The 2009 Monaco Grand Prix lacked the rain of last years event but it was no less exciting as the politics of the FIA/FOTA war gave way to some serious racing. I was honored to have spent another race morning with the “Breakfast with Bernie” crew as sponsored by Esspresso Mod and Designs in Motion here in St. Louis. A great time had by all.
Continuing their dominance, Brawn GP claimed a one, two at the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix with style befitting the principality. Jenson Button led his teammate Rubens Barrichello home in the first British win-from-pole since 1972’s Jackie Stewart. The Brawn GP cars looked terrific and sent a message that they are equally fast on high-speed low-downforce tracks as they are on low-speed high-grip circuits. Not a message the opposition wanted to hear necessarily.
The story of the weekend might be Ferrari’s competitiveness as they managed a third and fourth place finish just behind the Brawn GP cars; a place usually reserved for the Red Bull’s of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel as they have been the only team to be somewhat competitive with the Brawn’s this year. But fate played an evil hand for Vettel as his qualifying run placed him off the front row and St. Devote claimed his left rear suspension rendering a DNF for the young German. Mark Webber looked racey toward the middle stint of the race and finished a respectable 5th. Just what has happened to Red Bull? It’s difficult to say but Ferrari have clearly made performance improvements; something McLaren was thought to have made by now and even more so with BMW. Ferrari looked good and were faster than Rubens Barrichello with his graining rear tires but in Monaco that is cold comfort as getting past a car is about as unlikely as getting Americans to drive in the left lane for passing only.
Toyota were the disappointment for me and one can only assume that they have focused their efforts on low-downforce tracks in development (as astutely pointed out by my friend Mr. Charsley). If they haven’t; this is a huge leap backwards for them and something the board in Japan will not take lightly.
On the positive side of things, Williams looked resurgent this weekend as Nico Rosberg finished a non-showboating 6th and may have shown the true pace of the Williams which is delightfully not that far off the pace on high-downforce circuits. Williams should be proud of their achievement except that Kaz put it in the wall on the last lap at St. Devote. Sebastien Bourdais had an 8th place points finish which should calm Franz Tost’s rhetoric about his beleaguered driver and was head and neck above the DNF of his teammate Sebastien Buemi who decided to plow Nelson Piquet Jr. into the barrier at St. Devote. Poor Junior Junior.
BMW’s Robert Kubica is more than likely as close to going ballistic on the team as he has ever been with a DNF while Nick Heidfeld clawed some semblance of respect from a 11th place finish. Force India nearly had it all to celebrate as Fisi finished 9th only 2 seconds out of the points.
McLaren had a miserable weekend with Heikki clouting the Armco at the Piscine and Lewis starting from the back of the grid. It must be said that Lewis’s 12th place finish betrays how well he drove today and he should be commended for his nose-to-the-grind-stone approach to the weekend although he was lapped by Jenson Button…that has to hurt.
1. Button Brawn GP-Mercedes (B) 1h40:44.282
2. Barrichello Brawn GP-Mercedes (B) + 7.666
3. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) + 13.443
4. Massa Ferrari (B) + 15.110
5. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) + 15.730
6. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) + 33.586
7. Alonso Renault (B) + 37.839
8. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) + 1:03.142
9. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes (B) + 1:05.040
10. Glock Toyota (B) + 1 lap
11. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) + 1 lap
12. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) + 1 lap
13. Trulli Toyota (B) + 1 lap
14. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) + 1 lap
15. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) + 2 laps
Fastest lap: Massa, 1:15.154
Driver Team On lap
Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 52
Kubica BMW Sauber (B) 31
Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 16
Piquet Renault (B) 11
Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 11