May 27th, 2012 (F1plus / Chris Cameron-Dow).- Formula One in 2012 has been action packed from the start. We're now six races into the season, and the excitement has not died down. Mark Webber won a close race from pole position to become the sixth winner in six races, making 2012 statistically the most open season in Formula One history.
Typically at Monaco, the action started in the first corner. Romain Grosjean bumped over Michael Schumacher's front wheel after getting knocked sideways by Fernando Alonso. With nowhere to go, the Frenchman ended up facing the wrong way with cars taking evasive action all around him. Kamui Kobayashi had nowhere to go, and touched wheels with Grosjean's Lotus, causing his Sauber to fly through the air landing and just touching Jenson Button's McLaren. As if that wasn't enough for one corner, Pastor Maldonado started a little too enthusiastically from the back of the grid, and ran into the back of Pedro de la Rosa's HRT, ending the race for both of them.
The race became fairly processional, which is normal at Monaco where it is almost impossible to pass. Sergio Perez wasn't deterred by the tight track, however, and repeatedly put his car on the line into the chicane out of the tunnel, pulling off some brave passes. At the front, there was no such action, however, as changes of position happened only in the pitstops.
Sebastian Vettel chose to start on the soft tyres after not setting a lap in the final part of qualifying. With everyone else on super softs, Vettel found himself leading the race when those around him pitted for tyres. A string of quick laps before his own later pitstop meant he emerged in fourth place, where he stayed until the end.
Light rain in the last 10 laps closed up the top six and looked like it could provide some overtaking. Changes of position were prevented by some good defensive driving by Mark Webber, and the order at the front remained until the end. Webber held on for victory, keeping Rosberg's quick Mercedes behind him. Alonso completed the podium to go top of the points table. Vettel finished a strong fourth after starting ninth. Hamilton will be dissatisfied with fifth after starting third, but Felipe Massa will be delighted with his sixth place finish.
Michael Schumacher's afternoon ended in retirement after a fuel pressure problem gradually eroded the pace of his Mercedes. After posting the fastest time in qualifying, Schumacher started sixth due to a five-place grid penalty from his accident in Spain. Grosjean's incident at the start cost Schumacher a couple of places, but he was running seventh and catching the leading pack quite quickly when his car began to fail. A disappointing end to a very strong weekend for the German.
Heikki Kovaleinen showed solid pace in the Caterham, fighting with Jenson Button before the McLaren driver tried and failed at a desperate pass in the second swimming pool chicane. The Finn then kept Sergio Perez behind for a few laps before damaging his front wing while defending his 12th place against the Sauber. A pitstop for a new nose meant Kovaleinen finished 13th. Nonetheless, a strong showing from a gradually improving Caterham team, who will still be hoping to score points this year.
Formula One now packs up and flies to Canada for the next round of the 2012 season in two weeks time. Six winners in the first six races of this season is already a record. Will there be a seventh winner in seven races? Time will tell.