MARK WEBBER WINS 2012 MONACO F1 GP
Mark Webber powered to victory on the streets of Monte Carlo this weekend, his first win of the 2012 season.
The Australian controlled the race from lights to flag, managing tyres, team strategy and threatening skies to take the top step.
A mooted post-race protest from other teams failed to materialise and Webber became the sixth winner from six races.
Webber got a terrific start from pole and was the first through Ste Devote and into the climb up the hill.
Grosjean pushed Schumacher into the armco then slid broadside down the road, scattering the following cars and causing drama for Kobayashi.
Sebastian Vettel avoided disaster by centimetres.
Spanish GP winner Pastor Maldonado completed his weekend by slamming into Pedro de la Rosa's HRT, ending both their races.
After the melee, the winners were Vettel who picked up three places and Nico Hulkenberg snared two places to run ninth. Bruno Senna found his way through to 10th and Catherham's Heikki Kovalainen thirteenth, ahead of Jenson Button.
Ricciardo survived to pick up four places, leaving STR teammate Vergne behind. Perez also did well from the back of grid, clawing his way to 15th.
Despite the efforts of the Monaco marshals to move the stricken Lotus, the safety car was called out to neutralise the field. After just a handful of laps, the safety car was back in and the race resumed.
Webber made the most of the clean air up front, eking out an advantage on the Pirelli super-soft tyres to prevent Rosberg from using his DRS.
The teams on super-softs had a problem as it became clear that rain could be a factor in the race. The option tyres were not going to make it without being nursed as they were only going to be good for a maximum of thirty laps.
The first of the cars on super-softs to run into trouble was Raikkonen. A battle developed for Raikkonen's seventh place, with a train of seven cars behind him.
Adding to the pressure, the team insisted that rain was coming and he needed to stay out to avoid having to stop again.
Rosberg pitted first and switched to primes. He rejoined the track in front of Raikkonen.
Two laps later, Webber pitted, with Hamilton close behind. Webber rejoined the track ahead of Rosberg and quickly found his rhythm on the new tyres. Hamilton ended up behind Alonso, much to his chagrin.
Vettel stayed out on his primes, out of sync with the front-runners and in the lead. He started reeling off a spectacular set of laps, pulling a second per lap on Webber.
Sergio Perez made a mess of getting into the pits, almost wiping out Kimi Raikkonen in his attempt to get into the pit lane. He was given a drive-through penalty for his indiscretion.
At half-distance, Ricciardo was up to seventh place, with Jenson Button close behind. The prime users were in the best shape if the rain was to arrive as predicted.
Button had to pit and lap 39 and it hit him hard, finding himself behind Kovalainen again.
Red Bull was apparently using Webber to back the field up, confirming as much by radioing the Australian to tell him he could speed up. That revelation came around the same time that the teams decided that there was to be no rain after all.
It was raining into Lewis Hamilton's cockpit, however, as numbers from his pitboard fell from their slots and slapped into the McLaren driver's helmet.
Vettel finally pitted on lap 46. A quick tweak of wing and a set of super-softs brought the German out behind Alonso but millimetres in front of Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton's misery was compounded by him feeling the team hadn't given him enough information on Vettel.
Behind him, Felipe Massa was giving his tyres a hard time. The Brazilian had been locking up from the moment he left the pits on his new tyres, his race engineer Rob Smedley politely suggesting he needed to go a bit easier.
Out front, Mark Webber controlled the gap back to Rosberg, keeping the Mercedes driver out of the DRS activation zone.
Around lap 60, Schumacher radioed his team complaining of a problem with the car. The team assured him the car was fine, but he was rounded up by Vergne and the former world champ was unable to hold the Toro Rosso behind him.
He eventually retired on lap 64 with a fuel pressure problem.
The rain began to fall around the track on that same lap. It wasn't heavy or sudden, but it was enough for Rosberg to start reeling in Webber.
Young Australian Daniel Ricciardo retired on lap 68 after a reasonably strong showing in the race.
"I clipped a kerb at Turn 15. At the time I did not feel anything, but one lap later the steering felt very loose so I came into the pits as the car was no longer safe to drive... I really enjoyed myself until my retirement," Ricciardo said.
By lap 70, Webber had five cars on his tail and he had to survive eight laps with a growing bunch of hungry drivers behind him and a sky threatening to break at any moment.
Toro Rosso pitted Vergne - who was in the points - and put him on intermediates, presumably in the hope the rain would intensify. It was a poor decision, with not enough rain and a lap-time seven seconds slower than the leaders.
Vergne admitted after the race that his tyres were gone but the change to inters was costly.
Button exited the race soon after on lap 71. The Briton, obviously frustrated after staring at the back of a Catheram for a good chunk of the race, wrong-footed himself and spun to avoid crashing into Kovalainen at the Swimming Pool.
Webber held it all together and powered to his second at Monaco victory with Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso joining him on the podium.
The gap between Webber and fourth-placed teammate Vettel was just 1.3 seconds, an incredibly close finish even by Monaco standards.
The result also left the driver's championship close - Alonso on 76 points and the Red Bull drivers locked together on 73. Red Bull extended their Constructor's Championship, 146 points to McLaren's 108.
"An incredible day; this place gives you such amazing memories," Webber said after the race.
"There were different parts of the race where I had to be incredibly focused and make sure we really capitalised on the positioning we had...I had both hands on it today and I wasn't going to let go."
A disgruntled Lewis Hamilton followed Vettel home, with a resurgent Felipe Massa behind him.
Both Force Indias made it into the points, beating home Raikkonen and Williams' Bruno Senna. Heikki Kovalainen's gritty 13th puts Catherham ahead of Marussia in the Constructor's Championship.
Formula 1 returns in two weeks at the Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve for the Canadian Grand Prix.
1. Mark Webber - Australia Red Bull-Renault 1hr 46m 06.557s 78 laps
2. Nico Rosberg - Germany Mercedes-Mercedes +0m 00.6s
3. Fernando Alonso - Spain - Ferrari-Ferrari - +0m 00.9s
4. Sebastian Vettel - Germany Red Bull-Renault +0m 01.3s
5. Lewis Hamilton - Britain - McLaren-Mercedes +0m 04.1s
6. Felipe Massa - Brazil - Ferrari-Ferrari - +0m 06.1s
7. Paul di Resta - Britain - Force India-Mercedes +0m 41.5s
8. Nico Hulkenberg - Germany Force India-Mercedes +0m 42.5s
9. Kimi Raikkonen - Finland - Lotus-Renault - +0m 44.0s
10. Bruno Senna - Brazil - Williams-Renault +0m 44.5s
11. Sergio Perez - Mexico - Sauber-Ferrari - +1 lap
12. Jean-Eric Vergne - France - Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
13. Heikki Kovalainen - Finland - Caterham-Renault +1 lap
14. Timo Glock - Germany Marussia -Cosworth +1 laps
15. Narain Karthikeyan - India - HRT-Cosworth - +2 laps
16. Jenson Button - Britain - McLaren-Mercedes +8 laps
Rtd. Daniel Ricciardo - Australia Toro Rosso-Ferrari 65 laps completed
Rtd. Charles Pic - France - Marussia -Cosworth 64 laps completed
Rtd. Michael Schumacher Germany Mercedes-Mercedes 63 laps completed
Rtd. Vitaly Petrov - Russia - Caterham-Renault 15 laps completed
Rtd. Kamui Kobayashi - Japan - Sauber-Ferrari - 5 laps completed
Rtd. Pedro de la Rosa - Spain - HRT-Cosworth - 0 laps completed
Rtd. Pastor Maldonado - Venezuela Williams-Renault 0 laps completed
Rtd. Romain Grosjean - France - Lotus-Renault - 0 laps completed
Fastest lap: Sergio Perez - Mexico - Sauber-Ferrari 1m 17.296s lap 49