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F1 2017: Monaco Gp Review – Ferrari Score 1-2 Victory on Monte Carlo Streets

Victory around the Monaco streets had eluded Ferrari for sixteen years until yesterday’s comprehensive one-two victory.

Kimi Raikkonen, after a sublime pole-winning lap on Saturday, led the field cleanly through the first corner with teammate Sebastian Vettel behind. The pair quickly set the pace and pulled away from third-place man Valtteri Bottas and the two Red Bull’s of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. Early on in the piece it was evident that none of the chasing pack would have the pace to threaten either Ferrari.

Despite Ferrari’s domination of the weekend debate has simmered around the Italian team’s conduct. While social media has been abuzz with passion and positivity for Ferrari’s other two wins this season the tone of the comments were slanted more towards disapproval this time around.

While Raikkonen comfortably led the opening stint of the race from Vettel by roughly two-and-a-half seconds the pair began to loose time behind back-markers. It meant that Vettel closed to within a second of Raikkonen before the fated strategy call. Traditionally the lead car on the track is the one that receives the optimal strategy. This wasn’t the case for Ferrari and Raikkonen in Monaco as the Finn was called into the pitlane first only to emerge amongst a bundle of traffic. With Raikkonen mired in traffic Vettel was in clear air and free to push as much as possible. He turned a stunning pace too by dipping in the low 1:15s before his stop. As expected he emerged from the pitlane in first position.

022There should be no mistaking that Vettel had the pace to win the race. However the biggest factor that led to Vettel winning the race was Ferrari’s decision to give him the optimal strategy. Had the strategy calls been revered and Raikkonen been left out longer Vettel would’ve been in traffic and the Finn would’ve retained his P1 position. As it were, despite running five blistering laps longer, Vettel scraped into the lead by roughly half a second at the exit of the pitlane. On the fact that the dropped nearly eleven seconds behind Vettel Raikkonen’s said there was no point to run close to his teammate. “I had nothing to lose or gain. Nobody passes you here.”

Ferrari’s choice to run Vettel on the optimal strategy at the expense of Raikkonen was well within the sporting regulations and no rules were broken. But Raikkonen’s demeanour and expression as he clambered out of his Ferrari at the end of the race spoke volumes. There was little doubt that the he was unhappy and well aware of what had transpired.

Daniel RIcciardo_Monaco 2017 PodiumRaikkonen wasn’t alone though as Red Bull made the same strategy calls with Verstappen and Ricciardo with the latter inheriting third place as a result. While Bottas held onto fourth ahead of a furious Verstappen in fifth. Carlos Sainz was undoubtedly the driver of the day with a fine sixth place finish in the Toro Rosso. A difficult qualifying session for Lewis Hamilton left the Brit in thirteenth place on the grid, which he would recover to seventh by the time the chequered flag, dropped. Romain Grosjean brought the Haas home in an anonymous eighth ahead of Williams’ Felipe Massa in ninth and Kevin Magnussen in tenth.

While several drivers attempted to barge their way through to a better position the Monaco grand prix on the whole was little more than a procession towards lap 78. Still this race is often one of attrition and keeping it out of the barriers often leads to an opportunity for points.

GP MONACO F1/2017There was no such luck for McLaren though who had turned a relatively competitive pace throughout the weekend. Despite qualifying an impressive ninth on his return Jenson Button was relegated to start from the pit lane due to changing elements of his power unit and making set-up changes.

JB would eventually retire with car damage after attempting a far too ambitious overtaking move on Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein into the tunnel. It ended with the Sauber resting on its side against the barrier but, thankfully, without injury to Wehrlein. Stoffel Vandoorne had been running in tenth before sliding into the barrier at turn one.

Regardless of the divided opinion on Ferrari’s conduct with its two drivers the fact remains that the Italian team has landed a crucial blow for Sebastian Vettel in the driver’s championship. The German driver leaves the French Riviera with a comfortable twenty-five point lead over Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

About Natalie Le Clue

Natalie Le Clue is an F1 aficionado of the most dedicated vein. And, true to form for any F1-enamoured junkie, she readily admits to crying the first time she saw a F1 car, calling it an ‘overwhelming moment’. Natalie has won the 2010 gSport Woman In Media award, the 2015 Woman In Media Print award, and has been named as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in South African Sport by the Department of Sport and Recreation. Natalie is currently serving as SAfm's F1 correspondent. Follow Natalie on Twitter @nlc27

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