Friday, May 21, 2010

Webber conquers Monaco

Mark Webber leads from start-to-finish to win the Monaco Grand Prix for Red Bull
Just a week after winning the Spanish Grand Prix, Mark Webber ruled the roost on the streets of Monte Carlo with a dominant victory in the Monaco Grand Prix – moving him into the lead of the F1 drivers' standings in the process.

The Red Bull ace qualified on pole position and led the race from start to finish, establishing an advantage early on that he would retain throughout despite a race hit by no fewer than four Safety Car periods.

When the lights went out, Webber made the perfect start to lead into turn one, but behind, team-mate Sebastian Vettel was able to jump ahead of Robert Kubica. Further back, Rubens Barrichello jumped up to sixth from ninth but Jenson Button went the other way and slipped down to eleventh.

Although the pack made it through the opening corner unscathed, the Safety Car was soon deployed when Nico Hulkenberg – who had dropped to the rear of the field with a clutch issue – went off going through the tunnel.

There was further drama behind the Safety Car when points leader Button then stopped with smoke pouring from the rear of his McLaren – possibly down to the team failing to remove a blanking plate from the sidepod as the Briton headed round to the grid.

The Safety Car period allowed Fernando Alonso – who had started from pitlane due to his practice accident – to make an early stop for medium tyres and it would prove to be a key call for the Ferrari man as the race wore on.

When the Safety Car peeled in, Webber led from Vettel and Kubica with Felipe Massa slotting into fourth and Lewis Hamilton and Barrichello rounding out the top six. Michael Schumacher had jumped Nico Rosberg for seventh at the start with Tonio Liuzzi and Adrian Sutil rounding out the top ten.

Those positions would remain unchanged as Webber eased away at the front of the field with all eyes on Alonso at the back as he set about making up places. Although Lucas di Grassi in the Virgin made it difficult, Alonso soon cleared the backmarkers and when Hamilton became the first runner to stop and rejoined just ahead of Alonso, it became clear that the early stop had put him right into contention.

By the time all the stops had taken place, Webber continued to lead from Vettel, Kubica, Massa and Hamilton, but Alonso had now jumped to sixth ahead of Schumacher, Rosberg, Sutil and Barrichello – who was one of the big losers during the stops.