A disappointing end to a promising weekend for Lotus at Monaco this afternoon, with Romain’s race ending just moments after it had started and Kimi having to use all his experience to attain a top 10 finish
Kimi Räikkönen, E20-03 Grid: P8 Race: P9 Fastest Lap: 1:19.246 [Lap 51]
Romain Grosjean, E20-04 Grid: P4 Race: DNF Fastest Lap: N/A
Nerves in the paddock were at a fever pitch as the red lights went out to signal the start of the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix. After a few surprises in qualifying, all eyes were on the first lap to see how the field would emerge from the treacherous turn one.
Unfortunately for Romain, his race was over before he had even reached that point. A slightly slow start followed almost immediately by a clash with Michael Schumacher resulted in the Frenchman heading into the first corner sideways with his left rear suspension collapsed.The only silver lining to a significantly sized cloud over the team’s weekend of course was that Kimi subsequently profited from his team-mate’s misfortune to move up into P7, having made a solid getaway and managing to avoid the melee.
A relatively calm opening phase of the race – setting aside the first lap fracas – saw Kimi in an intense battle with Michael Schumacher; the German driver lunging at the Finn into the chicane on several occasions only to see his attempts thwarted.
On lap 30, Kimi made his first trip to the pits for a set of the yellow marked soft tyres. With closest challenger Michael Schumacher choosing to run longer, the German managed to jump the Finn in the stops, along with the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne and Force India of Paul Di Resta.
More bad luck was to follow for the 2007 World Champion, as an altercation with Sergio Perez through La Rascasse cost him another place; this time to Nico Hulkenberg. Although the Sauber driver subsequently received a drive through penalty for his part in the incident, this made little difference to Kimi’s race.Michael Schumacher’s retirement on lap 66 promoted the sole remaining E20 back into the points, and with a light shower – predicted to arrive at various stages throughout the race – finally materialising with just 8 laps remaining, there did seem to be a glimmer of hope that the Finn may be able to recover lost ground in the adverse conditions.
Although this failed to arrive, one man who pre-empted a potential downpour was Jean-Eric Vergne; switching to the intermediate tyres and quickly falling backwards. This handed Kimi another position, where he remained to eventually come home in a rather lonely P9.