F1 2017: Monaco Grand Prix Race Recap

rr F1 MON

Sebastian Vettel won the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix, taking the lead from pole-sitting teammate Kimi Raikkonen by virtue of fast laps around the single set of pit stops. Daniel Ricciardo made his way up to finish third through his own quick driving. Valtteri Bottas lost third to the Australian, finishing fourth, with Max Verstappen, also losing out to his teammate, rounding out the top five.

Lewis Hamilton moved up to finish seventh, but the most dramatic portion of the race came in the final twenty laps. Jenson Button, filling in for Fernando Alonso, attempted to pass Pascal Wehrlein at Portier. Instead, they came together, the McLaren pushing the Sauber sideways and onto its left wheels, exposing the floor to the world, and pushing the roll hope not too gently against the barrier just before the tunnel. All were unhurt.

The final few laps were frantic as drivers pushed further than the track allowed, leading to quite a lot of attrition between damage and failures, drivers attempting passes far more ambitiously than physics allowed.

Results of the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix

DRIVER TEAM GAP
1.  Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari
2.  Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari  3.145
3.  Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull  3.745
4.  Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes  5.517
5.  Max Verstappen  Red Bull  6.199
6.  Carlos Sainz  Toro Rosso  12.038
7.  Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes  15.801
8.  Romain Grosjean  Haas  18.150
9.  Felipe Massa  Williams  19.445
10.  Kevin Magnussen  Haas  21.443
11.  Joylon Palmer  Renault  22.737
12.  Esteban Ocon  Force India  23.725
13.  Sergio Perez  Force India  39.089
 Lance Stroll  Williams
 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
 Stoffel Vandoorne  McLaren
 Marcus Ericsson  Sauber
 Jenson Button  McLaren
 Pascal Wehrlein  Sauber
 Nico Hulkenberg  Renault

Raikkonen (1:12.178) and Vettel gave Ferrari the team’s first full front row start in nearly a decade by outperforming the field during Saturday’s qualifying sessions. Bottas started behind his fellow Finn, with Verstappen qualifying fourth. So disappointed he could not immediately get out of the car, Hamilton managed to qualify only 13th. He struggled to control the Mercedes through all sessions but FP1. After aborting multiple runs in Q2, his only real effort to haul himself into the run for pole saw Hamilton’s hopes dashed when Vandoorne put his McLaren into the barrier ahead of the Briton.

Still, Vandoorne qualified tenth before his lingering three place penalty from Spain could be assessed for the starting grid. Teammate Button put his McLaren ninth fastest, though he already had a fifteen place grid penalty for power unit changes. He started from the pit lane after the team made changes to the car overnight. Ricciardo, Sainz, Perez, and Grosjean also ran in Q3. Only the Sauber cars wore supersofts for the start.

Race Start:
Raikkonen took advantage of pole, while Bottas had a look at Vettel. The Finn could not take the Ferrari on the start. The Red Bulls also drove partially side-by-side, but held station. The entire field made a good getaway, keeping things clean through the first lap. Raikkonen led the first lap, with Vettel, Bottas, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Sainz, Perez, Grosjean, Magnussen, and Hulkenberg completing the top ten.

Button sneaked into the pits on the first lap to switch to the supersofts at the back of the train. So, too, did Wehrlein. The Sauber driver left his pitbox directly in front of the Briton, who later complained of an unsafe release as he had to life. Both Ferraris quickly gained two seconds over the field, running away. Raikkonen held his gap to Vettel at two seconds for the next few laps, with Bottas another three seconds behind the German.

End L10 of 78:
Drivers held station through the first ten laps, as is typical on the twisty Monaco streets. Hamilton had moved up to twelfth, but continued to lose time to the Ferraris, lapping well slower than the leaders. Meanwhile, the stewards assessed a five second penalty to Wehrlein for the unsafe release from Sauber. The field continued to string out, though the Red Bulls set lap times closest to the leading Ferraris. Hulkenberg retired on L16, pulling onto an escape road with a transmission issue. Yellow flags waved in the second sector for multiple laps. Perez pitted soon thereafter, stopping for a tire change and supersofts. He had radioed the team about possible damage sustained on the first lap.

By L18, Vettel caught Raikkonen, closing the gap to a second and a half. Hamilton moved quietly through the field, up to tenth. On fresher, harder tires, Perez caught up Stroll, closer than nearly any other pair on the track.

The field closed together, drivers complaining of no grip, by L25. Vettel sat less than a second behind Raikkonen as they caught Button, the last driver on the track. Raikkonen wondered how close he needed to get to Button for the McLaren driver to see the more demanding of the blue flags.

Button soon allowed the three leaders to pass him. Less than two seconds covered Raikkonen, Vettel, and Bottas on L29. On the radio, McLaren informed Button that “sensors indicating a potential leak. Please watch your water temps.” He responded, “I don’t think it’s water.” Though he had gained time behind Button, Bottas allowed the gap to Vettel to grow again. Meanwhile, Perez continued to lurk behind Stroll without a pass for fifteenth.

Pit Stops Begin {L38 of 78}:
Verstappen pitted first, on L33 from fourth, Red Bull telling him to do the opposite of the man ahead. Verstappen (3.5s) rejoined sixth. Bottas (2.7s) followed the next lap, returning fifth and just ahead of Verstappen. Raikkonen (3.4s) pitted as he started L35. He rejoined third, as Ricciardo posted a race fast lap. Just after, Force India informed Perez that if he couldn’t pass Stroll, he’d have to back off to cool the engine. He responded, “you boxed me because of safety. Who cares if the engine blows up now?”

Kvyat and Ocon pitted on L37. Vettel did not pit as Ricciardo received encouragement from Red Bull. Sainz and Magnussen pitted on L38.

Halfway {L37 of 78}:
Vettel posted a race fast lap of 1:15.238 on the halfway lap. Ricciardo (2.8s) pitted, then so did Vettel (3.1s) on the next lap. Red Bull’s quick stop brought Ricciardo out in third, leapfrogging Bottas. Vettel rejoined ahead of his teammate, taking the race lead on L40. Grosjean pitted, as did Stroll. Verstappen complained on the radio of a disaster that Ricciardo made up the two positions in the pit lane. Force India informed Ocon of a rear left puncture, calling him into the pits again.

Magnussen and Palmer made their stops on L44. Hamilton (2.7s) pitted from sixth on L47. He rejoined seventh. Vettel led Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Bottas, Verstappen, Sainz, Hamilton, Grosjean, Kvyat, and Vandoorne as the top ten on L49. Perez, Massa, Magnussen, Palmer, Stroll, Ericsson, Ocon, Wehrlein, and Button rounded out the field.

On L54, teams began telling drivers of a rising manhole cover at Ste. Devote, possibly the cause of Ocon’s puncture.

20 Laps Remain of 78:
Vettel still led with twenty to go, a shocking lack of attrition for Monaco. The track continued to degrade, with bits that were resurfaced only last night beginning to break up at T1. Meanwhile, Button and Wehrlein came together.

Safety Car {L61 of 78}:
The SC was deployed with Wehrlein on his side, the roll hoop pressed against the barrier at Portier, just before the tunnel. The Sauber driver spoke to the team on the radio, saying he “would be better if he could jump out.” Button sat in an escape road, out of the car and seemingly fine. Button had attempted a pass as they entered the turn, just behind a Ferrari. They had little room, Button pushing his left front into the sidepod of the Sauber, and forcing it onto its side. The marshals soon righted the Sauber.

Perez pitted under the SC, as did a number of other drivers. Ericsson complained of brake issues, suggesting he would crash on the restart without brakes. He stopped on track, having crashed overtaking the Safety Car. He ran straight on at Ste. Devote.

Restart:
Vettel got well away on the restart, as did Raikkonen, though the Red Bull-Mercedes-Red Bull trio had a look at one another. They continued on, holding station. Further back, Perez pushed through on Vandoorne, leaving the younger driver no where to go but nose-first into the barrier.

10 Laps Remain of 78:

Vettel led Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Bottas, Verstappen, Sainz, Hamilton, Grosjean, Kvyat, and Perez as the points-paying drivers with ten laps to go. Though teams exhorted drivers to push, the SC bunched the field only enough to bring them together, not enough to force passing. Perez attempted to make a pass on Kvyat. He technically succeeded, leaving Kvyat sitting on the side of the track, and Perez complaining to his engineer and pitting.

Verstappen looked nearly close enough to make a move on Bottas in the final four laps. However, he could not succeed.  In the end, Hamilton reminded the team, “the battle is not over,” adding they could just take the points and move on from there. Vettel led Raikkonen home in a Ferrari one-two, bringing the German more points in the championship and making the constructor’s championship more interesting. This is the first Ferrari win at Monaco since 2001.

{VMR}

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