Starting grid for the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix

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The Monaco Grand Prix is the biggest event on the Formula 1 calendar, and in 2014 it has been made all the more tantalizing as the intra-team rivalry at Mercedes boils over for us all to see.

All week long, Lewis Hamilton has been having subtle digs at teammate Nico Rosberg, and this escalated yesterday after qualifying. Whilst on his final flying lap, Rosberg – who was on provisional pole – made a mistake at Mirabeau and went off down a slip road. This brought out the yellow flags, and meant that none of the drivers behind him could improve their times. He had inadvertently given himself pole position, with Hamilton missing out by just 0.059 seconds.

However, Hamilton inferred that there was something more sinister behind Rosberg’s error. The stewards investigated the incident, but ultimately ruled that the German driver had made an innocent error; Hamilton was simply the victim of bad luck.

With the two starting side-by-side on the front row today, we could be set for the closest and most tenuous battle yet.

FROM THE STEWARDS’ OFFICE

  • As reported yesterday, Marcus Ericsson has been told by the FIA to start the race from the pit lane as punishment for crashing into Felipe Massa during Q1. The Swede has also received two penalty points on his superlicense.
  • Jules Bianchi will now start from last on the grid (P21) after making a gearbox change overnight. This bumps Max Chilton and Kamui Kobayashi up one place each.
  • Nico Rosberg will start the race from pole position despite the stewards investigating his off-track excursion during Q3 yesterday.
  • All cases of on-track blocking have not been deemed severe enough to warrant a penalty by the stewards. Sergio Perez, Esteban Gutierrez, Daniil Kvyat and Pastor Maldonado were all under investigation.

2014 MONACO GRAND PRIX STARTING GRID

1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
3. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
4. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari
6. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari
7. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso
8. Kevin Magnussen McLaren
9. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
10. Sergio Perez Force India
11. Nico Hulkenberg Force India
12. Jenson Button McLaren
13. Valtteri Bottas Williams
14. Romain Grosjean Lotus
15. Pastor Maldonado Lotus
16. Felipe Massa Williams
17. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber
18. Adrian Sutil Sauber
19. Max Chilton Marussia
20. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham
21. Jules Bianchi Marussia

PIT LANE: Marcus Ericsson Caterham

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

Follow@KyleMLavigne