This weekend saw the new era of Formula One hit the streets of the classic Monaco circuit, some people including Williams driver Felipe Massa expressed their concern at the tricky nature of the tight, twisty circuit coupled with the increased torque and lower downforce levels of the 2014 spec cars.
During the Free Practice sessions the gap to the two Mercedes cars looked to be less exaggerated on a tigher circuit than previously seen, with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso topping the time sheets during FP2-giving Ferrari some hope that progress is slowly putting them in a more competitive position. Alonso and Vettel looked in pretty good shape before the race with both drivers staying in the top 5 across all three free practice sessions.
Both drivers counterparts the other side of the garage put in good performances, with Raikkonen looking much more competitive in relation to Alonso's performance and Ricciardo either beat or was close to Vettel across the sessions too. Everyone still expected a Mercedes pole position if the conditions didn't throw up some surprises by changing without warning, although the Red Bull and Ferrari drivers looked to be closer nonetheless.
One of the surprises of the free practice sessions came from Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne who managed to pop up 4th durig FP2 in very slippery conditions as it had rained beforehand, drying as the session took place, Vergne looked comfortable in the car and showed a flash of the sort of pace and confidence he had in his early racing career.
Qualifying will only be remembered for one thing this year. Did Rosberg deliberately cause the yellow flags to secure pole position or not? Judging by Hamilton's body language and minimal chat in post session interviews he believes it was deliberate. Eddie Jordan seems to think otherwise but looking at the onboard footage of Rosberg's car I am not so sure still.
I don't want to add fuel to the fire but I also believe it may have been deliberate, just looking at Rosberg's movements behind the wheel as he approached Mirabeau it looks as if he saws at the steering wheel early on down the straight. It almost looks to me as if he is subtlely trying to unbalance the car in order to cause it to lock up so he overshot the corner, bringing out the yellow flags. Lewis had looked good all weekend and during qualifying it had looked very close between himself and Nico so it was always going to go down to the wire.
Lewis had looked like he was going to just snatch it but he may have also made a mistake later in the lap giving Nico pole position so it is hard to tell overall who would have ultimately been on top by the end of the session had it run its full course.
Red Bull's Ricciardo was in good form again, beating Vettel by 0.163s, although even the young Aussie couldn't squeeze any more pace out of the car to just snatch one of the two front row places.
Raikkonen seems to have made a step forward, qualifying 6th just behind his team mate. Jean-Eric Vergne was just over a tenth and a half of a second behind the Finn, a very impressive performance, showing that his free practice pace was no fluke.
Tensions still seemed high following the events of qualifying, and Lewis's fustration would only grow as he couldn't beat Nico into Turn 1 o snatch the lead. Instead he had to slot in behind and try to keep as close as possible hoping for a mistake or gap as the race went on.
Raikkonen lept up the order with a brilliant move around the outside into Turn 1 moving him from 6th to 4th. Alonso would be promoted up to 5th by the end of the fourth lap after Vettel was forced to retire with turbo failure. Raikkonen would fall prey to bad luck for he rest of the race so Alonso ultimately finished 4th.
Raikkonen first had a puncture after his first pitstop which meant he had to pit the lap immediately after. Upon leaving the pitlane for a second time he had a collision with Max Chilton dropping him to 14th. He still looked fiery for the rest of the race though, climbing back up to 8th. Points looked on the cards for the Finn until he attempted an ambitious move on McLaren's Magnussen that saw them both get stuck at Loews hairpin. Magnussen finished 10th overall with Raikkonen finishing 12th after having to pit again after the incident for a new nose.
Magnussen had put in a solid effort all weekend, 8th in qualifying which was comfortably ahead of his team mate, and a point by the end of the weekend. McLaren had more good news after also having Jenson Button finish in the points taking 6th even after early contact with Sergio Perez. Both drivers are saying that it may not be hugely evident just yet but McLaren are back on track to slowly become more competitive again.
The race really hotted up towards the end, with Bianchi fending off competition around him to take not one but two world championship points for Marussia. Their first ever points and the first points either Marussia or Caterham have managed to score- a huge moment for the team, moving them ahead of Sauber in the standings too.
Ricciardo also closed in on Hamilton towards the end of the race by huge chunks of time each lap as the Mercedes driver complained of dirt in his eye, dramatically compromising his pace which in turn eased the pressure on the only car in front of him. Rosberg eased into a more comfortable position as the gap increased and he could focus on the finish line to take his second win in two years around the streets of Monaco.
Overall Monaco gave us a weekend of F1 action to remember. Rosberg will be pleased to take the lead of the championship oce again but Hamilton will surely be even more fired up to retake it in Canada, a circuit he is very strong around.