Nico Rosberg has won the Monaco Grand Prix in commanding style. It is the second win of both his career and the Mercedes team since their return to the sport in 2010. After three consecutive pole positions, the Monte Carlo local was finally able to convert his dominant qualifying performance into a net 25 points.
At the start, Rosberg was forced to defend from both Sebastian Vettel and team mate Lewis Hamilton to maintain the lead into St. Devote. Hamilton slotted in behind with the Red Bull pair of Vettel and Webber third and fourth.
From there on in it was a game of tyre conservation as a train of cars raced around in the expected procession. The Monaco street circuit is renowned for its lack of overtaking opportunities, and until lap 28 it looked as if the 2013 instalment of the race would be just another Grand Prix. Then came the twist; Felipe Massa repeated his Saturday practice error by crashing heavily at St. Devote, prompting the first safety car of the season.
The appearance of the safety car caused a pit lane flurry as all those who had not stopped for fresh tyres did so simultaneously. Hamilton came off worse after he was forced to queue behind team mate Rosberg, dropping him from second to fourth behind the Red Bull duo.
The race resumed but on lap 44 a massive incident between Marussia’s Max Chilton and Williams’s Pastor Maldonado brought the red flags out and the race was suspended for 20 minutes. Rosberg remained unfazed and at the restart again controlled the race, leaving Vettel powerless in second place.
The drama continued and on lap 63 an ill-calculated move by Lotus driver Romain Grosjean saw him collide heavily with the back of Torro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo. The safety car came out once more but still Rosberg stayed cool.
The lack of overtaking opportunities around the principality’s narrow streets highlighted who were the more impatient drives, with McLaren’s Segio Perez going from hero to zero by making a late dive on Kimi Raikkonen into the chicane. The resulting melee forced Raikkonen into the pits and allowed Jenson Button to pass Fernando Alonso. Perez, nursing a wounded car, would only survive another lap before the damage he sustained put paid to his race.
The Force India drivers, Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta, were amongst the most impressive. Sutil made several keen passes and was rewarded with a well deserved fifth place. Di Resta, meanwhile, also proved that overtaking was possible by impressively cutting his way through the field from 17th to 9th.
But Rosberg was the man who overcame it all to take a highly popular victory. He becomes the only son of an ex-Formula 1 World Champion to win the prestigious event.
The result means the Sebastian Vettel has extended his lead in the championship race to 107 points, with the non-scoring Raikkonen remaining in second on 86. Alonso stays third on 78 points. In the Constructors Championship, Red Bull now lead on 164 points from Ferrari on 123 and Lotus on 112. Mercedes, however, have closed the gap right up and sit fourth on 109 points. The 2013 season, then, is well and truly hotting up.