ferrari-logo-2011Monaco GP – A tough afternoon for the Scuderia

Monaco, 26 May – Fernando Alonso gave Scuderia Ferrari a seventh place finish in the Monaco Grand Prix. Felipe Massa had to retire after an accident on lap 29 of the 78 lap race.

The race was red flagged after 45 laps because of a crash involving Pastor Maldonado, before being restarted for the remaining 33 laps. The closing stages featured plenty of mid-field action to keep the large crowd entertained. Alonso brought home six points, thus maintaining his third place in the championship.

Massa started from the back row of the grid and climbed up as high as sixteenth. He made his pit stop on lap 26, going from Super Soft to Soft tyres. Three laps later, his race came to abrupt end when he hit the barriers on the outside of the start finish straight heading for the Ste. Devote corner. Once out of the car he was taken to hospital for a check-up, where the doctors gave him a clean bill of health.

The race was won by Nico Rosberg for Mercedes.

Monaco GP – Monaco misfortune again

Monaco, 26 May – It is ironic that while the streets of the Principality are swarming with beautiful Ferrari GT cars all week long, come Sunday, the single-seaters from the same factory seem to struggle to perform on the Monegasque street circuit. Fernando Alonso had a difficult time of it this afternoon to at least bring home a few precious points for seventh place, while Felipe Massa appeared to have a very similar accident to the one he had on Saturday morning and had to retire, fortunately without nothing worse than a stiff neck. As is often the case at this race, it was won by the man who started from pole, Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes. Joining him on the dais outside the Royal Box was the Red Bull duo of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. Alonso is still third in the Drivers’ classification, while Massa drops from fifth to seventh. In the Constructors’ table, Scuderia Ferrari remains second behind Red Bull, but the gap has grown from 14 to 41 points.

As the lights went out, Rosberg and Hamilton led from the front row, with Vettel in the Red Bull immediately harrying the English Mercedes driver, while behind it was also grid order, Webber, Raikkonen and Fernando sixth. Felipe, starting on the Prime Soft tyre from the back row had moved up to 18th. The race settled down into the usual Monaco high speed parade, with 5.8 seconds separating leader Rosberg from Fernando’s F138 in sixth on lap 6. However, while the first five were pretty much nose to tail, the Spanish Ferrari driver was dropping back slightly from Raikkonen in the Lotus. On lap 9, Pic had to park the Caterham at Turn 18, as flames licked the rear of his car with black smoke pouring out of the engine cover. By lap 10, the McLaren Button-Perez duo was beginning to get nearer to Fernando, and at this stage, Felipe was sixteenth.

As cars ahead of him began to pit, Felipe went up to 15th on lap 24, while Fernando was 1.8 behind fifth placed Raikkonen. Webber in the Red Bull was the first of the leaders to change tyres on lap 25, which promoted Fernando to fifth. Further back, Di Resta had managed to get his Force India ahead of Felipe. Raikkonen pitted on lap 26 as did Button and Felipe, with Fernando now up to fourth behind Rosberg, Hamilton and Vettel. Fernando switched tyres on lap 28, dropping him back down the order.

Then on lap 29 Felipe’s Monaco weekend came to an end as he appeared to have an almost carbon copy of his Saturday morning accident, except that this time the impact with the barriers at Ste Devote was even heavier. Once out of the car, it was obvious the Brazilian was in some pain and the doctors at the scene fitted a brace around his neck as he sat atop the tyre barriers. The move brought out first the yellow flags and then the Safety Car, which meant plenty of cars diving for pit lane. The leading Mercedes duo actually came in one lap later than the other front runners, so the order behind the SC on lap 33 was Rosberg, Vettel, Webber, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Fernando in sixth who was unable to profit from the SC as he had already made his pit stop, Button, Perez, Sutil and Vergne completing the top ten.

Not until half distance on lap 39 did the Safety Car come in, allowing the race to resume and while Rosberg pulled out a small gap at the front, behind it was frantic nose to tail action with Fernando snapping at Raikkonen’s heels and Hamilton nearly passing Webber at Rascasse. At the Loews hairpin as Fernando momentarily ran wide, he was clipped by Perez but everything seemed to be fine on board the F138. But with no more pit stops scheduled, would there be any way of changing the order? On lap 44 Perez tried a bold move on the Ferrari at the chicane as Fernando rode the kerb to avoid a collision, but it did not stick.

On lap 47, there was a huge crash at Tabac, when Chilton in the Marussia was defending from Maldonado in the Williams and the collision threw the Venezuelan’s car into barrier which wrapped itself around the Williams, blocking the track. Race Control immediately red flagged the race and the rest of the field reformed on the grid. The cars were released behind the Safety Car for one lap with Fernando, on fresh Super Softs, having been instructed to give his position to Perez after he was deemed by the stewards to have used the kerb at the chicane to keep his position a few laps earlier. With everyone on new tyres, we now had a 30 lap sprint to the flag.

On lap 52, behind Fernando, Sutil got his Force India past Button’s McLaren at the hairpin, as Rosberg pulled out a visible gap over second placed Vettel and the rest of the pack. Hamilton was putting Webber under a lot of pressure for the final podium position. Fernando was coming under more and more pressure from Sutil and, on lap 57 the German squeezed by at the hairpin in a high risk move, so that the sole remaining Ferrari in the race was now eighth. Lap 62 brought out the Safety Car again, as Grosjean drove his Lotus into the back of Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso on the run out of the tunnel. Racing resumed on lap 67. Lap 70 and the fiery Perez damaged his front wing trying to pass Raikkonen at the chicane, so the Finn’s race was ruined as he had to pit with a puncture, while the Mexican still managed to continue in his McLaren. It was now that Button also managed to pass Fernando. Perez could no longer control his damaged car and dropped back, so the Ferrari man was seventh, ahead of Vergne, in the Ferrari powered Toro Rosso, who was putting him under intense pressure in the closing stages, but the two times Monaco winner managed to keep him at bay, hanging on to seventh place at the flag. Behind the podium trio came Hamilton fourth, then Sutil and Button ahead of the Ferrari man, with the remaining points going to eighth placed Vergne, Di Resta and Raikkonen.

Although this period of the championship is known as the European part of the season, the F1 circus now heads across the Atlantic for a brief North American trip and the Canadian Grand Prix in a fortnight’s time.

Monaco GP – The statistics

3 the number of times in the last eight years in which a Ferrari has had to start from the back of the grid at this race. On the two previous occasions – 2006 with Schumacher and 2010 with Alonso – a points finish still came at the end of the day thanks to a fifth place for the German and a sixth for the Spaniard. This time that didn’t happen as Felipe Massa had to retire after crashing into the barriers on lap 29.

6 the points scored today by Scuderia Ferrari thanks to a seventh place for Fernando Alonso. It is the Scuderia’s worst result in this race since 1996, when neither Prancing Horse driver made it to the finish. In 2005, the highest placed Ferrari was Michael Schumacher in seventh, one ahead of team-mate Rubens Barrichello.

9 the number of points finishes for Fernando Alonso in twelve Monaco Grands Prix. The Spaniard only failed to score in 2001 (retired,) 2004 (accident) and 2008 tenth, (at a time when the points only went to the top eight.) His record here includes two wins and a further two podium finishes. Fernando also has a seventh place to his name in 2009, when he was with Renault.

12 the number of years that have passed without a Ferrari win in the Monaco Grand Prix. The last victory for a Red car goes back to 2001 when Michael Schumacher led home team-mate Rubens Barrichello in a one-two finish.