Pirelli Review: Monaco Grand Prix
Rosberg wins an action-packed Monaco Grand Prix.
Nico Rosberg has taken his first win for Mercedes this year, ahead of Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who extends his championship lead. Rosberg was in front from start to finish, starting on the P Zero Red supersoft tyre and then switching to the P Zero Yellow soft during a safety car period. An accident on lap 45 brought out the red flag and under the current rules the drivers were allowed to change tyres during the stoppage. Rosberg completed the race on the supersoft tyre, following yet another safety car period with 15 laps to go.
After the original start Red Bull’s Mark Webber was the first of the frontrunners to make his scheduled stop, coming in on lap 25 to change from supersoft to soft. But the complexion of the race was altered when the safety car came out for the first time this year on lap 29 – provoking a round of pit stops. Both the Mercedes pitted consecutively for soft tyres two laps later, with Lewis Hamilton dropping from second to fourth as a result of the safety car intervention.
Following the red flag, the teams could chose whichever tyres they wished at the re-start, 25 minutes after the accident that caused it. The majority of the drivers chose to go with a used set of supersofts, with Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen the highest-placed driver to re-start on the soft tyre, from fifth place. The Finn was forced into a final pit stop for the supersoft following a collision, passing six cars in the final five laps to score a point.
Force India’s Paul di Resta, who started from 17th, planned a two-stop strategy. He changed from the supersoft to the soft tyre on lap nine, climbing to 11th place by the red flag. This effectively allowed him a ‘free’ pit stop and he eventually ended the race in a points-scoring ninth.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “Once again, we saw a Monaco Grand Prix where safety cars and a red flag played a prominent role. This had a defining effect on strategy, effectively meaning that all the careful pre-race planning went out of the window. Nonetheless, we experienced the expected low levels of tyre wear and degradation: in fact the race leader went one lap longer this year during his first stint on the supersoft compared to last year, even though the compounds are generally softer. After the race was stopped, most drivers chose to re-start on used supersofts, having to make them last for 32 laps for the finish – although they were certainly helped by a second safety car period. Congratulations to Nico Rosberg and Mercedes, who dominated every session and led an action-packed grand prix from start to finish. We also saw some great performances lower down the field from drivers who used their tyres and strategy to very good effect, despite the extremely unpredictable race circumstances.”
We predicted a one-stopper, changing from the supersoft to the soft at about lap 36. The safety cars and the red flag got in the way, although most of the frontrunners were on course to reach that target anyway, while some were keeping their options open for a two-stopper. Officially, the tyres put on the cars during the re-start do not count as a pit stop, so most of the field still one-stopped – just as was the case last year.