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Webber makes his mark in Monaco

NEWS STORY
27/05/2012

Today's grid had already taken a bit of a reshuffle when pole-man Michael Schumacher was moved back to sixth for his clash with Bruno Senna in Spain, while Pastor Maldonado was hit for ten for a moment of madness in yesterday's free practice session.

Since then, the Venezuelan has lost further positions for changing his gearbox while Sergio Perez, the victim of the Williams driver's craziness yesterday, and who failed to post a time in Q1, has lost positions after he too changed his gearbox. Given permission to race, despite not having posted time, the Mexican was to start twenty-third after Maldonado's penalty however, now that he too has swapped gearboxes he goes back to twenty-fourth.

All off which means we have quite a jumbled grid, indeed, we have a grid which offers a number of mouth-watering scenarios, not least Maldonado and Perez starting side by side from the very back, behind the HRTs and Marussias.

With grip already a problem, there is the added spanner in the works courtesy of the fact that two of the three practice sessions were halted early, meaning that drivers were unable to carry out their traditional practice starts. At other tracks these can be done in the pitlane, but the geography here means that this is impossible.

Consequently, there are a number of people, including Pitpass' own Thomson Philips who believe that today's start could see a number of cars fall by the wayside - to be polite - before the field has got halfway up the hill. Add in the lack of grip at places such as Mirabeau and the entry to the Chicane and we have the promise of untold fun and games.

There is talk of most drivers one-stopping, though other believe this not to be an option. Then, as ever, there is the weather. While it is bright and sunny at present, there is talk of rain later this afternoon, though McLaren insists the race will be dry.

As we said yesterday, this being the home of the legendary Casino, it is only right and fitting that today's race, like yesterday's qualifying session, is as much of a lottery and gamble as pretty much everything else we've seen this year.

Schumacher on pole, who would have thunk it? And then there's Felipe Massa breathing down his teammate's neck, while Kimi Raikkonen - surely a contender for pole - starts from the fourth row behind Massa but ahead of Vettel. Fun and games all around.

Over the years, Monaco has thrown up many odd results, remember Jack Brabham's late mistake in 1970, Jean-Pierre Beltoise in 1972 and Riccardo Patrese ten years later, the year it looked as though nobody was going to finish.

Today's race could throw up something equally odd, be it Schumacher converting pole to a win - from sixth on the grid, Grosjean taking his maiden win or even a Caterham - moving further ad further up the grid thanks to all those penalties - finishing in the points.

Mark Webber, not known for his clean and speedy starts, inherits pole from Schumacher, with Rosberg, in the ever improving Mercedes, alongside, and Hamilton, keen to open his 2012 win account. And then there's Grosjean, Massa

As if things were confused enough, an hour before the race is due to begin, it is revealed that a number of teams are unhappy at a 'hole' in the floor of the Red Bull, with suggestions that there could be an official protest at the end of the race. While Red Bull insists that there is no issue and that the FIA has given its approval, a number of teams, thought to include McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes, are said to be unhappy.

Facing the prospect of a protest, one option to Red Bull would be to change the 'hole' but this would mean both drivers having to start the race from the pitlane… that's assuming the work could be done in time.

In all honesty, to speculate further would be a waste of time, so let's just hope for a good race with not too much silliness and which justifies the tradition and surroundings here, even if, like down the road in Cannes, it has all become a bit tacky these days.

As a reminder, the tyres today are soft (prime) and supersoft (option), the primes expected to last for around 50 laps and the supersoft 35 laps, with a difference of about a second per lap between them.

The DRS activation zone is on the approach to Rascasse, with activation being at the start of the pit straight.

As the field prepares to head off on the warm-up lap, the air temperature is 22 degrees C, while the track temperature is 35 degrees. All but Vettel, Button, di Resta, Petrov and de la Rosa are on options.

They're away, and, as expected there's an incident. Webber gets away well as does Schumacher, however, the German is hit from behind by Grosjean sending the Frenchman into a spin.

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