtakings are through the roof, ok granted it´s pretty much only because of the DRS system, but still. We got what we wanted. We also got surprises this year, with six winners from the first six races, a record. So when we occasionally drop by Monaco to drive around the beautiful, but in reality utterly boring place where absolutely nothing happens 360 days a year, it´s ok to have a little rest.
Driver of the Day: Mark Webber
Naturally it is always easy to give the Driver of the Day to the race winner, but Webber deserved it. He timed the use of the tyres to perfection, he carefully managed how much wear and degradation the tyres encountered and more importantly, knew how to act accordingly. Controlling a race from start to finish is no easy feat, and as the six fastest drivers of the day finished within six seconds, you are beginning to see a pattern here, aren´t you, it was as close as it could get. I did mention that there weren´t much happening on the circuit and overtakings between the front runners were none. ut the pressure that started to mount on Webber towards the end, was immense. He held them off and took the win. Job done.
Best of the Rest: Sebastian Vettel
The German double world champion started 9th and finished in 4th. So not that great, huh? But Vettel was the driver of all the front runners, 1-10, who improved the most, and he drove a careful, well-planned and methodical race. Not great, not amazing in any way, but he scored some vital points.
Best of the Rest Part II: Paul di Resta
The Force India should probably get Vettel´s award, since di Resta improved more. The Scot started 14th and finished 7th, scoring six points in the process and he now has triple the amount of points teammate Nico Hulkenberg has.
Good Impressions: Heikki Kovalainen
Caterham should be very pleased with the result in Monaco. Yes, several cars retired, but only five of the nine cars retired where starting in front of him. The reality is, no matter how you look at it, Kovalainen is slowly but surely driving his way back into the memory of a lot of people. After his stint at McLaren, it was too soon, he should have been able to stay one more season at Renault, Heikki has gotten lost a little in the back rows of F1. But Tony Fernandes and the entire Caterham team has a vision, where Kovalainen is very much in the frame and 13th is a very, very solid performance.
Worst Performance: McLaren
I am very sorry to the many, many McLaren fans out there, but it´s simply not good enough. Race after race this season, we have witnessed how the pit crew have botched so many pit stops, you have to wonder if they have simply forgot how to do it. Lewis Hamilton started 3rd and should have been able to at least keep that, but another pit stop gone bad, means he finished 5th, with a slim to none chance of pushing for a step forward. And Jenson Button started to let his frustrations show, as a rare example of a driver error from the Frome Flyer, send him to the showers with eight laps to go. The mistakes from the team and the inability to get the car to perform as it should, have cost the team at least one victory and more points than I care to think about.
Worst Driver of the Weekend: Pastor Maldonado
He won in Spain, a brilliant win and everyone was so happy for him. But then he basically took all the good things he has built up since then, and flushed it down the toilet. In the final practice, Maldonado made a stupid and completely un-necessary move on Sergio Perez, as first the Mexican tried to steer out of the way of Maldonado, who in turn bumped into the rear of the Sauber and at Portier, on the next lap, Maldonado just cut across the front of Perez´ car, damaging the front wing. Sergio Perez later crashed at Casino, possible due to a damaged rear wheel from the earlier clash with Maldonado. As a result, the Williams driver received a ten-grid penalty, and I guess it was bad karma or something, because Maldonado had to change his gearbox, and received a further five-grid penalty, meaning he started from the very back.
The Canadian Grand Prix is in two weeks. Last year´s winner Jenson Button, will face an uphill battle if he is to stay on the front row, but can the Lotus duo finally take a win of the season?
Mark Webber celebrates winning the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix.
Copyright Red Bull Racing