Monaco GP is the most glamorous Formula one race and also one of the most eagerly awaited sporting event in European summer. With VIP Terrace tickets for the main event priced at 2500 euros, the GP attracts millionaires, royalties, film stars and hordes of other international celebrities. The world-famous GP circuit has remained unchanged for nearly 65 years now. Monaco is also the only F1 race that takes place in city streets, which are closed for general traffic on race days. Unlike other circuits, the practice sessions at Monaco are held on Thursday so that the streets could be opened for public on Friday. The demanding narrow circuit has tight corners, shifts and elevations that make overtaking a very risky affair but the driver’s skill is fully tested as he has to contend with tricky corners, at one of which, the speed has to be reduced to about 48 km/h.
This year’s event was unnecessarily mired in a bitter rivalry between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, the two drivers forming part of the Mercedes team. As early as Saturday, Rosberg’s attaining the pole position had irked Hamilton since he had needed to abort a lap, which, he still believes, could have given him the pole position. Rosberg had come late and Hamilton wanted penal action for his move. It required a three-hour investigation by stewards before Rosberg was declared not guilty. Hamilton was not convinced and he made a dangerous statement about taking a page out of Ayrton Senna’s book on the Brazilian’s rivalry with his British and McLaren Team mate Alain Prost in late eighties. Hamilton went on to add that he approved Senna’s approach of pushing his rival off the track. On Sunday, however, Hamilton back-tracked, saying his earlier statement was just a joke.
The main event took place on Sunday May 25, 2014 at Circuit de Monaco. Rosberg had a flying start and this allowed him the advantage from the beginning. The narrow Monaco circuit makes it extremely difficult for those wanting to overtake and barring exceptions, one who has the pole, usually finishes as the winner in Monaco. Hamilton was on a hot chase even as a Force India car, driven by Sergio Perez crashed at the first lap itself. In lap 4, Sebastian Vettel had an engine problem and he dropped back to the 20th position, before leaving the race by lap 7. Until six months ago, F1 had become synonymous with Vettel, who was on seventh heaven for 4 years until the end of the last season. Today Vettel is a forgotten quantity with Hamilton, Rosberg and Mercedes dominating every piece of news on F1. By lap 9, Rosberg and Hamilton were bunched up as the first two and their followers kept slipping further back behind them. Until lap 13, Kimi Raikonnen was right behind Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo was fourth. But Ricciardo overtook Raikonnen soon to take the third place after the 14th lap. In the 25th lap, Adrian Sutil left the track after a crash. In lap 28, Grosjean took the advantage of Hamilton going to the pits and moved right behind Rosberg but Hamilton regained the second spot soon. At the completion of lap 30, the top five were; Rosberg, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Alonso, and Massa. But Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg came out of nowhere and occupied the fifth spot. Until lap 60, Ricciardo and Alonso still occupied 3rd and 4th spot with Hulkenberg just behind them. In lap 66, Hamilton reported a vision problem with his left eye but he continued at the 2nd spot regardless. This continued until lap 74, when Raikkonen and Magnussen collided and blocked the track for a while. But up ahead, Red Bull’s Ricciardo was closing in on Hamilton with a gap of just 0.4 seconds and only two laps were left. But Hamilton held on to finish second just ahead of Ricciardo, who finished third. Ferrari’s Alonso took the fourth place, Force India’s Hulkenberg was fifth, McLaren’s Button sixth, Williams’ Massa seventh, Lotus driver Romain Grosjean eighth, Marussia’s Jules Bianchi ninth and MacLaren’s Magnussen took the tenth place.
But even after the race ended, the major story still concerned the feud between Hamilton and Rosberg. The 29-year-old Hamilton was cut-up and didn’t properly greet his team-mate at the podium. They avoided eye-contact and stood there as statues, as formalities took their course. The rivalry between the two has turned even bitter now and formula-one fans have got the indication of things to come in the next races of the season. Is Sebastian Vettel listening?