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Vettel heads Ferrari 1-2 at Monaco

NEWS STORY
28/05/2017

Having predicted that Kimi Raikkonen would win the Spanish Grand Prix, the Finn subsequently crashing out at the first corner, despite the fact the Finn starts from pole today we will be making no such predictions as we do not want to put the mockers on him... and if you don't know what we mean Google it.

Monaco being Monaco, a good grid position is vital however, when it was suggested yesterday that Kimi might ride shotgun for his teammate today, the Iceman uncharacteristically lost his cool.

"I don't know why people expect that it is something different tomorrow than it's been the last two years," he bristled. "Nothing has changed. Just try to make a stupid story out of nothing."

Yesterday's pole amply demonstrated that Kimi still has it, even though at time he appears to have lost interest to the extent that he needs a gentle nudge.

With Lewis Hamilton starting from the midfield following his "devastating" qualifying session, it isn't that vital that title rival Sebastian Vettel wins, though the German would surely be delighted to extend his comfort cushion as much as possible.

The spanner in the works could come from a number of sources, not least Valtteri Bottas, who has all the makings of 'doing another Sochi', a move that would not only damage Vettel but also those sections of the British media that continue to demand Mercedes concentrates its efforts on Hamilton.

Fourth is Max Verstappen's best qualifying result of the year, however, at what has always been a taboo track for the youngster he might opt to err on the side of caution - not that the Dutch teenager knows the meaning of the word.

Teammate Daniel Ricciardo also has history here, and not having learned its lesson last year, when it effectively cost him the race, Red Bull made another strategic error yesterday hence the Australian starting fifth.

If you are looking for a major upset, then other than a Spa-style pile up at Ste Devote on the first lap, look no further than Toro Rosso.

The Italian team has been strong all weekend and while Daniil Kvyat didn't make it through to Q3, that was more about Stoffel Vandoorne's late crash than the Russian's pace.

Meanwhile, teammate Carlos Sainz continues to impress and starting from sixth today - a result that even caused the Spaniard to say "wow" - he must surely be in for a decent points haul.

Force India's sequence of double-points finishes looks likely to come to an end today, for while Sergio Perez starts from seventh, teammate Esteban Ocon is 16th on the grid, the French youngster not having the best of weekends.

Romain Grosjean starts eighth and should be in for a decent number of points, while teammate Kevin Magnussen, who has expressed frustration at Hamilton claiming that the Briton has no regard for other drivers and is always blocking them, starts just ahead of the Mercedes driver.

While the weather will play no part in today's race, certainly in terms of rain, it is the very nature of the track that might spring the surprises. Even though the field might get through Ste Devote without any issues, there are so many other notorious corners waiting to play their part.

Other than the unforgiving nature of the track nature which punishes any sign of over enthusiasm or liberty taking, traffic is another issue here and having seen the leaders struggle with backmarkers in Spain two weeks ago, today should witness further frustration and possibly a few 'messages for Charlie'.

And then there's the question of tyres.

The Ultrasofts are perfectly capable of lasting the entire race distance. Consequently, with a delta to the supersofts of around 0.7s, drivers will want to sport the red-banded rubber for as little time as possible. Question is, do they opt for a change at the very start or at the very end?

Despite not having driven the car in reality, only on the simulator, Jenson Button's drive to ninth in qualifying was superb, while credit also to Vandoorne who finished tenth and might have been even nearer the front but for that crash.

An overnight change of floor means that Button will start from the pitlane. However, this could work to his advantage as he might not only manage to avoid any first corner mishaps, starting from the pitlane might also influence his tyre strategy.

That said, in another late move, McLaren, needing a replacement diffuser for Vandoorne following his Q2 crash took the Briton's which will hardly have helped his mood.

More than at any other track on the calendar, "could", "should" and "would" count for little, for in this crazy town made famous by its casino, it is often a question of those willing to gamble and those with luck on their side.

Talking of luck, a couple of drivers who could do with a decent roll of the dice today are Lance Stroll and Jolyon Palmer, though in both cases their cars don't seem entirely happy here.

The pitlane opens.

Before the national anthem, a minute's silence is observed in respect of last week's atrocity in Manchester, and other victims of terrorism. Sadly, such is the way of the world this could likely become a regular feature.

As the field prepares to head off on the warm-up lap, the air temperature is 25 degrees C, while the track temperature is 51 degrees.

All are starting on the ultrasofts bar the Sauber duo who have both opted for the supersofts.

The grid forms. And as Button heads down the pitlane, Fernando Alonso comes over the team radio to wish him good luck.

They're away, and contrary to our fears there are no issues at Ste Devote or any othe subsequent corners. Consequently, at the end of lap 1, it's: Raikkonen, Vettel, Bottas, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Sainz, Perez, Grosjean, Magnussen and Hulkenberg.

Hamilton has passed Vandoorne for 12th, while Kvyat dropped two places at the start.

Wehrlein and Button both pit, the German for ultras and the Briton for supers.

Out front Raikkonen is setting a blistering pace, posting a 17.914. In third, Bottas is already 2.1s down on Vettel.

Lap 4 sees another fastest lap from Raikkonen, the Finn posting 17.072. Hamilton is harrying Kvyat.

The stewards are investigating Wehrlein for an unsafe release following an incident with Button at their stops.

As Vettel goes quickest (17.044), Hamilton claims "it's hard to get close to these guys". He is told: "Our race comes later".

Lap 9 sees Vettel go quickest (16.421) as he maintains a 2.2s gap to his teammate and 3.5s over Bottas.

"I think he's starting to get deg already..." says Button of Wehrlein, though the German is only 9 laps into his run with the ultras. The Briton, like Ericsson, is still on supers.

Wehrlein is handed a 5s time penalty for the pit incident, the second successive race in which he has been penalised.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Monaco, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by sportlaw, 02/06/2017 8:04

"Something that should concern many people about 'team orders' or any manipulation of the results, is that the sport's regulatory authorities have permitted betting on the F1 races (and indeed the sport as a whole). Therefore any manipulation of the driver finishing positions by teams is an act that will deliberately interfere with the outcome for the purposes of the bets placed before the race started..."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Slowcoach, 29/05/2017 22:48

"This event has always been the least attractive in the calendar but this year it was the most boring procession I have seen in some time. Not a single overtake on track in the whole event? How can it possibly be called a race when there was NO racing at all? As someone who has watched F1 for over 30 years I seriously doubt I will ever bother watching Monaco again.
This is supposed to be the epitome of F1, it's Blue Ribband event and it was probably the worst advert for F1 that there could possibly have been.
This should have been dropped from the calendar years ago."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by yakker, 29/05/2017 10:11

"I know Monaco is a difficult place to overtake, but this year NO overtakes at all. So to call this a race is a joke, surely it is time to drop the GP from the calendar."

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4. Posted by equator180, 29/05/2017 2:38

"I watched this race as I have watched hundreds of others on TV, Fox Sports Channel (one of many) here in Singapore and I believe you have the same transmission in the UK on SKY. This broadcast was one of the worst I have watched in the last 15 years! (not talking about the post race show) Here in Singapore we were only able to hear perhaps 60% of the commentary, the remainder was lost to background noise of not only the normal engine noise of the cars but voices not related to the broadcast at all. The whole thing was a disaster and the sound engineer was a rookie or a complete incompetent, it was not worthy of a pay channel broadcast at all, hopefully the broadcaster will replace this Python imposer sound tech with some competency! BTW why was the post race show such a disaster as well, is this the new F1?"

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5. Posted by mittagongcalling, 28/05/2017 22:43

"was that he most boring race of all time???????????? Jean Todt, I'm talking to you"

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