Six races and five Sebastian Vettel victories down, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso has admitted the German is well on track for his second world championship in 2011.
"There's only one occasion that [so many early wins] happened; [it was] a couple of years ago with Jenson Button and we know Jenson's result," said the Spaniard, referring to Button's 2009 title after a stellar start to the season with Brawn.
"I think we saw in the last couple of years that if you win five or six grands prix you've nearly won the championship, so if you win five of the first six, you are in a very good position," he added.
Also after Red Bull driver Vettel's Monaco win, his third race victory on the trot, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton agreed: "It's not too late (to win the championship) but it's not looking great."
23-year-old Vettel's lead after six races is 58 points over Hamilton.
But the gap might have been smaller had Alonso and Button been able to challenge Vettel in the closing laps as the German's tyres wore.
The race was red-flagged for Vitaly Petrov's crash and, with just a few laps left, Vettel was allowed to change his badly worn Pirellis for a new set on the grid.
"I was ready to attack," said Alonso. "There was nothing to lose for me. I am not leading the championship so I will try to win the race and if we crash we crash."
Vettel's situation was caused when Red Bull accidentally fitted soft tyres to his RB7 during a calamitous pitstop when a two-stop strategy was actually planned.
"It was because of a radio communication problem," explained team boss Christian Horner to autohebdo.fr. "The guys didn't know what tyres to put on.
"We wanted to put the super softs on to defend from Jenson, but instead we said 'Well, it's not a disaster, let's go on (with a one-stopper)'," he added.
McLaren's Button, meanwhile, finished third after a three-stop strategy, but compared with Vettel and also Alonso his tyres were the newest when the red-flag waved at the end.
"If the race was not interrupted, I think the decision (for three stops) would have been the right one," boss Martin Whitmarsh is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.
"Now, of course, we'll never know."
Stewards Accept Hamilton Explanation For Apparent Racist Joke
Pastor Maldonado has revealed he will not be talking to Lewis Hamilton after the Monaco Grand Prix.
McLaren's Hamilton was penalised 20 seconds for their crash and after the race ranted about the Williams rookie, who had driven a strong race in the Principality, as well as his 2008 title rival Felipe Massa.
"These drivers are ridiculous," said the Briton. "It's stupid.
"People want to see racing, but you get done trying to put on a show," he said.
Maldonado told Germany's motorsport-magazin.net he won't bother trying to talk it through with Hamilton, 26.
Asked if the McLaren driver apologised, he replied: "No, and I won't try to discuss the incident with him. That wouldn't serve any purpose."
Ferrari's Massa also returned fire at Hamilton, who had blamed the Brazilian for their in-race crash for which he was given a drive-through penalty.
"Massa held me up in qualifying and I got the penalty. Then he turned into me (in the race) and I got the penalty," said Hamilton.
30-year-old Massa was not impressed.
"What he did today was unbelievable," said the Ferrari driver. "Not just with me, but with other drivers as well. He needs to be penalised again and in a good way - otherwise he doesn't learn.
"He deserves at least a one race suspension," Massa is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Hamilton did learn quickly from his poor joke about the stewards - including former Toyota driver Allan McNish - picking on him "because I'm black".
He returned to the circuit late on Sunday to clear the air.
It is believed McLaren was worried its driver's comments might have brought the sport into disrepute.
"They accepted my explanation, they understood," said Hamilton after the late stewards' meeting.
"We all shook hands. They said they would make sure other people in the FIA understand and clarify it with anybody else who has heard it and misunderstood," he added.
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