Tyre protest taints Rosberg dream

Nico Rosberg realised a childhood dream with victory in the Monaco Grand Prix, but on a day tainted for Mercedes by a protest from two of their main rivals.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany, leads Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, and Red Bull driver Mark Webber of Australia, during the Monaco F1 Grand Prix. (Picture: AP Photo/Claude Paris)Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany, leads Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, and Red Bull driver Mark Webber of Australia, during the Monaco F1 Grand Prix. (Picture: AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany, leads Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, and Red Bull driver Mark Webber of Australia, during the Monaco F1 Grand Prix. (Picture: AP Photo/Claude Paris)

Rosberg’s lights-to-flag win was classified as official just under three hours after a typically eventful Monaco race that included two safety car periods and a red-flag incident that forced a 25-minute delay.

Overshadowing the event, however, was a protest launched by Red Bull and Ferrari beforehand against Mercedes after they conducted a secret tyre test in conjuction with Pirelli on May 15-17 in Barcelona.

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After hearing representations from the three teams and Pirelli, the stewards have confirmed they are to now write a report to the FIA “who may bring the matter before the International Tribunal”.

As the matter is a breach of a particular article of the sporting code, any potential penalty is likely to involve a fine, race ban or points deduction rather than any belated action against this event.

It means Rosberg is a Monaco GP winner, 30 years after father Keke took the chequered flag around the streets of the principality.

The 27-year-old German becomes the first son of a former victor of this race to finish on the top step of the podium of F1’s blue-riband event.

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Reflecting on only his second win in F1, Rosberg said: “This is my home. I’ve grown up here, lived all my life here, I’ve gone to school here.

“So now to win at home is very special; a very special day for me. The whole weekend really went perfectly.

“The car was really good, the tyres held on okay, so that was really the key to victory. So massive thanks to the team for having improved from Barcelona. I’m just ecstatic.”

A fortnight ago in the Spanish GP Rosberg had again started on pole, but given his car rapidly chewed up the tyres he dropped to sixth and finished 70 seconds behind Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.

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On this occasion, after finishing quickest in all three practice sessions and then edging team-mate Lewis Hamilton to pole by 0.091secs, the victory was the icing on the cake.

It is, however, slightly tainted given the secret tyre test, but he refused to discuss the matter when pressed, and instead focused only on his “amazing” day.

“When I was quite young, watching the race, my first memory is of Ayrton Senna winning with his yellow helmet, red and white (McLaren),” added Rosberg. “So it became a childhood dream to one day win the Grand Prix of Monaco because it is my home and the most special race for me.

“So to do so, the feeling is just incredible, unreal, and that is what’s so special about the sport, these emotions you then get.

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“You have these great moments of joy and winning and they make up for all the difficult moments that have gone before.”

But after locking out the front row there was no Mercedes one-two as Hamilton lost out in the first safety-car spell, finishing fourth behind the Red Bull’s of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.

“From my side, this weekend hasn’t really been the best and we didn’t make the most of the opportunity for a one-two finish,” said Hamilton

“It’s great for the team to at least have achieved our first victory of the season, and I hope we can carry through the performance we showed here to Montreal (Canadian GP on June 9).”

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The first 30 laps were positively pedestrian until Felipe Massa was involved in a mirror image of his accident in final practice in his Ferrari, bouncing off one barrier and into another at Ste Devote.

After being taken to the local Princesse Grace hospital for checks, the Brazilian was later released and is confident he will be “100 per cent” for Canada.

The race resumed on lap 38, but eight laps later it had to be red flagged when Maldonado and Marussia’s Max Chilton collided on the approach into Tabac.

With the situation too dangerous to run behind the safety car whilst repairs were carried out to the barriers and debris cleared, the race was suspended for 25 minutes.

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But then on lap 63 the safety car came into play for a second time when Romain Grosjean in his Lotus ran into the back of Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo coming out of the tunnel.

For causing the collision Grosjean, involved in a number of incidents last year, has been handed a 10-place grid penalty for Canada.

Behind the leading quartet Force India’s Adrian Sutil was fifth, with team-mate Paul Di Resta ninth, the duo either side of Jenson Button in his McLaren, Alonso and Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne.

Kimi Raikkonen sustaining a puncture when running fifth, managed to extend his run of points finishes to 23 – one short of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record – by taking 10th.

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Sergio Perez blamed Raikkonen for the accident which ended his hopes of his best finish since joining McLaren. Raikkonen, however, described Perez as an “idiot”, prior to the 69th-lap shunt. Far from believing he was over-aggressive, Perez said: “It was risky, but there was nothing I could to avoid the crash.

“I overtook Fernando and Jenson in the same place, so at the end of the day you have to give some space.

“If you look at the accident I hit the wall on entry of the corner, so Kimi gave me no room at all and there was nothing I could do to avoid it. If someone could have avoided the accident then it was Kimi and not myself.

Earlier, Button complained about Perez as he twice cut corners to keep his nose in front, leading to the FIA instructing the latter to give a place to Button.