The Monaco GP driver ratings
From Thursday practice to Sunday's race, rating the drivers' performance around the circuit where one lapse of concentration can - and usually does - get punished
By James Galloway and William Esler
Last Updated: 02/11/15 3:44pm
Becoming just the fourth man in history to win the world-famous Monaco GP three years on the spin would quite rightly normally be the cause of jubilant celebration for the driver in question, but Nico Rosberg admitted to torn emotions in the aftermath of the bungled Mercedes strategy call that cost him team-mate an almost-guaranteed victory: “I have learned in sport to take it as it comes. Sometimes sport is hard on you and is horrible and today I was probably the luckiest I’ve ever been in my career, but I’ll take it. Winning Monaco is winning Monaco.”
He’s right, of course, and as a result the German is all of a sudden within 10 points of Hamilton at the summit of the drivers’ standings after the first back-to-back wins of his career. But Rosberg will equally know that, for the first time in their three seasons as team-mates, Hamilton had him beaten all ends up in Monaco as that 20-second gap prior to the Briton’s now infamous stop aptly demonstrated.
Add in his errors in qualifying, and it's hard to suggest that Rosberg's Monaco performance had been any more than satisfactory up to that stunningly incomprehensible sting in the tail for the sister Mercedes. That's why, as unintuitive as it would normally seem, this weekend's race winner doesn’t score quite as highly as most would normally expect to in these ratings.
Rating out of ten: 7
No wonder a jubilant Sebastian Vettel was keen to point out to Martin Brundle during the post-race interviews that “I’m happy!” after standing between one slightly embarrassed Mercedes driver and another totally crestfallen one on the podium. Rosberg aside, the Ferrari driver was the big winner from the world champions’ strategic meltdown as he took a second place which he had spent all race in touching distance of as he followed his countryman in unrelentingly metronomic fashion for lap after lap.
Considering that his team again didn’t have the outright pace to beat Mercedes, Vettel probably did a little more than was asked of him in Monaco by shadowing Rosberg all race and his half-second advantage over Kimi Raikkonen in qualifying underlined that he remains the Ferrari driver most likely to repeat his and their Sepang victory from April.
Rating out of ten: 8
There is just something about Monaco for Lewis Hamilton, isn’t there? Having seemingly made a concerted effort to up his own game around the principality’s twisty streets ahead of a race which had caused him more hassle than harmony in recent years, the world champion was blazing a trail around the track from his very first laps in P1 onwards.
Yes, there were signs of a wobble in Saturday’s early running, but his calming mid-qualifying ‘pep talk’ to his engineers set the tone for the serene form that followed as he finally earned that maiden Monaco pole and then steadily pulled away from Rosberg in the race.
Had the Safety Car not come out to such disastrous effect for him, then Hamilton was on course to deliver the biggest Monaco winning margin since Michael Schumacher won by half a minute 16 years ago. The record books will now never show that of course – in fact, they will only ever show the Briton as finishing third – but as Lewis said himself, he will know this was year when he “really conquered Monaco” for the first time.
Rating out of ten: 9.5
After all the promise of his rookie year, the form of Daniil Kvyat had been of the early-season’s more disappointing stories. So it was it was all the more timely that the young Russian took advantage of Red Bull’s improved form in Monte Carlo to claim his best-ever F1 finish.
While pipped by a tenth in qualifying by Daniel Ricciardo, Kvyat made up for that at the first corner on Sunday and from there drove a controlled, if largely uneventful, race to fourth place ahead of his team-mate. As part of an agreement with the pitwall, he briefly ceded position to the sister car after the late restart so that Ricciardo, on brand new supersoft tyres, could attempt to attack the top three. The Australian made little progress, so the positions were reversed before the chequered flag meaning it was Kvyat who claimed ‘best of the rest'. It just could properly 'launch' his Red Bull career.
Rating out of ten: 8
Red Bull’s 2015 travails meant that Daniel Ricciardo has had little chance to display the kind of overtaking prowess that so caught the eye last year, but his strong-arming of Kimi Raikkonen at Mirabeau after the restart showed why the Australian is one of the grid’s most eye-catching drivers. A little rude it probably was, but there are never any easy passes in Monaco.
Losing out to Kvyat into Ste Devote hadn’t been in the game plan, of course, back at the start and Ricciardo may feel he shouldn't have been in range for his team-mate anyway after he was asked to select the wrong engine setting for his final Q3 lap, something he believes cost him third on the grid to Vettel.
Rating out of ten: 7.5
Sadly for Kimi Raikkonen and his loyal legion of fans, the Finn’s radio rants about blue flags are fast coming to characterise his season. Bahrain remains the race where he has come closest to stringing together a ‘complete’ weekend with his result in Monaco yet again compromised by an underwhelming qualifying.
In truth, the problems the whole grid had in warming up Pirelli’s softest two tyres was never going to bode well for light-on-his-feet Kimi, and those issues along with traffic in Q3 meant he never really threated to match Vettel. A clash with the Ste Devote barriers in P3 hardly helped his preparations either.
After failing to jump either Red Bull driver off the line, Raikkonen stalked Ricciardo to the first stops and, in classic piece of refuelling-era sprint racing, ‘overcut’ the Australian by pitting a lap later. That hard work was then reversed when Ricciardo, on new tyres, forced his way down the inside of the Ferrari at Mirabeau to consign Kimi to that sixth place again. A thoroughly disappointing weekend.
Rating out of ten: 5.5
Seventh place is never going to steal any F1 headlines, but for Sergio Perez and Force India the six points earned by the Mexican on Sunday represented a commendable achievement. With the team at least another month away from the arrival of their heavily revised 2015 car, the team had targeted Monaco as the place where they might be able to make up for the VJM08’s current shortcomings. Perez duly delivered in fine style.
Having started eighth, Perez held his grid position at the start and ran in F1’s equivalent of ‘no mans land’ right up until the late Safety Car, when he could afford a ‘free’ pitstop to switch onto used supersoft tyres. From there, the Mexican admits he was finally able to have some “really good fun” as he eventually finished less than a second behind Ferrari’s Raikkonen. In stark contrast to this time last year, Perez is currently Force India's go-to man for a top-10 finish.
Rating out of ten: 8
"We were hoping to score a point today, and we scored four. I certainly didn’t expect to finish eighth." The words of Jenson Button after the 2009 Monaco winner drove what McLaren described as a "typically unruffled" race to the team's belated first points of 2015. A dice with Nico Hulkenberg at the start of the opening lap was probably as exciting as Jenson's race got, but what team-mate Fernando Alonso would have given for such trouble-free running...
Grid penalties for Sainz and Grosjean meant Button was promoted to 10th for the start, but he probably would have qualified at least on row five on merit anyway had his final Q2 lap not been wrecked by a Rosberg-triggered yellow flag. After four months of toil with the MP4-30, a points breakthrough was no less than JB - and McLaren - deserved.
Rating out of ten: 8
With so much attention on events at the front of the field on Sunday night, it was rather easy to overlook the fact that Sauber, after the most miserable of Monacos, finished up in the points with Felipe Nasr. With little in the way of updates to the C34 since starring in Australia, the Swiss team have steadily slipped backwards towards where they were in 2014 and on Saturday suffered a double Q1 exit.
However, the key to a weekend at often unpredictable Monaco is never giving up, and after what he described as an “exhausting race” Nasr went from 14th to ninth. Finishing four places ahead of team-mate Marcus Ericsson capped another fine weekend for the Brazilian rookie.
Rating out of ten: 7
If Felipe Nasr’s drive from mid-grid obscurity to the points was impressive, then Carlos Sainz’s recovery from the pitlane to 10th was probably as worthy of praise as any drive around the streets on Sunday.
In what is fast becoming a theme at Toro Rosso, it was Max Verstappen who made the headlines after starring on his Monaco P1 debut, but it was Sainz who actually ended Thursday practice as the quicker of the two rookies. The Spaniard carried that form into qualifying by outqualifying the teenager by two places, although he was soon hit hard for missing the pit lane lights for the weighbridge during Q1. In reality, the heavy sanction was compounded by the fact Monaco is so prohibitive to overtaking, but Toro Rosso formulated a go-for-broke strategy and Sainz completed a mammoth 65-lap stint on a single set of soft tyres to brilliantly snare that final point. Loses half a point for missing the weighbridge.
Rating out of ten: 7.5
And the rest...
Nico Hulkenberg sounded like a beaten man all weekend over the team radio and was put in the shadows by team-mate Sergio Perez's scoring of points. Starting 11th, his race was compromised by first-lap contact with Fernando Alonso which relegated him to the back of the pack as he limped back to the pits for repairs. From there, recovering back to where he started at the flag can be seen as a success.
Rating out of ten: 6.5
Starting from 15th on the grid after a gearbox penalty, Romain Grosjean performed well to work his way into the points before being hit by Verstappen. The Frenchman showed great skill and racing knowledge when being lapped by Sebastian Vettel into the hairpin to prevent Verstappen taking advantage and seizing the final championship point, but in the end it all proved to no avail as he came home 12th after that heavy contact.
Rating out of ten: 7
Another weekend where Marcus Ericsson was comprehensively outperformed by team-mate Felipe Nasr. Beating the two struggling Williams cars can be seen as a minor positive, but the Swede once again did not cover himself in glory.
Rating out of ten: 5
This was a return to the dark days of 2013 as Williams toiled amongst the backmarkers in Monaco, with Valtteri Bottas making a surprise Q1 exit. With Monaco placing less of an emphasis on engine power, it immediately raises questions of how good the FW37 chassis actually is in its own right and the Grove team were blighted more than just about anyone by tyre warm-up problems.
Felipe Massa was compromised at the first corner when contact caused a puncture and necessitated a front wing change. Beating just the two Manor Marussias can only be deemed a failure for a team with eyes on second in the championship.
Ratings out of ten: Bottas: 6, Massa: 6
Will Stevens said ERS problems in qualifying limited him to one proper timed run in qualifying, but he delivered under pressure to beat team-mate Roberto Merhi and finish just two tenths behind the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson. However, the race was a disappointment as he was beaten by Merhi for the first time this season.
“I picked up some front wing damage on my first lap and the combination of struggling for downforce whilst being on the prime tyre really hurt our race, and of course put me behind Roberto,” said Stevens and the stats support that with his fastest lap nearly a second slower than his team-mate's. For Merhi, 16th was the best result of his F1 career and the Spaniard will hope it points to a closer intra-team fight from now on.
Ratings out of ten: Merhi 6, Stevens 6
He came, he saw, and but for one of the most dramatic ways to exit the race possible, 17-year-old Max Verstappen would have conquered the Monaco GP on his debut – relatively speaking. Yes, his maiden weekend in the principality ended with a messy misjudgement as he clouted Grosjean’s Lotus up the back as he attempted to race back into the points after Toro Rosso's botched pit stop, but right from the moment he went second fastest to Hamilton in P1, Verstappen routinely provided a spark throughout the weekend.
On race day his passes on Pastor Maldonado at Ste Devote and then, cheekily, Bottas approaching Portier were memorable, the Dutchman displaying all the cunning of a veteran for the latter move after telling his engineers he was planning to stay close to the back of Vettel’s Ferrari while the German lapped other cars. Unfortunately, he then just got a little too close for comfort with Grosjean… A* for entertainment value.
Fellow race retirees Fernando Alonso and Pastor Maldonado are exempt from ratings