Vettel beats Raikkonen in Monaco as team orders mar Ferrari one-two

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When Kimi Raikkonen celebrated his excellent pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix, he seemed to genuinely believe he would be given the chance to race fairly with teammate Sebastian Vettel.

He diplomatically pointed out he was racing for the team while also publicly letting it be known, “we are allowed to fight but we cannot take each other off”.

At the time, the extended comments from the Finn, more renowned for keeping his counsel, were a little odd.

Either he was fed up with the questioning and wanted it done with, or else he was using the post-qualifying press conference to make a point to his employers and the wider world in case events unfolded as many suspected they would come race day.

Team orders and Formula 1 seem forever set to be indelibly linked. Arguably, the first instance dates back to 1951 and an Alfa Romeo car swap between Juan Manuel Fangio and Luigi Fagioli after Fangio’s car hit trouble.

In the intervening 66 years, each time the issue appears to have gone to bed, it merely resurfaces, and so it has here.

In contrast to after qualifying, in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s race Raikkonen decided to keep his counsel but it was a face of thunder with which he greeted the crowds gathered at the street circuit.

The question prior to race was whether team orders would come into play or not. Staunch tifosi might suggest that wasn’t the case but it was a bizarre decision by Ferrari to bring him in on lap 34 when seemingly there was no desperate need to do so.

It led to him being caught in traffic, tripping up his charge enough for Vettel to stay out for a further five laps, set the fastest lap and get the jump on his teammate.

No wonder Raikkonen looked so livid but was he really surprised? Judging by his comments from 24 hours earlier, probably not.

It has already been assumed by everyone up and down the paddock that Vettel was Ferrari’s No.1 and Raikkonen the No.2.

But this was the first acid test, the first time properly that Raikkonen had brought the fight truly to his four-time world champion teammate – and very impressively it has to be said, not just in qualifying but the launch he got off the line in the race before pulling out a slim advantage.

This early into the season – barely a third of the way through – Ferrari were effectively asked if push came to shove would they pursue team orders.

They did even if when asked if it was planned Vettel’s response was “not really”.

But there should be no surprise. It has long been the team’s mantra, most notably when Michael Schumacher ruled the roost at the Prancing Horse for so many years, again to a lesser degree when Fernando Alonso was seen as the driver to revive the Maranello glory years, and it is apparent again.

Ferrari will be criticised for it but why? Raikkonen has been given chances to prove he deserves equal billing at the team, and that has not been warranted this season.

His race results read fourth, fifth, fourth, third, retired and second. With arguably the quickest and best performing car in full race trim that simply isn’t good enough.

In contrast, Vettel has been an astonishingly consistent performer come the Sunday of a race weekend and is yet to finish outside the top two in three races this season, Monaco his third victory of the current campaign.

And Ferrari know with a Vettel hegemony and Mercedes supposedly giving equal billing to Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas – well, at least a more equal billing – this gives them their best shot of catapulting Vettel to a fifth world title with Raikkonen hopefully chipping away to give them enough for the constructors’ championship.

Sure, fans would dearly love drivers to have a fair fight within a team and all credit for Mercedes for doing so.

But Vettel is the clear No.1 at Ferrari and has been for some time, and at least it was done this time for a modicum of grace and discretion.

In the past, Ferrari have not always done so: the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix when Rubens Barrichello slowed right down for a Schumacher victory, which led to boos of derision, is arguably the worst example.

But just seven years ago in Germany Felipe Massa markedly and grumpily slowed right down to let Alonso past.

The reality is team orders are here to stay.

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F1 round-up: Sebastian Vettel wins Monaco GP

Brendon Netto 28/05/2017

Sebastian Vettel delivered Ferrari their first Monaco Grand Prix in 16 years on Sunday with teammate and pole sitter Kimi Raikkonen in second.

Vettel's third win of 2017 increased his lead over Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in the drivers' world championship to 25 points.

Behind the two Ferraris came the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo with Hamilton's teammate Valterri Bottas's Merecedes in fourth.

[inlinescript5] DRIVER OF THE DAY Hamilton started in 13th but the three-time former champion fought his way through the pack to claim seventh place. Despite being a two-time winner in Monaco, but the 32-year-old mysteriously struggled with the handling of his Mercedes car this weekend. Following his troubled performance in qualifying, he had it all to do on Sunday at a track where it is virtually impossible to overtake and he exceeded expectations. FASTEST LAP   BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT Jenson Button, replacing Fernando Alonso for this race only in the McLaren, was always towards the rear of the field before colliding with Pascal Wehrlein on lap 68. Button, in what is likely to be his last race, retired having sustained significant damage to the front left of his McLaren following the crash. What made it all the more disappointing was that he had a few good overtakes in the race before that collision. ONE TO WATCH On his Monaco debut with Force India, Esteban Ocon gave himself a mountain to climb after crashing out in the final session of qualifying on Saturday. However, despite starting in 15t, he put in a fine performance to finish in 10th place.

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Kimi Raikkonen takes pole for Monaco Grand Prix

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Kimi Raikkonen.

Kimi Raikkonen secured his first pole position for nine years on Saturday when he outpaced his Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel in a dramatic qualifying session for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix.

The 37-year-old Finn, who had not taken pole position for 128 races stretching back to the French Grand Prix of 2008, dominated the afternoon’s action to clock a fastest lap of one minute and 12.178 seconds.

That left him 0.043 seconds ahead of the world championship leader and three-time champion Vettel who in turn was just two-thousandths of a second faster than third placed Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes.

The Finn’s Mercedes team-mate Briton Lewis Hamilton failed to make progress from Q2 and missed the cut for the top ten shootout, qualifying 14th after a miserable afternoon.

“Obviously, it’s great,” said Raikkonen afterwards, showing little emotion. “We’ll try to make the best of it tomorrow… Yes, of course it is good, but here it is all about the fine details.”

Dutch teenager Max Verstappen took fourth place ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Australian Daniel Ricciardo, Spaniard Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso, Mexican Sergio Perez of Force India and Frenhcman Romain Grosjean of Haas.

Briton Jenson Button, back from retirement to replace two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso who is racing in the Indianapolis 500, was ninth for McLaren Honda ahead of his team-mate Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne.

Button has a 15-place grid penalty for engine replacements and that is expected to lift Hamilton up to 13th.

“I don’t know what was wrong there,” said Vettel of Mercedes’ problems. “But this is one of the highlights of the season – to race at Monaco. It is a difficult one to get right, but if you do, it is great.”

On a perfect azure afternoon, with an air temperature of 27 degrees and a track reading of 53, Q1 delivered few surprises other than the early exit of Frenchman Esteban Ocon of Force India, who had crashed at Casino Square in the closing minutes of the morning’s final practice session.

The Q2 session began with the two Finns Bottas and Raikkonen on track swiftly followed by the title contenders Vettel and Hamilton, who survived a big ‘moment’ at the top of the hill en route to Casino Square.

It proved costly for Hamilton whose first flying lap was more than a second adrift of Raikkonen’s early fastest. “No grip, Bono,” said Hamilton, talking to his engineer before he was stopped at the weighbridge on his way to Mercedes’ pits.

By then, Raikkonen had clocked a 1:12.231 to leap half a second clear of Verstappen at the front until Vettel slotted into second on his second run.

In his haste, Hamilton weaved to heat his tyres and then had a major slide at the exit of Casino Square before he locked up at Mirabeau. “Something wrong with the car,” he reported.

With just seconds remaining, Hamilton’s hopes were ruined when Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne went into the barriers at the Swimming Pool exit, yellow flags flying.

“That’s me out, right?” said Hamilton, deprived of a clean lap and condemned to qualify 14th, one of five men eliminated along with Russian Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso, German Nico Hulkenberg of Renault, Dane Kevin Magnussen of Haas and Brazilian Felipe Massa of Williams.

“Yes, toasted,” came the reply for Hamilton as he pulled in to the pits, his chest heaving and hands waving with frustration.”

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