May 27, 2012
Webber wins Grand Prix of Monaco
By Sports Network
Red Bull Renault's Mark Webber became the sixth different driver to win a race this season by capturing the 78-lap Formula One race at the historic Grand Prix of Monaco circuit.
The win was Webber's second at the Principality and the eighth of his F1 career.
Webber, who inherited the pole after Michael Schumacher's five-position grid penalty from Spain was assessed, took advantage right from the start on this ultra-tight street course.
By lap 10 he built a lead of 1.4 seconds of Nico Rosberg. Behind the two were Lewis Hamilton, the two Ferraris driven by Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa and two-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel.
As always, passing was difficult over the 2.075-mile, 19-turn course, made even tougher as teams asked their drivers to conserve their tires due to the possibility of rain in the forecast.
Other than a Lap 1 accident involving Romain Grosjean, there were no changes in the top-10 through the first 20 laps.
With most of the leaders on the "super soft" tires, Vettel, who was using an alternate soft-tire strategy, had a chance to stay out much longer. The strategy would work if the rains came after the leaders had pitted for the first time.
Many of the teams were predicting rain around lap 34 and the leaders made every effort to hold off on their pit stops until that point. Kimi Raikkonen, in seventh place, was particularly struggling to keep up his pace and held up everyone behind him.
Finally, Rosberg was the first to pit on lap 27, but none of the other top drivers followed. Two laps later Webber and Hamilton made their first stop of the day. The rain, however, was holding off and the both drivers came out with slicks still on the car.
"It was reasonably straight forward at the start, getting the gap over Nico, but the weather was threatening around the pit stop window," said Webber. "Then Nico went for it and people had to react to his chess move."
Vettel took over the lead on lap 31 after the remainder of the leaders had pitted. He owned a 10-second advantage on his Red Bull teammate Webber and should the rains come before Vettel was forced to pit, he'd have used alternate strategy to perfection.
Vettel continued to pull away from Webber and at lap 35 the lead was 13.8 seconds.
Light rain began to fall around lap 37, but still Vettel stayed on the track.
Vettel's strategy had two chances to win. He could build a 20-second lead to retain the top spot even after changing tires or if heavy rain came to force all drivers to their rain tires.
By lap 42 Vettel's lead was 17 seconds. At Lap 43 Vettel had still not pitted but was not able to build the lead any further. Finally, with the rain ending, Vettel was forced to pit on lap 47.
"I kept him (Vettel) from getting the magic 20-21 second lead," Webber said. "That wasn't part of our plan."
Webber took over the top spot and held a 1.2-second lead on Rosberg, 2.3 seconds on Alonso and 3.5 seconds on Vettel.
Slowly Webber began to extend his lead on Rosberg. The gap was two-seconds with 20 laps to go.
But Rosberg didn't quit and with a dozen laps remaining cut the lead to just under one second as a light rain began to fall again on various portions of the track.
In fact, the top four drivers were all within three seconds as the lap times were rising due to the track beginning to retain water.
Jean Eric Vergne gambled from eighth place and changed to intermediate rain tires, but the harder rain never showed and he finished in 12th place.
At the top it was still Webber leading a pack of six drivers within five seconds of the lead. And those top six cars finished without any changes of position.
"It was an amazing day for the team," said Webber.
Rosberg of Mercedes AMG and Alonso of Ferrari finished second and third, respectively, to join Webber on the podium.
"I think we had the fastest car out there, but it was a matter of tire management," said Rosberg. "It just didn't come together perfectly, so P2 and I'm very pleased."
Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Paul di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg, Kimi Raikkonen and Bruno Senna completed the top-10.
Alonso's third-place finish gives the Spaniard 76 points for the season and a three-point lead over Vettel and Webber.
"The target was to try to finish in front of Sebastian and Lewis as they are with us in the championship," said Alonso.
In the constructors' standings, Red Bull (146) owns a 38-point margin over McLaren (108).
The next race in the series, the Canadian Grand Prix, is scheduled for Sunday, June 10 from Montreal.