Sebastian Vettel extended his lead at the top of the Formula 1 drivers’ championship by taking his third win of the 2017 season in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, heading up a one-two finish for Ferrari ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
After trailing Raikkonen throughout the first stint of the race, Vettel managed to extend his first stint out longer than his Finnish counterpart and produce a series of quick laps to get the jump through the pit stop cycle.
Vettel emerged from the pits in the lead and never looked back, storming clear to clinch his second Monaco Grand Prix victory and end Ferrari’s victory drought in the principality that dated back to 2001.
Raikkonen controlled the early part of the race for Ferrari, running two seconds clear of Vettel at one stage before the German was able to reel his teammate in ahead of the pit stop cycle.
Raikkonen pitted first, with Vettel opting to push on for another three laps, pumping in a series of quick times that ultimately decided the race.
After coming to switch to super-soft tires, Vettel emerged from the pits ahead of Raikkonen before quickly creating a gap that proved too great for the Finn to bridge, even with the assistance of a late safety car.
The race to complete the podium saw Red Bull and Mercedes enter a strategic battle, with Valtteri Bottas running P3 through the first stint. Red Bull pitted fourth-placed Max Verstappen early, forcing Mercedes to bring Bottas in one lap later to cover.
Bottas stayed ahead of Verstappen, but with the pair losing time behind Carlos Sainz Jr., Daniel Ricciardo was able to leapfrog both when, like Vettel, he pitted later, allowing him to vault ahead into third place.
With Vettel streaming clear at the front, Raikkonen soon found himself coming under pressure from Ricciardo for second, setting the stage for a tense battle through the closing stages.
Vettel’s lead was wiped away with 17 laps to go, though, when the safety car was deployed following a strange incident involving Pascal Wehrlein and Jenson Button at Portier.
Button tried overtaking at one of the tightest points of the circuit, resulting in contact that sent Wehrlein’s car into the air. The Sauber C36 came to rest on its side up against the wall, sparking concern for Wehrlein’s condition. The German quickly reported he was OK, just unable to get out of the car due to where his car came to rest. He was quickly taken away to the medical centre for further checks.
The safety car period was extended when Wehrlein’s teammate, Marcus Ericsson, crashed his car after being given the wave-by to unlap himself.
The race returned to green with 12 laps to go with Vettel still leading, but it was Max Verstappen who was the man to watch. Having taken a free pit stop under the safety car and switched to ultra-soft tires, the Dutchman began to pile pressure on Ricciardo and Bottas ahead, keen to complete the podium.
Ricciardo gave his teammate a look-in when he ran wide at Turn 1 on the restart, clipping the wall in the process, but the Australian soon recovered and kept calm to clinch third place. Bottas did well to keep Verstappen at bay for fourth, with the flying Dutchman taking P5 for his first points and, indeed, finish in Monaco.
Carlos Sainz Jr. made good on a strong weekend for Toro Rosso by crossing the line sixth ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who could not rise any higher than seventh after his qualifying disaster. A long first stint allowed the Briton to jump from 13th on the grid to inside the top 10, but he was powerless to stop Vettel extending his title lead to 25 points.
Haas enjoyed its best weekend in F1 to date as it notched its first double-points finish. Romain Grosjean finished eighth, while Kevin Magnussen recovered from an extra pit stop to finish 10th. The pair were split by Williams’ Felipe Massa, who was ninth at the line.
Jolyon Palmer was the sole finisher for Renault in P11 after seeing teammate Nico Hulkenberg retire early on due to a gearbox failure.
Force India had a weekend to forget as Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez both hit trouble during the race, leaving them 12th and 13th respectively. The result marked an end to Perez’s 15-race streak of points, which had been the longest active run on the grid, with a late tangle with Daniil Kvyat forcing the Russian to retire.
Jenson Button’s comeback weekend ended just as his original goodbye race in Abu Dhabi did last November as he was forced to retire following the clash with Wehrlein. Teammate Stoffel Vandoorne had been on for points, only to crash at Turn 1 after a mistake on the restart after the safety car.
Formula 1 returns in two weeks’ time with its first visit of the year to North America, venturing to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix.