Just as he did last year, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg led every lap of the Monaco Grand Prix, starting from pole on the P Zero Red supersoft tyre before switching to the P Zero Yellow soft. Not only that, but Mercedes has continued its record of leading every single lap so far this season.
Rosberg was locked in an intense battle with his team Lewis Hamilton from start to finish, with management of tyres and fuel proving to be a key factor, as there was such a small performance gap between them.
Both drivers made their sole pit stop on lap 25, with Rosberg pitting just in front of Hamilton as Mercedes, along with most teams, took advantage of a safety car period. The top six all stopped just once, with the highest placed two-stopper being Lotus F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean in eight.
Most drivers started on the supersoft, with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg the highest-placed driver to start on the soft. He used a one-stop strategy to climb six places from 11th to fifth.
Another innovative strategy was adopted by Williams and Felipe Massa, who ran with the supersoft tyre for 45 laps at the beginning of the race, before switching to the soft for a shorter final stint. This strategy enabled him to climb from 16th on the grid to seventh at the finish. Grosjean also completed more than 50 laps on a single set of supersofts, from lap 24 to the end.
After the Monaco Grand Prix, Pirelli will give reigning GP2 champion Fabio Leimer the chance to drive a Formula One car, as part of his prize for winning the title last year. The Swiss driver will take the wheel of a 2012 car supplied by the Lotus F1 Team at Paul Ricard in France on Tuesday.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “Monaco is synonymous with unpredictability, and once more we saw plenty of action, safety cars and racing incidents. Tyre wear and degradation was not an issue, as we saw from the very long stints completed by some drivers even on the supersoft, and the fact that most drivers completed just one stop. The tyres on Grosjean’s car, for example, still had 20% of their rubber left despite having completed more than 50 laps. Track temperatures were cooler than they had been for qualifying, but the pace was still such that the top four lapped the rest of the field, with an extremely close fight between the top three. Although we’re running a more durable tyre this year, performance is not generally compromised. As single tyre supplier, the tyres are what the first and the last car on the grid: all the rest is in the hands of the teams. Congratulations also to Marussia, who have scored their well-deserved first points in Formula One on our tyres.”
Fastest times of the day by compound:
Supersoft Soft Intermediate Wet
First RAI – 1m18.479s RIC – 1m19.252s N/A N/A
Second ROS – 1m20.082s HAM – 1m19.361s N/A N/A
Third HAM – 1m20.321s ROS – 1m19.425s N/A N/A
Longest stint of the race:
Supersoft GRO 54 laps
Soft RIC, HAM, BUT, ALO, ROS 52 laps
The teams had very little dry running on the supersoft, which made it hard to predict a strategy. But we expected those who started on the supersoft to switch to the soft on lap 30. In the end, their strategy was forced by the appearance of the safety car, with both cars stopping on lap 26.