Formula One Monaco Grand Prix (Rd 6)
Nico Rosberg took the 2013 Monaco GP in style with a commanding win over Red Bull pairing Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. From pole, Rosberg led from lights-to-flag in a race interrupted by two safety cars and a red flag period.
The German racer initially held teammate Lewis Hamilton at bay, until the Englishman dropped back to 4th in the pits during the first safety car stint, following Felipe Massa’s suspension failure and resultant smash into St Devote on lap 28. Thereafter Rosberg controlled the race, until a violent crash on lap 44, involving Pastor Maldonado and Max Chilton, destroyed the Tech-Pro barrier, initiating a 25-minute stoppage.
Another safety car period commenced after Romain Grosjean mindlessly punted the rear of Daniel Ricciardo in the Nouvelle chicane on lap 61; however amidst all the chaos, Rosberg kept his head, maintaining the lead on the way to his second Grand Prix victory.
Vettel and Webber completed the podium, while Hamilton struggled to challenge the Red Bull duo. Adrian Sutil drove a stellar race to 5th, marked up by forceful, but intelligent moves on Jenson Button and an unusually sedate Fernando Alonso at Loews. Button would eventually take 6th ahead of Alonso.
Jean-Eric Vergne enjoyed an impressive race to assume 8th just clear of Paul di Resta, while Kimi Raikkonen recovered from a late race assault from Sergio Perez to close out the top ten.
Raikkonen and Alonso’s relatively poor results allow Vettel to increase his championship lead to 21 points, while Red Bull are now 41 up on Ferrari. As noted in a previous entry, the race was overshadowed by the emerging FIA / Mercedes / Pirelli row involving secret tyre tests.
IZOD IndyCar Series (Indianapolis 500, Rd 5)
Tony Kanaan overcame twelve years of heartache to finally claim his first Indy 500 victory. In what may be recognised as one of the greatest “500’s” ever run, the Brazilian powered ahead of Carlos Munoz and Ryan Hunter-Reay at the final restart on lap 196, grabbing the lead into turn 1, only for Dario Franchitti to hit the wall, bringing the curtain down on the race.
It had been a frantic event up until that point; with a dramatic 68 lead changes between 14 drivers recorded. The battle at the front was largely contested by Kanaan, Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti, while Munoz, AJ Allmendinger – and for a time – Ed Carpenter and EJ Viso threatened. The race was also the fastest Indy 500 on record, with Kanaan averaging 187.433mph across the 500 miles.
At the flag, Kanaan headed the rookie Munoz and Hunter-Reay, while Andretti fended off a late charge from Justin Wilson before the final yellow fell. Penske pairing Helio Castroneves (6th) and Allmendinger (7th) were next up, heading the impressive Simon Pagenaud (8th) and Charlie Kimball (9th), while poleman Carpenter fell to 10th as the race aged.
There was some sadness for Oriol Servia – the Spaniard enjoyed a good run, losing out in the final burst, to come 11th; however it appears his Dreyer & Reinbold seat has evaporated for the rest of the season due to a lack of funding.
In the championship stakes, Andretti now leads from Takuma Sato with 168 points to 157, with Castroneves an addition five adrift of Sato. The next round is the Detroit double-header coming this weekend.
GP2 Series (Monaco, Rd 4)
Stefano Coletti extended his at the top of the GP2 Series from Felipe Nasr to 24 points, following another encouraging display at Monte Carlo. Coletti took yet another Sprint Race win to make it three victories, while Nasr simply had to make do with another pair of 4th places – the Brazilian has still yet to win in GP2. Sam Bird grabbed a second win for new boys Russian Time to jump ahead of Fabio Leimer in the championship table.
Bird’s Feature Race drive was imperious, his victory deserved. After a lengthy red flag period following a first turn pile-up, Bird restarted 2nd behind Mitch Evans, sitting under his rear wing until the first stops. Once Evans had stopped, Bird immediately set times some two seconds faster than the Kiwi, maintaining his pace for a further four laps before pitting. Emerging some eight seconds clear of the long stinting Rene Binder (with the rest of the pack another few seconds adrift), Bird brought his Russian Time machine home to score an emphatic win.
Evans also missed out on the runner-up spot. Having pitted one lap prior, Trident’s Kevin Ceccon jumped Evans for what would eventually become 2nd, but could not escape the Kiwi’s intentions for the duration. Joining Ceccon and Evans in battle were Nasr and James Calado, who would press hard for the podium, but could make no inroads, ensuring positions remained static to the flag.
Coletti stopped early, with several quick laps in clear air bringing him to 6th, while Binder took in 7th after finally stopping on lap 30 – a good result considering he started 15th and held his own while running near the front on aging tyres. Adrian Quaife-Hobbs nabbed 8th and reverse grid pole from Stephane Richelmi on the final lap, while Daniel de Jong assumed 10th and the final point, despite a long stop and a drive through penalty.
The race was suspended on the opening lap when a mistake by Johnny Cecotto Jr inadvertently caused a 16-car pile-up. The incident saw Cecotto Jr, Leimer, Jolyon Palmer, Julian Leal, Robin Frijns, Marcus Ericsson, Alexander Rossi, Nathanael Berthon and Kevin Giovesi unable to take the restart – Cecotto Jr was excluded from the Sprint Race for causing the accident. Bird’s rear wing was broken in the melee, but was repaired during the red flag.
Coletti forced passed Quaife-Hobbs on lap 3 of the Sunday morning Sprint Race to become the first Monegasque driver to win in Monaco since 1931. The Rapax man passed a slow starting Binder at the line, before pressurising his way into the lead at the Nouvelle Chicane two tours later. The points leader did not run away. Indeed Coletti held back, setting fastest laps occasionally, before dropping back again toward Quaife-Hobbs. His lead would remain unthreatened however, with Coletti victorious by 1.87 seconds after 30 tours.
Quaife-Hobbs would lead a train home to claim his first GP2 podium. The Englishman held his nerve, despite race long pressure from Evans, Nasr and Calado to assume a worthy 2nd spot. After his poor start, Binder took 6th place for Venezuela GP Lazarus, but the Austrian had to face off both Bird and Ceccon to be certain of it. Bird initially pushed Binder until lap 12, when a mistake at the Nouvelle chicane allowed Ceccon through; however destroyed tyres would soon drop him out of contention. Ceccon pressed, but was also under pressure from Richelmi and de Jong until the flag, where upon they crossed the line 7th, 8th and 9th respectively.
Firestone Indy Lights Series (Freedom 100, Indianapolis, Rd 4)
An astonishing final half-lap from Peter Dempsey saw the Irishman jump from 4th to the lead on the final straight to grab the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Latching onto a deep wake left by Sage Karam and Gabby Chaves, Dempsey drew from 4th to run alongside Karam, Chaves and leader Carlos Muñoz, creating a four-wide photo-finish with Belardi racer enjoying a margin of just 0.0026s at the line.
Having picked a side-draft from Karam on the final lap, Chaves pulled two-hundredths ahead of Karam in the final few hundred feet, while long time race leader Muñoz dropped to 4th spot. Much of the race was between the Muñoz / Karam pairing, with both Chaves and Dempsey only auditioning for the win late on. The leading quartet were covered by 0.0443s at the flag.
A distant Zach Veach took 5th a long way up on Jorge Goncalvez, while Jimmy Simpson (7th) won a late race battle to not finish last, pipping Chase Austin (8th) and Juan Pablo Garcia (9th) in the final stretches. On Jack Hawksworth and Kyle O’Gara did not finish, both of whom met race ending damage in turn four.
Only eleven drivers entered the race – by far the lowest in the event’s history. Muñoz leads the series going into the next round in Milwaukee in two weeks.