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Enzo Is Smiling, Raikkonen is Scowling

“Today it worked in my favor and I take it, but we are a team and I can see Kimi is not happy.”  —Ferrari Driver Sebastian Vettel

Scuderia Ferrari secured a 1-2 finish under spectacular blue skies at Monaco today. It was Ferrari’s first Monaco win since Michael Schumacher took the checkered flag in 2001. From the outside, this appears to be a huge win for team Ferrari. Enzo is smiling down from heaven. From the inside, however, an internal battle is burning between first place driver Sebastian Vettel and second place finisher Kimi Raikkonen. Rival Mercedes-Benz driver Lewis Hamilton made an incredible comeback by placing 7th following a “devastating” qualifier. All week his car was plagued by issues and Mercedes engineers could not get it properly “dialed in.” F1 racing is full of highs and lows and the sport is charged with drama, excitement, controversy, and passion. Today’s historic 1-2 Ferrari finish at Monaco proved to be no exception.

Video Highlights From Monaco:

Vettel posted the following on his website:

“In the laps before my pit-stop I was surprised by my own pace because earlier on Kimi and I were both struggling with the rear tires. Those laps I did today were comparatively better than the ones I did in qualifying yesterday. It was impossible for me to predict how fast I could go today. At one point I thought a second, maybe half a second, but then it turned out it was more than that, which was obviously crucial to grant me first place out of the box. It was fantastic to be in the lead and win the race. There was a lot of adrenaline during those laps but in general I could control the race. It sure helps to be the leading car, without any traffic, so that you get better into the rhythm. Once I had new tires, again I was able to control the position. We had the chance this weekend to finish first and second and that’s what the team did. It’s great to see what we were able to do. Today the team gained a lot of points. It’s been a while since Ferrari won here so it’s a great day. I really enjoyed driving for the team. It is great to work together, we try to push each other and the best thing is to see that the team keeps growing.”

The UK Telegraph ran the following story that gives some detailed background on the race and the overall situation at Scuderia Ferrari:

Sebastian Vettel delivers victory for Ferrari at Monaco GP as Kimi Raikkonen rages

Oliver Brown, chief sports feature writer, in Monaco Natasha Henry, live updates
28 MAY 2017 • 8:04PM

Kimi Raikkonen had a face that could curdle milk. The Finn tends to display roughly the same emotional spectrum as a block of ice but his expression on the podium was a diagram of rage as some crafty Ferrari tactics propelled Sebastian Vettel to the team’s first Monaco Grand Prix win for 16 years.

Even the victor, sitting pretty on a 25-point championship lead after arch-rival Lewis Hamilton finished seventh, had the decency to be sympathetic. “I can understand that Kimi is not happy,” Vettel said. “I would feel 100 percent the same.”

There is little doubt that Ferrari’s strategy, which so clearly favored Vettel by giving him five laps of clean air to over-cut his rival after the first round of pit stops, cost Raikkonen dearly here. All weekend this inscrutable cult figure, whose wife Minttu has recently given birth to the couple’s second child, seemed to have a fresh burst of ­energy, showing dazzling pace to achieve pole position and keep his team-mate at bay off the start line. But from there Ferrari reverted to extreme pragmatism, bringing Raikkonen into the pits first and giving Vettel all the space and time he needed to vault into the lead and sustain his quest for a fifth world ­title.

“It doesn’t feel awful good,” Raikkonen said, morosely. “It didn’t work out for me, that’s about as much as I can say right now. I got the bad end of the story. It’s still second place but it doesn’t count a lot in my books at least.”

Diplomatically, he chose to bite his tongue rather than accuse his employers of brazen team orders, but his distaste for their decision was clear. Before the Italian ­national anthem played out in all its jauntiness, he could barely be bothered to lift his second-place trophy in the air. He glowered at his bottle of champagne as if it were strychnine.

“If you don’t believe what you have been told and how it will work out, it becomes very complicated at some point,” he reflected. “For me, it could have been better. We have just finished the race and who knows? There’s some reason for everything that happens in life. As a driver I can do anything I want, but that’s not how we work as a team.”

This Monaco Grand Prix was a symphony in two movements, the first a predictable dirge and the second a discordant but entertaining catalog of errors. Jenson Button, making his fleeting return to Formula One to cover Fernando Alonso’s dash to the Indianapolis 500, was central to the chaos.

Lewis Hamilton finished in seventh after qualifying in 13th at the Monaco Grand Prix. As his McLaren wedged into Pascal Wehrlein at the entrance to the tunnel, the German’s car flicked off his front wing like a hamburger off a spatula.

While marshals toiled to move the stricken Sauber off its side, the pursuers of the two dominant Ferraris all struggled to generate tire temperature behind the safety car. “My tires were like concrete,” said Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who ­attempted a series of burnouts to keep them warm.

It was a testament to the quality of the Australian’s drive that he still managed to finish third, especially given how he crashed immediately after the restart. “I went straight into the barriers at turn one. Yeah, not fun.”

Somehow, Hamilton carved a path through the midfield to ­salvage some faint sense of grace from his miserable qualifying effort. Having started 13th, he endured 78 laps of draining anonymity just to move up to seventh, as he slipped 19 points to Vettel in their championship ­tussle. The hope all season has been that the two outstanding drivers of their era could slug it out to the ­bitter end of this campaign, but ­already Vettel is an ominous distance in front.

“We need to do a better job,” Hamilton acknowledged. “Yes, 25 points is a long way away – it was hard enough to get six here. But I prefer to look at this situation as a glass half full. I was devastated by qualifying, but I have come away with points and I’m grateful.” As he put it to his engineers over the in-car radio: “The battle’s not over, boys.”

Under pristine blue skies on the Riviera, the Prancing Horse has rarely looked so magnificent. Not only was this Ferrari’s first Monte Carlo triumph since 2001, when Michael Schumacher streaked over a distant horizon, but their first one-two finish for seven years. No wonder Vettel, reacquainted with a winning sensation that became so routine during his four years of supremacy at Red Bull, could hardly stop smiling. While 2016 passed off without a single victory, this season, a mere six races old, has yielded three to make him an outstanding favorite to join Juan Manuel Fangio as a five-time champion.

Hamilton, for one, is not ready to contemplate that thought just yet – not when the F1 caravan rolls on next to Montreal, where he has won five times.

Constructor Standings – F1
Pos. Team W Pts
1 Scuderia Ferrari 3 196
2 Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team 3 179
3 Red Bull Racing 0 97
4 Sahara Force India F1 Team 0 53
5 Scuderia Toro Rosso 0 29
6 Williams Martini Racing 0 20
7 Renault Sport Formula One Team 0 14
8 Haas F1 Team 0 14
9 Sauber F1 Team 0 4
10 McLaren Honda 0 0

But there will come a point when Mercedes’ inability to work out the deficiencies of his car tests his ­patience. His two ragged races so far, in Russia and Monaco, have both come as a consequence of the Silver Arrows’ failure to draw optimum performance from his tires. With Ferrari appearing to have much the quicker and more nimble car, a solution needs to be found – and fast.

Mercedes could draw some solace from the perseverance of Valtteri Bottas, who lost little pride in fourth. There were likely to be some raised eyebrows at the company’s Stuttgart headquarters, though, at the Finnish driver’s verdict on the machinations between Raikkonen and Vettel. “Well, I’d rather see a Finn win than a German,” he said.

Raikkonen was likely to be glad of the solidarity. His sour body language towards Vettel was all too redolent of the simmering intra-team feud last year between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. So, who better to have compered the trophy presentation than Rosberg himself? “I know how it feels,” he said, trying to comfort Raikkonen from his own bitter experience. “It’s not a good feeling.”

Even in blissful retirement, clearly, the reigning world champion has not forgotten how to stir up mischief.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during the first free practice at the Monaco racetrack in Monaco, Thursday, May 26, 2016. The Formula one race will be held on Sunday. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

Ferrari at Monaco.

Lewis Hamilton

 

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