Rosberg lucks in to third straight Monaco GP win after Mercedes’ mistake costs Hamilton victory

55 Comments

Nico Rosberg has become just the fourth driver in Formula 1 history to claim a third successive victory at the Monaco Grand Prix after capitalizing on a strategy error by Mercedes for race leader Lewis Hamilton under a late safety car period.

Hamilton held onto the lead from pole position and looked poised to go wire-to-wire, enjoying a 15-second plus lead over Rosberg before a crash between Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean prompted the safety car to be deployed.

Mercedes opted to pit Hamilton for fresh tires, believing him to have enough of an advantage to retain his lead, only for him to rejoin the track in third place behind Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

With overtaking being so difficult, Hamilton was unable to wrestle back the lead, allowing Rosberg to ease home and claim his third straight victory around the streets of Monaco by 4.4 seconds.

At the start, Hamilton made a fine getaway from pole to hang onto the lead of the race as Rosberg came under pressure from Vettel and Daniil Kvyat for position, with the latter jumping Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo for fourth place off the line. Further back, Nico Hulkenberg was forced to pit after just one lap after being pushed into the wall at Mirabeau by Fernando Alonso, who received a five-second time penalty for his part in the incident.

Felipe Massa also came unstuck following a run-in with Pastor Maldonado, leaving him a lap down on the leaders early on. Maldonado’s race lasted just eight laps, though, as a brake-by-wire system failure forced him to retire for the fifth time in 2015.

Hamilton quickly set about opening up a gap at the front of the field, moving into a 2.5 second lead over Rosberg. A front-brake issue meant that he could not initially pull away with the pace that Mercedes had been hoping for. The team remained them wary of a possible challenge from Vettel in third place as the Ferrari driver managed to keep both Mercedes cars in sight at the front.

The issue did not appear to be hurting Hamilton too much, though, as he managed to put another seven seconds on the rest of the field before pitting. Vettel continued to carve into Rosberg in the fight for second place, moving to within a second of the Mercedes driver ahead of the first round of stops. However, Ferrari opted against bringing him in too early in a bid to get the undercut on Rosberg, eventually giving him the nod on lap 37 of the race.

Predictably, Mercedes reacted by bringing Rosberg in just one lap later, managing to get the German driver back out just ahead of Vettel in second place. Hamilton pitted soon after his teammate, and with a healthy lead under his belt, he had little problem in retaining his advantage at the front of the field.

Further back, Kimi Raikkonen began to pile pressure on Daniel Ricciardo in the race for fourth place as Daniil Kvyat got caught up in traffic further back. The Russian managed to do enough to stay ahead of the duo, but Raikkonen’s blistering inlap allowed him to pass Ricciardo through the stops and get up into fifth position.

Despite being hit with a time penalty for his earlier run-in with Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso managed to hold on to ninth place when he stopped. His race went little further, though, as another problem on his car forced him to park his car up at the first corner and leave Jenson Button to fight alone for the team in eighth place.

After pitting, Hamilton was able to put his foot down and open up the gap to Rosberg even further, moving it to over ten seconds within a few laps of getting back on track. From then on, the Briton simply had to control his pace at the front of the field.

Max Verstappen’s race came to a dramatic end with 15 laps remaining in Monaco after he hit Romain Grosjean when trying to make a pass at Sainte Devote. Thankfully, the 17-year-old walked away from the crash, but the safety car had to be deployed to allow his car to be cleared.

Mercedes took the decision to pit Hamilton under the safety car for fresh tires, believing that his lead was big enough for him to retain the lead of the race. However, Rosberg and Vettel carried on, allowing them to move ahead of Hamilton into first and second place respective.

Hamilton was quick to radio the team and ask if he had lost the race, but the team kept him calm, saying that he would have the advantage of fresh tires in the final stages of the race. The incident between Verstappen and Grosjean allowed Carlos Sainz Jr to move up into the points, but with eight laps remaining once the race resumed, there was still plenty to play for.

On the restart, Rosberg quickly pulled away from Vettel and Hamilton as the Briton toiled behind the Ferrari. Despite closing through the slow corners, the superior traction of the Ferrari allowed Vettel to pull away and hold onto second place.

In the sister Mercedes, Rosberg was having no such trouble. After being second best for the majority of the race, the German driver crossed the line after 78 laps to win his third straight race around the streets of Monaco and cut Hamilton’s championship lead to just ten points.

In second place, Vettel also benefitted greatly from Mercedes’ error as his strong start to life with Ferrari continued. Hamilton was less than impressed by the mistake, though, saying that it was “impossible to pass” in the late stages of the race.

Another beneficiary was Daniel Ricciardo, who used the safety car to squeeze past Kimi Raikkonen for fifth place. He was then allowed to pass teammate Daniil Kvyat by the team given his fresher tires, moving up him to fourth place. However, he fairly handed the place back to Kvyat at the line, allowing the Russian to score his best ever result in F1. A disgruntled Raikkonen was left to finish in sixth place ahead of Sergio Perez.

McLaren may have lost Alonso once again, but Jenson Button managed to finish the race in eighth place to pick up the team’s first points of the season and the first of the new McLaren-Honda era. Felipe Nasr and Carlos Sainz Jr rounded out the points in ninth and tenth place respectively.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.