German driver Nico Rosberg of Mercedes won the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday, May 25, his second consecutive win at the iconic street circuit. The pole-sitter led every lap with teammate Lewis Hamilton the only real contender as Mercedes once again ran a considerable distance away from the rest of the pack in the sixth contest of the 2014 Formula 1 season.
According to Formula 1, Rosberg finished 9.2 seconds ahead of Hamilton, chiefly, it was said, because of an eye issue reported by the British driver, saying there was dirt or something else in his eye, obscuring his vision on the tricky, narrow circuit. His slowing resulted in third place finisher Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull challenging him more closely at race's end, leaving only 0.4 seconds between them at the conclusion of the 78 laps.
Qualifying on Saturday created controversy over the one-two placement on the starting grid for the Mercedes team. Hamilton was on his last flying lap in Q3 on Saturday when Rosberg, who was in Q3 ahead of Hamilton, reportedly lost control of his car and drove onto an escape road, causing a yellow flag that stopped Hamilton's run. Speculations stirred that Rosberg, who had just been passed by Hamilton in championship points at the Spanish Grand Prix, may have done the act on purpose to protect his own fastest time and secure pole position. Stewards and the FIA investigated the issue and concluded that the German had done nothing wrong and deserved to keep his spot on pole.
The incident, however, highlighted the growing rivalry between the Mercedes teammates. With the rest of the field so far back from the Mercedes team this season after a big change in formula left all teams scrambling the achieve optimum results in their newly designed cars, attention has focused on which driver for the dominating team will win the drivers' championship. Mercedes has placed one-two in every race so far this season, and Rosberg now sits with 122 points in the drivers' championship, while Hamilton has 118. The closest non-Mercedes driver is Ferrari's Fernando Alonso with 61 points.
Asked in the post-race news conference whether the drivers, who have known each other since childhood, would sit down, have a pizza and work out their differences from this weekend together, Rosberg replied:
"It’s fine. We’ve had discussions and the benefit we have is that we’ve known each other for so long. We always sit down and discuss it and then move on and that’s what we’re doing this weekend also."
However, Hamilton replied: "I don’t really have an answer for you there."
Rosberg won the first race of the season in Australia, then Hamilton, who retired in that first race, won the following four races in succession, finally overtaking Rosberg in championship points in the race prior to Monaco only to lose it again with the German's win in the principality.
The media pressed both drivers on the competing issue of their rivalry and camaraderie this season, and asked Hamilton about that in addition to if he thought he was getting support from the team. In the past two races, Hamilton's radio messages have been interpreted by some to appear that he is questioning strategy decisions made by the team on his behalf while he is out on track.
Hamilton replied, "Generally, there is a fierce battle between me and Nico and it will continue that way to I’m sure quite late in the season. Nico’s not had a single hiccup through the season so far. Obviously I had a car that didn’t finish in Melbourne but otherwise it’s still quite close, so I’m just going to keep my head up, keep pushing. I know the team are working hard for the both of us. The team can sometimes be in awkward positions, which they were yesterday, and their job is really to protect us both and that’s what they did."
For his part, Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo had this to say about his result in Monaco: "We got close to at least one of the Mercedes at the end but you know what it’s like around here, it’s quite hard to pass. Tried to put a bit of pressure on but third was the best we could do but not a bad day."
About achieving a podium finish at historic Monaco, he commented, "To describe the feeling, it’s really nice to be up here."
After the top three finishes, the drivers completed the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix in this order: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari); Nico Hulkenberg (Force India); Jenson Button (McLaren); Felipe Massa (Williams); Romain Grosjean (Lotus); Jules Bianchi (Marussia); in tenth place was Kevin Magnussen (McLaren); Marcus Ericsson (Caterham); Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) was in twelfth; Kamui Kobayashi (Caterham); and Max Chilton (Marussia). All other drivers retired except Pastor Maldonado of Lotus who is recorded as having a DNS, according to Formula 1.
Mercedes continues to bury the competition in constructors' championship points. The team now holds nearly two-and-a-half times the points of its nearest competitor with 240 to Red Bull's 99.
Formula 1 leaves Europe for North America at its next stop -- the Canadian Grand Prix takes place in Montreal June 8.