Hugh Podmore on Jenson Button’s trouncing of the opposition in Monte Carlo.
Jenson Button took his fifth victory of the season this afternoon in the heat of Monte Carlo. The Briton was majestic in his mastery of the Principality’s streets, again leading the field home by a comfortable margin.
The Frome flyer was flawless, and distinguished himself by his care of the super-soft tyres, which expired quickly in the afternoon heat. The smooth style of Button on the fragile rubber was the difference between him and team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who yet again failed to keep pace with Button at key parts of the race.
Apart from Button, the race was notable for its lack of incident. Long periods of the race featured only shots of the cars coasting round the roads of the Principality, a safe two-second difference between them, and no-one threatening anybody else. Monte Carlo nevertheless had its habitual sprinkling of catastrophic accidents – the hapless Nelson Piquet was the this time innocent victim of a Sebastian Buemi who had forgotten to brake; Sebastian Vettel, Heikki Kovalainen and Kazuki Nakajima all finished undistinguished performances in the wall.
An improved race for Ferrari saw them finish a fighting third and fourth for Raikkonen and Massa respectively. Raikkonen had the measure of all except the Brawns, the rumour that he has been given the warning light by Ferrari bosses perhaps the explanation. Massa was fighting all the way and had a few hairy moments, but never threatened his team-mate overmuch.
It was a race to forget for McLaren – Lewis Hamilton’s strategy failed to drag him up the field after his disastrous qualifying yesterday. The Brit also suffered from his inability to conserve his tyres – a deciding factor in the race today, and one which may well be back to play a role elsewhere.
The Red Bull RB5 is rumoured to be quicker at the upcoming circuits of Istanbul and Silverstone with their fast corners. It is to be hoped that Vettel in particular can take the fight to the Brawns there, with a Ferrari battle close behind. Otherwise, the 2009 championship may turn into an extremely predictable one. Off-track events will certainly overshadow Monaco in the coming week.