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

  1. looking around in google, i find this link related to a red flag in F1 : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formula_One_regulations

    it says :
    A red flag indicates that the race, practice session, or qualifying session has been suspended. All marshal stations will signal this. Drivers may not leave the pits. All drivers on the track must proceed cautiously to the red flag line and stop. There they will be reordered in their correct racing order. Sessions may be resumed or abandoned as the race director indicates. Flashing red lights are now used in addition to the flags. If the safety car is deployed, the racing cars should follow it and provisions allow for the safety car to divert the field into the pit-lane and wait there. Other than that, drivers who enter the pits will be given a drive-through.

    Observe this last sentence : Drivers who enter the pits will be given a drive-through. Changing tires is equivalent for a pit stop.

    Is very, very clear

  2. chi-tom (@chi-tom) said on 29th May 2011, 21:56

    In todays’ Monaco race I was rather stunned that the FIA allowed tires to be changed during the Red Flag period 6 laps from race’s finish. It invalidated the whole developed context of the race at the time of the red flag in so far as the front running driver’s tire wear. The strategies teams employed to put their drivers in either vulnerable (Vettel and Alonso) or advantaged positions (Button) to potentially win the race were dismissed. Button had no chance to win after the red flag.

    Time is past due for the FIA dolts to change this aspect of the rules and let the race, its integrity and its whole progression stay intact to the finish.

    • Don M. said on 30th May 2011, 12:17

      But if they change the rule it would invalidate other strategy aspects by closing the field together. You can’t have everything covered. Like any safety-car interuption it’s just unfortunate and it will always benefit some more than others. No need to over-react.

  3. Slim (@slim) said on 29th May 2011, 22:06

    I think that the whole end of the race was a total sham and everyone knows It. Did Vettel really have that clean of a drive today? He certainly didn’t make any mistakes, although his engineers really gambled with the 1 stop strategy. The red flagged session handed him the victory and everyone knows it. On really worn out tires he was mince meat and at the mercy of an impending Button and Alonso barrage.

    Alonso and Button were much quicker than Vettel and both of those drivers could have easily stood at the top spot of the podium and I wouldve been happy. Not only did they make up huge deficits after pit stops on Vettel, but were consistently setting fastest laps.

    Button, after his 3rd pitstop, made up something like 17 seconds on Vettel. Thats insane!

    • Olivier42 (@olivier42) said on 30th May 2011, 2:28

      Vettel had a great race. As he said in the interview, he gambled on the 1 stop strategy himself, he decided to give it a try knowing he would probably finish 3rd if he stopped. He took a risk and it paid off – he should be praised for that.

      The only reason Button ever made it to first position is because Red Bull flubbed the pit stop. Vettel should have come out in first, and then we would have had a nice battle with Vettel on soft and Button on super softs.

      So Button made almost 2 seconds per lap after his third stop. He was on tyres that were 30 laps fresher than Vettels, what do you expect? I actually thought Vettel would stop around lap ~60 and do his third stint on super soft tyres. We would have seen Vettel catch up to Button and Alonso sooooo quickly. It would have been a similar situation.

      As for people thinking Vettel got handed pole because of the red flag – I highly doubt Mclarens could have beaten the brutal time Vettel set. Of course, we will never know for sure, just like we will never know if Vettel could have held on the old tyres for the last 6 laps (Though a few of those laps would probably have been under the safety car, so we might be talking about just 2-3 “real” laps). Vettel got the victory, but the glory got stolen from him because of questionable rules – a shame.

  4. Marco Aurelio said on 29th May 2011, 23:16

    41.4 Whilst the race is suspended :
    - neither the race nor the timekeeping system will stop, however, in accordance with Article 5.3 the
    length of the race suspension will be added to the maximum two hour period ;
    - cars may be worked on once they have stopped on the grid or entered the pits but any such work
    must not impede the resumption of the race ;
    - only team members and officials will be permitted on the grid.

  5. drezone said on 30th May 2011, 0:41

    Vettel is startung to have the luck the Schumnacher used to have. He was lucky to grap pole and the win due to red flag incidents.

    He lost the race to Button with 1st safety car and was about to lose race to Alonso until 2nd safety car.

    Yes Alonso had 20 laps to do this until then but he’s not stupid. He won’t risk a move early until necessary which would be the last 5 laps or so to take the win.

    Webber 4 fastest laps out of 6 races. hmmmm
    Maybe he’s not getting Saturday’s right or the team are not allowing him to have the best package.

    He’s obviously quicker than Vettel in the race and also doing a lot more racing and overtaking.

    Yes some may say Vettel doesn’t need to go fast if in comfortable win, however Monaco just proved that wrong as he had the same new tyres as everyone esle with last 6 laps and couldn’t afford to cruise with Alonso and Button going for win as well.

    Webber didn’t look exactly look stoked when he grabbed pole in Spain, as if the team have already told him that Vettel must finish in front of him any in quali or race if Vettel is near him.

    Lucky for him Webber doesn’t need to let Vettel through as Red Bull are doing a good job of making Webber’s pitstops lose positions anyway so that Webber spends his afternoons behind traffic, just think Spain and Monaco.

    Hmmm. one for the conspiracy theorists.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 30th May 2011, 3:40

      He’s obviously quicker than Vettel in the race and also doing a lot more racing and overtaking.

      Setting fastest laps on a Sunday don’t mean squat. Vettel was quicker because he finished the race 23 seconds before Webber did. Period.

  6. I strongly urge FIA to change the rules that allows teams to change tyres and repair the car under red flag in race condition..

    IMO that is what ruin the excitement of this race not the safety car or the red flag itself but the rules under red flag situation

  7. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 30th May 2011, 3:39

    Some say we Monaco provide boring racing,watch 2011 race.

    Bad day for Renault & Mercedes along for Maldonado he was great all week.Sure Hamilton will get a penalty for that.The move of Hamilton on Schumacher was one of the great I have seen around Monaco.It was a shame that we couldn’t see the race under normal condition what could have been something like 92 Monaco.Lastly good wishes for Perez & Petrov.

  8. Toxic (@toxic) said on 30th May 2011, 8:49

    I feel cheated after the Red flag. That was so bad.

  9. Bleu said on 30th May 2011, 9:00

    I would actually like to see opinion article by Keith about those tyre changes during the red flag.

  10. Mister Nillionaire (@mister-nillionaire) said on 30th May 2011, 10:11

    Meh, I was really hoping for anyone but Vettel to win this :< Hate the finger…

  11. PJA (@pja) said on 3rd June 2011, 18:01

    I couldn’t understand the decision to pit Button for a second time when they did and then put on third set of super softs instead of going on to the softs during the race and I still don’t really.

    It was mentioned in commentary during the race that McLaren may have done it to pre-empt any safety car needed to recover Glock’s car but I thought from the TV pictures it seemed obvious he had managed to find somewhere safe to pull off so no safety car would be needed and the fact the safety car did come out for a the Hamilton and Massa incident shortly afterwards showed that if it was because of a safety car then it was the wrong decision anyway.

    The only reason I can think of why Button made his second stop when he did would be if he had used up his tyres pulling out his lead, which would be understandable even though a lot of people seem to claim Button is the easiest on his tyres of all the drivers.

    But the biggest mystery for me was why he went for another set of super softs instead of the softs, a decision that meant he had to stop again for a third time no matter what happened, when his main rivals had already used both sets of tyres and, and I think which ultimately cost him the victory even without any safety cars.

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