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Monaco Grand Prix – Who was your driver of the day?
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Posted By: James Allen  |  28 May 2012   |  12:13 am GMT  |  167 comments

Mark Webber became the sixth winner in as many races when he triumphed in the Monaco Grand Prix on the streets of Monte Carlo. But there were strong performances from several drivers in a challenging race. So who was your driver of the day?

Mark Webber

Looked solid in practice but came alive in qualifying and only a small mistake on his final flying lap meant he missed out on pole with the second fastest time. However, Michael Schumacher’s penalty meant he started on pole for the second time in two years. Made a good getaway and kept Nico Rosberg behind him to lead into the first corner. From then on, he controlled the race and kept his cool when the rain started to fall during to secure his second Monaco GP win and eighth victory of his career.

Nico Rosberg

The Mercedes struggled with tyres on the streets of Monaco last year, but those problems appeared to be in the past as Schumacher secured pole and Nico Rosberg took third. That became second when Schumacher got demoted. Got a clean getaway but couldn’t find a way past Webber in to Turn One. From then on, the German kept the pressure on the Australian all race long. Tried the undercut, but Red Bull covered it off and though he got close as the rain fell, he had to settle for second.

Fernando Alonso

Finished fastest in first practice to underline the car’s improved pace and qualified a strong sixth, which turned into fifth after Schumacher’s penalty. Emerged unscathed from the carnage at the start to run fourth early on ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa. Jumped Lewis Hamilton at the stops to rise up to third and then pushed Rosberg hard in the closing stages. Secured his second successive podium of the season and third overall to take the outright lead in the drivers’ championship.

Sebastian Vettel

Outpaced by team-mate Mark Webber early in the weekend and looked out of sorts in qualifying. Made it into Q3, but decided not to run and instead save a set of tyres. Started ninth, after Pastor Maldonado’s penalty and made a good start, avoiding the first corner carnage to run sixth early on. Running on the more durable soft tyre, unlike his main rivals, the German was able to run deep into the race, and even lead at one point. That helped him jump Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa to run fourth. Closed on Alonso but could not find a way past.

Felipe Massa

Looked more comfortable and confident with the car in practice and made it into Q3 for the first time this season, qualifying seventh. Made a good start, avoiding the carnage and even put pressure on his Ferrari team-mate Alonso. Showed strong pace throughout the race and was right with the leaders at the end, but couldn’t find a way past Lewis Hamilton and had to settle for sixth place, his best result of the season.

Paul di Resta

Struggled for performance and looked disappointed after qualifying 14th, three places behind his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg. Made a great start, avoiding the carnage at the start to run just outside of the top 10. Used an aggressive strategy, managed the tyres well and put the hammer down when running in clean air. That allowed him to leapfrog his team-mate and several others to rise into the top 10 and finish seventh, his fourth points finish of the season.

Heikki Kovalainen

Qualified 18th as the fastest of the new teams and made a good start, avoiding the first corner chaos to get ahead of Jenson Button and run 13th. Drove brilliantly to defend his position from the faster McLaren driver and was lucky to avoid damage when Button crashed into him in the Swimming Pool complex. Clashed with Sergio Perez, too, which damage his wing, but got back out of the pits to finish 13th and help Caterham move up to 10th in the constructors’ championship.


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1
Douglas Cloak

Everyone who follows F1 knows that Monaco is 90% decided on the Saturday in Qually. Sundays can be a fairly straight forward affair with the main emphasis on getting a good start, exercuting a faultless pitt stop & driving a mistake free race to get the job done. Webber ticked all of the above & held his nerve at the end to win. It was a great day for all the Mark Webber fans who like myself would of loved every minute of it…

2

What a dull race, so hard to chose a driver of the day, but I know ther are two very unhappy drivers at Maclaren. I said in my last post Maclaren senior management simply are not performing, just how many excuses can you make for the consistent under performance of the team. I think Lewis has matured and at 27 years old he will want to be on a wining team. Watch this space, you can’t just chuck money at top drivers to make them stay on a failing team.

3

Vettel BY FAR:

Sebastian Vettel’s race started in Q1 when he paced himself to just barely qualify for Q2 but save his tires, and again, when he got knocked from 9th in Q2, he went back out with 3 minutes left to set a lap that just barely qualified him for Q3, then he parked it. Then he went on to execute the most well-controled tire strategy during the race, which was really a strategy that started at Q1.

I don’t like that Pirelli intentionally designs tires to be faulty, and don’t mistake Vettel’s media silence on the matter as acquiescence. We all remember the video of him tearing into Mario Isola right after qualifying pole at Spa. But Vettel has decided he’s going to play the game, and he played this ridiculous game perfectly. Because of a bet on rain, he was forced to abandon his one stop strategy. FYI, it down-poured just after the last lap so it wasn’t a bad bet.

No other driver showed that level of control. No other driver could set a lap time in the bottom 2 to just barely move on to the next qualifying but save the most of the tires, then go on to hold that place for 40 ought laps on softs, knowing the challenge isn’t in making a pass, but its in driving just fast enough to hold position until you pit, then take and hold the lead from there.

No other driver started their race so methodically and with such control of pace from Q1 to Sunday’s last lap.

4

without doubt Webber put in a very solid performance and had the upper hand on Vettel all weekend, Kovalainen out drove his car as he does 99% of the time, Schumi shut his critics up over the weekend and finally showed he hasn’t lost it just yet (anyone who can’t see this is surely just anti Schumi and blind to naked talent)Alonso pure class as usual, and Nico impressed yet again, but in my mind driver of the day and the weekend was Massa. His commitment was faultless and for someone under so much (public) pressure he drove a fantastic race.

If I may add, the Joker who asks why isn’t Hamilton one of the options? If Massa had arrived in Monaco with every pundit telling us it was his pole and race to lose, for him to then qualify 4th and then drop two places in a what was for him a non-event race, I’m sure you’d be making a laughing stock of him not suggesting he might be considered for DOD!

5

Mark Webber – a masterful race (and weekend), mature, measured and did just what was necessary to win (and maybe to lift his team-mate up the list). Reminds me of Jack Brabham, he was at least as fast as the rest when necessary, but mostly kept strictly to the minimum required to win. Let’s hope he goes forward now – depends on who gets the ‘magic tyres’ next race, maybe?

Alonso also warrants a pat on the back – he is always there pushing his car and ready for any opportunity that comes his way, and making some when he can.

6

Hi James,

Read an interesting article by Mark Hughes on Kimi. According to him, Kimi’s sterring issue is holding up progress in the team whereas Grojean is just going with what he’s got.

In a nut shell, do you think Kimi is getting board at Lotus now?

7

Not at all.

8

My vote goes to the top 6! I know they are supposed to be the best but even so they managed the last 10 laps nose to tail on a slippery track and I don’t think any of them even brushed the armco.

9

My vote goes 100% to Webber – not only trouncing team mate Vettel in qualifying, and leading on an amazingly difficult track under very threatening weather conditions on crap Pirelli tyres – he didn’t make a mistake and was driver of the day.

BUT also – team orders to help Vettel; he backed up the pack to allow Vettel the necessary 19 seconds lead to jump Hamilton and Massa – funny how once team orders were in hand, Marks pace improved just enough to remain comfortable at head of pack that he hasd total control over. Vettel did nothing all race, and needed Marks help to pass Massa and Hamilton.

10

Webber. Always been a bit of a Monaco specialist (remember him running 2nd in a Jag, screaming in rage as he was not getting the benefit of blue flags?).

Pole (almost), kept it clean, backed the pack up to allow Seb to jump some places… can’t fault it.

11

How about a shout for Chico Perez? He set 9 of the fastest top ten lap times and was at times 3 seconds faster than Webber(Lap 73). His fastest lap was 1.5 seconds faster than the podium guys. Is this a speed formula or an economy one?

12

Slightly off topic, but will Maldonado be given a penalty for crashing into de la Rosa? It seems that if he doesn’t it would be unfair on HRT, and show the stewards are very biased against HRT.

13

Kobayashi.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and the photo of Kamui launched in mid-air looks like he came straight out of the Speed Racer movie. Such a great looking flight. And it was the most exciting thing to happen all race other than seeing Webber get a well deserved victory.

14

Driver of the day: Heiki Kovalainen, but only because of the characteristics of the track which enabled him keep the Mclaren of Jensen Button behind him all ‘race’ long. Yeah, that’s another thing: that was no race. It was an exercise in driver concentration and tyre nursing.

On to another matter (Mclaren). I have a theory. Because Mclaren are too busy fighting elementary things like getting pit stops right, they are distracted and loosing the development race. Also, I think the car is ACTUALLY only as good as Button’s general performance – for your average EXCELLENT F1 driver – and NOT as ‘fantastic’ as people would like to believe. Hamilton IMHO is actually flattering the car by qualifying and driving it far above its true capability but because people generally have such high expectations of him (Lewis), his efforts often go unremarked.

15

I vote for Schumacher. As @someone said, he was putting in excellent laps (1.19s) even on his old qualifying tyres (which he drove to P1 on)…Got the strategy right by leapfrogging three drivers through staying out and putting in lap times that were much faster than most of the field at that point.

James – how many passes actually happened at the race (disregarding Schumi/Grosjean and other failing cars)?

16
eric weinraub

How can there be a Driver of the day when, essentially, there wasn’t a single pass that counted? Passing a stricken car doesn’t count ie Schuey nor racing quali laps with no one in front of you durning the pit cycle. I am no fan of Monaco.

17

Because driving well is about a lot more than overtaking.

18

Here here! I get quite upset by the sort of comments which denigrate drivers’ performances because there is no overtaking. Yes, overtaking is exciting, but I surely can’t be the only person who finds DRS overtaking, for example, utterly tedious?

Yes, I am a complete and utter purist (and snob…) but that means I can gladly watch a processional race and enjoy it, knowing that I am watching the best drivers in the world piloting some of the most remarkable machines on the planet.

19

Has to be Kovalainen to finish 13 and fend off Button and others ! Then would say very close between Vettel/ webber/ Alonso. Di Resta was next on the radar.

20

James, in my opinion Heikki was hard done to. Perez overtook him by cutting the chicane. Yes, Perez then pulled a big gap, yes Heikki pitted later but surely the overtake was illegal. Perez should have given the place back or been given a penalty.

Also JB’s lunge was desperate, never going to succeed and smashed Heikki’s front wing. Racing incident, probably, but it was a poor move and potentially compromised Heikki. Penalties have been given for less this season.

Got to admire Caterham’s pluck, and Heikki seems a great guy who just gets on with it. Shame he didn’t sneak into the points, which could have happened with a more attritional race (not to mention a fair amount of luck!).

21

I voted for Webber as DOTD. Why?

Well he controlled the race and hence, the other drivers all day. After he pulled a gap to Rosberg he would just control it. When Rosberg would get 0.3-0.4s back, Webber would then react. He watched Vettel, when Vettel was ahead and the gap and the followers behind. On a track like Monaco where the mental strain is already enormous, that extra bit of assessment is a credit in itself. Sure others are doing it but when leading it adds more stress.

That’s why I love Monaco. Flat out inch off the wall, balls-out qualifying with NO margin for error to set up Sundays race. That’s what Webber did perfectly. That’s what sets Monaco apart, all the other tracks have some form of run off which doesn’t penalise drivers, Monaco doesn’t, you out by an inch and your history.

22

Mark and not just because he is an Aussie. He led and controlled from the start and no one did it better. Pity he could not drive flat out on this year’s crazy tires.

23
William Wilgus

For holding the most up? Definitely Webber. What a farce of a race!

24

Im surprised to say this but probably today was one of Vettels best drives ever. Pretty mature, and drove well in traffic.

25

Is there any update on the start accident involving Romain Grosejean? Was he right to move either way and then he almost deposited Michael in the barrier? Also, i was little surprised that the Hamilton move in front of Alonso was not investigated as soon as the safety car came into the pits?

26

James,

Perhaps, in this period of lull, you can write an informative piece on why there are six winners in six races. The keywords “tires” and “setup” and quality of the engineers within the team will dominate your reasoning.

Then you will realise that the question of “Who is your driver of the day?” will be moot. Instead, it would have been the less exciting “Who is your enginneer (or team) of the day?”

I have been karting for twenty years, the relationship between cars and tires is not black magic. It only becomes so when the tires are rubbish, and top engineers fail to corelate their car with the working temperature of tires. In another words, failing to understand their car. The era of as much downforce as you can get away with might be over.

27

Read the Alonso piece today

28

Perhaps, you could also inform your readers why Bridgestone left F1 and how, after years of cajoling to make tires like ice-cubes, Bridgestone vehmently refused. What I would like to know is, why now?

29

I saw the fastest laps section. Perez’s lap was a full 1.5 seconds faster than Webber’s. Should I think that Webber actually won in a slower car? or should I think that he did not push because he was nursing his tyres throughout?

Obviously the latter. The only driver who might have pushed all race is Heikki because he had a Mclaren behind him.

Heikki is the DOTD for me.

30

Fresh tyres when the car was light. Very simple. Will happen in any race on any tyres

31

No James. Perez’s fastest lap was set on lap 49, and Webber’s fastest lap was set on lap 45. That is 4 laps worth of fuel.

Perez’s tyres on lap 49 were 15 laps old and Webbers tyres on lap 45 were 16 laps old. That is 1 lap worth of fresh tyres.

4 laps of fuel and 1 lap fresher tyre do not translate into a gap of 1.5 seconds. Not to mention Webber’s tyres were in clean air whereas Perez’s tyres weren’t.

Webber (or any of the front runners) did not push at all – all race. Which is disappointing.

32

As I said, second stint they were well off, fuel corrected.

33

May I propose Perez on behalf of the Force India team?

By deciding to block Kim at the pitlane entry he gifted Sauber’s greatest rivals a bonanza of points, when HULK gained an unexpected p8

Drive thru maybe too lenient imo

34

KR lost 2 secs [apprx] while impeded by Perez

and his pitstop was 0.74 secs slower than Di Resta who finished p7.

KR made p9 2.466 secs later than Di Resta

so Perez and the Lotus pitcrew actually cost KR 4 champ points

He would still be behind Rosberg in the standings, though.

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