What happened at the Monaco Grand Prix?

Daniel Ricciardo makes it three Monaco podiums in four years, while the Prancing Horse wins the most famous F1 race of all, but not without controversy.


Lewis Hamilton: qualified 14th, finished 7th. Valtteri Bottas: qualified 3rd, finished 4th.

Sunday’s race around the streets of the Principality was just the fourth since 2014 where at least one Mercedes didn’t make the podium; for the record, the others were Hungary and Singapore 2015, and Spain last year. For Bottas, scoring his first points in Monaco would have taken some of that pain away, but on a rare weekend where teammate Hamilton was completely out of the picture, fourth would have been the bare minimum he would have wanted after qualifying just 0.045secs from pole position 24 hours earlier. The Finn spent most of the race withstanding pressure from the Red Bull of Verstappen, initially for the final spot on the podium, but later for fourth as Ricciardo jumped them both in the pit stops. While Bottas’ weekend was relatively straightforward, Hamilton’s was anything but, the Briton admitting that finding the sweet spot for setting up his Mercedes was a “mystery” after qualifying a poor 14th on Saturday, his one chance at a good lap to sneak into Q3 thwarted when Vandoorne crashed in front of him at the exit of the Swimming Pool complex. Hamilton had nothing to lose by running a marathon opening stint of 46 laps, and to gain six places from where he started – and to only drop 19 world championship points to Vettel on a weekend when it could have been so much worse – was as good as things could have been in the circumstances. “The team said in the strategy meeting this morning I could only get 10th, so I am happy,” he said.

Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo: qualified 5th, finished 3rd. Max Verstappen: qualified 4th, finished 5th.

After last year and THAT shambolic pit stop that cost him victory, Ricciardo knows a little about Monaco disappointment, and that misery looked set to extend to this year when he qualified half a second behind teammate Verstappen on Saturday, blaming the team for releasing him onto the track into traffic in what he called a “stupid, silly error”. The usual Ricciardo smile returned on Sunday though, a magical five-lap stint after Bottas and Verstappen pitted seeing him leapfrog the pair of them into the final podium spot after his own stop, his one scary moment thereafter coming when he brushed the barriers at the first corner following the safety car re-start with 11 laps remaining. A third podium in his last four races in Monaco and a second consecutive third place after finishing in the same spot in Barcelona two weeks earlier was reward for his searing pace when it counted. Verstappen finished a race in Monaco for the first time, but was less than impressed to find out he was behind his teammate after the stops, and could never get close enough to Bottas to mount a serious challenge as the laps wound down.

Sebastian Vettel: qualified 2nd, finished 1st. Kimi Raikkonen: qualified 1st, finished 2nd.

With Hamilton out of the picture for a race win, Ferrari ended up with the perfect result for its world championship aspirations. Vettel’s victory was the first for the famed red team at Monaco since 2001, and one that extended his margin over the Mercedes driver to 25 points six races into the season. But was it a victory that owed itself to a pre-arranged team order, or one where the German simply made the best of what was, in hindsight, the better strategy? Raikkonen took his first pole since the 2008 French Grand Prix on Saturday and controlled the race for the first 34 laps until his pit stop on Sunday, but Vettel stayed out, pumped in a series of searing laps, and jumped the Finn in the pits to take a lead he never looked like relinquishing. Vettel has now finished either first or second in every race this year, and with a race win worth of points as a margin after just six Grands Prix, is sitting pretty atop the standings. Raikkonen’s facial expressions and immediate media interactions after the race didn’t give away much – they rarely do – but the veteran was clearly not amused that his best chance of snapping a win drought that goes back to the 2013 Australian GP went begging. “It’s still second place, but it doesn’t count a lot in my books,” he eventually said.

Force India
Sergio Perez: qualified 7th, finished 13th. Esteban Ocon: qualified 16th, finished 12th.

A run of seven straight races with both cars in the points – five this season – came to a crashing halt for Force India at Monaco, with Ocon in particular labouring through a difficult first race meeting at one of the world’s most unforgiving circuits. The young Frenchman crashed at the end of the final practice session on Saturday and could only qualify his hastily-rebuilt car 16th, and any chance of points evaporated when he had to make a second unscheduled pit stop on lap 40 with a left rear puncture. While Ocon finished second-last, teammate Perez was last as a 15-race run of top-10 results came to an end. The Mexican qualified strongly but pitted on lap 16 with a broken front wing, and was always going to struggle to score after that, a late-race coming-together with Kvyat’s Toro Rosso sending the Russian into retirement, and Perez back into the pits for a third time. Fresh tyres helped him set the fastest lap of the race three laps from the end, but that was little consolation on a rough day for a team that has over-achieved all season.

Felipe Massa: qualified 15th, finished 9th. Lance Stroll: qualified 18th, did not finish.

Massa was one of several drivers to not get a representative lap time in after Vandoorne’s qualifying crash, so to finish in the points from a lowly starting position of 15th was a decent result, a late-race pit stop for fresh rubber under the safety car seeing the veteran salvage something from an afternoon spent in a raging midfield battle. The Brazilian continues to plough a lone furrow at Williams, with Stroll failing to finish for the fourth time in six races, this time because of overheating brakes. The Canadian teenager admitted in the lead-up to Monaco that he’d been getting the track wrong on Playstation, and quickly got it wrong on the real thing too, crashing at Casino Square, almost inevitably, in Thursday practice. His home Grand Prix in Montreal – and a whole heap of pressure – is his next test.

Jenson Button: qualified 9th, did not finish. Stoffel Vandoorne: qualified 10th, did not finish.

For a team that sits last in the constructors’ championship and one that may have squandered its best chance for points all season, McLaren certainly generated plenty of headlines at Monaco, not least because of the return of Button as a super-sub as Fernando Alonso turned his attentions to the Indianapolis 500 half a world away. The 2009 world champion qualified a credible ninth, but Alonso would have sympathised with his old teammate as Button was sent to the back of the grid with a 15-place penalty for having to change engine components. The Briton started from the pit lane and ran around in either last or second-last until lap 60, when he clumsily lunged at Wehrlein’s Sauber and sent the German’s car onto its side against the barriers while wrecking his own, causing a safety car. Teammate Vandoorne made it into Q3 but couldn’t take part after crashing in qualifying, took a three-place penalty for nerfing Massa off in the last race in Spain, got himself into position to score the team’s first points of 2017, and then dropped it at the first corner with Perez in hot pursuit with 12 laps to go and hit the barriers.

Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat: qualified 11th, did not finish. Carlos Sainz: qualified 6th, finished 6th.

Sainz admitted he didn’t expect to qualify sixth on Saturday, and that surprise gave way to elation 24 hours later when he finished in the same position he started despite Hamilton breathing down his neck in the manic final laps. It was the Spaniard’s best result of the season to date, and one that saw him jump to eighth in the drivers’ championship. Kvyat was desperately unlucky not to join him in the top 10 after being assaulted by Perez’s Force India at Rascasse and having to park up with seven laps to go.

Romain Grosjean: qualified 8th, finished 8th. Kevin Magnussen: qualified 13th, finished 10th.

The second-year American team made a change to its 2017 livery from Monaco onwards to allow the car to stand out more on TV, and Haas stood out on track for the right reasons too after a first two-car points result for the season. Grosjean survived a fraught qualifying session where he had two spins to start eighth and finish in the same spot, while Magnussen made one of the better starts in the field to jump two rivals into the first corner, and overcame an unscheduled pit stop for a puncture to hold off Palmer’s Renault for the final points-scoring position on offer.

Jolyon Palmer: qualified 17th, finished 11th. Nico Hulkenberg: qualified 12th, did not finish.

Monaco started badly and didn’t improve a lot for Renault, with Palmer still seeking his first points of 2017, and Hulkenberg the first retirement of the race with a gearbox drama on lap 16. The yellow team’s problems started in practice on Thursday, when Hulkenberg had an electrical failure that prevented him from doing any laps in the opening practice session, and Palmer blowing an engine in FP2 after only eight laps.

Marcus Ericsson: qualified 20th, did not finish. Pascal Wehrlein: qualified 19th, did not finish.

Spectators were understandably concerned when Wehrlein ended up stuck in his car while it was tipped onto its left side after being flipped by Button, an incident that came only months after the young German was in an accident at the off-season Race of Champions in Miami that left him with a back injury and caused him to miss the opening two races of the year in Australia and China. Fortunately Wehrlein was OK, but Monaco was quite the come-down after his strong run last time out in Spain. Ericsson qualified last after smacking the wall at the Nouvelle Chicane in qualifying, complained that his car was “so difficult to drive” in the race, and then crashed at the first corner on lap 65 under safety car conditions in a moment that won’t go down as his finest in an F1 car.


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