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Rosberg Rules Monaco Streets

From magical drives throughout the decades to duelling teammates in 2014, the streets of Monte Carlo have seen it all.

Since the Bahrain Grand Prix the duel between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg has been simmering just below the surface. In Monaco, a controversial moment in Saturday qualifying nearly detonated the tension between the two.

Lewis Hamilton v Nico Rosberg

As brilliantly as Lewis Hamilton has played the psychological game with his teammate, Rosberg has landed his own mental blows on the Brit this weekend. A controversial mistake in qualifying stopped Hamilton from potentially securing pole position. Most significantly, Hamilton seemed convinced that Rosberg’s trip down the escape road, which brought out yellow flags, was anything but accidental. The stewards found no fault with Rosberg’s actions and he kept his pole position.

Monaco Grand Prix 2014 Safety CarSubsequent statements from Hamilton in the press suggested that the relationship between the two was icy at best. Nonplussed by Hamilton’s remarks or attitude, Rosberg maintained the lead off the line and managed the 78 lap race with a determined Hamilton breathing down his neck for the majority of the afternoon.

For all of Hamilton’s talk he delivered no challenge to Rosberg where it matters most – on the Monte Carlo streets. He got to within a couple of tenths of the car in front but did not feint a pass even once. In fact, Rosberg achieved much more than victory this weekend. He almost entirely erased Hamilton’s month-long mind games with the single lock of a wheel. Intentional or not, Rosberg got inside Hamilton’s head. It upset the 2008 champion to the point where he didn’t want to participate in the post-qualifying press conferences and suggested that he may take a page out of Senna’s book to deal with his teammate.

If Hamilton was upset with Saturday’s result, and the steward’s subsequent findings, he was entitled to his own opinion and feelings. However, his failure to accept defeat and blatant refusal to congratulate his teammate is disappointing. There are few who would disagree that Lewis Hamilton is a great driver but his sportsmanship could use some improvement.

Bad Luck Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, MonacoKimi Raikkonen rocketed off the line and flew past teammate Fernando Alonso and Daniel Ricciardo. The Finn ran solidly in third nine seconds off the leading Mercedes duo but the second safety car would bring an end to any podium aspirations. As the lapped Marrussia of Max Chilton overtook he clipped the back wheel of the Ferrari causing a puncture. Raikkonen was forced back into the pitlane and out of contention. The former champ told Finnish TV after the race that his team had not informed him at what point lapped cars would be overtaking and that he felt that a third place finish was a serious possibility.

Raikkonen attempted a comeback into the points by passing several cars but ended up in the barriers of the Lowes hairpin with light damage. The Finn received a reprimand from the stewards for causing a collision with Kevin Magnussen.

Ricciardo Shines

Daniel Ricciardo continues to deliver for his new Red Bull team while teammate Sebastian Vettel once again suffers a reliability issue. An issue with the Renault Turbo unit cut Vettel’s 100th F1 race short. However, Ricciardo made the most of what he was dealt and once again delivered a solid drive for the final step of the podium.

Fernando Alonso finished a distant and anonymous fourth and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg held on for fifth place. Jenson Button’s sixth place gave McLaren its first point finish in three races ahead of Felipe Massa, Romain Grosjean, Jules Bianchi and Kevin Magnussen.

Brilliant Bianchi

Jules Bianchi was the star driver of the day as the Frenchman secured the first ever points for the Marussia team. Despite a five second stop/go penalty Bianchi finished in ninth place. Through whatever means it came about credit is due to the Marussia F1 Team. So often the smaller teams in F1 are forgotten but they fight as hard as anyone for every square inch of tarmac and that hard work has finally paid off for the team from Banbury.

Lewis Hamilton was affected by a vision problem late in the race which caused him to lose sight of his teammate. It cleared up a few laps later and this time he was able to maintain his position. If he is to be the champion again it is important for Hamilton to rise above the psychology of the fight and keep his eye on the prize.



Photos by Courtesy Pirelli and Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1

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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