|Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany reacts on the podium after winning the Monaco F1 Grand Prix May 29, 2011. REUTERS/Max Rossi
Defending Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel won the Monaco Grand Prix for the first time after holding off Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button in a fierce battle during the closing laps on the famed Monte Carlo street circuit.
Vettel overcame a pit-road blunder early in the race when his Red Bull Racing team was not prepared for his stop. The young German only pitted once in the race, traveling the last 62 laps around the tricky 2.075-mile (3.34-kilometer) circuit on prime tires.
Alonso and Button were both within one second behind Vettel when a multi-car crash occurred with eight laps to go. Adrian Sutil hit the wall and triggered the accident. Renault's Vitaly Petrov slammed hard into the barrier and had to be transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital. He was awake and alert after the incident. The Russian suffered bruises on his legs, and preliminary reports indicated he did not sustain any broken bones.
After a 20-minute delay for track cleanup efforts, the race resumed with a five-lap shootout to the finish. Vettel crossed the finish line 1.1 seconds ahead of Alonso. Button placed third, while Vettel's teammate, Mark Webber, and Kamui Kobayashi rounded out the top-five.
Vettel now holds a commanding 58-point lead over McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who finished sixth.
Hamilton was penalized for causing a collision with Felipe Massa during the mid-stages. He also made contact with Pastor Maldonado during the final laps.
During Saturday's qualifying session for the Monaco GP, Sergio Perez from Sauber suffered a concussion and bruised thigh when he crashed hard into the chicane barrier. He will remain hospitalized until Monday.