domingo, 27 de mayo de 2007

McLaren duo dominate Monaco Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso won the Monaco Grand Prix just ahead of McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton as the pair eased to a dominant one-two during the 78-lap race. Over a minute adrift, Felipe Massa finished third as Ferrari struggled to match the pace of the McLarens. The result means that Alonso and Hamilton are tied on points with Alonso's two wins putting him top of the drivers' standings.

Giancarlo Fisichella was an impressive fourth for Renault with the two BMWs of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld tying up fifth and sixth respectively. Alexander Wurz of Williams finished seventh as Kimi Raikkonen salvaged a point in the second Ferrari after starting down in 16th.

At the start Alonso got away first whilst Lewis Hamilton played it defensive, cutting across the Ferrari of Felipe Massa to safeguard his second place. Meanwhile Kimi Raikkonen managed to gain four places upto 12th position, tucking in behind Jenson Button. Nick Hedifeld also got off to a strong start despite his BMW's heavier fuel load, passing Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber to take fifth place. Ralf Schumacher's weekend went from bad to worse when he dropped from 20th to last. The rest of the field avoided any accidents until the second lap saw the end of Vitantonio Liuzzi's race after sliding his Toro Rosso into the barriers on the exit of Massanet.

Alonso started to pull away from his team-mate as he lapped around 0.7s a lap quicker, albeit on a lighter fuel load. Hamilton then seemed to struggle to maintain a sizeable gap between himself and Massa until a sudden turn of pace saw him set the provisional fastest lap on lap 19 with a 1:16.374s. Meanwhile Mark Webber suffered his third retirement in a row as his Red Bull limped into the pits with a gearbox problem having been running 8th. On lap 22, having got past the first backmarkers, Alonso replied to Hamilton's improved pace with a time of 1:15.721s.

The first pitstops came on lap 23 with Giancarlo Fisichella and Nico Rosberg diving into the pits. Alonso pitted on lap 26 as did Massa, whilst Hamilton endeavoured to make a significant gap that would allow him to come out ahead of his team-mate after his pit-stop. He made the best of a clear track to set the next fastest lap on lap 28 with a 1:15.372s. However, the 15 second gap between him and Alonso was not enough and so Alonso retained the lead following Hamilton's pit-stop. Prior to the pit-stop, Hamilton had radioed to the team to say that he was not happy with the set-up and so the mechanics released some pressure from the rear tyres.

Midway through the race Alonso was maintaining a lead of around four seconds over Hamilton as Massa lagged 30 seconds behind the pair. On lap 36 Anthony Davidson served a stop-and-go penalty for ignoring a blue flag earlier in the race when being lapped by Hamilton. Meanwhile Raikkonen struggled to continue his early progress as he wrestled with understeer. David Coulthard came into the pits on lap 43 and changed his front wing, which had taken a knock, returning in 14th place. Alonso set the fastest lap a lap later as the gap to Hamilton increased to nine seconds. Robert Kubica's long first stint paid off as he came out ahead of his team-mate Heidfeld in fifth place after his pit-stop on lap 46. Another one-stop strategy to pay off was Alexander Wurz's who was upto seventh in the Williams after Raikkonen pitted. Going in the other direction was Wurz's team-mate Rosberg who was struggling with handling problems.

Alonso resumed the lead following the second round of pit-stops. Adrian Sutil retired on lap 56 after making the same mistake as Liuzzi around Massanet. Then with 20 laps to go Hamilton had closed within 0.7s of Alonso with the McLaren drivers running on the softer tyre compound. However, Hamilton backed off to secure McLaren's most convincing result of the season as the team go 20 points clear of Ferrari in the constructors' championship. Unfortunately Spyker just failed to record a finish as Christijan Albers retired six laps from the end as the retirement toll increased to four.