Australian Mark Webber won the showcase Monaco Grand Prix for champions Red Bull yesterday as Formula One celebrated an unprecedented six different winners in six races so far this season.
Webber led a processional, but nail-bitingly close race, with the top three separated by less than a second at the finish, from pole position to checkered flag as the rain held off, despite darkening skies and occasional drops.
Germany’s Nico Rosberg finished second, 0.6 seconds behind Webber, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso third a further 0.3 seconds adrift to go three points clear at the top of the overall championship standings.
It was Webber’s first win since Brazil at the end of last season, the eighth of his career and Red Bull’s third in a row around the metal-fenced streets.
However, there remained a question mark over the result, with talk sweeping the paddock ahead of the race of a possible protest by rival teams, questioning the legality of his Red Bull’s floor.
The top five were split by just 4.1 seconds, running nose-to-tail through the hairpin, with Webber’s teammate and double world champion Sebastian Vettel fourth ahead of McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.
Alonso has 76 points, with Vettel and Webber both on 73.
A downpour would have shaken up proceedings in the Mediterranean principality and without it there was precious little overtaking or incident, with 15 of the 24 starters finishing.
Vettel, last year’s winner, had moved up from ninth place at the start by completing 46 laps on his first set of tires.
Hamilton dropped from third on the grid to finish fifth, losing his two places in the pits thanks to a stop that was 0.6 seconds slower than those of Vettel and Alonso.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa finished sixth, a big relief for the Brazilian, who had scored just two points in the first five races.
Frenchman Romain Grosjean was the big loser at the start, lining up in fourth place, but crashing out at the first corner with a broken suspension after tangling with Michael Schumacher.
Schumacher, who had set the fastest time in Saturday’s qualifying, but was denied a first pole since 2006 due to a five-place grid penalty carried over from Spain, retired in the pits after 64 laps.
Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado, heroic winner of the previous race in Spain, also crashed out on the opening lap after starting in last place for Williams thanks to two separate penalties.