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Hamilton Robbed

2015 Monaco Podium

A very ordinary Monaco GP came to life in the closing stages as Lewis Hamilton, who was virtually unchallenged all race out in front, was cost his victory by a bizarre strategy call from his Mercedes team. Hamilton was seemingly in a different league from anybody else all weekend and was heading for his second win in the principality. Cue Max Verstappen running into the back of Romain Grosjean at St. Devote in the closing stages of the race.

The 17 year old rookie, who had a fantastic debut Monaco weekend, was battling the Lotus driver for 10th place and was gaining hand over fist having had superior tyres. Verstappen lined up a pass but misjudged Grosjean"s pace and slammed straight into the back of Grosjean. The incident resulted in the virtual safety car being used, meaning drivers had to drive to a certain delta, but was quickly replaced by the physical safety car.

Drivers further down the field opted to pit as this may have helped their positions, but when the silver Mercedes trundled down the pit lane a lot of eyebrows raised immediately. Hamilton was running comfortably and had good life on his tyres that would have got him to the end, just as Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel were able to, so the decision to pit Hamilton was baffling. What was worse for Hamilton however, was the fact that Sebastian Vettel was able to get ahead into third place as well, costing Hamilton even more points and handing Rosberg his 3rd straight win in Monaco.

Hamilton battled hard to get past Vettel and get after Rosberg, but it wasn't to be. The chase was very reminiscent to that of Senna versus Mansell in 1992, where Mansell in a faster car could not get past Senna"s slower McLaren. Like Senna, Vettel made his car as wide as possible and kept Hamilton at bay. Hamilton was clearly distraught at the end of the race, even driving into his 3rd place parking board on the pit straight. Fair play to Hamilton though, he congratulated Rosberg on his victory and didn't place blame on his team. Rosberg obviously acknowledged just how lucky his victory was, but couldn't hide his delight at his hat-trick of Monaco victories, joining an exclusive club that includes Graham Hill, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. The team have since apologised to Hamilton, and will have an inquest into the incident.

2015 Monaco Harbour

 

Williams and Red Bull Fortunes Change

2015 Monaco Route

I wrote recently about Williams were looking happy to be best of the rest behind Mercedes and Ferrari this season, and also how Red Bull have had a torrid time. I wrote this as recently as the Spanish GP two weeks ago. Fast forward to last weekend and the tables have completely turned. Williams had an absolute horror of a weekend, not even making the top 10 in qualifying. Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa endured tough races, with both failing to score a point. It was a very off colour weekend for the team, which even made Bottas look very average in comparison to what we have come to expect. His lightening speed didn't seem to be there and even got caught napping when letting the leaders through as Verstappen managed to overtake him. Massa was also involved in a collision on lap 1, and ended up pitting for a new front wing which ruined his whole afternoon. Talk of Williams lack of development came up after the Spanish GP when the team seemed to have stagnated. This was rubbished by Rob Smedley who said their development was going well. Things will hopefully be different in Canada for the team and they can keep moving forward.

Red Bull on the other hand were a different animal all together in Monaco. Daniel Ricciardo, like I've said before, has done brilliantly this season given the circumstances he's found himself in. Once again, he produced a brilliant drive in a car that isn't at its best, and came home ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari. This was all over shadowed by his team mate Dani Kvyat, who was outstanding all weekend.

I wrote after the Spanish GP that putting Kvyat in the car to replace Sebastian Vettel may have been contributing to Red Bull's lacklustre season so far. In Monaco though, he showed why he was given the opportunity at Red Bull, as he delivered the best drive I've seen from him during his career. He looked like a driver with massive experience and confidence, even beating team mate Ricciardo to finish in 4th place. For the team's sake, I hope they can now kick on and start delivering more consistency for their hard working drivers and try and challenge Ferrari and Mercedes again.

McLaren Finally Score

Anything can usually happen in Monaco. It can be seen as a race where a struggling team can aim for points and kick start their season. Think back to last season where Jules Binachi scored their only points to date. I don't think anyone would have thought that 12 months on that it would be McLaren scrapping around looking for their first points of the season. McLaren are improving with every race we go to and it is clear for all to see. Now the team have the crucial first points under their belts, thanks to Jenson Buttons 8th place finish. The car again looked to have improved with Button just missing out on the top 10 in qualifying, with Alonso not far behind him. Unfortunately for the team, Alonso retired with a gearbox issue but was looking good as well. The team still have a long way to go to challenge the teams above them, but this is certainly a step in the right direction for them.

Report courtesy of Simon Gray

Read more on Simon's blog here

 
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