Vettel takes Ferrari’s first win in Monaco since 2001 with a controlled display on Sunday as strategy gives him the jump on Raikkonen.
Sebastian Vettel swept to Ferrari’s first Monaco Grand Prix victory in 16 years on Sunday, heading up a one-two finish for the Scuderia as well as extending his lead at the top of the Formula 1 drivers’ championship.
Vettel managed to get the jump on team-mate and pole-sitter Kimi Raikkonen through the solitary round of pit stops, having trailed the Finn through the opening stint of the race.
While a late safety car threatened to scupper Vettel’s hopes of a second Monaco victory and give Raikkonen a chance to get ahead again, the four-time world champion kept cool amid searing heat in the principality to clinch the win.
Raikkonen and Vettel made a perfect getaway from the grid to safeguard Ferrari’s advantage heading into the first corner, with the pair immediately streaming clear of Valtteri Bottas in third. Further back, Lewis Hamilton gained just one place off the line, leaving him 12th and struggling to keep up with the cars ahead through the early stages.
Raikkonen was able to comfortable keep Vettel at bay through the first stint of the race, with Bottas falling over seven seconds behind at one point. However, as the Ferrari drivers came around to lap traffic, Monaco reared its head and cost them both heaps of time, allowing Bottas to close – but once clear air was found, Raikkonen and Vettel re-established the gap.
Red Bull was the first of the leading teams to blink with a pit stop, bringing Max Verstappen in from fourth place at the end of Lap 33 in a bid to place pressure on the cars ahead. Mercedes reacted immediately, pitting Bottas one lap later, with the Finn emerging from the pits ahead of his Dutch rival.
Ferrari brought Raikkonen in a couple of laps afterwards, dropping him into traffic in the form of Carlos Sainz Jr. and the lapped Jenson Button, who was running P19. With Vettel staying out and laying down a series of quick laps, the German was working hard to try and overturn the first stint deficit.
Another man pushing like crazy was Daniel Ricciardo, who now sat second for Red Bull after running fifth before the stops. With Bottas and Verstappen struggling to pass Sainz and losing time, Ricciardo was able to make the ‘overcut’ work and pit later, emerging third. Verstappen was far from amused, telling his engineer it was a “f**king disaster”.
Up front, Vettel was given the call to push, knowing that three quick laps would win him the grand prix. The German duly delivered with a series of purple times before then pitting. Fitted with a fresh set of super-softs to take him to the end of the race, Vettel snaked out of the pit exit and through Sainte Devote, with Raikkonen’s car in his mirrors. The power in the race had shifted to the championship leader.
As Vettel made his moves to win the race, title contender Hamilton was working to try and limit the damage of his rival’s success. The Briton opted to run a long first stint, completing 47 laps on the ultra-soft before coming in. Running in free air had allowed Hamilton to vault his rivals through the stops, emerging in seventh after the tyre change.
The laps looked set to tick down without major incident, only for a bizarre crash between Pascal Wehrlein and Jenson Button to result in the safety car being deployed with 17 laps to go. Button tried to dive down the inside of Wehrlein at Portier, with the pair touching wheels and sending the Sauber driver into the air. Wehrlein’s car flipped on its side and came to rest against the wall, leaving the German stuck in his cockpit and unable to get out. The marshals were able to rescue him quickly enough, with Wehrlein getting out gingerly but seemingly-unharmed.
Vettel led the field away on the restart and quickly opened up a lead, with Raikkonen for close company. The battle for third saw Ricciardo run wide at Turn 1 and tap the wall on the restart, allowing Bottas and Verstappen – who now ran on ultra-softs after taking a free pit stop under the safety car – to close. Ricciardo was able to hold position, though, soaking up the pressure applied.
As Vettel and Raikkonen crossed the line to complete a famous one-two finish for Ferrari, Ricciardo was able to retain third place for Red Bull, going some way to making up for his qualifying disappointment. Bottas was able to hold on to fourth place ahead of Verstappen, who despite having fresh tyres could not make it through in the final stages.
Carlos Sainz Jr. completed a solid weekend for Toro Rosso by finishing sixth, acting as its sole points scorer after a late clash with Sergio Perez caused Daniil Kvyat to retire.
Lewis Hamilton was seventh at the chequered flag, largely hamstrung by the tight confines of the Monaco circuit for much of the race, meaning that Vettel’s championship lead now stands at 25 points.
Haas secured its first double-points finish in F1 as Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen took P8 and P10 respectively, with Felipe Massa splitting the pair for Williams in ninth.
Jolyon Palmer narrowly missed out on his second point in F1, finishing 11th for Renault, while a torrid race for Force India saw Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez cross the line as the last classified finishers in 12th and 13th.