2009 Grand Prix de Monaco
The most glamorous of all races in the F1 calendar, the Monaco Grand Prix, was the next stop in the F1 calendar. Owing to it's status of being the jewel in the F1 calendar, this is one race which all the drivers and their teams are that much more motivated to win. With the unique nature of the circuit, which winds around the narrow streets of Monaco, infamous for accidents, pile-ups and safety-car interventions, anything was possible. Monaco is supposed to be more of a 'driver's circuit', as it is believed that the driver can have a considerable impact on his performance, rather than the driver with the fastest car dominating proceedings. However, in the narrow streets of Monte Carlo, overtaking is next to impossible and therefore, Saturday's qualifying was all the more important.
During the practise sessions, McLaren, Ferrari and Williams had shown consistent pace, along with the Brawn. And Red Bull would have the double-diffuser integrated into their car. So, the pecking-order was expected to see some changes. However, Jenson Button and Reubens Barichello put all doubts to rest, by storming to the P1 and P3 respectively. Kimi Raikkonen sugested that the Ferrari was getting back to the front by claiming P2. Felippe Massa came in in P4, and with their KERS-enabled cars so close to the front of the grid, things looked good for the Maranello-based team. McLaren miseries continued on a weekend in which they were expected to do well. Lewis Hamilton got it slightly wrong in Q3, and in Monaco, a little mistake is all that takes to bring down the curtains for you. He could go no further in the Qualifying session and things went from bad to worse, when he had to go for a gearbox change and subsequently, a starting-grid penalty.
For the Monaco weekend, Bridgestone offered it's soft and super-soft tyres. The Brawn GP runners were two of the few who decided to run the super-soft tyres in the first stint. And it helped Reubens Barichello to find better grip at the start and move ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. The short straight in Monaco meant his KERS feature wasn't a big help and he slipped into 3rd. Otherwise, the start was pretty incident-free. Barichello soon started to have some graining on his tyres, which slowed him down. Sebastian Vettel, who had also started on the super-soft had the same problem, but at a much larger degree. He was running fourth and bottling-up Massa behind him. Massa, in his attempt to pass Vettel, cut a chicane and got the position. Not wanting to i
nvite trouble from the stewarts, Massa gave the position back, but Nico Rosberg grabbed the opportunity and moved ahead of Massa, who was powerless to respond. However, Williams had a slightly flawed strategy and in the end, Massa was able to finish the race ahead of him.
Meanwhile, Jenson Button was in a league of his own and seemed to be moving closer to the driver's championship with each lap he completes. He did a better job of managing his super-soft tyres in comparison to Barichello, and never looked like anybody could challenge him. The Ferrari's had to run the super-soft tyres in their last stint. However, the increased build-up of rubber on the track surface meant the super-softs now coped much better. Felippe Massa had looked set to run his team-mate close, but he found himself at the wrong place at the wrong time, as Jenson Button came out of the pits right in front of him. Thus, the Monaco Grand Prix saw another 1-2 for the Brawn team. Kimi got his and Ferrari's first podium of the season and behind him came Felippe Massa, which gave Ferrari their best result of the season. Mark Webber was the sole finisher for Red Bull in 5th, after Sebastian Vettel, carried too much speed into Ste Devote after going for a very early change from the super-soft tyres. Nico Rosberg drove a good race to come in 6th, ahead of double world champion Fernando Alonso. The last point was grabbed by Sebastian Bourdais's Toro Rosso, denying Giancarlo Fisichella from scoring Force India's first ever- points.
Next in the calendar is the Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul, in two weeks time. The Brawn GP and Jenson Button are making the championship a very one-sided affair. With one-third of the season completed, it would be interesting to see other teams get closer to the standards set by Brawn. Ferrari are sure getting there, and McLaren also might have had a better result if not for some bad luck. Apart from the racing, the Formula 1 fraternity are keeping their fingers crossed for an amicable solution to the cost-capping controversy. The Ferrari and Renault are threatening that they may not lodge an entry into the next year's championship if the FIA would not revert from the rule changes. Three2tango hopes that some patch-up formula is worked-out and that we would get to see 13 teams in Formula 1 next season, which would also include Ferrari and Renault.