Sebastian Vettel extended his Formula 1 World Championship advantage to 25 points on a nightmare weekend for Lewis Hamilton as the German headed a Ferrari 1-2 in Monaco, the team’s first win in the principality since 2001.
A well-executed strategy enabled Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo to take third behind pole-sitter Kimi Raikkonen, with Valterri Bottas and Max Verstappen rounding out the top five.
Hamilton, who suffered setup problems during qualifying and started a lowly 13th after penalties for both McLarens, eventually finished seventh after struggling to make early progress – “our race comes later” was the reassuring call from the Mercedes pit wall.
He was beaten to the punch by Carlos Sainz Jr’s Toro Rosso, with Romain Grosjean, Daniil Kvyat and Sergio Perez completing the top ten.
The decisive move for the race lead, when it came, was courtesy of Ferrari’s pit-stop strategy. Raikkonen, who had made the most of pole position to streak clear into an early advantage, pitted two laps earlier than his team-mate, who subsequently posted the then-fastest lap of the race to claim the lead on pit exit.
In Red Bull attempting to similarly under-cut Valterri Bottas’ Mercedes for third with Max Verstappen, Ricciardo was able to find clear air and use his pace advantage to demote the pair to fourth and fifth respectively, a call Verstappen branded as a “f*cking disaster”.
A long first stint on the ultra-soft tyres for Hamilton saw him surge forward as high as sixth, before pitting for fresh rubber and dropping behind Sainz.
The likely safety car appearance came in the closing stages after Jenson Button – making a one-off return for McLaren-Honda as team-mate Fernando Alonso contests the Indianapolis 500 – collided at Portier with Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber, the latter coming to rest side-on in the barrier. Wehrlein luckily escaped unharmed, though both retired.
That bunched the field up, but with cars struggling under the sport’s new aerodynamic regulations to pass at close quarters, it became a case of maintaining the status quo at the front, a brief brush against the Sainte Devote barrier the only action as Ricciardo ran close to the limit in defending third.
It proved to be a race of high attrition as Stoffel Vandoorne, Nico Hulkenberg and Marcus Ericcson joined Button and Wehrlein on the sidelines. Sergio Perez set a new race lap record for Force India.
The championship reconvenes next at Montreal in a fortnight, with Vettel and Ferrari now a clear race wins worth of points ahead of Hamilton and Mercedes.
2017 FORMULA 1 MONACO GRAND PRIX – RESULT (78 LAPS):
|1||Sebastian VETTEL||Scuderia Ferrari|
|2||Kimi RAIKKONEN||Scuderia Ferrari||+3.145s|
|3||Daniel RICCIARDO||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||+3.745s|
|4||Valterri BOTTAS||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team||+5.517s|
|5||Max VERSTAPPEN||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||+6.199s|
|6||Carlos SAINZ JR||Scuderia Toro Rosso||+12.038s|
|7||Lewis HAMILTON||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team||+15.801s|
|8||Romain GROSJEAN||Haas F1 Team||+18.150s|
|9||Felipe MASSA||Williams Martini Racing||+19.445s|
|10||Kevin MAGNUSSEN||Haas F1 Team||+21.443s|
|11||Jolyon PALMER||Renault Sport F1 Team||+22.737s|
|12||Esteban OCON||Sahara Force India||+23.725s|
|13||Sergio PEREZ||Sahara Force India||+39.089s|
|14||Daniil KVYAT||Scuderia Toro Rosso||+7 laps|
|15||Lance STROLL||Williams Martini Racing||+7 laps|
|DNF||Stoffel VANDOORNE||McLaren-Honda||Accident damage|
|DNF||Marcus ERICCSON||Sauber F1 Team||Accident damage|
|DNF||Jenson BUTTON||McLaren-Honda||Accident damage|
|DNF||Pascal WEHRLEIN||Sauber F1 Team||Accident damage|
|DNF||Nico HULKENBERG||Renault Sport F1 Team||Gearbox|