Mark Webber has won the Monaco Grand Prix of 2012, holding off Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. The leading drivers were so close on track, driving nose to tail with a gap of just 1.3 secs separating Vettel from the race winner Webber when they crossed the finish line. This is the first time in history, that six different drivers have won the first six races of a Formula 1 Season.
Mark Webber inherited the pole from Schumacher, who was given a penalty for the incident with Bruno Senna in Spain. Webber had a good start off the line, and managed to be the first driver to reach turn one, ahead of Nico Rosberg who had an equally good start. Lewis Hamilton’s start wasn’t that good, but he managed to hold on to the 3rd place. Behind him though, things began to happen in earnest as a slow starting Romain Grosjean made contact with Fernando Alonso and as he took an avoiding maneouver ended up clipping Schumacher’s car. While Schumacher made it through the crash Grosjean damaged his rear suspension and had to retire before he reached the first corner. All the drivers managed to avoid his sliding Lotus, with Kobayashi getting a nudge from the Lotus. Pastor Maldonado’s weekend continued to get worse as he damaged his front wing damage and had to retire, bringing out the safety car on the 2nd lap of the race. De la Rosa too had to retire after losing his rear wing.
The safety car went back into the pits at the end of the 4th lap, and Fernando Alonso was breathing down the neck of Lewis Hamilton who seemed to be struggling with his car. After trying to get past Hamilton for two laps Alonso decided it was better to conserve his tyres for a later charge before the first round of Pit Stops. Massa, for a change was very tailing Alonso in the other Ferrari hard and fast.
The running order now was Webber, Rosberg, Hamilton, Alonso, Massa, Vettel. Lap 10 saw the Sauber of Kobayashi retire after his first lap incident with the Grosjean’s Lotus E20. Meanwhile Webber was setting fastest times, lap after lap, with Rosberg close behind, and Alonso was under pressure from Felipe Massa.Petrov retired from the race on Lap 17 due to suspected electrical failure. This was the 5th retirement of the race. Alonso had started to close in on Lewis again by the 20th Lap and in the process had set the fastest lap. In the midst of all this, teams were putting off their pit stops in anticipation of rain in the next 15 minutes. The driver struggling the most was Kimi Raikkonen who was on the super-softs and struggling to find pace in those tyres, and was posting lap times 2 seconds slower than Vettel who was ahead of him. Kimi Raikkonen did a good job of holding back Michael Schumacher to keep his position.
Rosberg was the first of the front runners to pit and he did so on lap 28 and he put on the Prime, the yellow marked soft, or in this race, the harder compound tyres. He came out in sixth place, to a clear track ahead of him. Webber and Hamilton pitted on lap 29 and they took the Prime tyres too. Webber manages to take the lead and Hamilton stayed in 3rd place. Alonso pitted on Lap 30 and it was a very quick stop and Hamilton’s comparatively slow stop meant that Alonso jumped Hamilton in the pits.
Lap 31 saw Massa pitting for the Prime tyres, and coming out behind Lewis in 7th place. This meant that Vettel was in the lead. Vettel had started on the Prime tyres and was pushing hard. Vettel eventually pitted on Lap 46 and a good pit stop meant that he came out ahead of Hamilton in 4th place.
Sergio Perez meanwhile had an incident with Kimi Raikkonen as he cut across the Finn while entering the pits and that made Kimi lose a place to Nico Hulkenberg. He was given a Drive-through Penalty for that incident.
Jenson Button who started on the Prime tyres was not having a great weekend as he was still struggling with the car. He pitted on lap 39 and came out in 15th place behind the Caterham of Heikki Kovalainen. After that he could not find a way past the Finn. The battle went on till lap 72 when Jenson Button tried an ambitious move on the Caterham at the swimming pool section of the track, but ended up spinning to retirement after a collision with the Finn.
Michael Schumacher who was in 7th place on Lap 60 complained on the radio that he had a problem with the car and he was struggling with pace. Schumacher couldn’t get any pace out of the car and ended up losing places consistently till he was forced to retire on Lap 65. That was the end of a disappointing weekend for the German who had got pole and was looking for a good points haul even after his penalty.
The final moments of the race saw a few spots of rain on various parts of the track. There was ten laps to go and all the front running drivers backed-off a little. This tempted Jean-Eric Vergne to try something out of the box as he pitted for intermediates hoping to have an advantage if it rained. But he was out of luck as the rain never came down in any amounts that justified the use of Intermediates.
The rest of the race saw no real drama anywhere and the at the end of the 78th lap, the running order was Webber, Rosberg, Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton, Massa, di Resta, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen and Bruno Senna taking the final Point of the race.
The remaining drivers who managed to take the chequered flag were Perez, Vergne, Kovalainen, Glock and Karthikeyan.