A gripping 3 way battle was keeping F1 fans hooked to their screens but some traffic chaos deprived us of an epic finish. It was still a weekend full of talking points though...
Vettel makes it 5 out of 6: A lot of people felt Sebastian Vettel was lucky to win this race, comments which i can understand after the race because there was such a tense finish in store, but these are unfair. He delivered a superb lap to take pole position, was making the 1 stop strategy work and withstanding the pressure from Alonso. Of course between the traffic and the tyre degradation it would have been a fascinating finish without the red flag. I reckon, barring any abnormal incidents between the front 3 or a backmarker in the way, Vettel would have either hung on or hit the 'cliff' and fallen to 3rd. Something to ponder is that in Melbourne Perez did 185km on the soft compound and when the safety car was deployed near the end Vettel had done 175km on his set of tyres (same compound) with 30km to go. Red Bull said afterwards that the wrong compound was put on the world champion's car and that what should have been a 2 stopper was adjusted, on the call of Vettel himself, to a 1 stop. However BBC reporter Ted Kravitz had doubts over whether this was actually true. Red Bull changed their pitstop procedures this weekend after concerns Ferrari were reading their strategy in Spain but maybe they should reconsider after some serious confusion at the stop!
This allowed Jenson Button into the lead and he was on the options and pushing very hard whilst Vettel took the conservative route and nursed his primes. However he kept within a pitstop so when Button pitted again he had P1 again. McLaren then opted for a 3 stopper at this point which was a strange move. They had the information that the primes would do over half a race distance and really that cost Button second place and would have meant he was the man troubling Vettel rather than Alonso. Another trick missed by McLaren, though ultimately not mattering, was not pitting Button when the safety car was deployed for a second time. He was 40 seconds ahead of Kobayashi when it was deployed so could have pitted for new primes (no options left), retained third place and caught up to Alonso again but now with fresher rubber to be able to attack better on the final laps. Of course the red flag meant everybody got a chance to change without loss. Many complained this spoilt the restart and it did but it's a very rare situation and really things should be open as conditions can be variable, it was just the circumstances of yesterday that made it a shame.
Hamilton suffers a weekend of mayhem: Lewis Hamilton loves Monaco. Just thinking about flinging a car around the tight streets of Monte Carlo leaves him with a feeling of excitement at a place where his hero Ayrton Senna was so brilliant. Things were going well on Saturday as he topped Q1 and Q2 and had 2 sets of options for the all important Q3. As his main rivals got a time in early on there was no sign of the #3 car. Eventually he appeared but had a terrible sector 1. He blamed Felipe Massa in front but the Ferrari had not blocked the McLaren. Then the big accident for Perez caused a 40 minute delay. 2:26 left on the clock meant 9 cars would get a lap in fine and McLaren had ample time to calculate that. Yet they sent him out over 2 minutes before the session restarted. Cold tyres = no grip and Hamilton soon found that out, ending up cutting a corner and having his time deleted.
So he was clearly fast but it was going to be hard work from 9th on the grid. After several laps on Michael Schumacher's gearbox he made a sweet move into Ste Devote. Then it went downhill. A bad pitstop left him in traffic. Then he made an unrealistic move on Felipe Massa. He accused the Brazilian of turning in on him. Well Lewis that might have been because he was taking a corner... Then the scrap continued into the tunnel. Hamilton got a good run on him (KERS assisted at a guess) and passed in the tunnel. Massa got on the marbles and hit the wall. Race over. Then after the red flag Hamilton was all over Maldonado and into turn 1 had a look, he got half alongside and perhaps he felt it was doable after the earlier Schumacher move but really it was just too ambitious for such a tight corner and he pitched the Williams out of the race which was such a shame. Then came the post race outburst which was all a bit silly and unneeded. Hamilton has had down beat moments in his career before but this really was the worst of the lot. However he has had a habit of bouncing back with some great results so lets see what he bounces back with in Montreal, a place where he is mighty.
Elsewhere it was delight for Kamui Kobayashi with a career best 5th, though he was lucky to escape a penalty for hitting Sutil. Stewards really got that one wrong though he would have stayed 5th anyway. Sutil was 4th having been under constant pressure from the Sauber. The pair made a 1 stop strategy work and were helped by cars in front struggling and then getting stuck in traffic. Sutil emotions are probably mixed because the incident cost him time and then he got a puncture yet he still salvaged 7th! Behind Nick Heidfeld also had a good drive through to 8th and moved up to 6th in the championship. Rubens Barrichello finally got on the score board in 2011 and Sebastien Buemi took the final point after Jaime Alguersuari crashed. In the midst of the chaos near the end, it was intriguing to hear David Coulthard, Red Bull employee, on the BBC say during the replays that "Alguersuari, the man under review" Of course it could just be a general remark about the pressure both Toro Rosso drivers are under with Daniel Ricciardo waiting in the wings but perhaps a hint that it is the Spaniard that could be in line to make way for the Australian as it stands. He does have good backing coming from Spain and his Father but at the minute Buemi is the man picking up the points.
Best wishes to Vitaly Petrov and Sergio Perez after their weekend accidents. Hopefully they'll both be racing in Montreal in 2 weeks.