A late safety-car period meant a frantic final 10 laps, but at the front the race was decided largely by strategy. A longer first stint for Vettel enabled him to get ahead of polesitter and early leader Raikkonen as he emerged in front of the Finn following their first and only pit stops. It was Ferrari’s first win in the Principality since 2001.
Ricciardo similarly made use of the ‘overcut’ to pass Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and his less-than-impressed Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen, who duly took the chequered flag in fourth and fifth respectively.
Toro Rosso were ‘best of the rest’ with Carlos Sainz in sixth, as Hamilton behind him climbed from 13th on the grid. Completing the top ten were Haas’s Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, separated by the Williams of Felipe Massa.
First Grand Prix -
Number of Laps - 78
Circuit Length - 3.337KM
Race Distance - 260.286KM
Lap Record - 1:17.939 by Lewis Hamilton (2016)
The most dramatic moment of the race came on Lap 60 when an ambitious passing attempt from McLaren’s Jenson Button on Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein went awry, tipping the latter’s car on to its side against the Portier barriers, its mercifully unharmed driver unable to escape his cockpit until help arrived. And as the safety car emerged, Button got as far as the chicane before suspension damage forced him to halt his one-race comeback.
Raikkonen had won the start, and soon the two Ferraris cleared off, though there was a period in the middle of the race when the pursuing Bottas and the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Ricciardo were running quicker as the red cars’ tyres started sliding.
Ricciardo vaulted ahead of both Bottas and Verstappen by pitting later. They did so on the 33rd and 32nd laps respectively, the Australian on the 38th. The Dutchman was not amused.
But it was Vettel’s stop, on the 39th lap, which put him ahead of Raikkonen, who had made his pit call five laps sooner. That settled the race in his favour, extending his championship points score to 129.
Raikkonen’s face and demeanour on the podium suggested he was far from happy. This was a race in which the overcut worked more effectively than going for the undercut, so that the later you pitted, the better.
For Ferrari the race marked a big step towards not only the drivers’
championship, but also the constructors, as they move back ahead of
Mercedes with 196 points to 179 as they scored their first 1-2 since
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