It might have been a tough race in the cockpit of his Ferrari, but as Sebastian Vettel led team-mate Kimi Raikkonen home to the Scuderia’s first win in Monaco since the days of Michael Schumacher, he made it look oh, so easy.
Once he had taken the lead on the 34th lap, Vettel had it all his own way as he controlled things from the front, and a generally dull race was enlivened inadvertently by Jenson Button, in his final grand prix in Fernando Alonso’s McLaren.
The 37 year-old Englishman, starting from the pit lane after penalties for engine failures in practice, accidentally tipped Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber into the wall at the Portier corner on the 65th lap. The two had been locked in battle at the back of the field for the whole race, and as the Swiss car came to rest with its cockpit up against the wall, things momentarily looked nasty, especially as the young German had already suffered neck injuries in a crash in the Race of Champions in December. Both the safety car and the medical car were deployed, closing up what had become a typically pretty spread out Monaco field.
Fortunately, it soon transpired that Wehrlein was talking over the radio to his crew, and he was able to walk away unaided. Button’s McLaren was also eliminated in the incident, which happened at relatively slow speed.
The 2009 champion was given a three-grid-place penalty, which he may as well frame as the chances of him ever taking it is remote.
Raikonen had won the start from pole position, as Vettel lagged slightly, and soon the two Ferraris had left Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes and the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo behind, as Lewis Hamilton seemed content to bide his time in 12th place after his practice and qualifying handling dramas.
There was a period in the middle of the race when Bottas, Verstappen and Ricciardo were running quicker as the red cars’ ultrasoft tyres started sliding around. But it was the Dutchman who pitted first for…