Red flag helps Vettel to Monaco victory

2011 Monaco Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monaco, 2011

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monaco, 2011

Sebastian Vettel scored his fifth win of 2011 in the Monaco Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver came under fierce pressure in the closing stages of the race from Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.

But a red flag with six laps to go changed the complexion of the final laps as it allowed Vettel to discard his old tyres for fresh ones.

Vettel held the lead from pole position at the start while Button fended off Mark Webber for second. Alonso took advantage of the slow-starting Red Bull to grab third place.

Button was the first of the three to pit, taking on a second set of super-soft tyres. Vettel came in on the following lap but his stop was delayed as the team didn’t have his tyres prepared.

He eventually got away – on softs, instead of the planned super-softs – having fallen to second behind Button. Alonso came in on the next lap and also switched to softs.

Button opened up a gap over Vettel before pitting again on lap 32, falling behind them. Alonso came in shortly afterwards but Vettel stuck with his soft tyres.

At this point the safety car was deployed following a collision between Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa.

Hamilton had been delayed after Michael Schumacher had hit his car on the first lap, and passed him at the hairpin. Hamilton later squeezed past at Sainte Devote.

He arrived on the tail of the Ferrari and made a move at the hairpin. Massa braked deep and tagged Webber’s Red Bull with his front wing, and Hamilton and Massa made contact.

Massa stayed ahead, but Hamilton came back at him as they went into the tunnel. The Ferrari ran wide, got onto the treacherous marables and made heavy contact with the barrier.

After the restart Button put Vettel under pressure until lap 47, when he made his mandatory switch to the harder tyres. Vettel stayed out, his tyres now 32 laps old.

Button reeled in Vettel and Alonso, whose tyres were slightly less old, and the pair ran nose-to tail for several laps, covered by just half a second. But he couldn’t find a way past Alonso, who was able to use his DRS while attacking Vettel.

Vettel’s lap times began to slow as he passed the 50-lap mark on his tyres and the battle for the lead seemed to be building to an exciting conclusion. But it all went wrong as they approached a clutch of cars to lap them.

Among them was Hamilton, who was mounting a recovery having been delayed at his first pit stop and being handed a penalty for the collision with Massa. He went down the inside of Vitaly Petrov at Tabac.

The three leaders picked their way through the mess and the safety car was deployed, but within a few laps the race was red-flagged as there was concern over Petrov’s condition. He was later confirmed to be conscious and talking.

But the red flag brought an end to the battle for the lead, as Vettel and Alonso were able to change tyres on the grid while waiting for the restart.

Fortunately for McLaren, they were able to use the time to repair Hamilton’s rear wing in time for the restart.

This proved to be unlucky for Pastor Maldonado, who Hamilton tied to pass at the restart. The pair clashed and the Williams, which had been running sixth, ended the race in the barrier.

At the sharp end of the field the battle for the lead was over and Vettel duly collected his fifth win out of six. Alonso and Button completed the podium.

Mark Webber passed Kamui Kobayashi for fourth place two laps from home and Hamilton finished sixth, albeit under investigation for the clash with Maldonado. The stewards were also looking into a collision between Kobayashi and Sutil, who finished seventh.

Nick Heidfeld was eighth for Renault ahead of Rubens Barrichello, who gave Williams their first points of the year.

Sebastien Buemi claimed the last point for Toro Rosso in front of Nico Rosberg, Mercedes having struggled for pace during the race.

Paul di Resta was 12th, after a drive-through penalty for a collision at the hairpin, followed by the Lotuses of Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen.

Jerome d’Ambrosio finished 15th, Timo Glock retiring earlier with suspension failure, ahead of the two HRTs.

Vettel’s fifth win from six starts extends his dominant start to the season. But F1 will reflect on an incident-packed weekend in Monaco which ends with two drivers, Petrov and the non-starting Sergio Perez, recovering from injuries.

2011 Monaco Grand Prix

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121 comments on Red flag helps Vettel to Monaco victory

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  1. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 29th May 2011, 15:58

    that was a sucky finish to an otherwise great Monaco GP… The decision to allow all to change their tyres effectively handed the victory to Vettel…

    • peter.b said on 29th May 2011, 16:03

      Agreed, but vettel still managed to survive on the softs for a remarkable 50 odd laps. A HUGE feat and a deserved win i think! I would have loved to see button take it from him though in the last few laps.

      • Mikef117 said on 29th May 2011, 16:17

        Peter, RBR’s decision to stay with track position was as risky as Hamiltons’ gamble yesterday to only take the one run. He was rescued by the red flag and the change of tyres.

        If there was no safety car (or he had had to restart with the same tyres) I think the win would have gone to Button.

        Having said that, the strategy made sense at the time (just like Hmilton’s seemed to when the call was made yesterday) – Sit in 1st and defend or pit and drop to third then have to try and pass.

        • Mike said on 30th May 2011, 3:50

          I think the win would have gone to Alonso, For sure Vettel would have hit a cliff in tyre performance and lost the places, but I see no reason why Button would have been able to pass Alonso.

          • IceMan said on 30th May 2011, 7:43

            +1. It would have been very difficult for Button to overtake Fernando.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 30th May 2011, 7:28

          The fun part of it was, Red Bull hadn’t even intended to put him on the yellows at that point of time, they messed up!

          The safety car for Hamilton gave them the opportunity to go for a stop less and It was a shame the red flag robbed us of a stunning few laps to the end.

          • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 30th May 2011, 8:58

            I agree, when I heard that – Horner explained it to Brundle off-camera during the after BBC red button for those who didn’t see that – I was really lauhing.

            Initially I had been annoyed that we lost the fight for the win, but somehow the absurdity/luck of Red Bull lucking into a race winning strategy thanks to (from their perspective) lucky timing for safety car and red flag made it okay for me. It’s just one of those things.

      • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 29th May 2011, 17:57

        I agree. It’s so easy to over-look the ability to hang on to worn or near-worn tyres. It’s too easy to look at Vettel and think he wasn’t challenged. He most definitely was. The ability to defend is just as important as the ability to attack.

      • 91jb12 (@91jb12) said on 29th May 2011, 18:35

        I think Vettel would’ve held on. Alonso had 20 laps to pass him, he couldn’t so would he have done it in the last 6???
        Button had 10 laps to pass alonso, he couldn’t do it so who’s to say he would’ve done that in the last 6 laps?

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 30th May 2011, 7:29

          Because he was getting very close to that “dropping off the cliff”, and Alonso was rapidly getting there as well, with all the stress he put his tyres through.

    • MVEilenstein (@mveilenstein) said on 29th May 2011, 16:44

      It’s allowed by the rules.

    • I disagree with the rules on working on cars on track.. I give everything to Vettel but feel giving other drivers a free pit stop gives an unfair advantage that alters the race results, button clearly had the quicker car due sacrificing position to pit….

      • JerseyF1 said on 29th May 2011, 22:16

        I agree. This is the second year in succession that Monaco has shown up problems in the rules. Last year Schumacher made a completely legal pass of Alonso but was demoted because what the rules actually said wasn’t what they really meant.

        This rule about fixing things up after a red flag looks to me like it’s just out of date and seems to hark back to the days when races were often red flagged early on and getting in a spare car or fixing up the car for a restart was the norm. Given the effort to create situations where overtaking can take place using tyres at different stages of wear this rule allowing those with an inferior strategy to gain from the red flag seems silly now.

        However, I thought they would simply stop the race at the red flag anyway, in which case Vettel would have been even better off anyway. Also, even if they fix the rule the likelihood of it ever having such a profound effect is tiny.

        I’m really just hugely frustrated that the crash denied us the chance of late-race overtakes for the victory at Monaco, something I thought I’d never see (and probably now never will). At worst it would have been as exciting as 1992, and who knows how much better it would have been.

      • bulabog said on 29th May 2011, 23:43

        well hamilton benefited on this rule too – they were able to fix his rear and front wings, so he was still lucky. Even with the 20 second penalty handed to him after ramming his car on maldonado on what seemed like a crash derby, he still got the points.

  2. Concoluto said on 29th May 2011, 16:02

    why not declare the winner when 92% of the race was run.

  3. slr said on 29th May 2011, 16:03

    It’s a shame that Button didn’t have a chance to win due to the red flag. As for Hamilton, I just saw his interview and he is OFFICIALY PARANOID and a complete idiot.

    • TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 29th May 2011, 16:26

      The tyre rule cost us a grandstand finish.

      • slr said on 29th May 2011, 16:44

        I know, I should have said that differently.

      • Mike said on 30th May 2011, 3:58

        Yes, but that doesn’t make it wrong.

        I think it’s a huge pity, but that’s all. It’s not ideal for me personally, but the rules were clearly set before the race, and it just happaned to suit Vettel.

    • infy (@infy) said on 29th May 2011, 16:46

      Alonso had a better chance at winning than Button.

      • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 29th May 2011, 18:01

        I think that Button did himself and Alonso out of winning (had the red-flag not happened) simply by catching Alonso. Alonso had to shift his strategy to defending as well as attacking, giving Vettel a bit of breathing space.

    • Scribe (@scribe) said on 29th May 2011, 16:47

      FOr crying out loud, the disgust being directed at Hamilton is completley ridiculous and entirely stupid. He’s furious, had an awful race, some bad luck and some stupid driving.

      He’s probably angry at himself, everyone else on the planet and the universe himself. Will everyone please calm the hell down and save your respect for someone in a fit state of mind.

      • slr said on 29th May 2011, 17:00

        I said that comment out of shock more than anything. Though he should have handled his frustration in a much better way.

      • phildick (@phildick) said on 29th May 2011, 18:38

        The disgust at his driving and his talking is completely justified. And he didn’t have bad luck – actually it was good luck he didn’t hurt anyone today. Either he’ll grow up soon or he’d better be going back to the sandbox.

      • well said, they are racers at the end of the day…. I believe FIA are to blame for some, Monaco is too tight for these F1 cars and marbles on track are just stupid. You can’t pass on corners and can’t pass on straights due to marbles……Madness!

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 29th May 2011, 22:24

      Button win?!? He couldn’t overtake Vettel when he was on supersofts and Vettel was on softs. There is no way Button would have gotten by either Fernando or Sebastian. Alonso looked more likely for the win than Jenson.

  4. bearforce1 said on 29th May 2011, 16:04

    We will never know whether it helped Vettel to win or not.

    He was leading before the red flag. So it didnt change his position.

    • Bazooka (@bazooka) said on 29th May 2011, 16:16

      Totally agreed. If it wasn’t for the red flag we would have seen about 4 laps behind safety car and it would have left us with only few laps to race. I think Vettel was able to win without a red flag. It’s well deserved win for him today it was a great drive, great ability looking after his tyres no mistakes. True champion.

    • David BR said on 29th May 2011, 16:21

      I kind of agree with both, it was wrong to allow the tyre change as it removed any chance of a fight, but I don’t think Alonso would have passed him. Maybe Button but it’d be asking a lot.

    • Nitpicker said on 29th May 2011, 16:25

      He got a free tyre change at a time when his tyres were getting worn. How could it not have helped him??

      • foolsm8 said on 29th May 2011, 16:39

        Yeah maybe changing the tyres made his life a little easier, but I’m sure he would also have won without the red flag. I just don’t see how Alonso or Button could have passed him. Saying Vettel just got lucky and won just due to the red flag is completely unfair on him.

    • BBT (@bbt) said on 29th May 2011, 17:42

      We will never know whether it helped Vettel to win or not.

      Yes we will! It did, end of story. It did help, it made it much easier to stay in front with new tyres for the last 6 – 7 laps. I take it you meant Vettel might of won anyway which is true (but unlikely IMO) however the red flag made it a certainty / much eaiser… it therefore helped.

  5. Ral (@ral) said on 29th May 2011, 16:04

    Hamilton and his entertainment media management team, will wish he’d kept his mouth shut before the day is over. I know I do. Idiot.

    • Bernard said on 29th May 2011, 17:12

      The only idiots in the world are those that wish for others to keep their mnouths shut.

      • Brian Baum said on 30th May 2011, 0:02

        No, Hamilton playing the race card today made him look like an idiot. Time for the baby to finally grow up.

        • Bernard said on 30th May 2011, 13:58

          Have you actually seen the interview Brian? Your comments would suggest not. He didn’t play the race card – it was a unmistakable joke.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 30th May 2011, 7:32

      Well, there was a lot of “entertainment value” in it. And as they say in Marketin, there is no such thing as bad publicity, its all about being in the news.

      I liked seeing how open he was (allowed to be) although he should be feeling stupid about those remarks by now.

  6. dan selby said on 29th May 2011, 16:06

    Concoluto, why would you want the race to finish prematurely?!

    Shame about the change of tyre rules. also a shame Button was asleep on the restart.

    I think every year that goes by, the cars outgrow Monaco more and more, which only makes it all the more incredible.

    Some work needs to be done at the chicane approach though.

    Long live Monaco!

  7. Fixy (@fixy) said on 29th May 2011, 16:12

    When the first 3 found those multiple lapped cars I was enthusiastic of such a chaos, and the crash with the first three escaping was heart-stopping. When the red flags came out I had little hope for Alonso, but I thought everyone had to keep their tyres. When every driver put new tyres on, I knew the race was over.

  8. Steph said on 29th May 2011, 16:12

    The top 3 were all fantastic. Vettel was fortunate at the end but that’s the way it goes, Alonso is every superlative under the sun at the moment and JB arguably lucky with quali too, couldn’t pass with fresh tyres anyway and fluffed his restart but he was very good and smart today.

    • Scribe (@scribe) said on 29th May 2011, 17:03

      JB qualified 2nd on merit, he was only lucky that his team mate didn’t get a decent run in qualifying.

      JB should have won this race, his pace in the middle was incredible, McLaren messed it up on strategy again, the way they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory was just spectacular. The decision making at this team is abysmal, I don’t understand what the hell they thought they were doing.

      • BBT (@bbt) said on 29th May 2011, 17:44

        @Scribe 100% agree, amazing drive and pace from JB, how the team can lose it for him from there is unbelievable.
        Good race pace, Mclaren should win the next two, they can’t keep missing up the race for their drivers.
        Alonso was also impressive.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 30th May 2011, 7:34

        Well, to be honest it was a bit of a gamble on the SC coming out for Glock. Did not pay off for him.

        And a lot of luck for Vettel, that his team messed up his pitstop and put him on the wrong set of tyres. Otherwise he would have been completely the same as Button and would have probably stopped with the SC for Massa and dropped behind Button there.

  9. Roald said on 29th May 2011, 16:13

    Hamilton drove a terrible race, in my opinion he was at fault in both the Massa and Maldonado cases. And to blame it on the colour of his skin can only make things worse… disrespectful even.

    Would have loved Alonso to win, think he had a fair chance too, before the red flag happened…

    • Oliver said on 29th May 2011, 17:53

      Hamilton had one of those races.
      But the accident with Massa was his fault only because he was behind. But if you were observant, you will notice Massa changed his line at the hairpin once he noticed Hamilton was attempting a pass. Hamilton had almost all his wheels on the kerbs but Massa drives like that. Same thing he did in Monza last year.

      • phildick (@phildick) said on 29th May 2011, 18:40

        Oh yes, so you say Massa deliberately tried to allow Lewis to make damage to his car so he couldn’t get a good result when his career is at stake? Oh, please.

      • David-A (@david-a) said on 30th May 2011, 3:23

        Massa didn’t cause a collision in Monza last year. It’s actually pretty laughable to think that he did.

        • Oliver said on 30th May 2011, 4:54

          Massa allowed Alonso feed in ahead of him and immediately shut the door on Hamilton. He knew Hamilton was on the outside, hence had more to lose. Don’t get me wrong, the issue isn’t who was resposible for the accident. What I was implying was that Massa would never let Hamilton past, not under any situation.
          Same thing happened at Fuji I think a few years earlier.

  10. Ral (@ral) said on 29th May 2011, 16:19

    Ah, having seen the whole overtake from Kobayashi on Sutil, I think he should get penalised for that as well, unfortunately. That was just a tad too far back. If he gets a 20s penalty, does that mean he will fall outside the points?

    Still, nice to hear Webber’s comments on Kobayashi’s driving today :)

  11. florida mike (@florida-mike) said on 29th May 2011, 16:21

    The laps before the Red Flag, with Vettel, Alonso and Button less than 1 second apart, was some of the best racing I’ve seen in years. Amazing car control, barrier to barrier. That’s what I’ll remember most about this race.

  12. Mikef117 said on 29th May 2011, 16:23

    Maclaren need to sack their strategist. This is not the first weekend this season they have called it wrong time after time.

    It is obvious RBR have the fastest car over a single lap, but that is compromising their race pace – I guess it is set up to play to Vettels’ strength – get in front and stay there. Maclaren have the better race pace but just do not seem to be able to make the best use of this advantage on a Sunday.

  13. WildOz said on 29th May 2011, 16:25

    Hamilton cost Button the win when he took out Massa and caused a safety car. Then the red flag decision took the race away from Alonso. Vettel will win lotto next with all that luck on his side.

  14. Oliver said on 29th May 2011, 16:31

    Nope Keith, the red flag didn’t hand Vettel the win, Mclaren capitulated.
    Button was 16 seconds ahead, all he had to do was wait for Vettel to pit first.
    I remember telling myself the moment Mclaren brought him in that, for sure :) Redbull will maintain track position. We all know when the rear coach tries to over take the front coach, while on the same railtrack, can only mean an accident.

    Own goal Mclaren. Great race computer and strategists you have got. Button should sue. :)

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 29th May 2011, 17:34

      the red flag didn’t hand Vettel the win

      I said ‘help’, not ‘hand’, there’s an obvious difference.

    • BBT (@bbt) said on 29th May 2011, 17:48

      Over looking the fact that he wouldn’t of steady there for another 8 lap and was already 2 second per lap slower.
      Alonso and Button might not of go past (unlikely) but the red flag made it easier / a certainty, the flag therefore helped, I don’t see how anyone can argue with that fact.

  15. darren said on 29th May 2011, 16:34

    Look for the McLaren forced apology from Hamilton tomorrow…

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