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Monaco GP Analysis: How the race unfolded into Rosberg’s favour

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It hurts; it definitely does when you lose because of something at the very end after being nearly unstoppable. Lewis Hamilton was perfect all weekend in Monaco but he’d to settle with the final step on the podium after a pit-call blunder from his Mercedes team that saw him lose another ten points to the favour of his nearest rival Nico Rosberg.

So, how did all unfold? We take a look: Lewis Hamilton topped both the practice sessions on Thursday and went in to qualifying with limited running on Supersoft tyres because of the rain interruption. It was the same for everybody but team-mate Rosberg looked to be in good touch come the early parts of qualifying. The Briton found his rhythm back in Q3 with a 1:15.098s lap while Rosberg failed to put a lap together locking on his final attempt and ending up over three tenths adrift.

Capitalising his first pole in Monaco, the reigning champion got off to a flying start and led the way with more than two seconds gap by lap 10 and in the process of extending it, he quickly got by the Manors and lapped them. The winding Monaco street circuit is very straight-forward strategically as overtaking is very hard.

Mercedes Formula One driver Hamilton of Britain reacts on the podium after placing third in the Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco

Lewis Hamilton reacts on the podium after placing third in the Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco, 2015.

Hamilton had a commanding 7.6 seconds advantage on lap 37when Rosberg elected to pit. Since it’s a halfway distance, a soft tyre switch meant one-stop race for the German who was constantly pursued by the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel who did a splendid job of keeping up with the Mercedes. A lap later, Hamilton dived in for a change of prime tyres and emerged leading the race.

He continued to ease through the back-markers when Rosberg was in danger of getting caught by the Ferrari of Vettel. This was only good news for the Stevenage star as he edged clear at the front with an unassailable lead of over 16 seconds. The race was turned on its head when the dauntless Max Verstappen tried an ambitious move on Romain Grosjean fighting for the final point’s position at the beginning of lap 64.

Verstappen high-speed crash in F1 2015 Monaco GP

The teenager slammed on to the Lotus’ rear-end and spun into the barriers at the first corner and triggered the Virtual Safety Car for the first time in F1 which was switched to the traditional Safety Car as clearing the Toro Rosso and mending the techpro barriers would take time. Taking advantage of this opportunity some of the cars at the back pitted for fresher rubber indeed but not the ones right behind the leading Mercedes.

Race leader Hamilton thought as he saw activity from the Mercedes side of the pitlane on one of the big screens that Rosberg had pitted and readied himself for a final assault. Because of the drop in tyre pressure and the tyre-wear he called-in his team for a tyre change to defend from Rosberg and Vettel in the final few laps as warming up the stone cold rubber would also take time.

His team agreed to it but they didn’t know what Hamilton really thought of Rosberg and Vettel behind him. In fact, there was no need of that final stop but Mercedes took the risk as the computers showed them that he would still come out in front of both of them. They realized the blunder only when he emerged out well behind Rosberg and also Vettel suggested by the TV replay.

Nico Rosberg, victory celebration, 2015 Monaco Grand Prix.

When the Safety Car was in and the pack was let loose for the remaining eight laps Hamilton still hoped to catch both Rosberg and Vettel as he was on fresh Supersoft rubber. But, Vettel defended bravely on his aging tyre as his fellow German compatriot Rosberg sprinted away in the distance. Hamilton backed off in the last lap and had to defend from the charging Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo himself and saw the victory taken away from him. Rosberg finished 4.486s ahead of Vettel and Hamilton who was 1.5s further behind to settle for a disappointing third.

Admitting himself as ‘lucky’ this hat-trick win in Monaco has allowed Rosberg to close the gap and is now only ten points behind the leader. Mercedes find themselves in an intrigue situation again just like last year and even though they had apologized, it’d take some time for Hamilton to calm down. (Suren M)

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