A rough qualifying for Hamilton and amazing pace from Ricciardo, plus a massive amount of rain before the race started made for an interesting start to the race. Starting under safety car is always a little anticlimactic, but at least there wasn’t a massive crash on the opening lap? Of course, they made up for it when the safety car came in. But that’s what a wet track is all about.
Palmer, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Magnussen, Kvyat–all crashed out by lap 37. Raikkonen got a little bit of the short stick the way Massa pushed into him then put him off-line and into the crash barriers. But then he kept going with his wing under his tire, trapped Grojean, and later got called into the stewards office for the incident. A couple of safety cars, and a couple of virtual safety cars always makes things interesting as the teams frantically change their strategies.
It was absolutely spectacular to watch the tire strategies–who would be the first go on Inters, and then Hamilton took a huge gamble by staying on the full wets then straight to dry weather ultra softs. The gamble paid off when Ricciardo’s pit stop from the Inters to the Super Softs went haywire and Red Bull looked like they were asleep in the garage.
Ricciardo trying to get past Hamilton at the chicane–understandable that it was investigated. They were both pushing so hard and Hamilton just got off the dry line, bobbled, missed the first part of the chicane. Ricciardo saw his chance, tried to take it, but Hamilton did what Rosberg did to him at the Spanish GP, almost taking Ricciardo out entirely. I was a little surprised to see the stewards were taking no further action. Another lucky break for Hamilton.
Loved seeing Alonso running in 5th place in the middle of the race–maybe only a little bit because he was holding up Rosberg. But really, it’s just nice to see they’re making continuous progress on the car.
And then one more VSC thanks to Nasr not listening to his team’s orders to let Ericsson by and then they crash just before Turn 1. Not the trouble Sauber needed to add to their financial woes. Should Ericsson have waited until Turn 1 as the team instructed? Should Nasr just have gotten out of the way? I’m sure the team will have some not so fun meetings about it after the race.
Vettel really put the heat on Perez for the final podium spot… until he almost crashed exactly where Verstappen did. That mistake gave Perez almost a 4 second gap to keep a little cushion. Sure was fun to watch Vettel crank out fastest lap after fastest lap, though.
The last 10 laps of the race were completely nerve-wracking for me–watching Hamilton stay out on those ultra soft tires… longer than they’d ever been on a stint, ever. But he kept turning out fast laps. And putting second after second in gaps to Ricciardo. With 5 laps left, the gap was up to 4 seconds.
Then Sainz came through on the radio with 2 laps to go saying it was starting to rain. This race was not good for my blood pressure from start to finish. But Hamilton managed to keep it together–47 laps on ultra soft tires, light rain, and FINALLY got his second win at Monaco. Ricciardo had to settle for 2nd, and to be honest, the win should have been his. His radio transmission summed it up perfectly. He was dejected and rightfully so after the pit stop gone horrible wrong and the pass attempt that almost ended his race. Perez grabbed another podium, then Vettel, then Alonso, and Hulkenberg passed Rosberg right at the finish line to take away more points from his championship lead.
And on a personal note, I’m glad the race was so exciting. My dad was there to watch it in person for the first time. So he really got the full experience. I hope, one day, after years of saving, I’ll get to be there and watch it all unfold in spectacular fashion, too.