The Monaco Grand Prix is usually a procession, so with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel on Pole and Jensen Button in second, is that how F1’s most glamorous race will end?
Far from being a long line of very expensive F1 cars following each other round the streets of the Grimaldi Empire, the 2011 Monaco Grand Prix was full of incident, accident and overtaking. Oh, and a dose of petulance too.
Let’s cut to the chase: Vettel won yet again – from pole – and extended his lead to the point where many will say he’s un-catchable. But he didn’t win the Monaco Grand Prix, he had it gifted to him by events.
The eventful race saw Hamilton pouting and stomping after the race about how badly he was treated – ‘Is it ‘cos I is black’ he half-quipped – when the only blame for his coming-togethers on track (well, two of them certainly) and his two drive-through penalties, was his own arrogance and bull-in-a-china-shop driving.
Yet the man who had every right to pout and stomp, Jenson Button, was accepting of the fate the Gods handed to him in this topsy-turvy race that saw a win snatched away and a third place – behind Vettel and Alonso – the consolation prize.
Button managed to leap in front of Vettel after the first pit stop and build a sizeable lead, but that skilfully built lead was lost after Lewis Hamilton barged in to Felipe Massa leading to a safety car for the first time this season, and just after Button had stopped for fresh rubber.
Button found himself behind Vettel – who hadn’t stopped again – as they lined up behind the safety car, so Red Bull decided to go for bust and run Vettel to the end on his deteriorating tyres.
A further pit stop by Button let Alonso through in to second place, but on new rubber Button soon caught Alonso who had by this time caught Vettel who was struggling on tyres that had little left to offer.
By lap 63 the three world champions were within a second of each other and Vettel looked likely to fall away with his useless tyres. Or at least he did until the Hamilton factor conspired once again to put a spoke in Button’s day.
Hamilton got hit up the back by Alguersuari, leading to a race stop to recover the stricken Toro Rosso. The cars lined up on the grid for a restart and were allowed repairs and – crucially for Vettel – new tyres.
Which lead to the restart and the remaining handful of laps to be exactly what you’d expect from Monaco – a procession to the end.
With Jenson Button the real loser.