Alonso wins team-mate battle in Monaco
"This win means a lot to me and our World Championship campaign", Alonso said afterwards. "It's a very nice surprise to see how the team's hard work during the last couple of weeks has made our car so competitive. I have never had the experience of being more than one minute ahead of the competition which probably makes this one of my best victories."
The fifth round of the Formula 1 took the drivers to one of the oldest venues in the calendar: the streets of Monte Carlo. The 65th running of the glamorous Monaco Grand Prix promised a challenge between the two main forces this year, Ferrari and McLaren, leaving the door open to underdogs, as always.
It was McLaren who dominated the qualifying practice, with Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso both clocking fastest times in the three-segment session. In the end, it was the Spaniard who notched pole-position by two tenths of a second ahead of his younger team-mate. Ferrari's Felipe Massa took third, ahead of Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, in a sudden twist of form for reigning manufacturers' champion team Renault.
The biggest loser was Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari), who made a mistake on the harbour chicane, damaging his steering system before completing his first flying lap of the secojd part of the qualifying session. Despite the best efforts of the red army of engineers, the damage inflicted could not be repaired in the pit box and the Finn qualified 16th on a track notorious for the difficulty to overtake.
The race itself was quite uneventful, with all 22 drivers safely cruising through the first lap. Antonio Liuzzi was the first casualty of the tight street track, hitting the barriers heading into the Casino turn on lap 2 and calling it a day. Drivers from the leading pack kept their qualifying order all the way to the first round of pit stops.
Following the race, FIA investigated the behaviour of the two McLaren drivers throughout the race in Monaco, in regard to a possible breach of the sporting regulations. The fact that both Alonso and Hamilton slowed their pace after the first round of pit stops generated gossips about team orders, which are banned in Formula 1 since the infamous finish of the Austrian Grand Prix in 2002 (when Ferrari told Rubens Barrichello to move over for Michael Schumacher). Two days later, the FIA cleared Ron Dennis' stable of any wrongdoing.
Formula 1 is now heading to Montreal, Canada, on June 10 for a short tour on the North American continent.
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