F1: Monaco Grand Prix liveblog 2010

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, May 16th, 2010

 
 

“Monaco baby, yeah” screamed Jenson Button in delight after his victory last year – but who will be celebrating this time?

Will the Red Bulls run away with it? Or will Renault’s Robert Kubica survive starting from the slow side of the grid to spring one of the all-time great surprises?

Will Fernando Alonso, who starts from the pitlane after missing qualifying, produce a drive for the ages and carve through the largest field we’ve seen for many a year? Stick with us to find out.

McLaren fans will be joining Martin Whitmarsh in seeing what can be salvaged from this race, after its drivers qualified fifth and eighth on the grid.

The team principal said after the race that Hamilton and Button, who was struggling to make his tyres work throughout qualifying as well as complaining about blocking, had dragged the team up by its bootstraps to do as well as they had. What can they take away from the afternoon?

Stay with us as we liveblog all the action, with the most recent post appearing below the line. Join us on Twitter at @britsonpole and leave your comments – we’d love to hear from you.

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Post-race: Schumi being investigated for that overtake… There seems to be considerable confusion as to whether the current rules allow or forbid that overtake. Might take a while to sort this out.

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Lap 78: The final lap starts under the safety car. The result of this will be that Mark Webber leads the championship, equal on points with Vettel, but with two race wins under his belt. But wait! Has Schumi grabbed a place off Alonso in the last few yards between the safety car coming in and the chequered flag? He did – the Spaniard wobbled and Rosberg very nearly had him too. Brundle is hilariously sniffy about the treatment being handed out by his old team-mate to his Ferrari successor, calling it “opportunistic”.

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Lap 77: Under the safety car. Petrov said to have stopped with a brake problem. Points are as they have been for most of the race.

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Lap 76: A clear shot of Trulli climbing out of his car. Haven’t seen Chandhok yet but no sign of any medical fuss or bother so we can probably assume he is fine. Meanwhile, Petrov has retired, bringing the number up to eight. Looked like Trulli was out of space and, with nowhere else to go, was forced over the top of the Hispania.

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Lap 75: Chandhok and Trulli have had a massive coming-together and the Lotus is more or less on top of the Hispania. A wheel has gone over Chandhok’s head. The Lotus was briefly on fire. Webber was right behind them when it happened and he squeaked through. The race now likely to end under the safety car.

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Lap 74: Webber coming up on traffic. And there’s a yellow flag and a big heap of carbon fibre at Rascasse.

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Lap 73: Given that Kubica and Massa aren’t making much impression on the Red Bulls, it is fair to say that without any dramas like Hamilton’s last week we probably know the result. However, Webber is a fairly long way off his fastest pace of this race at present.

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Lap 72: Vettel putting in a fastest lap in the low 1:15s to keep Webber very honest.

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Lap 71: As the circumstances might be disguising Webber’s true pace, Ted Kravitz reckons Alonso’s real speed is masked by the lost set-up time and new chassis he was forced to use.

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Lap 70: 15 runners at this stage – retirements are Hulkenberg, Button, Barrichello, Senna and Kovalainen. Terrible, terrible weekend for Williams. Massa consistently faster than Hamilton behind him.

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Lap 69: Brundle is pointing out that, without the safety car, Webber would have a really epic lead. How much better his car has been is disguised by the circumstances of the race.

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Lap 68: Rosberg coming up on Schumacher a little. 10 laps left for Mark Webber to concentrate.

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Lap 67: The death of Alonso’s tyres may have been exaggerated, as he now seems to be pulling away from Schumacher.

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Lap 66: Lotus have reported Kovalainen as retired after he couldn’t select a gear. He’s staying in the car and they will try to get him out again.

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Lap 65: Webber being told to look after his car for the remaining 12 or so laps. Barrichello, interviewed, says his car felt fine until his pitstop at which point the steering lost all its responsiveness.

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Lap 63: Webber’s lead is now 6.2 seconds because of the tangle going on with Chandhok. No word yet on Kovalainen but it wasn’t looking good for him coming back out.

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Lap 62: Senna is parked. Lotus mechanics all over Kovalainen’s car. Vettel has got caught up behind Chandok which has brought Kubica right up onto his back bumper. But Vettel pulling away long before the tunnel exit that might have provided the Pole with his best overtaking opportunity.

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Lap 61: Kovalainen and Senna both pit.

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Lap 60: Kubica is slowly catching Vettel. Radio communications suggest that, whether or not the Red Bulls are actually racing, the German is being instructed to keep pushing his team-mate. Alonso seems to have arrested his slide back into the clutches of Schumi. Hamilton seems to be taking seriously the instruction not to push his breaks.

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Lap 59: Just to recap, if Red Bull pull off a one-two here their odds on winning all the season’s silverware will shorten dramatically because they will have proved they have a car that works in all the circumstances demanded of it.

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Lap 58: Webber’s lead back to around four and a half seconds.

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Lap 57: A side-on shot of Alonso’s car also shows he’s been doing paint and rubber swaps with some kind of barrier or advertising hoarding with his front-left tyre.

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Lap 56: From the BBC’s ‘it’s not rocket science’ correspondent Jonathan Legard: “Webber still out in front.” But Schumi is catching Alonso.
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Lap 54: Order is Web, Vet, Kub, Mas, Ham, Alo, Sch, Ros, Sut, Liu, Bue, Alg, Pet, Kov, Sen, Cha, Tru.

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Lap 53: Mark Webber manages a sub-1:16 lap that time around…

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Lap 52: Rob Smedley on the radio telling Felipe Massa that his tyre degradation is zero. Just to rub salt into the wound…

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Lap 51: There’s little doubt that Alonso is falling back from Hamilton as his tyres go off. With 27 laps to go he may very well be forced to pit or risk losing the car after a tremendous drive through the field.

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Lap 50: Webber is doing fastest laps in the mid 1:16s which are highlighting the differences between the two Red Bulls and the Renault behind them.

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Lap 49: Webber’s lead is about two and a half seconds on this lap. Brundle is reminding us about the two-hour cut-off that the safety car periods are edging us towards.

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Lap 48: Massa getting a bit out of shape but, in the commentators’ opinion, not enough to earn him a penalty – as long as he doesn’t repeat it. Top 10 are separated by nine seconds.

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Lap 47: Webber’s lead is nearly two seconds on Vettel already. Behind him it’s still Kubica, Massa, Hamilton and Alonso, followed by the two Mercedes cars of Schumacher and Rosberg then Sutil and Liuzzi’s Force Indias. So far there have been two retirements – Hulkenberg and last year’s winner Button.

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Lap 46: Clearly a marshal has stamped it down, or something, because the race has restarted. Webber executes the start very well and the Red Bulls are off down the road, leaving Kubica behind a bit and with Massa and Hamilton right on his gearbox.

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Lap 45: Legard: “This will be interesting. It’s not as if you can put down some gaffer tape.”

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Lap 44: The bloody safety car is out because a drain cover is loose at Massenet. The immediate instinct of everyone is to blame Rubens Barrichello. Or is this actually what felled him?

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Lap 43: Safety car as Webber, leading, comes through Rascasse to end the lap.

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Lap 42: Webber has smelt the coffee and started sticking down fastest laps of his own with the first sub-1:17 of the race. Hamilton has created himself some space in front of Alonso and Schumi behind seems to be catching him. Is he paying the price for changing his tyres on lap 1?

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Lap 41: Massa, Hamilton and Alonso are just about hanging onto the back of Kubica.

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Lap 40: Past half distance now. Vettel is putting in fastest laps in the low 1:17s. But Kubica is closing on him slightly and has, in fact, just set a fastest lap.

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Lap 39: As you were.

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Lap 38: Webber’s demonstrating the degree of concentration required to complete this race – slightly out of shape coming out of the Nouvelle Chicane, the area at the end of the tunnel that claims so many people.

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Lap 37: Lewis Hamilton is being told on the radio to look after his brakes – he’s not reacted too well to that, pointing out that he is barely halfway through the race. The team repeats that he needs to look after them regardless.

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Lap 36: Webber 1.5 seconds on Vettel and three seconds on Kubica.

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Lap 35: Williams ascribing Rubens’ accident to mechanical failure. Rubens could be off to see Mr Hill for hurling that steering wheel under what some are saying was Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren.

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Lap 34: Safety car comes in and we are racing again. Petrov is now behind Kubica and risking a penalty by aiding his team-mate and holding up the cars behind him.

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Lap 33: Barrichello pictured flinging tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of steering wheel across the track and straight into the path of another car. Broadcasters resorting to the on-board camera of the safety car – that’s due in next lap and Mark Webber in the lead will have to open up another gap between him and his closest rivals.

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Lap 32: A replay shows Rubens losing the back of the car and bouncing spectacularly along the wall. The cars surrounding him have all gone ploughing through the debris. Wheel tethers succeed in keeping two of his lost wheels under control.

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Lap 31: Petrov pits again and it looks at first like another sick car – but Renault get him back out. Safety car – Barrichello is stopped on track, facing the wrong way at Massenet on the racing line and down at least one front wing and wheel. He’s safely out of the car.

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Lap 30: Alguersuari has just spun out of position and potentially lost a few places.

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Lap 29: Kovalainen pits. The two Red Bulls currently untroubled at the front with Kubica and Massa behind them. Behind that there is the Hamilton-Alonso-Schumacher-Rosberg fight then Sutil and Barrichello.

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Lap 28: Di Grassi pictured parked at the side of the road. Hamilton one of the fastest cars on the track. Rosberg finally pits – another sub-four second stop. He rejoins behind just about everyone important – the strategy did not work for him at all. He’s now eighth.

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Lap 27: Kobayashi seems to have pulled over and let the lot through. A yellow flag shows briefly. Trulli pits and his mechanics encounter a stuck wheel nut which makes a complete mess of his 26-second pitstop.

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Lap 26: Rosberg has not yet pitted, taking full advantage of the fact that Kobayashi has a train of two Ferraris and a McLaren bottled up behind him, lucky boy. Virgin’s di Grassi has a 14-second pitstop and problems with what looks like a wheel going on.

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Lap 25: Rosberg is trying to gain time in his personal race to avoid being jumped in the pitstops. Suddenly Kubica is right on the back of Vettel. Rosberg’s mechanics are out.

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Lap 24: Webber comes out of the pits having retained his lead. Rosberg (unpitted) is right behind him. And Pedro DLR has retired. Glock is similarly about to, since his car doesn’t seem to really be under his control any more. All this is causing yellow flags.

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Lap 23: Vettel pits for an amazing 3.9 seconds. He’s working hard to put some time between him and the battles going on behind him. BMW Sauber having a mare of a stop with Pedro DLR. Webber follows his team-mate in for a 4.4 second stop.

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Lap 22: Glock pictured cutting one of the Swimming Pool kerbs which might lead to him handing some money to Mr Damon Hill. Kubica makes a sub-five second stop, followed in by Petrov, Buemi and Algersuari.

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Lap 21: We’re now in that period of having to wait for the pitstops to work themselves out. Rosberg flying but without the track position to do much about it.

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Lap 20: Massa pits and puts on harder tyres in a five-second. Schumacher, Barrichello and Liuzzi also take the plunge. Schumacher gets past him and emerges on track ahead of his old team-mate and rival. Liuzzi is behind Barrichello. Meanwhile, Webber at the front is starting to lap the backmarkers.

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Lap 19: Mercedes mechanics are out for a pitstop – it looks like the main factor being considered by the front-runners is Alonso’s position on the track.

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Lap 18: Hamilton makes the first scheduled pitstop – 5.4 seconds and he emerges into traffic. He’s come out right in the path of Fernando Alonso. That’ll be fun. The pair are in 15th and 16th and Hamilton has about two seconds on Alonso. He’s about eight seconds off the lead.

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Lap 17: Back at the tunnel exit Heikki Kovalainen also doesn’t feel he’s in the same race as Alonso and lets the Ferrari driver past. Alonso comes worryingly close (from his point of view) to cutting the chicane as he does it.

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Lap 16: Webber’s lead over Vettel about five seconds and he’s going significantly faster. Meanwhile, we learn that Hulkenberg had a problem on the grid with his clutch although it’s not known whether this contributed to his accident.

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Lap 15: Webber is even more out in front than he was when Legard unveiled his favourite phrase – he’s getting away from his team-mate. Kubica, meanwhile, is managing to hang on to the back of Vettel.

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Lap 14: Alonso takes Glock at the exit of the tunnel and is now lining up Kovalainen in 16th.

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Lap 13: Alonso about four seconds behind Glock. A partial order is Web, Vet, Kub, Mas, Ham, Bar, Sch, Ros, Liu, Sut, Bue, Pet, DLR, Kob. In the time it’s taken to type this out Alonso’s caught up with Glock. Button, meanwhile, confirms that his engine cooked behind the safety car due to the fact that an air intake was left blocked by the team. He sounds disconsolate. This is not what we expect from McLaren.

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Lap 12: Uneventful lap, dare we say.

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Lap 11: Webber is putting in fastest lap after fastest lap as Alonso has a really good read of all the stickers on the back of Trulli’s car. It looks like the Lotus driver has taken pity on him and let him through. Bit of a gap to the next cars of Glock and Kovalainen.

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Lap 10: Mark Webber is putting in fastest laps in the low 1:18s. Alonso making expressive hand gestures at Virgin’s Lucas di Grassi before finding a way past as the more inexperienced driver loses the racing line on the exit from the tunnel. Now Alonso is looking at the back of Jarno Trulli. Good luck with that.

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Lap 9: Webber’s lead is 1.6 seconds. Hamilton in fifth opening a small gap over Barrichello with two Mercedes GP cars and two Force Indias hassling behind him. That could be a long race for them.

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Lap 8: A brief yellow flag but it doesn’t seem to be anything that will hold up the race. Barrichello up to sixth and having a fine old fight with Michael Schumacher. We know who we’re cheering for. Further back Alonso is doing his nut trying to get past the backmarkers.

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Lap 7: And we’re racing. Will we lose any more cars to engine or tyre problems thanks to that safety car period? Webber has opened a small gap on Vettel already. Anyone playing BBC commentators’ bingo can cross off “Mark Webber – he’s out in front.”

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Lap 6: Safety car coming in this lap. Everyone’s strategy is out of the window thanks to this.

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Lap 5: Alonso has got up to 21st via his pitstop. And the commentators make this year’s first reference (that we heard) to Enrique Bernoldi’s famous performance in 2001.

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Lap 4: Marshals pictured having to physically carry Hulkenberg’s car off the track since he didn’t crash in an area with crane access. The footage of him riding the wall after getting off-line through the tunnel will be making highlights packages come the season end. Shots of unhappy drivers walking back to the garage abounds. Hulkenberg’s car now removed to a run-off area.

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Lap 3: A slow lap behind the safety car. Oh no! That very thing has felled Jenson Button. His McLaren is stopped at the side of the road with smoke pouring out of the car. His engine has gone. A miserable weekend for McLaren… Ted Kravitz saying he saw a blocked air intake on the sidepod, which the team didn’t know about.

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Lap 2: Starts under a yellow flag. Safety car out. Alonso has dived into the pits and is now under no obligation to stop again for the remainder of the race.

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Lap 1: Webber away, slow start for Kubica who manages to hold on to third. Massa fourth and Hamilton in fifth – both challenged the Renault driver but didn’t make it stick. Vettel now lines up behind team-mate Webber. Barrichello has got a great start and is ahead of Schumacher who in turn is already ahead of team-mate Rosberg. No first-corner chaos but Button seems to have lost a load of places. And here’s a yellow flag and a cloud of dust and smoke after Hulkenberg has completely lost it on the exit from the tunnel. That will be interesting in strategy terms for Webber.

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Parade lap: And everyone is away safely. Alonso, as you recall, will be starting from the pitlane after his crash in third practice yesterday.

Eddie Jordan predicting “inevitable carnage at the first corner” and saying those ahead of it, for example Robert Kubica, will be very well-placed.

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Grid walk: Brundle: “I’m lost, I need a map.” Thank Gawd he’s not racing…

Nico Rosberg is not in a chatty mood at all. So Brundle does his job of just picking on a random person and interviewing them. Trouble is, they are never the most interesting people out there.

Schumacher not on the grid (must have had spotters out for his old mucker Brundle) so Damon Hill becomes the focus of attention and humorously complains he’s had no opportunity to fine any drivers yet. He and Brundle shake their heads over the fate of retired racing drivers – dying to be in the thick of it, but accepting they are too old.

Rubens Barrichello is deep in conversation with Williams technical director Sam Michael but is eventually interrupted to say that he feels the only direction the team can travel is forward. He’s hoping for points and saying the young bucks on the grid “should fear the old bucks” – with his trademark big grin, naturally.

Brundle’s squeezed his way into the tight Monaco grid, that he describes as like a Tube platform, and cornered Adrian Sutil, reasoning that tenth to twelfth will be the most interesting bit of the race. Ummm… Vijay Mallya is pictured briefly, clearly soaking up every ounce of the atmosphere.

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Pre-race: Hamilton on why Monaco is special: “You don’t have to have much guts to get close to grass.”

The pitlane has opened and the cars are doing a couple of installation laps before lining up on the grid. Gascoyne predicts that it will be a one-stop race with most cars starting on the option tyre and switching to prime around laps 20 to 25.

Brundle on Bruno Senna: “He stopped me in my tracks, he looks exactly like Ayrton”. Poor lad, we really hope he manages to leave this whole thing behind and race in his own right. Mind you, there is a hell of a resemblance.

On the BBC’s pre-race coverage Christian Horner says that Mark Webber’s qualifying lap was among the best of his career and points out that, at Monaco, pole position is the most valuable asset a team can have.

He also tackles the interesting fact that the team’s main competitor will be Renault’s Robert Kubica, using the same Renault engine and attributes Webber’s current dominance over Vettel to the Australian being ‘in the zone’. He’s careful to praise Vettel as well, though.

Lotus chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne Tweets from the pitlane that the weather looking good with very little chance of rain.

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