As chasing pack falls back,Vettel finally breathes easy

Although Red Bull failed to win the Monaco Grand Prix for the first time since 2009,it felt like a victory for Sebastian Vettel as the three-time defending champion strengthened his overall lead heading into next month’s race in Canada.

Written by Associated Press | Monaco | Published: May 28, 2013 4:22 am

Although Red Bull failed to win the Monaco Grand Prix for the first time since 2009,it felt like a victory for Sebastian Vettel as the three-time defending champion strengthened his overall lead heading into next month’s race in Canada.

What a difference one race can make. After the Spanish GP two weeks ago,Kimi Raikkonen trimmed Vettel’s lead to four points by finishing second behind Fernando Alonso,who had clawed back to within 17 points. But that lead again feels a lot more secure after both challengers finished way out of contention in Monaco.

After Vettel placed second behind Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg with Mark Webber third,Alonso lagged behind in seventh and Raikkonen was 10th. So,instead of looking over his shoulder,Vettel can feel euphoric going to Montreal in two weeks’ time.

“Overall I’m happy and pleased with the result,” said Vettel,who is 21 points ahead of Webber and 29 clear of Alonso. “We seem to like this place: two cars on the podium is very good.” Vettel has won two of the season’s six races,but felt he could have chalked up another win if he’d found any room on Monaco’s sinewy,tube-like track.

‘Buses on a cruise’

“Usually you expect two silver arrows in front of you,but they were more like buses going for a cruise,” the German driver said. Nor was there was any sign of the much-publicized friction between Vettel and Webber over the weekend,after their fallout at the Malaysian GP,where Vettel avoided punishment despite ignoring team orders and overtaking to snatch victory away from his teammate. It was a bad race for Ferrari,with Felipe Massa crashing out of the race and ending up in hospital,although the Brazilian only had precautionary checkups and was released soon after.

Massa was third two weeks ago in Barcelona,raising hopes that Ferrari could finally match Red Bull for pure racing speed after beating both of their cars at the Circuit de Catalunya.

But expectation fell away amid the crashes and the chaos of Monaco,where six drivers failed to finish a manic race that was stopped three times on arguably the most difficult and volatile track on the F1 calendar.

Two-time former champion Alonso has not given up hope of catching Vettel. He knows how quickly the leadership can change hands. He was 43 points ahead of Vettel after the summer break last year,only to lose the F1 title to the German on the last day by a mere three points: 281-278.

“(The) outcome doesn’t bother me in terms of the next round in Canada,because we have to consider Monaco a law unto itself,” the Spaniard said. “We know there is still much to do to improve,but we are looking ahead with confidence.”

Although Red Bull and Ferrari are fierce rivals,they did at least unite in one way in Monaco. The both lodged a protest against Mercedes for conducting in-season testing in accordance with Pirelli straight after the Spanish GP.

Motor sport’s governing body is reviewing the case,which could end up before a FIA tribunal. Mercedes and Pirelli are under pressure to answer questions over why Mercedes was allowed to conduct such testing,in a case that is set to rumble on in the days leading up to the Canadian GP,and could even end up impacting Mercedes’ whole season.

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