Charles Pic dominated his rivals from pole position to claim the sprint race win this afternoon in Monaco, leading from lights to flag in a display of cunning and speed to lead home Josef Kral and Romain Grosjean.
The Frenchman's only threat came when the lights went out: Pic had a sharp start but Kral's was even better, getting almost alongside the poleman but having to give way when the pair reached Ste Devote.
Behind them, Grosjean too was fast off the line, with front row starter Max Chilton making a poor start and local driver Stefano Coletti stalling completely, providing a road block for the rest of the field.
With Davide Valsecchi and Alvaro Parente squeezing Luca Filippi between them, the front order was settled, and was unchanged at the restart following a safety car period to remove Kevin Mirocha's stricken car from the wall on the front straight. Another safety car period for Marcus Ericsson, who jumped the kerb at the swimming pool and found the wall, also left the order unchanged at the front.
Parente was soon lamenting his lost points when he had to make a drive through for a jump start from sixth position, promoting Filippi into the points. The Italian was soon handed another point when Valsecchi missed his braking point at the chicane and had to give way to his countryman, with a fast charging Fabio Leimer just failing to also take advantage of the mistake.
But back at the front it was Pic who sailed serenely on, with Kral falling back towards the end of the race but doing enough to hold off Grosjean for second place. Filippi was next across the line in fourth, slicing inside Chilton into the chicane a few laps from home for the position, with Valsecchi following suit two laps later for fifth. Chilton held on for the final point, an apt reward for a tough day's fighting, as he led Leimer across the line as the chequered flag dropped.
The result leaves Grosjean and Sam Bird leading the championship after the Monaco weekend on 23 points, with Pic on 22, and Valsecchi and van der Garde one back on 21. With the championship standings so tight, Valencia promises to yet more excitement for both the drivers and their fans.
Monaco Sprint race Results:
|1||3||C. Pic||Barwa Addax Team||30||45:50.498||131.147||1:23.839|
|2||14||J. Král||Arden International||30||45:53.830||3.332||130.988||1:23.961|
|4||17||L. Filippi||Super Nova Racing||30||46:05.085||14.587||130.455||1:23.712|
|5||27||D. Valsecchi||Team AirAsia||30||46:17.570||27.072||129.868||1:24.083|
|9||4||G. Van Der Garde||Barwa Addax Team||30||46:21.357||30.859||129.692||1:23.644|
|10||16||F. Fauzy||Super Nova Racing||30||46:22.083||31.585||129.658||1:24.523|
|11||15||J. Palmer||Arden International||30||46:22.815||32.317||129.624||1:24.019|
|12||19||K. Ceccon||Scuderia Coloni||30||46:23.288||32.790||129.602||1:24.483|
|13||9||S. Bird||iSport International||30||46:23.645||33.147||129.585||1:22.713|
|14||20||R. Gonz‡lez||Trident Racing||30||46:29.193||38.695||129.327||1:24.835|
|15||18||M. Herck||Scuderia Coloni||30||46:31.016||40.518||129.243||1:24.746|
|16||8||ç. Parente||Racing Engineering||30||46:31.185||40.687||129.235||1:24.180|
|17||23||J. Cecotto||Ocean Racing Technology||30||46:31.629||41.131||129.214||1:24.858|
|18||7||D. Clos||Racing Engineering||30||46:33.109||42.611||129.146||1:23.421|
|19||5||J. Bianchi||Lotus ART||30||46:42.042||51.544||128.734||1:22.891|
|20||26||L. Razia||Team AirAsia||29||46:24.154||1 LAP||125.243||1:22.831|
|21||12||P. Varhaug||DAMS||29||46:33.712||1 LAP||124.814||1:24.609|