Australian Mark Webber made Formula One history on Sunday when he steered his Red Bull to victory and claimed his first win this year and his team Red Bull’s third successive Monaco Grand Prix victory.
It was Webber’s second win in the race and the eighth of his career – it also meant six different drivers have won the opening six races of this season – the first time this has happened in the history of the Formula One world championship.
Webber (35) started from pole position and controlled the race almost throughout as the local micro-climate delivered its usual capricious weather, moving from sunshine and blue skies to rain for the closing laps.
But driving with great control and judgment, he finished the 78-laps race six-tenths of a second clear of second-placed German Nico Rosberg of Mercedes with two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso third for Ferrari.
Double defending world champion German Sebastian Vettel was fourth for Red Bull ahead of Briton Lewis Hamilton of McLaren and Brazilian Felipe Massa, who came home sixth in the second Ferrari.
Webber’s win lifted him to joint second in the drivers’ world championship with 73 points behind leader Alonso on 76. Vettel also has 73.
Hamilton is fourth on 63 and Rosberg – son of Finland’s former champion Keke – fifth with 59.
“I’m feeling incredible,” said Webber, who jumped into the harbour after his maiden Monaco win.
“It was an interesting race. It was reasonably straightforward at the start, getting the gap and managing super-softs and then it was a matter of trying to build a gap before and after the pit stops.
“The weather was threatening around the pit stop window, but Nico went for it, went for the ‘undercut’ by stopping early, so a few people had to react to his chess move, but it’s an amazing day for the team, and myself, and I’m really happy to have won here again.”
Rosberg said: “I got a good start, but so did Mark. He was very controlled and for me it was a matter of tyre-management.
“I was a bit surprised how strong we were in qualifying and in the race. We probably had the fastest car out there and we are making progress all the time.”
Alonso said: “For me, the target was to try to finish in front of Sebastian and Lewis, as they are with us in the championship. If you go race by race, you aim to finish ahead of different drivers.
“Now it is Mark. It will be interesting, as we are constantly developing the car and we are constantly surprised at every race.”
Briton Paul di Resta came home seventh ahead of his Force India team-mate German Nico Hulkenberg, Finn Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus and 10th placed Brazilian Bruno Senna of Williams.
On a balmy afternoon by the Mediterranean, after overnight rain, Webber made a clean and controlled start to turn the 10th pole position of his career into a comfortable early lead ahead of Rosberg with Hamilton also running clear of the field in third.
It was a different story, however, for the men behind the leading trio as Frenchman Romain Grosjean, starting fourth, was touched by the charging Mercedes of sixth-placed Michael Schumacher and spun before the first corner, Ste Devote.
This allowed the Ferraris of Alonso and Massa to move into fourth and fifth places ahead of the mayhem in Ste Devote where Pastor Maldonado crashed out in his Williams after making contact with Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa’s Hispania.
The crash took both out of the race. For Maldonado, the accident completed a dreadful weekend just two weeks after he had become the first Venezuelan to win a Formula One race, triumphing in style at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Briton Jenson Button retired after a frustrating race in the second McLaren, joining seven-times world champion Schumacher, who was also forced out with technical problems to his Mercedes. – AFP