Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso won the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday, holding off McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa of Ferrari. The Spaniard finished 4.095 seconds ahead of Hamilton and 1:09.114 in front of Massa after 78 laps on the twisting 3.34km street circuit.
It was Alonso’s 17th overall win and the second this season as McLaren claimed their 150th F1 victory. “It has been a fantastic weekend, no doubt,” Alonso said. “A hat-trick: fastest lap, pole position and win. It is so good to drive such a perfect car for 78 laps. I’ve never won with more than a minute to the third guy (before).” Alonso and Hamilton share the lead in the standings with 38 points, five ahead of third-placed Massa.
Although Hamilton is yet to win in his debut F1 season, the Briton has had five straight top-three finishes. Alonso started from top of the grid for the first time for McLaren, before quickly moving four seconds ahead of his teammate after 10 laps as Massa fell another three seconds back. “I wasn’t going to do anything crazy,” Hamilton said. “It was best to finish 1-2.”
After 20 laps, the two McLarens started lapping cars — but that also gave Alonso some problems. “I was stuck behind Jarno Trulli for three laps, losing two seconds a lap,” he said. “I was nine seconds ahead, then suddenly I was three seconds ahead. I had problems at key moments of the race.”
The margin between the two McLarens stayed at about five seconds midway through the race, before extending to 10.8 seconds by the 48th lap as Massa dropped more than 36 seconds behind. Following pit stops by the two McLarens, the gap by the 58th lap was less than a second, but that was as close as it got, with Alonso gradually pulling away over the next 20 laps.
“After we (pit-)stopped, we just cruised to the end,” Alonso said. “There was nothing more to push. At the end, we slowed down the pace so no time to risk anymore.” Hamilton acted under team orders by not pushing his McLaren. “The goal of the team is to score as many points (as possible). It was easy for me to push a little harder but it would have been a negative on the team. Coming into the season, I expected to be the No. 2 driver.”
Massa knew he couldn’t keep up with the McLarens. “Even if I pushed 150 per cent on the limit it would stay the same,” he said. “They were pretty quick today.”
Giancarlo Fisichella of Renault finished fourth, Robert Kubica of BMW-Sauber was fifth with teammate Nick Heidfeld next.