Vettel extends his Formula 1 championship lead in sunny Monaco
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel arrived in Monaco for last weekend’s Formula 1 Grand Prix with a mere six point advantage over his main rival Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship, but the German driver left the Principality with an extended 25 point advantage after winning the race commonly known as the jewel in the sport’s crown.
Hamilton had made the early pace in opening pre-race practice before Vettel had twice gone quicker in subsequent sessions, but come the all important qualifying hour on Saturday afternoon it was Seb’s Ferrari team-mate Kimi Räikkönen who claimed pole position after lapping a mere 0.043s faster. In contrast Lewis had a qualifying session to forget, finishing only 14th quickest, although his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas did at least post the third quickest time.
The Monaco Grand Prix is a unique challenge for Formula 1 drivers as they hurtle around the tight twists and turns of the two mile circuit and when the red lights went out at the start of the 75th running of this iconic race it was Räikkönen who led Vettel, Bottas and the Bull duo Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo into the opening corner St Devote for the first time.
A relatively processional phase of the Grand Prix followed as the leading group of cars lapped the circuit without any changes of position. However, following the retirement of Renault driver Nico Hülkenberg and a pitstop for Force India’s Sergio Perez Hamilton, who had started 13th on the grid after penalties for Jenson Buttton, found himself in 10th place. By just before the mid-race point the pitstops of the leading contenders began, with Räikkönen stopping a crucial five laps earlier than Vettel. The latter made the most of this period and after his own pitstop rejoined on lap 40 in the lead, ahead of Räikkönen.
It was not plain sailing for Vettel from here to the chequered flag though as the Safety Car was called into action after Jenson Button’s attempt to pass Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein at Portier ended up with the latter’s car launched into a partial roll onto the barriers. Fortunately, Wehrlein, who had recently recovered from a pre-season neck injury, was unhurt, telling his team over the radio “I’m OK, but it would be better if I could get out of the car”. This was soon the case and when the Safety Car subsequently retired to the pits Vettel made a very effective restart, leaving Räikkönen, Ricciardo, Bottas and Verstappen to have a great scrap for second to fifth positions, the order remaining the same to the close. Carlos Sainz put in another fine drive to claim sixth position for Toro Rosso, holding off the chasing Hamilton.
So, after the dust had settled at one of the circuits I never tire of visiting the Formula 1 circus now moves across the Atlantic to Canada’s Montreal in two weeks’ time, when Vettel, Hamilton and the others will resume their highly entertaining championship battle.
2017 F1 Monaco Grand Prix Results
1 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1hr44m44.340s
2 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) +3.145s
3 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +3.745s
4 Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +5.517s
5 Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +6.199s
6 Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) +12.038s
7 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +15.801s
8 Romain Grosjean (Haas) +18.150s
9 Felipe Massa (Williams) +19.445s
10 Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +21.443s
11 Jolyon Palmer (Renault) +22.737s
12 Esteban Ocon (Force India) +23.725s
13 Sergio Perez (Force India) +39.089s
14 Lance Stroll (Williams) Retired
15 Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) Retired
16 Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) Crashed
17 Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) Crashed
18 Jenson Button (McLaren) Retired
19 Pascal Wehrlein (McLaren) Crashed
20 Nico Hülkenberg (Renault) Retired
2017 F1 Drivers’ Championship (after 6 rounds of 20)
1 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 129 points
2 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 104 points
3 Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 75 points
2017 F1 Constructors’ Championship (after 6 rounds of 20)
1 Ferrari 196 points
2 Mercedes 179 points
3 Red Bull 97 points