Michael Bailey, Formula One correspondent
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
There’s nothing wrong with giving Monaco high billing on these pages one week, if it replies with the stories, tension and drama we got over the course of the other weekend.
• Pole position – McLaren: While another season of struggle looks on the cards for the Woking outfit, they are hopeful an improved showing around Monte Carlo signals the start of a resurgence. The only issue is, we’ve heard it all before.
• Stalling – Kimi Raikkonen: His Ferrari return was supposed to herald an exciting rivalry with Fernando Alonso at Maranello – but sadly, the Finn once again struggled to make his mark on the Formula One field at the weekend.
The principality looked resplendent – once the early rain had subsided. And the season stepped up a gear in its wake – even if it all felt a little bit pantomime.
It really was a curious weekend. It seemed everyone was desperate to leave Monaco knowing Mercedes title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were at each other’s throats whether the action demanded it or not.
Rosberg’s qualifying excursion was clearly controversial – and in truth, only the German probably knows if he see-sawed his steering wheel in a bid to arrest his extra speed, or in an attempt to ensure Lewis was not going to be on pole the following afternoon.
And in terms of the race, Rosberg was in control for most of it – while Hamilton lamented missing his big opportunity under the safety car before having to drive with sight available from just one eye.
"It is impossible at this early stage of the season, so good luck to them… It is going to be tough going through the rest of the season"
Again, only Lewis’ deepest subconscious will know how bad that was and why it happened at that particular moment.
In fact, while the racing always looked good around Monte Carlo, it was the sparring that shone.
None of the on-track incidents seemed to be particularly startling, yet the reactions they engendered from the two silver arrows drivers portrayed real tension in the camp.
And that’s with more than two-thirds of the season still to run.
Rosberg leads the championship again, by just four points. Kevin Magnussen’s second in Australia remains the only non-Mercedes finish in the top two all season – and that was probably due to Hamilton’s early retirement.
Nico and Lewis are said to get on well, but the fireworks between them at the weekend told of a fresh story – one where the driver that keeps it together will not only come out as top dog at Mercedes; they will be world champion too.
• Having followed closely the 2010 new teams since they arrived on the grid, especially Caterham, it was remarkable to see them finally break their five-year points duck – but while it’s hard not to congratulation Marussia and Jules Bianchi on a job extremely well done, it was such a missed opportunity for Caterham.
That, on top of the speculation Tony Fernandes has put the entire Caterham Group up for sale – since denied by the Malaysian – probably made it the team’s toughest week yet since arriving on the scene. And I’d imagine there’s been a bit of competition for that.
Attrition is playing a part as we get into the season and there will be other chances.
But Marussia’s two points already look like a mountain for Caterham to climb this year.