Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg, Michael Schumacher
With Monaco being the hardest circuit of the year to overtake on, the emphasis was on tyre strategy to help move drivers forward during the race. Red Bull’s Mark Webber became the season’s sixth different winner in six races – a new record – underlining just how closely matched the cars are this year. Red Bull becomes the first team to win twice this year, following Sebastian Vettel’s victory in Bahrain.
At the start, all the drivers apart from Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, McLaren’s Jenson Button, Force India’s Paul di Resta, Caterham’s Vitaly Petrov and HRT’s Pedro de la Rosa started on the P Zero Red supersoft tyre.
With the possibility of rain predicted halfway through the race, the drivers concentrated on making their first set of tyres last for as long as possible, in order to minimise the potential number of pit stops. The timing of the pit stops is always crucial in Monaco, in order to ensure that cars do not feed out into traffic that is difficult to overtake. A flawless one-stop strategy from Red Bull ensured that Webber was able to convert his pole position into a second win at Monaco.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was the first of the leaders to change from supersoft to P Zero Yellow soft on lap 27, banking on no rain coming. Two laps later, Webber also pitted but crucially he was able to emerge ahead of Rosberg. The longest stint on the supersoft was carried out by Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo, who made his original set of P Zero Reds last for 40 laps.
Vettel’s strategy meant that he was able to take the lead by the halfway point of the race, building up a significant advantage by the time he finally pitted for supersoft tyres on lap 46, having put in a series of rapid laps. But it was not quite enough for him to keep the lead after his stop: Vettel re-joined in fourth position behind Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, who now heads the championship standings.
Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne also used strategy, with an early pit stop on lap 17, to move from 17th on the grid to a points-scoring seventh. He then gambled on switching to intermediates with six laps to go, after running on the soft tyre for 53 laps. Sauber driver Sergio Perez set the fastest lap of the race on the soft tyre, having started at the back end of the grid after going off in qualifying.
The anticipated rain finally fell lightly with just over 10 laps to go, creating a grandstand finish in Monaco for the second year in succession. The top six ran nose to tail to the flag, covered by just six seconds at the finish.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: “Congratulations to Mark Webber and Red Bull. The team managed their race and their tyre strategy perfectly, winning Monaco for the third year in a row and a race for the second time this year. Once again we saw that the cars were all extremely closely matched, equalling each other on pace throughout the race. This was despite the fact that nobody had any proper running on the supersoft with full tanks, due to the mixed weather conditions during free practice on Thursday. As a result, calculating the strategy was extremely complicated. But with the nature of the circuit, plus a tyre choice that was certainly more conservative and hardly any tyre degradation, it was clear that a one-stop strategy was the way forward as soon as the teams learned more about the performance of the supersoft after the race got underway. Obviously that led to longer stints and limited opportunities for overtaking. Although there was some rain at the end, our slick tyres still offered enough grip to carry the leaders through to a very close finish with the top six finishing within six seconds of each other.”
Pit stop summary – 2012 Monaco Grand Prix
Webber: SSU SN (29) 1
Rosberg: SSU SN (27) 1
Alonso: SSU SN (30) 1
Vettel: SN SSN (46) 1
Hamilton: SSU SN (29) 1
Massa: SSU SN (31) 1
Di Resta: SN SSN (35) 1
Hülkenberg: SSN SN (29) 1
Räikkönen: SSU SN (29) 1
Senna: SSN SN (29) 1
Perez: SSN SN (34) DT (39) 2
Vergne: SSN SN (17) IN (70) 2
Kovalainen: SSN SN (30) SSU (73) 2
Glock: SSN SN (30) SN (54) 2
Kartikeyan: SSN SSU (29) SN (74) 2
Button: SN SSN (38) 1 DNF
Ricciardo: SSU SN (40) 1 NC
Pic: SSN SN (33) 1 NC
Schumacher: SSU SN (34) 1 NC
Petrov: SN SN (3) 1 NC
Kobayashi: SSN SN (1) 1 NC
Grosjean: SSU 0 NC
De La Rosa: SN 0 NC
Maldonado: SSU 0 NC
The first column denotes the tyres the driver started the race on.
S = Soft compound / SS = Supersoft compound
N = New compound / U = Used compound
NC = Not classified / DNF = Did not finish / DT = Drive Through
The last column gives the total amount of pit stops.