Rosberg emulates dad with Monaco win

ALAN BALDWIN
Last updated 06:53 27/05/2013
Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany gestures as he celebrates winning the Monaco F1 Grand Prix.
Reuters
IN DAD'S FOOTSTEPS: Mercedes Formula One driver Nico Rosberg of Germany gestures as he celebrates winning the Monaco F1 Grand Prix, 30 years after his father, Keke, won the same event.

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Nico Rosberg celebrated a pole-to-flag win for Mercedes in Formula One's showcase Monaco Grand Prix early today (NZ time), 30 years after his world champion father Keke triumphed on the streets of the Mediterranean principality.

The victory, on a sunny crash-strewn afternoon with two safety car deployments and a 25-minute stoppage caused by Pastor Maldonado wrecking his Williams, was only the second of the German's career as it was for his Finnish father in 1983.

Red Bull's triple world champion Sebastian Vettel made it a German one-two to extend his championship lead to 21 points over Finland's Kimi Raikkonen - who finished 10th - after six of the 19 races.

Rosberg's success, on the streets of a town that has been home since his early years, made him the first son of a Monaco Grand Prix winner to win the most glamorous race on the calendar.

"It's amazing. This is my home, I've grown up here all my life and it's really special," he said. "The whole weekend went perfectly.

"The car was really good, the tyres held on and that was the key to the victory. I am ecstatic."

Australian Mark Webber, last year's winner and Vettel's team mate, was third ahead of 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton in the other Mercedes after a race that was processional in the early stages behind the silver cars.

"I was a bit surprised by the slow pace in the opening laps," commented Vettel. "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."

Raikkonen scrambled to his 23rd successive scoring finish - one short of Michael Schumacher's all-time record - after making up three positions on the last lap just when it seemed his hopes had been dashed by a collision with McLaren's Sergio Perez.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso also fell back in the title challenge after finishing seventh, with Force India's Adrian Sutil fifth and Jenson Button sixth for McLaren.

Vettel has 107 points, Raikkonen 86 and Alonso 78.

TYRE PROTEST

The day had started with controversy, with Red Bull and Ferrari making protests after discovering that Mercedes had taken part in a secret tyre test with Pirelli in Spain last week - seemingly in breach of a testing ban.

The results were signed off as official, however, with a decision deferred on the protests.

Rosberg had also been concerned before the race about whether he could keep the lead, given Mercedes's failure to convert their previous three poles into wins this year.

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"We've had such a difficult time in the last couple of races, and dropping back so much," he said. "That was a little bit in the back of my mind but it was okay. I hope this is going to last.

"Today, the team gave me a great car. It's really fantastic to see how much they have been able to improve in a short space of time. This track suited us anyway."

Hamilton had started alongside Rosberg, on pole for the third time in a row, but lost two places when the safety car was deployed for the first time this season on lap 31.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa triggered the intervention when he crashed heavily at the Ste. Devote corner at the end of the pit straight in a repeat of his Saturday smash at the same spot.

The Brazilian was attended to by medical staff, who put him in a neck brace and sent him to hospital for checks while marshals mended the energy-absorbing barriers.

The safety car, deployed for eight laps, came out at the wrong time for Mercedes with Hamilton losing two places in the pitstops.

Eight laps after racing resumed, the red flags came out when Maldonado and British rookie Max Chilton collided, pitching the Williams hard into the barrier at the harbourside Tabac corner and damaging the barrier.

Maldonado, who had needed a new front wing after a first-lap incident at the hairpin involving Caterham's Giedo van der Garde, walked away from the impact blaming Chilton.

There were some brave overtaking moves on the tight and twisty circuit, where passing is to be savoured rather than expected and cars skim past the unforgiving metal barriers like a high-speed train.

The safety car was deployed for the second time on lap 63 when Frenchman Romain Grosjean's Lotus rammed into the back of Australian Daniel Ricciardo's Toro Rosso at the tunnel exit and left debris scattered across the track.

Grosjean was handed a 10 place grid penalty for the next race in Canada.

Compatriot Jean-Eric Vergne was eighth for Toro Rosso with Britain's Paul Di Resta racing from 17th place to ninth. Former champions Williams failed to score for their seventh race in succession.

Frenchman Charles Pic was the first retirement when his Caterham caught fire as he pulled up at Rascasse near the pit-lane entry on the ninth lap.

- Reuters

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