Nico Rosberg has won the Monte Carlo Grand Prix for the second year in succession, to reclaim the lead of the driver’s championship.
The German led the race of attrition from start to finish, while Jules Bianchi claimed Marussia’s first ever points with a ninth place finish.
After Rosberg took pole position in controversial circumstance, fireworks were expected from the Mercedes duo. Rosberg held off Hamilton at the start of the race, and despite coming under pressure from his British team mate had a winning margin of 9.2 seconds.
The Mercedes cars were rarely separated by more than a second for most of the race, with Hamilton closing on his team mate when Rosberg was forced to save fuel. The 2008 World Champion would drop back in the closing stages when he complained of having dirt in his eye. His lap times dropped off significantly, which meant that Daniel Ricciardo, who had been fifteen seconds behind, closed right up in the final laps.
Hamilton was able to just do enough to cover off Ricciardo to take second, with the Red Bull driver taking his second podium finish of the season.
It was another difficult day for Ricciardo’s team mate, Sebastian Vettel. The reigning champion capitalised on a poor start by Ricciardo to take third place at the start, with Kimi Raikkonen jumping to fourth. But Vettel’s race would prove to be a short lived one, and just as in Australia would be forced to retire, just five laps into proceedings. He was far from the only casualty to retire through mechanical problems, with both Toro Rossos, Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas all failing to make the end of the race.
Vettel’s demise promoted Raikkonen to third. The Finn was comfortably the best of the rest in the first stint, with the two Mercedes cars pulling away. But his race would be undone not long after, when he was hit by Max Chilton during the second safety car. The collision meant Raikkonen picked up a puncture, and was forced to make a second pit stop that dropped him to fourteenth. He would make up ground, but fail to score points following a collision with Kevin Magnussen at the hairpin in the closing stages of the race, finishing twelfth.
The safety car often makes an appearance at Monaco, and was called for twice this year. The first incident was for a collision between 2013 team mates Sergio Perez and Jenson Button on the opening lap, which resulted in the Mexican retiring from the race.
Adrian Sutil then crashed at the chicane on lap 25. The Sauber driver had made an early pit stop after the first safety car, and began making his way back through the field. However, in a similar incident to that of Daniil Kvyat’s in qualifying, he clouted the barrier out of the tunnel and his race was over.
The incident ruined Hamilton’s best chance of taking the lead, with Rosberg and Hamilton being forced to pit on the same lap. Hamilton was particularly critical of the team over the radio, feeling that he should have pitted just before the safety car had been scrambled.
Sutil’s team mate Esteban Gutierrez had been enjoying a stronger race, and looked to be on target to score the team’s first points of the year. However, he made an error at Rascasse, clipping the inside barrier and spinning into retirement.
This all played into the hands of Marussia’s Jules Bianchi. He’d earlier pulled an excellent pass on Kamui Kobayashi at Rascasse, and as more drivers in front of him encountered problems, he began to move up the order. However, there was a problem. After Maldonado stalled on the grid, Bianchi lined up in the incorrect position. He was given a five second penalty, which he was forced to serve at his first pit stop, incidentally at the time of the second safety car.
This gained him a second five second penalty, for serving the first under safety car conditions. But, with Bianchi not needing to make a second pit stop, five seconds were added onto his race time.
So while he finished in eighth position, he is officially classified in ninth, losing a place to Romain Grosjean.
The result still means it is Marussia’s first ever points in Formula One since entering the sport at the start of 2010.
Outside the top three, Fernando Alonso had an anonymous run to fourth place, the last car not to be lapped. Nico Hulkenberg took fifth after pulling one of the overtakes of the race on Kevin Magnussen at Portier. Jenson Button overtook team mate Magnussen late on to take sixth, with Felipe Massa scoring points after leaving his one and only pit stop to late in the race.
Romain Grosjean scored points for the second race in succession, with Kevin Magnussen surviving his late collision with Kimi Raikkonen to take the final point.
Marcus Ericcson just missed out on scoring Caterham’s first points in eleventh, with Kamui Kobayashi and Max Chilton rounding out the classified finishers with thirteenth and fourteenth places respectively.