Sebastian Vettel’s frustration was clear for all to see when he crossed the line on Saturday, knowing his third place on the grid would leave him with an uphill task for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix.
The streets of Monaco are known for being almost impossible to overtake around, so Red Bull, with Mark Webber in fourth, knew they’d need something special to make it four in a row in the Principality.
Their Thursday free practice pace left many questioning whether they’d be in the running for the race at all, but Saturday’s qualifying session caught many by surprise as Vettel’s small mistake around Mirabeau cost him pole position, and saw him stuck behind the front row Mercedes lock-out.
Although both got good starts, neither Vettel or Webber could pass the Mercedes pair, and settled into formation with Vettel’s title rivals Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso in fifth and sixth.
It threatened to be a tiresome parade as Nico Rosberg dictated a slow pace to save tyres, but Felipe Massa’s crash bought out the safety car. Lewis Hamilton dropped back behind his team-mate Rosberg as the Mercedes pair both pitted on the same lap, but he was too cautious on his in-lap and allowed both Red Bulls to overtake him as he dropped to fourth. At the restart, Hamilton hounded Webber, even getting alongside him between La Rascasse and Anthony Noghes, but couldn’t make a move stick.
Another crash, this time between Max Chilton and Pastor Maldonado saw the red flag stop the race for half an hour - breaking the drivers’ intense concentration.
Hamilton again fought with Webber at the restart, but further down the order, Raikkonen clashed with McLaren’s Sergio Perez dropping him down the order, while Alonso was overtaken at Loews hairpin by Force India’s Adrian Sutil.
Another safety car period broke the race up once more, but Vettel barely challenged Rosberg for the victory, despite posting the fastest lap of the race ‘for satisfaction’ he admitted over the team radio as he followed the Mercedes home for second, and Webber in third.