This weekend five former winners will line up on the starting grid for the Monaco Grand Prix. While Lotus driver Jarno Trulli, winner for Renault in 2004, is probably one of the longest odds for a repeat victory this year, any of the other four drivers could easily add to their totals.
Prime among them may be Michael Schumacher winner in 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2001. He silenced many of his critics in Barcelona where the handling of the upgraded Mercedes W01 allowed him to frustrate Jenson Button.
Button does at least have the consolation of arriving in Monaco both as the Championship leader and as the defending race winner. Last year in Monaco, Jenson’s qualifying margin of just 0.025s over Raikkonen’s Ferrari was an indication of just how small any Brawn performance advantage may have been at this track.
Yet come the race, Button was simply stupendous, scoring one of his best-ever victories. In fact the only mistake that Button made was after the chequered flag, when he parked in the wrong place, forcing him to sprint down the finishing straight to the waiting royal party!
Button would at least this year know the right place to find the award-toting dignitaries, as indeed would teammate Lewis Hamilton, winner in 2008. That was the year, on a wet track, when Lewis hit the barriers on lap six, then hit lucky as the safety car came out. Hamilton was able to limp back to the pits for a new rear wheel and continued to victory in a race which was ended two laps early.
And what about Alonso’s first win in 2006? His was a straightforward drive from pole position to the chequered flag in the Renault. Michael Schumacher was stripped of pole position and sent to the back of the grid after stewards found the German guilty of deliberately blocking the track in the dying minutes of qualifying.
Even today Schumacher won’t comment on it, yet ironically the Ferrari with Alonso aboard has to be a prime challenger for this year’s race. The Spaniard has a ‘grab the bull by the horns’ style, which seems to work at Monaco.
Speaking of Bulls, the Red variety of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber could easily add to the lengthy list of winner’s names on the trophy. Vettel is fast and brought the Toro Rosso home 8th in the 2008 race. If pressed, my money will go on Mark Webber.
Catch F1 race commentator Steve Slater on STAR Sports’ coverage of the Formula One