Tuesday 21 November 2017

Lewis Hamilton suffers eye problem as Nico Rosberg wins in Monaco

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg

Ian Parkes

Nico Rosberg returned to the top of the Formula One podium with a lights-to-flag Monaco Grand Prix victory as a left-eye problem for Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton put the blinkers on his challenge.

For just over 60 laps Hamilton remained within touching distance of his title rival until he suddenly announced over the radio he could not see out of his left eye, allowing Rosberg to clinch back-to-back wins around the streets of the principality.

It means Hamilton's run of four successive triumphs is over, ensuring Rosberg leapfrogs the Briton in the standings by four points as the toe-to-toe scrap between the duo continues.

Following Saturday's contentious qualifying session, whatever the meaning behind Hamilton's post-event remarks, he was never in contention to attack Rosberg throughout the race.

Rosberg was found not guilty by the stewards of deliberately out-braking himself heading into Mirabeau in the final session.

That, in turn, forced him to head down the escape road, bringing out yellow flags that thwarted Hamilton behind who was, at the time, on a quicker lap, so denying him pole.

Hamilton suggested Rosberg's actions were intentional, and in response added he would "take a page" out of the book of hero Ayrton Senna as he "quite liked the way" the late three-times champions dealt with things, in reference to his bitter feud with Alain Prost.

But come the start, and more than likely with the words of his bosses ringing in his ears, Hamilton filed in behind Rosberg into the first corner, and from that point on was forced to play the waiting game.

But halfway round the opening lap, however, Force India's Sergio Perez was tagged by former McLaren team-mate Jenson Button at the top of the hairpin.

It resulted in Perez being spun around into the barrier where his car came to rest, almost facing the wrong way, resulting in the immediate introduction of the safety car for the fifth successive year.

At that stage Perez was the second retirement as Pastor Maldonado did not even make it off the grid for the formation lap due to a technical issue.

Once the safety car peeled away at the end of lap three, from fourth place reiging four-times champion Sebastian Vettel was passed by a number of cars, and it was apparent the German had his own problems.

On the occasion of his 100th grands prix for Red Bull, Vettel first complained of a lack of power, and then after a trip to the pits he was unable to move out of first gear, resulting in his retirement after seven laps.

With drivers dropping like flies, Daniil Kvyat's maiden race around Monaco ended after 11 laps with his Toro Rosso running into power unit problems.

Departee number five came on lap 25, with Adrian Sutil in his Sauber crunching into a barrier down the hill out of the exit of the tunnel, sending debris across the circuit and leading to a second safety car period.

In the pit-stop window at that time, it resulted in a flurry of cars taking on fresh rubber, and with a seemingly paranoid Hamilton far from happy.

In a radio message after the stop, he said: "I knew I should have stopped (before the safety car). I also knew you wouldn't call me in guys."

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was an unfortunate loser as the Finn had been running a superb third, only to collect a puncture following his first stop due to a minor collision with Marussia's Max Chilton, forcing him into a second stop immediately after.

Further retirements followed, with Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne and Valtteri Bottas in his Williams suffering blown engines, whilst the second Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez clipped a barrier at La Rascasse.

Following the Gutierrez incident on lap 61, Hamilton closed the gap to 0.6secs, but over the following laps lost considerable time as his eye issue materialised.

Come the flag he finished 9.2secs behind Rosberg, and with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo up his exhaust as the Australian closed in over the closing stages, but did not have an opportunity to pass.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was fourth ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in his Force and then Button, with Felipe Massa seventh for Williams.

In the points for the first time in their history, and at the 83rd attempt, are Marussia with Jules Bianchi eighth.

The Frenchman, however, will drop to ninth with the addition of a five-second penalty for taking an earlier five-second stop-go punishment under a safety car period.

It means Lotus' Romain Grosjean will be eighth, with Kevin Magnussen in his McLaren 10th.

Online Editors

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