Nico Rosberg took his second consecutive Monaco Grand Prix victory with a controlled drive from pole, holding off team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who struggled with vision problems in the latter stages of the race. Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo was third.
Rosberg held his lead at the start, with Hamilton hard in pursuit. Behind them the order was changing. Third-on the-grid Daniel Ricciardo made a poor getaway and was passed by team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Ricciardo then tried to fend off the hard-charging Fernando Alonso and that allowed Kimi Raikkonen, who had started sixth, to slip past both around the outside.
As the front-runners settled into the lap behind them Sergio Perez, who had started 10th, was clipped by McLaren’s Jenson Button and pitched into the barriers on the run down to the hairpin.
That triggered a brief safety car intervention and it left the order changed again. This time it was Vettel on the move – though backwards. The champion reported a loss of power and slid rapidly back to 10th by the end of lap four. He pitted to permit his crew a diagnosis but within moments of them releasing him back into the fray, in last position, he reported that his RB10 was stuck in first gear. The myriad issues quickly saw him retire from the race.
The next man to exit the race was Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat. The Russian rookie had impressed all weekend on his first time out at Monaco but after a decent race start in which he settled into eighth position he began to drop back on lap 11, losing places to Button and Hulkenberg. Kvyat then steered his car back to the pit lane and retired.
At the front the tight battle between Rosberg and Hamilton continued. By lap 19 the German was just 1.7 seconds ahead of his team-mate and both were pushing hard to find any advantage. Behind them Raikkonen was now 9.7s behind Rosberg, with Ricciardo 2.4s behind the Finn. Alonso continued in fifth, nine seconds to the good over Kevin Magnussen, with Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne seventh.
The Safety Car appeared again on lap 25. Adrian Sutil lost control of his Sauber on the exit of the tunnel and smashed into the barriers scattering debris all across the run down to the Nouvelle Chicane.
That was the cue for a flurry of stops as all the front runners visited the pits. The Mercedes came in one behind the other, with Hamilton momentarily delayed. Raikkonen, meanwhile, slotted back into third but was soon back in the pits, for another set of softs, the Finn being clipped by a lapped Marussia on his out lap. That promoted Ricciardo to third.
The order, when the safety car left the track on lap 30, was Rosberg, Hamilton, Ricciardo and Alonso, with Williams’ Felipe Massa fifth. The Brazilian had failed to pit during the safety car period, however, and was still circulating on his starting supersoft tyres.
Behind them, Vergne was handed a drive-through penalty for an unsafe release during the safety car period, the Frenchman having been sent dangerously into the path of Magnussen in the pit lane.
Vergne’s return to the pits on lap 37 shuffled the order in the lower half of the top 10. Hulkenberg was now sixth, ahead of Magnussen, Button, Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutierrez.
Massa finally pitted on lap 45, dropping back to 11th. The order now was Rosberg, just 0.8s ahead of Hamilton, with Ricciardo third, 12s back. Alonso was fourth ahead of Hulkenberg, Magnussen and Button. Bottas was eighth, Gutierrez ninth and Raikkonen was back into the top 10.
Vergne’s race, meanwhile, went from bad to worse. Fighting with Jules Bianchi for P13 on lap 52, blue smoke suddenly appeared at the back of the Toro Rosso. By the time Vergne reached the swimming pool section it had turned into a plume and he arrowed into pit lane to bring to an end a frustrating afternoon for his Italian team.
A handful of laps later a second engine failure changed the order again. Bottas, in eighth, was defending hard as behind him Gutierrez, Raikkonen and Massa (on fresher tyres) pushed to get past. In the end none of the trio had to tussle too hard, as on lap 57 Bottas’ FW36 expired in a pall of smoke at the hairpin.
Gutierrez was the next man to exit the race. The Mexican clipped the barrier at Rascasse, sustained a puncture and spun close to the pit lane entrance.
That put Marussia’s Jules Bianchi in a points-scoring position. The Frenchman was due to take a five-second penalty at the end of the race for an earlier infringement but with a six-second advantage over Grosjean on track, it looked like the Frenchman was on the way to his first F1 points.
Hamilton, meanwhile, was in trouble, complaining that he had dirt in his left eye that was impairing his vision. The gap between him and Rosberg drifted to five seconds, with Riccardo now eight seconds behind Hamilton.
The Australian made a determined bid to reel in Hamilton and closed the gap on the Mercedes driver to three seconds by lap 72. Hamilton was soon embroiled in traffic and on lap 73 Ricciardo was running on the Briton’s gearbox.
In the traffic Button passed Magnussen across the start-finish line. Ricciardo and Hamilton wove their through the backmarkers and as they did so Raikkonen attempted to pass Magnussen.
Both got stuck at the hairpin and that allowed Bianchi to move up to eighth, meaning that regardless of his penalty he would retain a points position.
It was now all about the Ricciardo/Hamilton duel. Ricciardo threw everything at the challenge but the Red Bull driver could find no way past as Hamilton used his greater power in tunnel to prevent any move from Riccardo into the chicane.
Ahead, Rosberg crossed the line to take his second Monaco win and to seize back the championship lead. The German now has 122 points to his team-mate’s 118.
Hamilton held off Ricciardo to take second. Alonso was fourth behind the Australian, with Hulkenberg fifth. Button was sixth for McLaren, ahead of Massa. Grosjean was eighth with Bianchi ninth, but the Marussia driver was crucially nine seconds ahead of tenth-placed Magnussen, meaning that Marussia scored their first championship points and took a crucial advantage over Caterham, for whom Ericsson was 11th, in the Constructors’ Championship.