Glitz, Glamour, the streets of Monte Carlo could only mean one thing as the Monaco Grand Prix came to town. Monaco certainly served up a thrilling race and had the Safety Car not made a late appearance we were in for an intriguing finish between Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.
But the German once again came out on top. Red Bull and Vettel seem to be having all the luck go their way and no doubt Alonso and Button will have felt robbed after Sunday.
However the Spaniard and Jenson can take many positives from the Monaco weekend and on any other circuit Alonso and Button will have got past Vettel.
Before I do go onto to talk about the race I want to touch on the incidents involving Nico Rosberg, Sergio Perez and Vitaly Petrov. Nico Rosberg had a heavy crash in the third Free Practice session and managed to stop his Mercedes hurtling headlong into the barriers.
And then in qualifying Sauber’s Sergio Perez crashed heavily into the tyre wall at the Nouvelle Chicane with five minutes to go in Q3. Vitaly Petrov crashed into a barrier coming out of the first Swimming Pool chicane in the race.
These accidents highlight how dangerous Formula One remains and nothing can be taken for granted. Hopefully we will see both Speedy Gonzalez Perez and Petrov competing at the next Grand Prix in Canada.
The tyre wall at the Nouvelle Chicane did its job and Perez came out of the incident with concussion. Hearing from Sauber chief executive officer Monisha Kaltenborn saying Perez was in good spirits and spent a good night in the Princess Grace Hospital was great news.
Perez’s accident was the third over the weekend suffered by a driver coming out of the tunnel and heading to the Nouvelle chicane. Renault’s Vitaly Petrov also crashed there on Thursday and Rosberg suffered a similar incident at the same place in final practice.
The exit from the tunnel is very bumpy and this may be one reason why we saw Rosberg, Perez, Petrov and Vitantonio Liuzzi suffer from crashes in that area of the circuit. You get the impression something needs to be done about the exit coming out of the tunnel. Only time will tell whether that part of the track will be improved.
Sunday’s race did not disappoint and I suppose the only disappointment was to see the Safety Car appear at the end of the race with Vettel, Alonso and Button slugging it out at the front.
Once the red flag came out and Vettel was able to change his tyres, last years World Champion was comfortably able to hold off the two-times World Champion Alonso and Button from the re-start. You have to give credit to Seb who did a tremendous job in nursing his tyres for over 60 laps although he was under severe pressure from Fernando and Jenson.
Red Bull and Vettel are unstoppable at the minute and its difficult to see who will stop them. But there is hope.
On any other circuit both Alonso and Button will have got past Vettel and I’m sure Jenson would have won the race if we did not see the Safety Car. However both drivers (Alonso and Button) could not have driven better races and can take plenty of positives from the weekend.
Alonso is like marmite, you either like him or you either hate him. But there is no denying the Spaniard is a class act and he does have momentum heading to Canada. Can he halt the Red Bull and Vettel surge? I would not back against it.
Having the benefit of hindsight, should Jenson have gone for a three stop strategy? A three stop strategy at any other circuit will have worked and Button would have got past Vettel and Alonso.
Jenson will have been disappointed not to have won the race but the Frome star can take heart from the way he performed at Monaco. Button is one of those drivers who always seems to get the best out of a strategy given to him and he was unlucky that three stops did not quite come off at Monaco.
But it was a weekend to forget for Lewis Hamilton. Throughout Free Practice, Hamilton was right on the money and was the one driver who you felt could get close to Vettel in qualifying. But things took a turn for the worse in Q3 in qualifying and from there his weekend went downhill.
Lewis was only able to set one timed lap in Q3 and in that lap he cut the chicane which meant he started the race from 9th. And in the race Hamilton received a drive-through penalty after he bumped into Felipe Massa on lap 34. Lewis then had to have his rear wing repaired after Jaime Alguersuari went into the back of the McLaren.
And then to make matter worse, Hamilton was penalised with the addition of 20 seconds to his finishing time after colliding with Pastor Maldonado’s Williams at Sainte Devote. Hamilton went onto finish the race sixth.
The 2008 World Champion certainly took his anger out on the stewards in his post-race interview with Lee McKenzie. It was the first time I saw Lewis being petulant and venting his frustration out unnecessarily.
What Hamilton needs to do now is forget about Monaco and look ahead to the weekend in Canada where he won last year and in 2007. Lewis had a frustrating weekend in Malaysia and yet the following weekend he bounced back in China.
Come the end of Sunday, Sauber had something to smile about as Kamui Kobayashi finished the race in fifth. Once again Kobayashi made his one stop strategy work and in the end was just unable to hold off Mark Webber for fourth. Kamui is a star for the future and I would not be surprised if one of the big teams snapped him up. And fingers crossed we will see Sergio Perez racing for Sauber in Canada.
Adrian Sutil despite losing his right rear tyre in the latter stages of the race finished 7th and scored much needed points for him and Force India. Paul di Resta had an eventful race and had he not had a drive through, di Resta could have finished in the points. His inexperience did show at times but he is still a rookie and is still learning.
Rubens Barrichello scored Williams’ first points of 2011 by finishing ninth. It will have been a relief for everyone associated at Williams to see the team pick up their first points of the season.
It was a disappointing end to what promised to be a decent weekend for Pastor Maldonado. Maldonado managed to get into Q3 yet again and was on course to score his first points in Formula One until he collided with Lewis Hamilton in the final stages of the race. Through no fault of his own, Maldonado was sent into the barriers at Sainte Devote and the Venezuelan will be wondering when is my luck going to change.
And finally Sebastian Buemi picked up the final point and the Swiss driver has made a solid start to 2011. Buemi is one of those drivers who is no doubt aiming to drive for Red Bull in the future. One man who is under pressure is Jaime Alguersuari and if his performances do not improve then Daniel Ricciardo could be drafted in.
Tyre degradation was a major talking point in last years race in Canada and if that race is anything to go by then tyre degradation could yet again be a factor in who ends up victorious in Montreal.