F1 Monaco Grand Prix heroes and zeroes

Sebastien Vettel took Ferrari’s first Monaco Grand Prix win since 2001. The championship leader extended his lead over Lewis Hamilton as the Mercedes driver finished a distant 7th.

2017 F1 Monaco Grand Prix heroes

Hero – Sebastien Vettel

The four-time World champion delivered a near perfect performance to take Ferrari’s first Monaco win in 16 years. Utilising the over cut strategy – more on that later – the German leapfrogged pole sitter Kimi Raikkonen.

Vettel’s final laps on the ultra-soft tyres made his third win of the season. Punching in ever quicker laps gave Vettel an advantage as Kimi Raikkonen was stuck in traffic. With Lewis Hamilton a distant 7th, the big points advantage secured in Monte-Carlo could be pivotal in the 2017 F1 title race.

Hero – Valtteri Bottas

Both Mercedes cars looked unwieldy at times over the weekend, particularly in the hands of Lewis Hamilton. While Hamilton struggled to dial in his car – failing to make Q3 – Bottas pulled out a magnificent qualifying performance to line up 3rd.

Bottas had nothing for the dominant Ferrari’s and was jumped by Ricciardo on strategy. However the Finn did well to keep Verstappen at bay throughout the closing laps to take home a hard-fought 4th place finish.

Heroes – Ferrari

The scuderia were immense all weekend, importantly carrying their usual free practice form in to qualifying and the race. The speed at which they could pull away from both the Mercedes of Bottas and the Red Bulls in the opening laps/safety car restarts was Mercedes-esque.

A dubious call on Kimi Raikkonen’s strategy was a black mark against them but should not have come as a surprise. Vettel is their point man for the championship and compromising Raikkonen’s race was sadly inevitable.

Hero – Daniel Ricciardo

Sunday’s race must have been a cathartic exercise for the Australian as he exorcised the demons of Monaco 2016. The Red Bull did not have the speed to put Ricciardo in contention for the win he should have had last season. However using the same over cut strategy as Vettel the Australian jumped both Verstappen and Bottas to finish on the podium.

At times it looked like he might threaten Raikkonen for 2nd on the safety car restarts. Raikkonen looked uncomfortable on the super soft compound tyre and struggled to match Vettel.

Hero – Jenson Button

Super-sub Button got his McLaren in to Q3 on talent alone. Thanks to the legacy of Honda failures that became a pit lane starting position. It did give us the radio moment of the season so far as he talked with Fernando Alonso on the radio before the race confirming he was going to pee in Alonso’s seat as a thank you gift.

Quite right given the mess of a car Alonso had left behind for his former teammate!

2017 F1 Monaco Grand Prix zeroes

Zeroes – Ferrari

We are only at race 6 of 20 and Ferrari are already fiddling results for the championship. I should not be surprised but it is still galling.

With the surprising longevity and speed of the ultra-soft tyre during free practice, the over cut strategy was going to be the superior option in Monaco. Yet again Ferrari appeared to sell Raikkonen a lemon, pitting him early and feeding him out in to back marker traffic.

Vettel meanwhile kept punching in the ultra soft laps and gave himself a handy cushion to emerge ahead of his teammate. Raikkonen was understandably more moody than usual post race, failing to hide his disappointment and frustration. Most in the F1 community wanted to see Raikkonen win but Ferrari care little for what everyone else thinks.

Zero – Pascal Werhlein

Two weeks after a heroic performance in Barcelona, Werhlein was back performing like a rookie. Blocking, driving like he was half asleep and generally getting in the way.

This was a rookie performance by a driver who looked like he did not know what he was doing. It was good to see him emerge unscathed from the nasty shunt with Button. But this was another one of Werhlein’s enigmatic and hugely frustrating performances.

Zero – Stoffel Vandoorne

The ‘Stoff’ was on for a hero ranking as he made his way in to the points for McLaren. Benefitting primarily from the problems and mistakes of others, the Belgian looked solid to score McLaren’s first (and perhaps only?) points of the season.

A costly mistake on the safety car restart as Perez dived down his inside in to St Devote left the McLaren Honda in the barriers. With Button out thanks to his tangle with Werhlein at Portier, Vandoorne had been McLaren’s big hope for much needed points.

Race rating – 3 out of 10

Qualifying was spectacular despite no Mediterranean rain to mix things up. By contrast the race was dull.

Low degradation on tyres – particularly the ultra soft – and no Monaco rain made for a dull Sunday afternoon. Clashes between Button and Werhlein and Perez and Kvyat late on made for some intrigue but generally this was a race decided by when to switch tyres.

Combined with the Ferrari stitch-up to swap Vettel and Raikkonen, it made for a race that would have been best viewed as a highlights package.

Cue the next round of Pirelli criticism.

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