In similar fashion to the 1992 duel between Senna and Mansell on the streets of the principality, 2011 gave us a brilliant race, especially the last 25 or so laps, with Alonso on fresher rubber latching onto the gearbox of one stopper Vettel. Button on a totally different three stop strategy seemed to be running away with the race victory until the first safety car of the year spoiled his party. This allowed Vettel and Alonso to gain places on him, but with 25 laps before the end he was back on their heels, ominously waiting in the wings for the two to come together so that he could collect the pieces of the trophy afterwards.
The start of the race saw Alonso jump Webber with razor sharp reactions at the lights, but Buttons brilliant undercut saw him run away from Vettel and Alonso after Red Bull suffered a miserable first pit stop. Button ahead with super softs and Vettel and Alonso on softs saw the leader run away to a 14 second lead within a few laps, but then the first safety car after Massa’s crash ruined his advantage but that also gave Alonso the chance to catch up with a quick pit stop. This left Vettel first on his softs from his first stop and Alonso in second with fresh softs and Button about 12 seconds behind also with fresh softs. Button again reeled them in and then it was just a matter of time before something happened, and something did.
The red flag after Sutil and Petrov’s crash all but sealed the race victory for Vettel and was almost an anti-climax considering the race uptil then, when he got a chance to change onto fresher rubber on the grid. All he had to do was make a clean getaway and ensure that Alonso or Button didn’t get a run on him into the first corner, and after that he just had to make his car as wide as he possibly could, which is not too difficult on the streets of Monte Carlo. The rule of changing tyres at a restart is supposedly being discussed in light of how it affected the outcome and spectacle of this race. If’s and but’s don’t have a place in Formula 1, but if the red flag hadn’t come out 10 laps before the end of the race, it could have easily been a different result. Alonso could have overtaken Vettel, Alonso could have crashed into Vettel and Button could have won, all three of them could have crashed and we could have had Kobayashi deservedly take his first race victory, or maybe Webber could have broken his duck of wins in 2011.
With all these goings on in the front of the field we had Hamilton who pulled out a gutsy drive that bordered on arrogant at times, but showed his speed, talent and drive to win. His moves on Massa and Maldonado were over ambitious at best and downright stupid at worst, but then again in Monaco it is only the over ambitious who can overtake and that too cars driven by seven times world champions. But the fact that he blamed the stewards in a post race interview, for penalizing him because he was “Black” and then calling Massa and Maldonado “frickin’ ridiculous and stupid drivers”, adds to my utter dislike for the golden poster boy of Mclaren.