Vettel leads Ferrari one-two in Monaco
Monaco Grand Prix

Vettel leads Ferrari one-two in Monaco

28/05/2017

Sebastian Vettel took Ferrari's first win at the Monaco Grand Prix since 2001 with a comfortable drive to victory ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen on the streets of Monte-Carlo.

The win extends his championship lead over Lewis Hamilton to 25 points after the Mercedes driver experienced an afternoon of damage limitation following his poor qualifying performance on Saturday. A good start and a smart strategy helped Hamilton recover from 13th on the grid to seventh at the chequered flag, but he leaves Monaco with crucial points dropped in the championship.

Vettel was second behind Raikkonen at the start, but was shuffled ahead during the pit stops after Ferrari dropped Raikkonen into traffic following his one and only tyre change. Vettel, meanwhile, was allowed to make up time in clear air and delivered a series of quick laps when it mattered to gain the overcut and take the lead after his pit stop.

Raikkonen kept his answers short after the race and was unable to offer an explanation as to why his team put him at such a disadvantage with the timing of his pit stop. Vettel stressed there was no plan to switch the cars at the stops prior to the race, but the suspicion in the paddock was that the victory was engineered more than it was earned.

Daniel Ricciardo also benefitted from a good strategy to jump from fifth to third at the pit stops by running longer than Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen. Verstappen kicked off the pit stop window on lap 32 and Bottas and Mercedes reacted a lap later. Bottas retained position ahead of Verstappen and initially looked quick, but soon got stuck behind Carlos Sainz who had yet to stop.

Ricciardo took full advantage by staying out and setting a series of quick laps in clear air that allowed him to stop on lap 38 and come out ahead of both Bottas and Verstappen. Like Raikkonen, Verstappen may feel duped by his team's decision to pit him early and when he discovered his teammate was ahead of him on track, he radioed the pit wall to say "What a f------ disaster".

The racing then settled down until lap 61 of 78 when a Safety Car was deployed for a collision between McLaren's Jenson Button and Sauber's Pascal Wehrlein. Button lunged up the inside of Wehrlein at Portier, but for the move to work it needed Wehrlein's full cooperation and, in reality, it's unlikely the Sauber driver was even aware of Button's intentions until the two collided.

Wehrlein's car was launched on its side and into the barriers, where it remained until the marshals were able to put it back on all four wheels. The German walked away from the accident before heading to the medical centre for precautionary checks, while Button continued as far as the Nouvelle Chicane before retiring from what is likely to be his final F1 race with broken suspension.

With Raikkonen as his rear gunner, Vettel had no problem retaining the lead when racing resumed after the Safety Car and he crossed the line 3.1s ahead of his teammate. Behind them, Ricciardo hit the barrier on the exit of Turn 1 as he came under pressure from Bottas at the restart, but managed to continue without major damage to finish third.

Verstappen made a stop under the Safety Car and, with tyres both softer and 23 laps younger than Bottas', put pressure on the Mercedes driver in the closing stages. But it wasn't enough of an advantage to make a move stick and the frustrated Dutch teenager had to settle for fifth at the chequered flag.

Carlos Sainz followed up on his strong qualifying performance to finish sixth ahead of Hamilton, who closed on the Toro Rosso's gearbox following the Safety Car but never got near enough to attempt a move. Romain Grosjean finished eighth for Haas after losing a position to Hamilton in the pit stops as the Mercedes went longer into the race on ultra-soft tyres and made the most of clear air.

The battle for the final points positions became increasingly desperate in the final few laps as Sergio Perez, who was forced to pit early with front wing damage, went on a late charge. He passed Stoffel Vandoorne for tenth at Sainte Devote on the restart, depriving McLaren of its first points of the season as the Belgian hit the barriers while attempting to leave space for the Force India.

Perez then started attacking Daniil Kvyat for ninth and lunged up the inside of the Toro Rosso at La Rascasse. Once again, it was an incredibly bold move and this time it ended in contact, with a smashed radiator forcing Kvyat to stop at Casino Square on the following lap. Damage to Perez's left front tyre resulted in a pit stop soon after, dropping him to 13th and allowing Felipe Massa and Kevin Magnussen to take advantage and score points in ninth and tenth.

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