So far in the ‘Rosberg’s Five Greatest Drives’ series, we have yet to actually look at a race win for the German. 2013 was the year which Mercedes finally performed like they should do, and in Monaco that year, Nico Rosberg took a fantastic second career victory…
The 2013 Mercedes W04 was a formidably fast car. It had taken pole position in China, Bahrain, and Spain, but its achilles heal was that it chewed its tyres up like no tomorrow. Nowhere was this more evident than in Spain, when Rosberg and Hamilton qualified 1-2, yet finished the race 6th and 12th respectively. Bahrain was equally as bad with Rosberg receding from pole to 9th. However, Monaco was seen as the track where Mercedes might just break their duck. Despite Pirelli’s high wear tyres, Monaco was often a one stop and with little tyre wear. With another front row lock-out on Saturday headed by Rosberg, things looked good for the Silver Arrows…
“I was a bit surprised by the slow pace in the opening laps. Usually you expect two Silver Arrows in front of you and there were two buses today going for a cruise.”
– Sebastian Vettel
Rosberg did not get the best of starts but held on to his lead and pulled out a gap on teammate Hamilton. The Mercedes were not running at their ultimate pace as they were trying to nurse the tyres early on. It was the year that Pirelli faced a significant amount of criticism for how fast the tyres degraded – Spain had featured some cars making four pitstops, and no one wanted to see this regularly. The reality is that the underlying package of the Mercedes could have gone much quicker and it wasn’t an easy ride of tyre preservation as the Red Bull’s of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber put immense pressure on Rosberg and Hamilton. Rosberg was also feeling the pressure from his teammate, but was managing the race beautifully, and keeping his tyres in excellent condition.
“It was really important today to remain concentrated and that didn’t make it easy, all those safety cars and the red flag and everything – but fortunately in the end it all worked out.”
It would have been easy for Rosberg to lose his cool and concentration as all mayhem unfolded behind him. First, a safety car was brought out for Felipe Massa’s Ferrari after he had his second crash of the weekend at St Devote. It was a carbon copy of the crash he had suffered prior to qualifying on Saturday (pictured). The resulting safety car caused a headache for Mercedes. Both Red Bull’s anticipated it and made their pitstops just before it came out. The Mercedes carried on for another lap, and Hamilton dropped too far behind his teammate as they came into the pits. Rosberg maintained his lead, but Hamilton was now behind the Red Bull’s. Rosberg no longer had his teammate as rear gunner, but as the race got back underway, he once again pulled out a gap to Vettel. Then on lap 45, the Williams of Pastor Maldonado and Marussia of Max Chilton touched near Tabac and Maldonado went spearing into the barriers. The race was red-flagged so to repair the damage to the barriers, and remove the stricken Williams. Another headache for Nico!
Rosberg continued to show calmness and control and did not let any of it phase him. Hamilton kept Webber very busy as the race got back underway, allowing Rosberg to stretch out his lead again. Yet another safety car was called out as the Lotus of Romain Grosjean took a real disliking to the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo exiting the tunnel towards the end of the race. Nico was more than likely incredibly happy to be out in front. More squabbling went on behind between the other Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren’s Sergio Perez, contact between the two forcing Perez out and causing Raikkonen to gain a puncture. Teammate Hamilton was stuck behind the Red Bulls and could not get past Webber. None of this phased Rosberg though and he crossed the line on lap 78 to take his second career victory. It was also 30 years since his father Keke Rosberg took victory at Monaco for Williams, so it was a very special day indeed for Nico.
“Monaco is such a special place to win and it just feels amazing today. It was my childhood dream to win this race and to do it in a Silver Arrow on the streets where I have lived all of my life is fantastic.”
– Nico Rosberg
Rosberg had taken everything the streets of Monte Carlo could throw at him and emerged victorious. It was a calculated drive and his tyre management had been absolutely superb. It was Mercedes’ first win of the season and many had expected Hamilton to deliver it, not Rosberg. Nico had led every single practice session, taken pole position and led every single lap of the race. Vettel did take fastest lap, but that probably didn’t bother him. Through the whole weekend, Mercedes had been under scrutiny thanks to taking part in a Pirelli tyre test with their current car and drivers straight after the Spanish Grand Prix. Rosberg didn’t let this distract him either. It was a brilliantly judged drive and it was to be the first of three consecutive Monaco Grand Prix victories. It was, without a doubt, one of his greatest drives.