Three world champions, three different strategies and three supreme drives. In truth any of the top three finishers in today’s race would have been a very worthy winner.
Eventual victor Vettel was lucky – no question – but he was also faultless throughout. He hung on to his lead at the start and then built a comfortable cushion to Button in second. A pitstop mix up dropped him to P2, but from there he regained the lead when Button stopped. He was hanging on in there on the set of tyres he’d bolted on 16 laps in.
And that’s where the luck kicked in: the safety car and late race red flag played in to his hands massively, but in between the two he also had to fend off the attentions of Alonso. A mighty drive from Vettel and, whilst it’s a shame he won the way he did, he is a deserving victor.
Fernando was something of a silent entrant to the battle for victory; it just seemed to happen. Quick in practice, qualy wasn’t what he wanted as he ended up fourth on the grid. A mega start quickly promoted him to P3, and as the race reached one third distance he looked a contender for the win. He closed on Vettel and worked the German hard. With much younger tyres he was in the box seat to pass Seb when the Red Bull’s tyres fell off the cliff. The red flag ruined that, but Fernando looked pretty chuffed on the podium. Second is his best finish of the year.
Jenson meanwhile was hugely unlucky, having positioned himself perfectly to win the race. Running second early on, he was catching Vettel when the German pitted. A poor stop promoted JB to the lead, but he surrendered that for a new set of tyres and then found himself third and behind the safety car. Stopping again, he was then primed to fight both Alonso and Vettel for the win, the German in particular looking set to tumble off the tyre cliff. He cruised up on them quickly only for the red flag to drop.
Could he have done it? He’d have needed to pass Alonso first, but his team were confident he could get the job done. We’ll never know, but there’s no question that Jenson had a great weekend, the best of his season in fact, and all whilst his team-mate was having a real nightmare.
The lesson? Track position always has and always will be king at Monaco. Senna in ’92, Trulli in 2004 and Vettel today immediately leap to mind as evidence of that.
But it was a great race at the front – massive respect to Seb, Fernando and Jenson for their performances today.