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

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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.

Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”