Monaco Grand Prix - McLaren dominate
After locking out the front row in qualifying yesterday, it seemed inevitable that there would be a McLaren winner in Monte Carlo and probably it would be the second McLaren 1-2 of the season. I wasn't expecting McLaren to be so dominant though. Felipe Massa qualified in 3rd and was able to finish fairly comfortably in 3rd and yet he was over a minute behind race-leader Alonso by the final lap - and he was the last driver on the lead lap!
We used to see races as recently as 3 or 4 years ago where one or two teams were so much faster than everyone else that they would lap almost the whole field, but in the last couple of years, and this year in particular, races have been much much closer. Yet now we have all the cars on the same tyres, engines that are at best estimate within 5% of each other and on a course where aerodynamics are supposed to be less important, we see one team pull out a massive advantage. Who knows how they did it, but I bet Ron Dennis could not be any happier.
The result puts the two McLaren drivers on the same points total after 5 races with 38 points a piece. Alonso leads the championship due to his two wins to Hamilton's zero. It's a testament to Hamilton's increadible consistency with podium finishes (1 x 3rd place and 4 x 2nd places so far) that puts him on the same points total as the guy that's won two races.
What's more telling is that Felipe Massa has won two races also, but finds himself in 3rd position in the driver's championship with 33 points - 5 behind the leaders. There is still plenty of time for Felipe to regain the lead and if he is being mentored by Michael Schumacher as has been reported, he will see that 5 point deficit as a small problem to overcome. You can't say the same for Massa's teammate at Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen. After enduring years of bad cars and bad luck at McLaren he switched to Ferrari for 2007 and aside from one dominant win in Australia he hasn't had too much fun. The retirement in Barcelona already put him behind the other 3 'contenders'. A qualifying mistake left him starting the Monaco Grand Prix in 16th position and by the end of the race he could only make it up to 8th position for a single point. He now has 23 points - ten less than his teammate and 15 less than the joint leaders.
The 100% finishing record for the McLarens and the consistently high points scoring of their drivers has given McLaren a 20 point lead in the constructor's championship and while Felipe is still very much in contention for the driver's championship, that lead in the constructor's really will be hard to overhaul for Ferrari.
In all the 2007 Monaco Grand Prix was not hugely attention grabbling - certainly not compared to last year's race. There was a brief moment of amusement in qualifying when, after snagging the armco coming out of the swimming pool section, Raikkonen went on to stop his Ferrari on track at Rascasse exactly where Schumacher had infamously parked his in qualifying the year before. Then Felipe Massa joined him for a moment while Raikkonen reversed his car to let Massa past. They both got going again so the session didn't have to be stopped, but Ferrari probably wish it had been because they were unable to repair the broken trackrod on Kimi's car in time to get him out again in Q2. Not having set a time in that qualifying segment, he was classified dead last from that group, completely compromising his race. If there's one race of the season where you don't want to make a mistake in qualifying Monaco is it.