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Rosberg Not Thinking Of Dad As He Crossed Line In Monaco

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, May 29 2013

Nico Rosberg becomes a Formula One winner – just like dad.

His first Monaco Grand Prix victory left Nico Rosberg visibly over-the-top but historically underwhelmed, 30 years after his father won Formula One’s crown jewel event.

Nico started on-pole, stayed ahead of multiple collisions around the tight, 2-mile street-course and led all 78 laps en route to his first victory of the season and first for Mercedes F1 in Monaco. The victory came exactly 30 years after Nico’s father, Keke, won the sport’s signature race.

“It is special to hear that, yes, but honestly that’s not what I was thinking about when I was crossing the finishing line. Definitely not,” said Nico, the only son of a Monaco GP winner to repeat the feat. “Just extremely happy to win this race.”

Rosberg withstood pressure not only from teammate Lewis Hamilton but also the Red Bull/Renaults of three-time/reigning World Driving Champion Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, a red flag stoppage and two separate Safety Car incidents.

Additionally, Red Bull and Ferrari lodged a protest prior to the race over a multiple-day Pirelli tire test which Mercedes took part in following the Spanish Grand Prix.

Still, Rosberg – a native of Germany – took time to celebrate the second F1 victory of his career with his crew on the streets of the famed Principality. “Yeah, amazing! This is my home, I’ve grown up here, lived all my life here, I’ve gone to school here,” said Rosberg, 27, who scored his breakthrough F1 victory in China last year. “So now to win at home is very special; a very special day for me.

“There was a lot of thoughts going through my mind, definitely, but not about ‘the roads to school.’ Various things. Even, to be honest, winning Monaco in a Silver Arrow. I was thinking about that and that’s very special to me.

“The whole weekend really went perfectly, qualifying (everything). The start was very close. I had a terrible start! I was close to Sebastian and then with Lewis also, but then that worked out well. After that I could control the pace. The car was really good, the tires held on OK, so that was really the key to the victory. So massive thanks to the team for having improved from Barcelona, and I’m just ecstatic.”

Rosberg qualified on-pole but finished sixth in the Spanish GP on May 12, over one minute behind winner/two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso and his Ferrari.

Pressed further on winning his hometown grand prix, Rosberg opened up a bit. “Unbelievable. If there’s maybe a childhood dream…when I was quite young, watching the race, always,” Rosberg said. “First memories were of Ayrton Senna with his yellow helmet, red-and-white (McLaren) winning, a childhood dream to one day win the Grand Prix of Monaco, because it is my home and that’s the most special race for me to win.

“So the feeling was just incredible, it was unreal. That’s what’s so special about the sport – these emotions that you then get and that makes up for all the difficult moments that have gone before, those great moments of joy and winning. Amazing.”

Asked if his second GP win finally had brought him out of his Finnish-born father’s World Champion shadow, Nico said, “Don’t know, that’s for you to judge. I don’t think about that in that sense so you need to judge that for yourself. I can’t comment on that.

“I’ve always felt very fortunate to have had my father…what he achieved and everything…to have his support. And extra pressure? It’s a normality for me, you know, having my father World Champion (in 1982). I grew up with that, started racing like that, so it’s not something where I feel any extra pressure because for me that’s normal.”

Vettel and Webber rounded out the podium, with the former stretching his lead over Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus/Renault to 107-86, after the Finn’s 10th-place finish.

“I think overall I’m very happy and pleased with the result,” said Vettel, who qualified third. “We know that it’s very difficult to overtake here. First of all congratulations to Nico, he did a very good job, a very controlled race. I think he had the pace and the tires to respond whenever we tried to get a little bit closer, yeah. The start of the race…fantastic start but no room (to pass). I think I could have gone past both Mercedes but didn’t have the room, had to lift. Then Mark came and it was tight into the first corner.

“And after that I was a bit surprised by the slow pace in the opening laps. Usually you expect two Silver Arrows in front of you and there were two buses today going for a cruise – at least in the first couple of laps. But obviously the strategy was clear and they did a very good job.”

Rosberg and Hamilton, the 2008 World Champion, set the pace for 30 laps, at which point Felipe Massa crashed his Ferrari approaching the same corner where he had an off Saturday morning. Webber and Vettel pitted for tires during the Safety Car incident, allowing both to jump ahead of Hamilton. The Englishman remained there as the top four positions locked-in to the end of what Webber described as a “controlled aggression” race.

“Yes. First of all, congratulations to Nico,” Webber said. “It’s a very special place to win at so he had a seamless weekend and that’s what you need to do here. It’s never easy when you’re leading, you still have to pull it off. So, well-done to Nico and Mercedes.

“For us, we knew it was a little against us starting on the second row but got an absolutely incredible start; Seb and I had nowhere to go really, so we were lifting. It’s looking like Nico and Lewis had pretty tricky ones, so we’ll try to save some of those starts for future reference. And then after that it was just basically saving tires and making the one-stop work. It was completely predictable that if the race was going to stack-up then the two-stop was not really an option to come back into traffic. So we had to go very long, all the drivers were nursing the cars very aggressively and it was nice to get Lewis.”

On Lap 45, Pastor Maldonado – who already had collided at the start with Giedo van der Garde’s Caterham –made contact with rookie Max Chilton and his Marussia. Chilton failed to see Maldonado as he moved back to the line for the Tabac corner after the chicane, and as the two cars made contact Maldonado’s Williams momentarily was launched before crashing almost head-on into the protective Tecpro wall.

The race was red-flagged until the debris was cleared, and resumed on Lap 48. Maldonado was unharmed, and Chilton subsequently received a drive-through penalty for causing a collision.

Lotus’ Romain Grosjean later ran into the back of Daniel Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso on the exit to the tunnel, and their collision scattered more debris over the track, necessitating another Safety Car deployment. When the racing resumed on Lap 67, McLaren’s Sergio Perez zeroed-in on Raikkonen, whose Lotus had lost water during the slow running and began to overheat. Behind them, Force India’s Adrian Sutil had overtaken Alonso’s Ferrari and 2009 World Champion Jenson Button’s McLaren as Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne and Force India’s Paul di Resta closed in.

Perez tried to pass Raikkonen down the inside at the chicane on Lap 69 but they touched as the Finn took his line. Raikkonen, the 2007 World Champion, had to pit with a puncture, but later sped back to claim the final point. After moving to fifth Perez retired with left-front suspension damage, the result of whacking the chicane barrier.

Rosberg admitted the stoppages tested him as the race unfolded. “It wasn’t very nice y’know?” Rosberg said. “Because I was in a great rhythm on those prime tires, trying to nurse them towards the end and then all of a sudden a race stoppage. It’s never nice to get out of that rhythm. Especially around Monaco it’s so easy to have a quick concentration error and then you’re in the tire barrier and it’s the end of the race. So, it was really important to remain concentrated and that didn’t make it easy, all those Safety Cars and the red flag and everything _ but fortunately in the end it all worked out.”

Alonso stands third in the driver’s championship with 78 points, followed by Hamilton with 62, Webber with 57 and Rosberg at 47. In the constructors’ point-chase, Red Bull leads with 164 to Ferrari’s 123, Lotus’ 112 and Mercedes’ 109, with Force India at 44 from McLaren at 37.

Meanwhile, Monaco GP stewards were instructed to compile a report for the FIA regarding Mercedes’ recent Pirelli tire test. That measure was in response to Sunday’s protest from Red Bull and Ferrari questioning the legality of running such a test with a 2013 car under current Formula One regulations. The sport’s governing body may then bring the matter before the International Tribunal.

Although F1 regulations prohibit in-season testing by teams, Pirelli’s contract with the FIA as the sport’s official tire supplier allows the French manufacturer to carry out up to 1,000 kilometers of development testing with any team, provided every team is offered the opportunity.

In a statement issued to the media following the stewards’ decision, the FIA said it had responded positively to an initial inquiry from Pirelli regarding the possibility of such a test with Mercedes’ current car, as long as the test was conducted by Pirelli and not Mercedes, and as long as all other teams were given the same opportunity.

However, the FIA said it had received no subsequent confirmation from either Pirelli or Mercedes that the test –  carried out in Barcelona the week following the Spanish Grand Prix – was going ahead, or that other teams had been given the chance to take part.

“That you have to ask, you have to ask Pirelli about all this, about this issue,” Rosberg said when quizzed on the controversy. “I’m not going to comment on that. You have to ask Pirelli.”

Webber noted the question was fair and required further investigation. “I think we were probably a little bit surprised that it happened,” Webber said. “I don’t think it probably had a huge bearing on (Sunday’s) result. I think their (Mercedes’) car was always going to perform pretty well round here, to be fair, but yeah, you can’t unlearn what went on at the test, obviously, so we need to see how the test came about and whether it’s within the rules or not.

“I’m sure Mercedes thought it was OK, so that’s why they did it, so time will tell. But I don’t think it affected (Sunday’s) result.”

FIA Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix results with car number in parentheses, driver, country, chassis/engine, laps completed, time/differential and points scored:

1. (9) Nico Rosberg, Germany, Mercedes, 78, 2:17:52.056, 25

2. (1) Sebastian Vettel, Germany, Red Bull Racing/Renault, 78, plus 3.8-seconds, 18

3. (2) Mark Webber, Australia, Red Bull Racing/Renault, 78, plus 6.3-seconds, 15

4. (10) Lewis Hamilton, Great Britain, Mercedes, 78, plus 13.8-seconds, 12

5. (15) Adrian Sutil, Germany, Force India/Mercedes, 78, plus 21.4-seconds, 10

6. (5) Jenson Button, Great Britain, McLaren/Mercedes, 78, plus 23.1-seconds, 8

7. (3) Fernando Alonso, Spain, Scuderia Ferrari, 78, plus 26.7-seconds, 6

8. (18) Jean-Eric Vergne, France, Scuderia Toro Rosso/Ferrari, 78, plus 27.2-seconds, 4

9. (14) Paul di Resta, Great Britain, Force India/Mercedes, 78, plus 27.6-seconds, 2

10. (7) Kimi Raikkonen, Finland, Lotus/Renault, 78, plus 36.5-seconds, 1

11. (11) Niko Hulkenberg, Germany, Sauber/Ferrari, 78, plus 42.5-seconds

12. (17) Valtteri Bottas, Finland, Williams/Renault, 78, plus 42.6-seconds

13. (12) Esteban Gutierrez, Mexico, Sauber/Ferrari, 78, plus 43.2-seconds

14. (23) Max Chilton, Great Britain, Marussia/Cosworth, 78, plus 49.8-seconds

15. (21) Giedo van der Garde, The Netherlands, Catherham/Renault, 78, plus 62.5-seconds

16. (6) Sergio Perez, Mexico, McLaren/Mercedes, 72, plus six laps

17. (8) Romain Grosjean, France, Lotus/Renault, 63, retired, accident damage

18. (19) Daniel Ricciardo, Australia, Scuderia Toro Rosso/Ferrari, 61, retired, accident

19. (22) Jules Bianchi, France, Marussia/Cosworth, 58, retired, brakes

20. (16) Pastor Maldonado, Venezuela, Williams/Renault, 44, retired, accident

21. (4) Felipe Massa, Brazil, Scuderia/Ferrari, 28, retired, accident

22. (20) Charles Pic, France, Caterham/Renault, 7, retired gearbox

Note _ Bianchi and Massa failed to set a qualifying time within the 107 percent requirement. Both raced at stewards’ discretion. Massa and Chilton (originally qualified 20th) took five-place grid penalties for gearbox changes.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, May 29 2013
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