We’ve named our driver of the race, but what about the rest of the runners and riders from the Monaco Grand Prix? In part one of Hot Rod or Hot Dog we look at the front-runners, better known in these parts as the Top Dogs.

Red Bull

  • Qualifying: Vettel (1st) Webber (3rd)
  • Race: Vettel (1st) Webber (4th)

vettelFortune favours the brave, and Sebastian Vettel was certainly that in his decision to try and drive the best part of the race on one set of Pirelli’s notoriously disintergraty (did I just make up a word?) tyres. Yes, he had luck by the billion dollar yacht load, but he also had to keep Alonso’s Ferrari behind – and that’s not easy.

And it won him the race. Did he luck in to it? No, he worked his socks off and then saw things fall his way. There’s a difference. It’s just a shame it had to end this way – we were in for a grandstand finish.

Mark Webber. What’s left to say? He’s not going to win the title and at this rate he won’t win a race until Seb has it all wrapped up, just like they used to let Rubens Barrichello do when he was Michael Schumacher’s number two at Ferrari. Pity wins. Mark’s better than that, but he’s just been beaten at the two circuits he shone brightest at last year.

A quick note on Red Bull’s post-race antics beside (and in) the pool of that floating palace they brought to Monaco: next year we’d quite like an invite. You can throw us in the pool, no problem, just bring us along.

Badger’s Best: Vettel

Ferrari

  • Qualifying: Alonso (4th) Massa (6th)
  • Race: Alonso (2nd) Massa (DNF)

alonsoIt’s now a decade since Ferrari last won in Monaco. Mad, aye? The first two things you associate with this sport are Monte Carlo and the Scuderia, so it’s strange that they’ve not ‘hooked up’ in so long.

But Fernando Alonso did come close. The Spaniard proved his worth again with a barnstorming drive that could so easily have been a win had a bunch of mid-pack drivers not decided to play bumper cars through the Swimming Pool. Had the race not been red flagged it’s likely he’d have fought Button for victory.

Still, Fernando looked happy on the podium. He knows the title is practically out of reach, he knows he’s giving it his all and he knows the team love him. Life’s too short for Red Bull envy.

Massa looked the part in practice, barely keeping his car out of the barriers as he took the word commitment to whole new levels. He qualified a solid sixth but in the race it all went wrong when he was thwacked by Hamilton and then understeered in to the wall through the tunnel. Race over, more disappointment.

Badger’s Best: Alonso

McLaren

  • Qualifying: Button (2nd) Hamilton (9th)
  • Race: Button (3rd) Hamilton (6th)

buttonSometimes you wonder how Jenson Button won a world title; sometimes you end up hitting yourself in the head with your shoes for ever questioning the guy. JB has these races, flashes of genuine brilliance, when everything comes together and he is utterly superb. Monaco 2011 was one of them.

He was a little lucky to be second the grid, but in the race he showed he had the pace to make that count. He will unquestionably regret stopping three times and thus conceding track position to Vettel and Alonso, but at the time it cleraly made sense. After all, had it not been for that red flag Seb’s tyres would have gone cliff diving and Jense would have battled Alonso (himself on pretty worn rubber) for the win. Third didn’t do him justice, but the world is rightly impressed.

Hamilton – should we get in to this here? Probably not. What we will do is point you towards a good place to express your opinions on his race (right here, folks) and say that he was hugely unlucky in qualifying but a tad too aggressive in the race. Don’t get me wrong – aggressive driving is essential – but you have to pick your battles. Is Pastor Maldonado going to wave you past when you send one up the inside at his favourite circuit when he’s on for a career best finish? No, he’s not. Pick your battles, Lewis.

Badger’s Best: Button

Sauber

  • Qualifying: Perez (10th*) Kobayashi (13th)
  • Race: Kobayashi (5th) Perez (DNS)

kobayashiHello Sauber, what are you doing here? Yes the much-loved Swiss team have made it in to the Top Dogs section of this feature for the first time that we can remember, and they did it thanks to a one-stop strategy and some Wacky Races-style driving from Kobayashi. That gave him a career-best fifth at the flag, rich reward for another sterling weekend from the Japanese driver. You wonder how long it will be before a top team come calling. He’d be quite fun in a Red Bull, wouldn’t he? And c’mon, he’s better than all but one of the drivers their billion dollar development scheme has produced.

As for Sergio Perez, he also had a good weekend, at least up to the point where he ended up in the back of an ambulance. The young Mexican shone here in GP2 ast year so it was no surprise when he made it to Q3 for the first time. It was a real shame that his accident ruined what looked set to be a brilliant weekend, but he’s continuing to impress. Here’s hoping we see him back at 100% in Canada.

Badger’s Best: Kobayashi (with honourable mention to Sergio for his qualy effort).

 

* Perez did not complete a Q3 lap and was thus classified tenth.