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Vettel wins Monaco Grand Prix
Vettel wins Monaco Grand Prix
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 May 2011   |  2:44 pm GMT  |  399 comments

Sebastian Vettel won the Monaco Grand Prix after the race was red flagged and then restarted with only six laps to go. Fernando Alonso was second and Jenson Button third.

It was a fascinating three way battle for the victory, with three completely different race strategies creating tremendous tension and excitement. Vettel was forced into stopping only once, managing to do almost 60 laps on a set of tyres. while Alonso took advantage of a safety car to make his second stop and jumped Button, who drove an attacking three stop strategy, but the safety car wrecked it for him.

From about 15 laps before the end, Vettel, Alonso and Button were all together, separated by half a second in what was shaping up to be a thrilling showdown

But it was red flagged with six laps to go after a heavy accident involving a group of cars, including Petrov, Hamilton, Sutil and Alguersuari.

Vettel held on at the restart to take his fifth win of the season and his first at Monaco.

“It was not a straightforward Monaco Grand Prix. I’m really happy. It’s a great honour, surely one of the best Grands Prix of the year,” said Vettel.

“If there had been no safety car it would have been hard to beat Jenson because he was so far ahead, but there was a safety car. The race was not easy, doing around 60 laps on a set of tyres.”

Alonso confirmed that he was planning to attack Vettel before the red flag came out, as he could see that Vettel’s tyres were shot. “I had nothing to lose, I’m not leading the championship. I had two places in mind to pass and if we crash we crash!” Alonso said.

At the start, Vettel got away cleanly, Button cut across Webber from second on the grid and Alonso managed to get alongside and past the Australian into third place.

Behind them Schumacher lost five places to tenth place, but managed to repass Lewis Hamilton for ninth. This cost Hamilton, who had started the race on the harder of the two Pirelli tyres, having had his time disallowed in qualifying.

Hamilton lost two seconds a lap behind Schumacher in the opening stages. As Schumacher’s rear tyres went off, Hamilton forced his way past on lap 10. But he was already 26 seconds adrift of the leaders.

Meanwhile Schumacher’s team mate Rosberg went from seventh to fifth. Maldonado and Petrov also made up a couple of places each.

Vettel drove away from Button, opening a four second lead after 8 laps. But then maintained that gap, lapping at the same pace as the McLaren and the Ferrari behind.

At the first round of stops both Red Bulls lost time, Vettel came in first and the delay on his stop meant that the team wasn’t ready for Webber.

Button on his supersoft tyres did a fast out lap and took the lead from Vettel, while Alonso pitted a lap later and rejoined third.

Button was the only one of the leaders to go for the supersoft tyres.

Vettel used the tyres to open a gap to Vettel. By lap 28 it was up to 13 seconds. The Mclaren’s race pace on the super soft tyres was very strong and Button nursed them well.

Button made his second stop on lap 33 and took another set of supersofts. Then he had some very bad luck. Multi stop strategies are always a risk at races where there is a risk of a safety car. At Monaco the risk is 71% and there is often a second one.

Hamilton and Massa collided at the hairpin on lap 35 and Massa crashed heavily in the tunnel shortly afterwards. This brought out the safety car. Hamilton was later given a drive through penalty for causing an accident.

Alonso took immediate advantage, while Adrian Sutil and Kamui Kobayashi took full advantage, making their first and only stop of the race. This put them in fourth and fifth positions.

Alonso was not in a strong position having pitted for soft tyres under the safety car.

The race retstarted on lap 39 with Vettel leading from Button and Alonso.

On lap 47 McLaren told Button that it was looking like Vettel was not going to pit soon, so he was told that he had to overtake Vettel to make the strategy work.

Instead Button pitted for soft tyres on lap 49 and put himself in position to undercut Vettel. Meanwhile Alonso was the big question mark – could he made the tyres last to the end from lap lap 36?

As Vettel went past the 40 laps mark on his set of soft tyres, still lapping in the 1m 19s, it proved it could be done.

Vettel had nothing to lose by staying out. If he pitted he would finish third anyway.
The three were nose to tail from 15 laps before the end.

Kobayashi forced his way past Sutil for fourth place on lap 66.

On lap 69 a crash involving Hamilton, Alguersuari, Sutil and Petrov happened right in front of the leaders as they came through. A safety car was deployed and it gave Vettel some respite from the pressure.

The race was red flagged, the drivers were allowed to change tyres before the restart, which helped Vettel.

Meanwhile the bulletin on Vitaly Petrov is that he complained of a sore ankle, but scans have revealed no broken bones.

* Don’t miss the UBS Strategy Report, with a deep dive into how the race strategies shaped this fantastic race here on JA on F1 shortly.

MONACO GRAND PRIX, Monte Carlo, 78 laps
1. Vettel Red Bull 2h09:38.373
2. Alonso Ferrari + 1.138
3. Button McLaren + 2.378
4. Webber Red Bull + 23.100
5. Kobayashi Sauber + 26.900
6. Hamilton McLaren + 27.200
7. Sutil Force India + 1 lap
8. Heidfeld Renault + 1 lap
9. Barrichello Williams + 1 lap
10. Buemi Toro Rosso + 1 lap
11. Rosberg Mercedes + 1 lap
12. Di Resta Force India + 2 laps
13. Trulli Lotus + 2 laps
14. Kovalainen Lotus + 2 laps
15. D’Ambrosio Virgin + 2 laps
16. Liuzzi HRT + 3 laps
17. Karthikeyan HRT + 3 laps
18. Maldonado Williams + 5 laps

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I have to laugh at some of the comments on here at times.

First of all regarding Vettel and the strategy they used – There are people saying that he picked a great strategy and drove brillianty on just 1 set of tyres. I have no problem with the “he drove brilliantly” part of that but the comments that state it was a great strategy of Red Bulls are clearly coming from people who never really watched the race or are quite frankly Red Bull fan boys etc.

RB themselves admitted they made a hash of their tactics. Vettel was supposed to be on a 2 stopper but put the wrong tyres on at the stop and the pace of their rivals and their pit strategies meant RB were forced into keeping Vettel out. It was not an inspired choice as some people believe as pitting would have meant 3rd place max.

Yet Vettel deserves credit for keeping the tyres as well as he did, but please can peole spare me on the “what a brilliant strategy it was”.

Hamilton had one of those days yesterday. 3 crashes (1 of which was not his fault in the slightest – the 1 where he was hit in the rear). The Massa and Maldo crashes were prob more his fault but on a circuit where overtaking is hard to impossible, trying to overtake is always going to carry a high degree of risk.

As for the suggestion that Hamilton caused Massa to DNF – thats a load of rubbish IMO. Massa made a mistake going into the tunnel and had the option to race Hamilton thru the tunnel off the racing line (and on all the discared rubber) or drop back in behind him. Massa decided to race and paid the price when he was unable to steer his car. That he crashed was down to poor decision making on his part. (I remember an overtake on Rosberg in China and he made no attempt to defend his position as it was to risky going off the racing line)

Whilst the comments from Lewis were probably to much I hope he never changes his style. I am tired of watching people happy to drive round in a line and not even try an overtake unless its a 100% stick. F1 is about racing, pitstops, development races etc but if the drivers are not willing to have a go whats the point exactly?


Another good race that could’ve been great but wasn’t.

Also – for once and for all – please change the safety car rules! Why is the guy in 3rd place not 3rd behind the safety car but rather stuck behind multiple others??


because that was how it was on the track before the safety car came out – there were lapped cars in between.


James, I think we were robbed of a grand finale finish today. The rule which allows teams to change tires and do repairs while awaiting a red-flag restart is totally wrong. Red flagging the race and restarting, should be a stop and start and doing repairs between is giving an unfair pitstop advantage to anyone who needs it without any cost. Today it nullified any strategy and made a restart loosing Button the tire advantage he had worked for and was due.

Some will say that it is necessary to do repairs on the cars in this situation and because there may be a puncture or problem connected with the red flag. There is a very simple solution to this:

When a race is red flagged, teams should not change tires or make repairs or modifications. If they choose to do so, the driver must serve a 10 second stop go penalty at the end of the the next green light racing lap.

I think this rule modification would be great because it would not artificially modify and neutralise the race, and teams would be modified to continue as they left off, but in the case where a change is necessary they can do so, but will be penalised in the same way as if they had made a stop and there was no red flag.

I think and hope that a lot of fans were annoyed at the injustice and fakeness of this situation.

If you like my idea James, could you pass it on to the powers that be please. Thanks!


Sounds good. We should bring it up at next week’s Fans Forum in Montreal.


Thanks for your article on the Fan Forum James.

I see from your report that the regulations with regard to this situation was discussed. Was this/my specific idea/solution discussed at all?

Thanks for your sterling work James!


Cool! Please do.

I wish I could be there.

How exciting that my idea might be brought to the attention of F1 🙂


Vettel had a great drive, but he was extremely lucky – as were a number of others. Vettel wouldn’t have won if wasn’t for the ‘wrong’ set of tyres going on or the safety car. Button’s strategy lost it for him.

And as for Hamilton. Yes, both his moves were aggressive and frankly on the edge, but both drivers closed the door on him hard.

And as for the comments after – what do you expect? He has to get straight out the car with the adreneline pumping and answer stupid questions from reporters he knows are fishing for a quote for their negative stories about his race. If that was me after a weekend like that, i would be less restrained.

F1 needs drivers like Hamilton, rather than the sterile, dull, one dimensional characters that fill a large proportion of the grid.

Senna, Villeneuve, Mansell, Raikkonen etc. Hardly shrinking violets were they?

Lighten up people. This is F1 after all.


Hamilton should have been penalized with losing 2 or 3 places at the finish and maybe drop him even further down the grid for driving his worst race in his carrier. Despite his talent and skill he was the worst thing that happened in Monaco whole weekend. It is unacceptable to force your self thru the other drivers like they do not exist


I’m struggling to find anything (on any site) explaining the Button 3 stop strategy. His first pit created the lead, genius, but who can understand, when he had track position, why he would put on the same tyres and force a 3rd stop in the uncertain world of Monaco?


Full explanation shortly in Strategy report


I have always said that F1-s biggest problem is not lack of overtaking, but terrible, terrible inconsistency on handing out penalties.

The Hamilton case.

The joke he made was quite good actually, there was no apaology needed at all. I picked up another funny comment from Hamilton(ESPNf1):

“It’s not affecting my confidence as a driver, I just think people want to see motor racing and see overtaking and you get done for trying to overtake and trying to put on a show, you get done trying to make a move,” he said.

Mr Hamilton, why do you think it is you that should drive wheels off to make things exciting? Dont you think it is called destruction derby, not motor racing? Maybe I want to see you flying through the barriers to make good show, would you do it for me? By the way, you got penalised because hitting other drivers, not because simply making an overtaking attempt…

It is interesting to see so many fans saying “contact is part of the game”, “for years everybody complained about F1 being boring, now when mr.X does this, its all whining again” kind of things.

Personally, I have interest only in top quality stuff, overtaking without pushing others off the road. I have seen it on TV before, it is possible. Even smart, well decided withdraw of an overtaking attempt is more enjoyable to watch than ruining other drivers race.

As an ordinary guy, Im very good at hiting things with my car, people, dogs, trash cans etc. I expect F1 drivers to be a little more competent:D


Good comment


your comment is on the spot


I want to see wheel to wheel racing fought hard but fair. I don’t want to see the worlds fastest touring car race. If this was IRL or NASCAR then massa and maldonaldo might have recieved a blocking penalty.


The thing that always amazes me is the people that say Vettel won this race purely on luck. There is no doubt that Vettel is driving extremely well at the moment, he is consistent and he does what he is supposed to do with the car, he is delivering the results at the moment. I mean Alonso tried very hard to force him into a mistake but he held gis nerve. Yes the safety car also helped , one will always wonder how the race might have ended if there was no safety car, would he have been able hold off both Alonso and JB but to say his Win was all luck is incorrect. He had to fight for that win.To some people Vettel won the title because he is favoured by his team , I dont believe this for a second , if it weren’t for all his reliability problems he would have clinched the title a lot ealier.


If Button had been leading when the race was stopped, and had followed Vettel’s race strategy, then I am sure that this site would be full of comments about the fantastic and unorthodox strategy that the cerebral and silky smooth Button implemented.

How about giving Vettel some credit for the manner in which he made the most of Red Bull’s error in the pit lane?


Vettel did make the most of that race, no doubt. But we all feel robbed of a great finish.

Alonso, Vettel and Button’s fans would’ve loved to see them fighting in the last 6-7 laps.

The reason behind all this was the tyre degradation “cliff” that everybody is talking. If that would’ve happened, then would’ve been interesting to see how bad the performance dropped. If it didn’t happen, Vettel would’ve won anyway, imo.

If Alonso or Button would’ve won and Vettel was finishing 3rd, it would not change the situation much. He would’ve still had a considerable gap in the standing table.

Vettel and RB will be strong in the next races anyway, so nothing much would change.

I am looking forward to Canada because Ferrari had planned a few races ago to have a winning car in Canada. So, let’s see what they’ve come up with.


When you see the Strategy Report, you’ll realise how impressive Vettel’s performance was


I am glad that someone else has noticed!


Re Hamilton :

I have no problem with him saying that his overtaking attempts were reasonable as long he says nothing negative when someone tries the same thing on him later in the year.

Re Vettel winning : We’ll never know if he could’ve held on but it sure would’ve been excellent, edge-of-the-seat viewing !

Re changing-tyres at the red-flag :

Simple solution : any car that is touched by the team during the red flag should go to back of the queue for the re-start.


I think the stewards and race control for a very long time now have been punishing the very best drivers, most times unfairly for quite a long time and they let the other drivers who caused the problems get away with it scot free. This is not just a F1 problem, it is a world motorsport issue. Look at the punishment handed to Casey Stoner after the warm up of the French Motorcycle Grand Prix for doing virtually nothing wrong and yet the rider who caused the incident Randy de Puniet gets away with blocking Casey scot free.

James, I live in Australia and I watch RPM on Tuesday nights on ONE. If you are talking on the show about Hamilton, could you please mention my reply and let Greg, Daryl and Craig discuss this ‘MASSIVE’ issue in world motorsport. Thank You.


I think Casey’s fine at Le Mans was more down to his general bad attitude to other riders


They think it’s all over… it is now.

F1 sadly back to its boring best. Even lots of artificial passing and pit stops cannot hide the obvious inevitability of the results of each race. Reliable driver in a faster, reliable car. Game over.

I imagine ticket sales for the last 6 or 7 races will slump as it’s quite obvious you won’t be watching racing, you’ll be watching a fun run featuring (by that time) 2 time world champ Vettel. Yawn.


The Monaco lap 69 video shows Vettel, Alonso, and Button overtaking Sutil about 10 seconds after the yellow was displayed and one or two seconds after the safety car was deployed. This is a serious safety violation – – the ‘no overtake under yellow’ rule is in place specifically to stop unsafe driving in a post-incident situation. Their actions should result in penalties for all three, which means that Webber wins the race.


I disagree with you. In those 10 sec, not even the teams didn’t have time to advise the drivers. And the drivers were already engaged in passing that pack of cars.

And even if they saw the yellow flags, by braking suddenly not to overtake that group, could’ve resulted in more incidents.

Also, how could the leaders know that the SC was deployed? Are you serious? “One or two seconds” ? You make me laugh.

Get real dude!


In my opinion, HAM incident with MAS at Loews Hairpin should’ve been deemed as racing incident. If you see the video, HAM was making a move at the inside of MAS while Massa was making a move at the inside of WEB.

While the tunnel incident with MAS, It’s a normal passing move. The crash wouldn’t have happened if the tyre marbles is not as it is this season.

While HAM move on MAL, I agree that it was a penalty. It was clumsy mov from HAM, as MAL has nowhere to go even he’s making late turn. He would ended up at the wall either. It would’ve not happened either if HAM already retired. HAM’s lucky that the team has radioed him to retire, but suddenly the red flag came up.


Monaco has to be the best race this season so far. If not for the red flag it would’ve been even more sensational.

But the rules on tyres change during red flag was rather surprising, that killed the last six laps being totally processional.

The mystery will be, could Alonso have overtaken Vettel and Button passing Alonso for the win. Now we will never know.

V E T T E L controlled the race well, but he knows he was lucked in during red flag.

A L O N S O as usual was full of fire and drove well.

B U T T O N had a winning strategy until the red flag.

L E W I S had all the poison arrows pointed at him, his worst race I’ve ever seen, and he still finished sixth, very lucky too.

W E B B E R was just hanging on until he passed Kobayashi.

K O B A YA S H I was again on his usual self, congrats to him.

In a fortnight Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.


It’s been funny reading all these comments now that a few hours have elapsed and the photos of Hamilton VS Maldonado are online showing Hamilton taking the cone out at turn 1.

And watch the YouTube of the move on Massa before it gets taken down. It’s awesome. If you saw me playing F1 2010 on the PS3 you’d see a few similar moves when it gets late in the race.


I agree on the tyre situation. The only way tyres could be changed would be if the start was dry, a red flag occurs, and during the red flag rain falls. That’s it. Tyre changes for the sake of the restart aren’t legal in INDYCAR, aren’t legal in NASCAR, and aren’t legal in GT racing. Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR champion) was critical and he sent these tweets Sunday morning in Charlotte (keep in mind the Speed studio is on Harris Boulevard)

Johnson: “I’m trying to wrap my head around F1 allowing the teams to work on their cars and change tires under red.”

“It would have been such a good race with Seb on old tires versus Alonso on newer tires. It tosses out the race strategy the teams worked for.” (Mr. Johnson misspelled Alonso; it has been corrected)

W(hile) all the work (on the cars and) tires changes were legal, it’s my opinion, it hurt the finish and kept us fans from seeing and epic battle for the win.”


Hamilton and “severe penalties” ? He was turning in on every car in his vicinity this weekend, and all he got was a drive through and some meetings with stewards. Ofcourse, we could have just called it a “racing incident” and let it pass, but thats not what Mr.Hamilton agrees upon. Here is something he said about other drivers after the race :

“Massa held me up in qualifying and I got the penalty. Then he turned into me [during the race] and I got the penalty. I was quite a lot quicker than Massa. These drivers are ridiculous. It’s stupid.”

Yes,Lewis.When Vettel wins it is because he is in a faster car, and when you win, it is always you and not the car. [mod] And when you crash into other drivers, it is because they are “stupid and ridiculous!”. [mod]


hahaha thats funny


I hope the FIA stewards, officials and staff are reading all this comments. Their idiotic decision on permitting tyre change have just screwed up one bloody amazing Monaco race that probably won’t repeat itself in the future.

Stupid, stupid and utterly stupid decision by the FIA on penalising drivers for attempting an over-taking move that failed. Why penalise them for trying? Jeez this is racing for crying out loud!! If it end up in tears, then it’s a racing incident!! It wasn’t as if it was unsportsmanlike, nor was it a stupid move then ended up the field in a huge pile-up! Stop getting amatures to decide on these penalties and get in someone proper and know what is racing instead.

Their recent decisions on “drivers causing a crash” seriously annoy me!

Monaco GP 2011 is such a huge turn off after such a great fascinating race by drivers like Alonso, Hammy and Massa, etc.

Gareth Foches

“By being a racing driver you are under risk all the time. By being a racing driver means you are racing with other people. And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver because we are competing, competing to win. And the main motivation to all of us is to compete for victory, it’s not to come 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th. I race to win as long as I feel it’s possible. Sometimes you get it wrong? Sure, it’s impossible to get it right all the time. But I race designed to win, as long as I feel I’m doing it right” — Ayrton Senna


This Senna quote is being quoted all over the place at the moment, not least in reference to Lewis Hamilton’s drive at Monaco this weekend just gone.

Quite apart from the relevant part of the quote being about a *gap that exists* rather than just barrelling up all-four-wheels-on-the kerbs and hitting the car you want to pass, I’m getting tired of Senna’s words being rolled out as some kind of divine justification for any pass attempt which results in a pointless collision.


Excellent! This is exactly what racing should be even now. However, I can tell you that if Senna was racing today, he would have been penalised in every single race…..Stewards’ decisions are really ridiculous these days.


This race was the first this year that I felt frustrated because of the tyres. Prior to the weekend, the talk was about how the supersofts would not last 10 laps and the we had already seen that the softs were not that durable either from the previous races. Then, over the course of Thursday and Saturday practice, that tune changed to two stops looks like the optimum and maybe a team like Sauber would try to one stop. And then we end up seeing that Vettel’s and Alonso’s one stop strategy (stopping on 16 and 17 respectively) was faster than Button’s three stop (mainly just due to track position and some unfortunate timing of incidents for JB). How come everybody was so off the mark with the tyre predictions? Is it just Monaco? Should the fans just prepare to be completely surprised by the way the race plays out in Canada too?


Hello James,

If I may be forgiven for not sharing your enthusiasm this was not an exciting race at all. What I saw was a formula that favored luck and put too much weight on the fabled “Tyre Polka” instead of rewarding skill and courage as had been the norm at Monaco in previous years.

It is true that there were processional races before, but Monaco’s unique configuration meant the most skilled and precise man was usually at the front, and even those forced to start back (ie: Schumacher, Coulthard, and Alonso on different years) managed to make a LOT of places purely on their skill.

Because the tyres offered so much variation at yesterday’s race, there was no true barometer of performance. At one point Vettel was suddenly going 5 seconds a lap slower than Button. It’s ridiculous.

In addition, this particular line up of drivers at Monaco were very amateurish. So many crashes from FP all the way to the race on Sunday. Never have I seen so many errors in a single Monaco Grand Prix. What a shame.

Yesterday’s Monaco Grand Prix was a lot of things. But it wasn’t a Grand Prix.



I think he was not driving very well. Flustered because of the Q3 issues?


Racing drivers all seem to exhibit child like behaviour. It doesn’t really matter whether they’re 21 or 39 they all throw their toys out the pram at some point, whether it’s Vettel, Hamilton, Barichello or Alonso.

It’s this single minded, self serving behaviour that allows them to put on the kind of show we all like to see on track but yields the kind of interviews we often see at the end of the race.

Hamilton was clearly out of order and also clearly upset. He needs to stop unloading raw, unprocessed emotions during interview at the end of a frustrating weekend.


I don’t see why people are so surprised/annoyed that they allow them to change tyres as its a Its a safety thing.

A red flag usually means there’s been an accident, An accident often means debris & running over debris can lead to punctures.

I’d rather they be allowed to change tyres & have the race end as it did than have them not allowed to change tyres & there then be a big accident caused by a puncture.

Its funny sometimes how people complain about these sort of rules only after it affects a race in a way they don’t like.

Tyres have been changed under red flags before with no complaints from drivers/teams/fans & damaged cars have been repaired under red flags before (Montoya’s rear wing was changed at spa 2001 during the red flag for Burti’s crash for example) & nobody has complained about it untill today.


It’s also because races are often stopped for sudden heavy rain. You need to change your tyres then before restarting

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