Monaco GP – A podium for Fernando and points for Felipe
Monaco, 27 May – The F2012s of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa finished third and sixth respectively in the Monaco Grand Prix: both men made up ground at the start and then managed their advantage with a well managed race. A positive outcome for the Maranello team at the end of the Monegasque weekend. The race was won by Mark Webber for Red Bull, ahead of Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes. Precious points for the Scuderia as it already looks ahead to the next round, over the weekend of 10 June at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Montreal.
Monaco GP – A podium and the series lead for Fernando, a return to form for Felipe
Fernando Alonso has edged a few points clear of his nearest rival at the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings thanks to another bravura performance which saw him step onto the unique podium that awaits the top three in the Monaco Grand Prix. The Ferrari driver finished third, in a race that was won by Red Bull’s Mark Webber – the sixth different driver to win in six races – with Nico Rosberg second for Mercedes. Equally pleasing for the Scuderia is the fact that Felipe Massa has shown a strong return to form all weekend long and ended the afternoon in sixth place, to bring home valuable points for the team, which is third in the Constructors’ classification. Even if, as usual at this tight and twisty street circuit, there was not as much overtaking as we have grown used to, this was a thrilling race with several heart in mouth moments. Cars ran nose to tail, inevitably there are plenty of backmarkers to deal with and, right in the closing stages, the rain that had threatened all day, finally made an appearance over the Monegasque harbour.
At the start, Fernando immediately moved up one place to fourth behind the lead trio of Webber, Rosberg and Hamilton. Felipe was right behind his team-mate having gained two places, as Grosjean’s Lotus was sent into a terminal spin when he was clipped by Schumacher’s Mercedes on the run to Ste. Devote the first time. When Maldonaldo crashed the Williams at the end of the opening lap, the Safety Car came out for a couple of laps. The places remained unchanged, but Fernando progressively lost ground to Hamilton’s McLaren, the gap extending to 4.2s on lap 16, while Felipe was always around half a second behind his team-mate. After this, the Spaniard picked up the pace, even setting a race fastest lap at that point, so that the gap to third placed Hamilton came down, while the distance to Felipe increased, with the Brazilian comfortably ahead of Vettel, who was destined to do a very long stint, having started from ninth on the harder of the two Pirelli compounds.
On lap 27, Rosberg was the first to change tyres on his Mercedes and on 29, Webber, Hamilton, Raikkonen and others came in, while Fernando pitted on lap 30, dropping to fourth, one lap before Felipe, who came out in seventh place, although Schumacher ahead of him had yet to stop. The two Ferrari men were on the same tyre strategy, starting on the Pirelli Supersoft and making just the single stop to fit the Softs. A few drops of rain fell around half distance, but not enough for anyone to consider rain tyres. Vettel who obviously led at this point finally made his stop – nearly the entire field opted for just one tyre change this afternoon – on lap 46 and it was at this point that Webber inherited the lead he would keep to the flag. He was followed by Rosberg and then there was a bit of a gap to Fernando, Vettel, Hamilton with Felipe sixth, in fact the order that would be maintained for the remaining 32 laps. In the closing stages, it began raining again, a bit harder than earlier but still not enough to consider Intermediate or Rain tyres. However it made for an exciting finale because there was very little separating the top four as they negotiated their way in the slippery conditions, past the backmarkers. Behind the Brazilian Ferrari driver, the remaining points went to the Force India duo of Di Resta and Hulkenberg, with Raikkonen ninth for Lotus and the final point going to Senna in the Williams.
After just two races on the Old Continent, the F1 circus heads for the New World and the seventh round of the championship, the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, fortnight from today.
Monaco GP – Alonso on top and Massa reborn
Another podium, the third of the season for Fernando Alonso and Scuderia Ferrari. The Spaniard finished the Grand Prix in third place while his team-mate Felipe Massa came home sixth. With this result, Fernando heads the Drivers’ classification, while Felipe moves up to fourteenth. In the classification for Constructors, the Scuderia is now third, equal on points with Lotus. Both Ferrari men made a single pit stop, Fernando on lap 30 and Felipe on lap 31, switching from the Pirelli Supersofts used in the first stint to the Softs on which they ended the race. Fernando’s podium finish brings the Ferrari total at this race to 48.
Stefano Domenicali: “First of all, I want to say that all our thoughts are with everyone who is suffering as a result of the earthquake that hit the Emilia region last week: we hope that this strong race from Ferrari will have allowed them, just for a couple of hours, to forget their troubles at such a difficult time. We are with you, in thought and deed, because our roots are there, in the ground that has continued to shake there for the past eight days. As for the race, we leave the Principality with a very positive result and, above all, with Fernando Alonso leading the Drivers’ classification and Felipe Massa having delivered a brilliant and feisty performance all weekend long. Both our drivers did a great job, from the first to the last lap and the team behind them was a match for the situation. I am particularly happy for Felipe who needed a positive result: I’m sure this weekend really represents a fresh start to the season for him. We have to be satisfied, but we must definitely not relax, especially as we are not yet the best in terms of performance, particularly in qualifying. As I usually say after a good weekend, keep calm and carry on!”
Fernando Alonso: “I’m very happy with the way things have gone this weekend. We leave Monaco heading the Championship: if I’d been offered that after the Mugello test at the beginning of the month, I’d have signed for it there and then, but if I’d been told that after Melbourne, I would never have believed it! In Australia we started twelfth, then in the last two races we have jumped onto the podium and we are first in the classification. This result has to be further motivation to push even harder on the development of the F2012. We knew the start would be crucial. I got away very well and I almost got alongside Grosjean and Hamilton: the Frenchman and I touched and, for a moment, I was scared the car was damaged. On this track overtaking is almost impossible and being in someone’s slipstream causes temperature problems, both for the engine and the tyres. So, you cannot always be on the attack of those ahead, trying instead to manage the situation and push flat out only at the moments that count, such as the pit stops and that’s what I did. Could I have also got past Rosberg and Webber if I’d stayed out on track a bit longer? Maybe, but at that moment it was the right choice to make. I was definitely very quick with a clear track ahead of me. Towards the end, I was a bit worried about Vettel who was on the Supersoft, but luckily I could defend my position comfortably. Then I hoped the rain would come, because I think that could have given me a chance of winning, however, in the last five or six laps I thought it was over, partly because at every corner there might have been a surprise lying in wait. In Barcelona, a track with a lot of fast corners, we went well and this track is a law unto itself, so let’s see what the situation is in Canada, but certainly we hope to be able to confirm at this track too the progress we have seen at the last two Grands Prix. Finally, I dedicate this podium to all the victims and their families of the earthquake that hit the Emilia region last week.”
Felipe Massa: “It was a good race. I felt comfortable with the car right from the start of Thursday’s free practice. I had the right feeling and it was much easier to drive than at the previous races. Maybe it depends on the nature of the track or the set-up and we definitely need to analyse everything carefully to see what we can learn from this weekend. All things considered, I could have brought home a better result, but I am happy nevertheless. It was a very difficult race and very close and I was able to match the pace of the leaders. I am only sorry I was unable to do a few laps with a clear track ahead of me when the tyres were still competitive. The start was very good and also the tyre degradation, especially on the Soft compound was minimal. A driver always wants to do the maximum so I can’t be delighted with sixth place, however these are important points. I really hope my championship has turned around and that, from now on, I can always be in the fight for the top places, as was the case here in Monaco. Now we go to Montreal, which is a different type of track to this one, because you need a good top speed but, in fact it’s not that different in terms of the set-up required.”
Pat Fry: “A very intense race, which ended with one car on the podium and the other in the top six. There was not a moment’s respite, right from the start, with the top six all together in just a handful of seconds. We all started a bit blind in terms of how the tyres would behave, both as far as durability was concerned and how they would perform in the first laps of use. Furthermore, the rain was always lying in wait and appeared right in the final moments. Fernando and Felipe both drove impeccably, without making the slightest mistake, as was the case for the crew during the pit stops. As for the strategy, day after day, the option of the one stop became ever more clear and, in the end it was the best choice. Sure, with hindsight, it’s easy to say that if Fernando had stayed out on track for a few laps more, then maybe he could have also passed Rosberg and got on terms with Webber as well as Hamilton, given the time he did on his in-lap. I think this weather was a surprise for everyone, as was the difficulty encountered in getting the Softs up to temperature in their first laps. With just a few seconds to react, we took the most logical decision, which did all the same lead to a podium finish. It all goes to show how every detail is crucial in a championship as closely contested as this one. We need to continue pushing on the development of the car, because we are still not where we want to be in terms of performance.”
Driver Pos. Time Gap Laps FL L
Alonso 3rd 1:46.07.504 + 0.947 78 1.18.857 45
Massa 6th 1:46.12.752 + 6.195 78 1.19.101 41
Weather: air 23/19°C, track 36/27 °C. Cloudy, drops of rain at the end
Chassis: Alonso 295, Massa 294.