A breathless race in Monaco marred by Vitaly’s accident towards the end. Nine cars were threading through the Swimming Pool chicane at that moment, and at such speed. Contact was almost inevitable. Did watching it make you wince?
Yes it did, because it happened in one of the places you least want to crash in the whole world. And it wasn’t Vitaly’s fault, the accident was triggered by Adrian Sutil running wide and then Jaime Alguersuari hitting Lewis Hamilton when he braked to avoid Sutil. Poor Vitaly had nowhere to go and the energy going into the barriers was enormous. It’s always a worry when a driver is unable to extract himself from a wrecked car, but thank goodness he is okay, the cell did its job, and he has only a bruised ankle. I have been extremely impressed with the Russian this season, he is performing very well. His first podium, in Australia, gave him huge confidence and he’s maintained this level since.
Lotus-Renault GP were confident going into the race that they could perform well, as Robert Kubica did last year by achieving a podium for the team. Was it a surprise, therefore, to qualify 10th and 15th?
The team had higher expectations, but in Monaco everyone is focused on the first few rows and the reality is that, with a good strategy, some drama, and this year with DRS and the new tyres, it is possible to make up places. The key is to stay in the race, and that isn’t easy because the circuit’s walls are utterly unforgiving. Had Vitaly not had his accident I believe he would have finished sixth or seventh.
Nick Heidfeld drove from 15th to eighth, passing Rubens Barrichello, Nico Rosberg and Paul di Resta along the way. Was his one-stop strategy the way to go?
I think the strategy paid dividends and we can be happy with his four points. Having raced with Nick in the same team I remember he wasn’t a big fan of Monaco, and perhaps this goes some way to explaining why he was unable to match Vitaly’s pace in qualifying. I think he’ll be quite happy with eighth under the circumstances.
The accident that Vitaly was involved in brought out the red flags and the rules stipulate the teams can work on the cars on the grid, including changing the tyres. That meant that one-stopping Sebastian Vettel had no problems maintaining his lead to the finish. Do you think this rule should be scrapped, and that cars should make the re-start on used rubber?
The risk that Red Bull Racing took in only pitting Sebastian once faded away when he was given new tyres for the re-start, you’re right, and it made the remaining laps much easier for him. But that’s motorsport, you need to be lucky sometimes. He won fair and square.
The DRS and Pirelli tyres gave us the impossible – overtaking in Monaco. Was this the best Monaco Grand Prix you’ve ever seen?
I remember the last four laps of the 1992 race being incredible, with Nigel Mansell desperate to find a way around Ayrton Senna. And 1990 was a great race for me, as I finished second. Ayrton won, Gerhard Berger was third, and only two seconds separated the three of us at the finish line. It was a bit like we saw on Sunday, with three cars at the front hunting each other down. It was definitely a classic.