2014 Monaco GP: Nico Rosberg regains title lead after beating Lewis Hamilton
Rosberg never looks back from pole but Hamilton only just holds off Ricciardo for second after late eye complaint; Vettel drops out early on for Red Bull; Jubilant Marussia score their first F1 points
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 25/05/14 5:53pm
Nico Rosberg took full advantage of his controversial pole position to beat Lewis Hamilton to victory in the Monaco GP and regain the lead of the World Championship at the end of a race weekend which appears to have fractured the relationship between the two title-chasing Mercedes drivers.
Following a tense build-up to F1's showpiece race dominated by talk of potential fireworks between the pair following Rosberg's contentious yellow flag incident of qualifying, the 78-lap fight for victory ultimately proved short on drama as the German driver led from lights to flag after comfortably holding off Hamilton into the first corner.
As Rosberg marched on towards his second successive win in the Principality - and his first direct race-day defeat of Hamilton in 2014 - Hamilton cut an increasingly frustrated figure over the radio with Monaco's narrow confines and inch-perfect driving from his team-mate combining to produce no hint of an overtaking opportunity.
Any hope Hamilton had of jumping the lead W05 through the sole round of pitstops was lost when Mercedes pitted both of their cars on the same lap following the intervention of a lap-26 Safety Car when Adrian Sutil crashed at the chicane.
However, having passed the stricken Sauber on the track on lap 25, the Briton felt he should have come in straight away. "We should have pitted on that lap, I knew we should have. But I knew you wouldn't call me in," Hamilton remarked.
Having continued to track Rosberg for lap after lap in the middle stint, Hamilton then suffered more frustration - and irritation - when he complained of visibility problems with his left eye into the closing stages.
Although he lost several seconds within a handful of laps to Rosberg, who had already begun to steadily pull clear by then, Daniel Ricciardo was in turn upping his own pace behind in the sole remaining Red Bull.
With three laps to go the Australian was right on the W05's gearbox. However, the street circuit's narrow confines came to Hamilton's rescue on this occasion and he was held on for second with Ricciardo third for the second straight race.
Hamilton cut a forlorn figure post race
The fallout from Saturday's events was evident on the podium afterwards with Rosberg and Hamilton failing to acknowledge each other - the lead of the championship instead the only thing exchanged between the two with Rosberg now four points ahead.
Behind the top three there was plenty of wheel-to-wheel incident as the slow-burning race progressed, although none involved fourth-placed Fernando Alonso as the Spaniard had a rare low-key race for Ferrari.
Indeed, the Spaniard would likely have been beaten on race day by new team-mate Kimi Raikkonen for the first time this season had the Finn's highly impressive race not been wrecked by a series of unfortunate incidents.
Having vaulted past Alonso and Ricciardo into the first corner - and then moved up to third when Sebastian Vettel retired early on with yet more Renault power unit problems - Raikkonen suffered a puncture when his F14 T was hit by the Marussia of Max Chilton which was unlapping itself under the Sutil-triggered Safety Car.
On the restart Raikkonen had worked his way back into the points but with four laps to go collected the ailing McLaren of Kevin Magnussen as he made a lunge at the hairpin. Forced to pit again for repairs, Raikkonen eventually finished out of the points in 12th.
From a disappointing qualifying, Nico Hulkenberg produced another strong race to take a fine fifth place for Force India after starting on the soft tyre, the German pipping Jenson Button by a mere tenth of a second as the Briton registered McLaren's first points in two months.
Waiting a lot longer for an F1 point - four years and 83 races to be precise - have been Marussia and the Banbury outfit finally cracked the top ten as Jules Bianchi finished a superb eighth on the road, which became ninth behind Lotus's Romain Grosjean in the final classification for a retrospective five-second stop/go penalty.
Felipe Massa, after a long first stint on the supersofts, finished seventh for Williams from 16th on the grid with Magnussen tenth despite the Dane's late car problems.