Sunday, 24 May 2015

Someone is in trouble tonight!

There wasn't a mugging, there was no day light robbery. That was a spectacular cock up, a dropping of the ball and a failure worthy of an English cricket team in full ashes collapse.
Hamilton had the race won! He'd done all the hard work on Saturday with a comfortable pole and a team mate floundering around the escape roads home. Ferrari had briefly threatened to upset the script with Vettel looking handy. But the cold track on Saturday had played into Mercedes hands and all Hamilton had to do was demonstrate just how fantastic he is. Sunday was just going to be a cruse in the sunshine, no chance of rain unfortunately, it was hot and clear blue skies as far as the eye could see. There was nothing, absolutely nothing there to stop Hamilton winning in Monaco and burying Nico's challenge stone cold dead.

I'd even drifted off it was so dull, the low drone of the engines, Martin Brundels soft voice like warm honey in the ear informing me just how easy this all was for Hamilton. The minor places being scrapped over by old boys and young bloods. McLaren having a good race for a change, Button into the top ten as Alonso has a Monaco to forget.
The Torro Rosso boys making a name for themselves; Sainz starting from the pit lane after the FIA threw the ban hammer at him for a minor misdemeanour in qualifying, was charging back through the field. Verstappen was harrying the lotus of Grosjean and my eyes were getting heavy, sleep was washing over me as the smell of freshly mown grass wafted through the open windows. A glass of chilled Soave glinting in the afternoon sun, Hamilton on the way to the chequered flag... sleep enveloping me like a warm comfortable blanket.

Then crash bang wallop, how's yer father, Grosjean has brake tested Verstappen into the first corner and sent the young scallywag barrowing into the Tecpro safer barrier; Sparks and wheels and bits of carbon spraying off in all directions! It's a big one, but the Dutch lad was able to walk away with only his pride injured.

Charlie up in race control threw a virtual safety car to begin with, where all the drivers have to stick to a set speed following each other, no overtaking, as the marshals clear the Torro Rosso away. But there were too many bits of old car on the racing line and they have to be removed by hand. So the safety car was sent out to pick up Hamilton and neutralise the race.
At this point, a soon to be ex employee of Mercedes racing gets it into his head that Hamilton has enough time to get back to the pits, change his tyres and get back out ahead of Rosberg, who has been quite unremarkable all afternoon, and Vettel who can't overtake because this is Monaco.
No he didn't. Ferrari weren't out in the pits about to change Vettels tyres, Mercedes knew Nico wasn't coming in. So why the Sam Hill bring Hamilton in? No one else pitted, no one else though "14 laps to go, we need nice new rubber for this".
Every single pit boss watched Mercedes stride out into the pit lane as Hamilton turned into the last corner and as one though "Why !?!?!?!?!. Every single person who had sat through 64 laps of tedium watched Hamilton drive down the pit lane on his own and though "Why !?!?!?!" Nico thought "Why?", Vettel thought "Why?" and then made sure he got to the pit lane exit line before Hamilton and thought "hahahahahaahahahahaahahahaha ...........mmmmmwwwhahahahahaahahahahaha"

The first rule of Monaco is  ... you can't pass at Monaco, unless the other guy screws up.

Vettel was never going to screw up with 10 laps of racing left. He's a four times world champion. He might not be brilliant, but he's not an idiot and he knows how to defend a position. What where Mercedes thinking? They knew Nico wasn't coming in and damn sure as mustard he wasn't going to hold back and let Hamilton cruse back into the lead.

So the safety car eventually goes back in and we get to watch Hamilton desperately try to overtake Vettel for a bit, the chilled Soave gets a bit too warm to be enjoyable anymore and Nico picks up what has to be the easiest victory of his entire career.
Nico didn't even have the good grace to look embarrassed about it all at the end. He was waving and jumping around like he's fought tooth and nail for every inch of that track. Instead of being blown away and generally tooling around until his team stunningly fumbled the ball handing him the win on a plate. He didn't even get the fastest lap! Ricciardo did that chasing Hamilton down at the end to make it even more uncomfortable with the unlucky Brit.

So Nico won, and he didn't really deserve it did he. He messed up qualifying, never looked like really being on terms with Hamilton on Saturday. Okay, I'm sure the team talk on Sunday morning was a straight, "Lewis got pole, don't do anything stupid lad, alright" chat. Nico wasn't going to jeopardise a Mercedes one-two at the most prestigious European race of the year after all, tail gunner duties set to Germany this weekend. Hamilton built up a nice lead and never looked like making any mistakes that Nico could capitalize on, he was well beaten this weekend and no amount of high fiving the team that handed him the win is going to change that.

Vettel didn't have the grunt to pass either Nico or Lewis and thusly was the only happy person on the podium with second place. He wasn't expecting that second and said as much in the post race interview. The Ferrari looked better than it did in Spain, but Monaco is a bit of a one off so you can't draw any conclusion about the car here. Vettel however is looking much happier with his switch to Italy and you can't really begrudge him the results so far.

Hamilton was shafted by the team and I have never seen a driver so gutted with third place at Monaco. He gets a lot of respect for saying well done Nico for the win, watching his team mate cavort around like it was the greatest victory of his life must have been galling. They'll be other races, but none as painful as this third place.

Kvyat was fourth despite Ricciardo taking the first to Hamilton at the end.  Apparently Riccy was given the chance to have a go for third only on the proviso that if he wasn't on the podium on the last lap, he had to give the place back to his team mate who had let him past after the safety car. Bizarre indeed, I doubt there are many drivers on the grid that would give the place back. But Redbull are fighting for pride alone now, Vettel has gone and it's a more harmonious garage these days. So Kvyat got his fourth back......

.... and Ricciardo was fifth.

Kimi was sixth and still needs to work on his qualifying.

Perez with a bucket of spares parts nailed together and powered by the sweat of desperate men, was seventh. Not a bad effort with a car that is in desperate need of some new bits. Monaco unique etc etc luck blah blah.

Button was eighth and the McLaren boys and girls deserved that. They've plugged away with a terrible engine and hybrid system, a chassis that twists and turns more than David Cameron at an EU summit.  Alonso had a Monaco to utterly forget with numerous engine failures and technical issues but Button almost made it into Q3 for the first time this year and was chipper and upbeat all weekend. They've not turned a corner of anything, but they've got some points now to cheers up the faithful.

Nasr was ninth, I think because Grosjean and Verstappen took each other out. It's a good result for Sauber who look like they're struggling again.

And finally Sainz was tenth with a feisty drive from the pits. Apparently he missed the random mandatory FIA car weight check during qualifying, so the stewards took away all his qualifying times and made him start from the pit lane. To get back to tenth at Monaco is no mean feat, the safety car was late in the race so didn't give him any help. That was a pretty good drive, and he didn't his anyone up the backside, like his more fancied team mate did you'll notice.

Okay Riccy fastest lap, and the last place driver was Will Stevens this week, in the Manor Marussia. Is it my imagination or does Stevens look like the delivery boy from the post room who got mistaken for a racing driver one day and no one has the heart to tell him the to go home? No, just me then.

Right, dull race then, the winner didn't deserve it and the best man was third. ho 

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