Mark Webber led every lap of the Monaco Grand Prix and led Red Bull to a one-two victory in the principality.
The race was interrupted by four safety car periods after a series of crashes, but Webber stayed cool and re-built his lead every time.
He survived a late scare when two backmarkers collided in front of him late in the race. That brought the safety car out for the final time, and the race ended in controversy as Michael Schumacher passed Fernando Alonso on the final lap after the safety car went in.
Webber held his lead from pole position at the start of the race while team mate Sebastian Vettel got the jump on Robert Kubica and passed him for second.
Kubica went into the first corner with Lewis Hamilton on his right and Felipe Massa on his left, but somehow kept both of them behind to keep his place.
But Nico Hulkenberg’s race ended on the first lap when he crashed heavily in the tunnel. That brought out the safety car for the first time.
This was exactly what Fernando Alonso, who had started from the pit lane, needed. He took the opportunity to swap his super-soft tyres for mediums, getting his necessary pit stop out of the way.
When the race restarted the drivers at the front held their position, Webber leading Vettel, Kubica, Massa, Hamilton and Rubens Barrichello, who’d made an impressive start to take sixth place.
Alonso had to fight his way past the new teams, spending several laps duelling with Lucas di Grassi before finally passing him at the chicane.
The speed with which Alonso worked through the tail-enders nearly caught out the leaders. McLaren brought Hamilton in to make sure he could stay ahead of Alonso.
That triggered pit stops from the rest of the field, but no change of positions among the top five. Nico Rosberg delayed his pit stop while Kamui Kobayashi briefly held up a train of Massa, Hamilton and Alonso. But when Kobayashi dropped out, Rosberg had to pit and ended up back behind team mate Schumacher.
The second Williams dropped out after 30 laps when Rubens Barrichello appeared to suffer a failure on the left-rear corner of his car, pitching the second FW32 into the barriers at Massenet.
That forced Vitantonio Liuzzi to brake hard in avoidance as parts flew off the Williams. Once it came to rest another part came off too – Barrichello chucked the steering wheel out of his car which bounced onto the racing line and was run over by a passing HRT.
This brought the safety car out again, erasing a ten-second lead which Webber had built up. Shortly after the race re-started the safety car was mysteriously summoned again – this time apparently because of a loose drain cover.
With overtaking very difficult at Monaco there was little sign of any potential changes for position. Despite having run almost the entire race distance on the same set of tyres, Alonso had a comfortable margin over Schumacher.
That was until the final safety car period of the race, which was triggered by an alarming collision between Karun Chandhok and Jarno Trulli.
Trulli had spend much of the later part of the race stuck behind the HRT driver, and got alongside him on the way into Rascase. Chandhok turned in, the cars tangled wheels and the Lotus sprang up into the air, crashing down on Chandhok’s rool hoop.
Thankfully both drivers were uninjured – Chandhok ducked down into the cockpit – and the safety car came out once again.
The safety car came in on the final lap and Webber accelerated to the line to take his second consecutive victory. Behind him, Schumacher got to the the finishing line ahead of Alonso – sparking a controversy the stewards are presently trying to unravel.
Webber’s win puts him and Vettel jointly in the lead of the drivers’ champion. Red Bull have also taken over the lead of the constructors’ championship from McLaren, who got only Hamilton’s car to the finish.
Former championship leader Jenson Button retired on the second lap with overheating. It emerged that a cover had been left over one radiator on his way to the pits, causing high engine temperatures.
2010 Monaco Grand Prix