Alonso wins, Red Bull on podium 28 May 2006
Renaults Fernando Alonso took victory in an eventful Monaco Grand Prix this afternoon, extending his lead in the world championship to 21 points. It was the world champions first triumph in the Principality.
For 50 of the 78 laps it was gripping nip and tuck stuff between the Spaniard and McLarens Kimi Raikkonen, who had burst up to second place on the second lap after a remarkable passing move on Mark Webber on the climb out of Ste Devote.
The seeds of the Finns downfall came shortly after Webbers brave and challenging run in third ended on lap 49 as his Williams expired as he headed for the first corner. As the Australian rolled to a halt in the last section of the lengthy pit exit lane, an exhaust failure having set light to the rear of his FW28, the safety car was deployed. While running under it, Raikkonens Mercedes-Benz engine apparently ruptured as he headed out of the Loews hairpin on that 50th tour.
That took all the pressure off Alonso, and the race for the lead evaporated as he cruised happily to the flag, 14.5s ahead of Juan Pablo Montoyas McLaren. The Colombian never ran lower than fourth but suffered some oversteer at crucial stages and was never quite able to stay in touch. They were joined on the royal podium by Superman, who flew in for the afternoon in the personna of former Monaco winner David Coulthard, who took an excellent third place - and the best-ever result - for Red Bull Racing.
The Flying Scotsman had a tough afternoon, after getting away seventh at the start. After Webber and Raikkonen quit, he chased after Rubens Barrichellos fuel-heavy Honda and the fast-starting Nico Rosberg. A relatively light fuel load and a correspondingly early stop accounted for Rosberg (who later crashed as the safety car pulled in on the 52nd lap), and Barrichello spoiled an afternoon on which he was headed for the podium by speeding in the pit lane and having to take a drive-through penalty on lap 63. That left late-stopping Jarno Trulli third in his Toyota, until it expired with hydraulic trouble on the climb to Massenet on the 73rd lap.
Behind the leading trio, Barrichello had his hands - and doubtless his head after the last lap here last year - full keeping Michael Schumacher under control. The Ferrari was very fast on a low fuel load towards the end, and after losing a lot of time in the early stages in the midfield traffic, the former champion was able to push and to benefit from the retirements to hassle Barrichello for fourth. In the end the Brazilian held fast, and they finished less than half a second apart. After starting from the pit lane following the penalty the stewards awarded him after qualifying, Schumacher had to be content with a four-point haul.
Giancarlo Fisichella was seventh for Renault after making some spectacular overtaking moves earlier in the race, and Nick Heidfeld claimed the final point after a drive in which he made sure his BMW Sauber was always just on the piece of track that Ralf Schumacher and Felipe Massa wanted to put their cars.
Behind them, Toro Rossos Tonio Liuzzi drove well to hold off a desperately unhappy Jenson Button who struggled all afternoon with his Honda, Christijan Albers (who received a drive-through penalty after pushing Midland team mate Tiago Monteiro into the pit wall at the start), Scott Speed in the second Toro Rosso, BMW Saubers Jacques Villeneuve (who was given a drive-through for passing Rosberg under the safety car), Monteiro (who had to pit at the end of the opening lap after his clash with Albers) and Franck Montagny (who went so slowly through Casino Square on one lap that Monteiro ran into the back of him).
Takuma Satos Super Aguri failed to finish, as did Christian Kliens Red Bull, which the Austrian had just ahead of Coulthard until creeping into the pits on the 57th lap to retire.
First of all Id like to dedicate this victory to Edouard Michelin, Alonso said, referring to the tyre manufacturer who tragically drowned in a boating accident on Friday. Michelin did a great job the last two or three years in F1 and especially this year, and gave us the tools to beat our competition this afternoon.
For sure, starting from pole things became little bit easier. Kimi gave me some pressure but I was controlling my tyres. It was not an easy race; you have to keep your concentration, not touch any barriers and push to the limits. But Monaco was one of the races that was a cross on my calendar, and it feels great to win again so soon after Barcelona.
The result gives Alonso an even more comfortable lead in the drivers championship, with 64 points to Schumachers 43. In the constructors, Renault now lead Ferrari by 91 points to 63.