Webber triumphs in Monaco
Red Bull driver becomes sixth different winner in 2012
Last Updated: 28/05/12 6:44am
A finely-judged drive from Mark Webber has seen the Australian become the sixth different driver to win one of the opening six races of the current campaign with victory at the Monaco GP.
The Red Bull driver led from start to finish in a grand prix dominated by tyre management and Monaco's ultra-restrictive nature. Not even a late sprinkling of rain could spice up a race that, for vast soporific swathes, felt more a procession than flat-out charge. Even the fast-degrading Pirellis failed to enliven the drama, with each of the leading drivers adopting a policy of conservation that resulted in not a single overtaking move attempted, let alone completed, for a points-paying position once the first corner mayhem had been tidied up.
In was, in short, the sort of race that Monaco almost invariably produces: tightly-run but processed on a track too tight to permit any changes of position outside of the pit-stops. Six seconds covered the first six at the chequered flag, but they may as well have been separated by six minutes.
Not that any of those traditional quibbles should detract from Webber's performance, however. Around the ultimate driver's circuit, the 35-year-old was faultless, controlling the race from the front and thoroughly deserving the eighth F1 victory of his career.
Having held off Nico Rosberg with an atypically quick start off the line, Red Bull's calm reaction to Mercedes' attempt to undercut Webber by pitting Nico Rosberg ahead of predicted schedule proved decisive with the German failing to launch a convincing attempt for the lead of the race thereafter.
It might have been different had Sunday night's heavy rain shower arrived during the actual race, and it might be different still yet with a protest against the legality of the RB8 expected to be launched before the F1 circus makes its departure from the Principality, but the Red Bull team had double reason to celebrate with Vettel rescuing fourth place to finish behind new Championship leader Fernando Alonso.
Yet while both Ferrari and Red Bull could congratulate themselves on a job well done, McLaren suffered the ugly repeat of an all-too familiar story. Though Lewis Hamilton's pace looked insufficient to challenge either Webber or Rosberg, third place was his for the taking but for yet another slack pit-stop change costing him position to both Vettel and Alonso. Hamilton's disgruntlement stretched to a slow start and the absence of any warning that he was in a race for position against Vettel, while the frustration of Jenson Button, after an afternoon stuck behind Heikki Kovalainen, boiled over into an ill-judged move on the Caterham that predictably only resulted in the end of his race.
Hamilton later added debris falling from the pitwall to his list of complaints but, as one wag later put it, McLaren certainly could do with some heads being banged together.
There was little cheer either at Lotus, another team not short of pace but conspicuously short of points at the end of a weekend they had threatened to dominate at its start. Kimi Raikkonen, on the back foot after missing Practice One, wound up a lacklustre ninth, while Romain Grosjean failed to make it through the first corner after being propelled into Michael Schumacher's Mercedes. Kamui Kobayashi and Pastor Maldonado were the collateral as the field tried to find a way around the stranded Lotus and, once the debris was cleared away, that was it for on-track drama.
Not that Webber will be bothered about that, of course.