Home Features F1 Championship Column: Monaco
F1 Championship Column: Monaco

F1 Championship Column: Monaco

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The most significant story from Monaco is the widening of Vettel’s lead at the head of the championship: it grew from the 6 points that it was after Barcelona to 25 – the equivalent of one race win. This bears ominous signs for Hamilton’s title challenge, as it effectively insures the Ferrari driver against an incident or mechanical failure (if Vettel retires and Hamilton wins, the points are leveled).

The Ferrari 1-2 also affected the battle between the Finnish pair in 3rd and 4th: Raikkonen gained 6 points on Bottas, cutting the gap between them to 8 points. If the Ferrari continues to trump the Mercedes on pace and tyre-management, Raikkonen could yet overhaul Bottas and challenge Hamilton’s position of 2nd in the championship standings. In the constructor’s championship, Ferrari’s 1-2 earned them 43 important points (25 more than Mercedes), turning their 8 point deficit into a 17 points lead at the top.MONTE-CARLO, MONACO – MAY 28: (EDITORS NOTE: Image was created using a variable planed lens.) Daniil Kvyat of Russia driving the (26) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12 on track during the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 28, 2017 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Photo: GETTY
Photo: GETTY

In the Red Bull intra-team battle for fifth, realistically the best position either driver can hope for given the Mercedes and Ferrari cars’ technical superiority, Ricciardo extended his 2 point gap to his teammate to make it 7 points: Verstappen was looking to overturn the gap this weekend, and was furious that Ricciardo’s strategy allowed the Australian to jump both Verstappen and Bottas for 3rd. Overall it was a successful weekend for Red Bull – they consolidated their third place in the constructor’s standings, and gained a few points on Mercedes in 2nd.

Further down, Force India’s stellar start to the season took a huge blow as their record of finishing every race this season with both cars in the points ended. Through little fault of his own, Ocon’s tyre was punctured by a sharp tarmac fault at Turn 1, and Perez sustained front-wing damage at the start and later collided with Kvyat: this meant that for the first race in a long time, neither of the Force Indias scored any points. This allowed Carlos Sainz, who drove a brilliant race to hold off Hamilton and finish 6th, to leapfrog Ocon and jump to within 10 points of Perez in the standings (although Force India remain comfortably clear in 4th in the constructor’s). None of these drivers can realistically hope for anything better than 7th in the championship, so need to take advantage of out-of-place leaders to grab extra points – as Sainz effectively did with Hamilton today.

 Dan Istitene for Getty Images
Dan Istitene for Getty Images

At the tail end of the field, Grosjean picked up 4 valuable points for the Haas team, with teammate Magnussen coming home in 10th to secure a double points finish. These points were crucial in bringing Haas level with Renault in the constructor’s standings – the latter scored no points at Monaco, and now face a real threat for 7th after an encouraging last few races. McLaren had a torrid day, with a double DNF ensuring that they remain pointless in 2017, and with Sauber losing both of their cars within a few laps of each other near the end of the race, the gap between the bottom two teams remains the 4 points that Wehrlein picked up at the last race in Barcelona.