Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix left some feeling rather underwhelmed like a fireworks display full of duds.
It was billed as a potential explosion between the two men who are going head-to-head for the 2014 title and yet in the end one man won rather easily as the other dropped away.
Despite the hype the 2014 edition of the famous race around Monte Carlo’s streets will be remembered for the procession at the front and the craziness at the back – pretty much what every Monaco race has been for some time.
The battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg only served as a reminder as to why, despite all best efforts, a Rubik cube remains easier to complete than an overtake around Monaco.
The Briton was a hawk following his German prey like an unwanted shadow, yet, in reality, the hunted wasn’t really troubled by the hunter as the tight streets gave Hamilton nowhere to go.
Then all of a sudden the battle was done as Lewis suffered from a bizarre issue as dirt got into his eye obscuring his vision.
It was like an outside party had brokered a peace treaty before the war had even begun and that word ‘war’ has been flung round quite a lot this weekend.
In some apparent attempt to create a storm in a teacup some journalists jumped on comments by Hamilton suggesting he had more “hunger” than Rosberg because of his poorer upbringing in Stevenage as Nico lived the jet-set lifestyle thanks to his Dad.
While the impact of those comments and the subsequent interpretation seemed to have little effect on the two men, a fire was lit after Nico Rosberg’s mistake in qualifying prevented Hamilton from challenging for the important pole position.
As the debate on that incident rumbles on, it finally seemed to be the spark that took their rivalry to the next level.
Questions were raised as to whether this would be the race it all boiled over and potentially one risk too many was taken but instead it all went off without a single shot fired.
There is absolutely the feeling, however, that we are merely at the start of a battle that will rumble all the way to Abu Dhabi and that, at some point, they will come to blows.
Mercedes also need to remain wary about the approaching threat from Red Bull, while for Vettel his 100th race for the team was a disaster thanks to engine problems, Daniel Ricciardo proved that with the right strategy they can fight the Silver Arrows.
Despite not looking as if he had the speed for much of the race, the Australian’s pace towards the end of the race on used tyres was only matched by those who had pitted for a second time and were on much fresher tyres.
He was over a second per lap quicker than the hampered Hamilton and was also gaining quickly on Rosberg, what remains apparent, however, is catching the Mercedes is one thing – passing very much another as the Red Bull Renault is still no match for straight line speed and acceleration compared to Mercedes.
Ferrari remained in the no man’s land between the top two and the midfield, though Kimi Raikkonen probably could have beaten Ricciardo to third, before his puncture caused by Max Chilton, when the Red Bull was running at full pelt it was easily quicker than the Prancing Horse.
As you’d expect Monaco always offers the smaller teams a chance to get a rare result, and today it was Marussia who proved the magic of this great race is still there as Jules Bianchi scored the team’s first ever points in ninth.
As those crashed or retired ahead the Frenchman had the pace, keeping the Lotus of Romain Grosjean at bay for much of the race, despite ultimately losing out due to the five second penalty for pulling into the wrong grid slot.
This result has moved them into ninth in the Constructors, ahead of the disappointing Sauber team, but it was a race where even Caterham could have scored though they just missed out with Marcus Ericsson in 11th.
What it means for Marussia come Abu Dhabi, we’ll have to wait and see, but tonight for once the far end of the pit-lane will be just as jubilant as those at the top.
As one Ferrari Academy member impresses a guy the Scuderia have kept an eye on continues to show off his impressive talent.
Nico Hulkenberg may not have had the busiest of afternoons but fifth for Force India remains a very good result for Vijay Mallya’s team. Also McLaren took advantage of the high attrition to score their first points since Malaysia.
Sixth and tenth could have been better, particularly for Kevin Magnussen who was unluckily forced down the field by an ambitious Raikkonen, but for the Woking team perhaps this result, at a track they have always been strong at, can be a catalyst to restart their season.
Once again the after parties on the harbour front will be full of stories of heartbreak and joy looking back at the events in the Principality. From Toro Rosso’s brilliant qualifying to their demise in the race and Adrian Sutil’s bold moves at Loews only to then lose it exiting the tunnel.
But at the team leading the way, as those looking on duck and dive for every last twist and turn, Monaco will be a race remembered for when Rosberg let his driving do the talking and where Hamilton’s mind games, intentional or not, failed.
The German has halted his team-mate’s charge, and brought out the devil within, yet now he must go on to Canada, a place where Hamilton has won three times before, and there he must do it all again because a win in Montreal wouldn’t just swell the tide it would turn it back in the other direction.
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