Nico Rosberg won the Monaco Grand Prix from Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber
Mercedes driver earns second career win in incident-packed race
By Mike Wise
Last Updated: 26/05/13 6:43pm
The Mercedes driver had been fastest in practice and qualifying on the streets of the Principality and duly recorded his second career win in unflustered style after what proved an eventful, and long, race.
However, the drama may not have ended just yet with Mercedes racing under protest following an official complaint from both Red Bull and Ferrari against a 'secret' three-day test at Barcelona in the days after the Spanish GP.
World Champion Sebastian Vettel finished second with his Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber completing the podium ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
Starting second on the grid behind his team-mate, Hamilton held station during the early laps but lost out when a crash involving Felipe Massa brought out the safety car.
The race was subsequently halted for 25 minutes when Max Chilton's Marussia collided with the Williams of Pastor Maldonado.
Both Massa and Maldonado suffered sizeable head-on impacts, thankfully without injury, although the Brazilian was detained at the track's medical centre for a while.
It was a busy day for the safety car, which hadn't previously made an appearance this season. It came out for the second time with 15 laps to go after Romain Grosjean's Lotus collided with the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo.
Force India's Adrian Sutil finished fifth ahead of McLaren's Jenson Button, with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso), Paul di Resta (Force India) and Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) completing the top ten.
The protest launched by Red Bull and Ferrari against Mercedes, specifically the 'secret' tyre test they undertook after the Spanish Grand Prix, dominated the build-up to the race.
"A good old Formula 1 mess" was how Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz described the hubbub and it probably came as a relief to all concerned to see the clock ticking towards 2pm local time and lights out.
The beef Mercedes' rivals have, of course, is that the test might have given them an advantage. Certainly the tyre wear of their W04 has been woeful at times during races but it's also the case that, of all the tracks on the calendar, Monaco is the easiest on rubber. Might they get it right this time?
Also: to one-stop or not to one-stop? That was the related question facing teams after the usual frenetic activity during the opening laps.
The pit-stop window opened on lap 26 when Webber pitted from fourth place but hands were forced when Massa crashed at Sainte Devote four laps later.
The shunt was almost identical to that he suffered in P3 on Saturday morning, with the F138 veering left and hitting the Armco at around 170mph before ploughing straight on.
As Massa climbed out - feeling some discomfort in his neck - the safety car came out. Vettel pitted immediately but both Mercedes stayed out.
They pitted in tandem the following lap but the timing of the safety car favoured Rosberg - who was first in - over Hamilton, who was shuffled back to fourth place.
Racing resumed on lap 39, with Rosberg again stealing a march. Everyone was looking to try and get to the chequered flag without changing tyres again at this stage, but they were all given the chance to do just that seven laps later when Maldonado's Williams slammed head-first in the barriers at Tabac corner.
The Venezuelan was alongside Max Chilton at the time, with the Marussia driver seemingly unaware of Maldonado's presence on his blindside.
Racing got underway for a second time after a delay of almost half an hour, with every frontrunner bar Raikkonen confident of ekeing out their supersofts.
Perez had already given indications that he meant business by passing Button and then Alonso at harbourfront chicane just before the red flag.
The Ferrari driver had actually held the position but only after cutting the corner. Alonso was subsequently ordered to hand the place back as he awaited the re-start.
It was a difficult afternoon by the Spaniard's standards and he lost another place to Sutil at the hotel hairpin on lap 57, just before Grosjean launched a rearward assault on Ricciardo as the pair exited the tunnel.
The safety car duly came out again, with Perez's eventful afternoon continuing when he made contact with Raikkonen - again at the harbourfront chicane.
The Finn suffered a puncture as a result and was in danger of failing to score a points-finish for the first time in 23 races. However, he managed to claw back tenth place from Nico Hulkenberg Sauber on the very last lap.
As Raikkonen pitted, Button pushed Alonso down another position at La Rascasse, but Perez's aggression only brought retirement after his car picked up suspension damage.
Vettel's lead in the Drivers' Championship is now 21 points, with Raikkonen leading the chase. Red Bull, meanwhile, hold a 41-point lead over Ferrari in the constructors' standings.
The Mercedes protest had no effect on the result, which was eventually made official after race stewards had met to discuss the controversy.
Red Bull and Ferrari are unhappy that the test was performed using the Silver Arrow's 2013 car. As yet, there is no word on what impact it might have beyond this weekend.