By Alex Kapadia
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg stormed to victory at the Monaco Grand Prix following an action-packed race where the tyres once again played a key role in team strategy.
Rosberg was in front from start to finish, starting on the P Zero Red supersoft tyres and then switching to the P Zero Yellow soft tyres during a safety car period.
An accident on lap 45 brought out the red flag and under the current rules the drivers were allowed to change tyres during the stoppage. Rosberg completed the race on the supersoft tyres, following yet another safety car period with 15 laps to go.
The complexion of the race was altered when the safety car came out for the first time this year on lap 29 – provoking a round of pit stops. Both the Mercedes pitted consecutively for soft tyres two laps later, with Lewis Hamilton dropping from second to fourth as a result of the safety car intervention.
Following the red flag, the teams could chose whichever tyres they wished at the re-start, 25 minutes after the accident that caused it, and the majority of teams opted to go with a used set of supersofts.
Paul Hembery, motorsport director for Pirelli tyres, said: “Once again, we saw a Monaco Grand Prix where safety cars and a red flag played a prominent role.
“This had a defining effect on strategy, effectively meaning that all the careful pre-race planning went out of the window. Nonetheless, we experienced the expected low levels of tyre wear and degradation: in fact the race leader went one lap longer this year during his first stint on the supersoft compared to last year, even though the compounds are generally softer.
“After the race was stopped, most drivers chose to re-start on used supersofts, having to make them last for 32 laps for the finish – although they were certainly helped by a second safety car period.
“Congratulations to Nico Rosberg and Mercedes, who dominated every session and led an action-packed grand prix from start to finish.
“We also saw some great performances lower down the field from drivers who used their tyres and strategy to very good effect, despite the extremely unpredictable race circumstances.”