The 2015 Monaco Grand Prix (officially the Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monaco 2015) was the sixth race of the 2015 Formula One season. It was the 74th time the Monaco Grand Prix has been held at the Circuit de Monaco, and the 62nd Formula One World Championship Monaco Grand Prix. It was held between 21 May and 24 May 2015.
Just one day before the first two practice sessions, it was announced that Lewis Hamilton had signed a three-year contract for Mercedes. It was reported to have been worth £100 million, making him the best-paid Formula One driver at the time, as well as giving him permission to maintain the rights of his images and keep his 2014 car and trophies.
Before the Grand Prix, the F1 Strategy Group made plans for some changes in the following two years, while rejecting the allowance of using a fifth engine in 2015. For 2016, the teams would get to have a free choice of the two compounds of dry tyres during a Grand Prix weekend. Changes for 2017 include:
- Refuelling put back after it was banned from 2010, but will not alter the maximum fuel allowance of 100kg
- Cars to be five to six seconds faster with an evolution of aerodynamic rules, lighter weight and wider tyres, as well as to look more aggressive
- Noise and revving of engines increased, with a six-speed gearbox
These rules are yet to implemented with further investigation:
- Drivers to start races on their own, without outside assistance
- Race weekend format to have global reflections
A decision was also made to have customer cars introduced, so to have small teams given chassis from the bigger teams. However, the smaller teams have made disagreements with this decision, including from Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn, who said that "[i]t's not at all a good idea." Also, there was major opposition about refuelling, as teams were worried about the prices.
Most of the planned changes were welcomed by the drivers, with Kimi Räikkönen saying that he thought "it would be nice and it would be good for everybody and it would look much nicer. I think it would be more like it used to be. I think it's the right way to go. Hopefully it happens, we have to wait and see. Obviously something has to change for the future to make it more interesting, make it more challenging for us also. It would be nice to see the cars going faster and all those things." Meanwhile, Jenson Button said: "For me the best years I raced in Formula One, the most fun from a drivers' point of view, was 2004. We had V10 engines, three-litre, 900 horsepower that revved to 21,000. We had a tyre war. It was great, but times change. The costs and everything have got to be taken into account. I don't really know where that puts us for the future." However, all the drivers gave mixed reactions to the reintroduction of refuelling, with Hamilton and Räikkönen backing it, while Button explained: "You obviously have the safety aspect, the reason why we went away from refuelling, and also the money, the cost. In terms of racing, I think it was great back in the day when we had refuelling. If you had an issue on lap one you could change your race around, do something different, whereas now it's very difficult."
As usual, the first two practice sessions were held on Thursday instead of Friday, so to make way for sponsor meetings and other social events.
Before the first practice session began, there were several pours of rain. Lewis Hamilton was fastest with a time of 1:18.750. Very surprisingly, Max Verstappen was second fastest when driving for Toro Rosso and being the youngest Formula One driver. Additionally, Daniel Ricciardo was able to get the third fastest time ahead of 2014 teammate Sebastian Vettel, who got a time ahead of Carlos Sainz, Jr. Pastor Maldonado followed, and Red Bull's other driver Daniil Kvyat was behind. Kimi Räikkönen was down in eighth place, and Nico Rosberg was ninth fastest ahead of Felipe Massa. Rosberg made a touch with the wall at the Tabac corner during the session, although his car was not damaged. Vettel also had a minor incident, when his car slide and nearly hit the barrier near the casino.
Fernando Alonso made an excellent eleventh, despite going onto the escape road at Ste Devote, which also happened to Felipe Nasr, Ricciardo, Will Stevens, Verstappen, and twice to Valtteri Bottas. Jenson Button was only able to do a proper run in the final forty minutes after what appeared to be a problem with his ERS, and was able to finish twelfth. Romain Grosjean followed them ahead of Sergio Pérez and Nico Hülkenberg. Despite his mistake, Nasr was sixteenth. Bottas who had made a cut of at least one chicane along with Kvyat and Vettel, was down in seventeenth ahead of Marcus Ericsson. Stevens was again fastest ahead of Roberto Merhi. Sainz was later fined €200 for speeding in the pit lane.
Hamilton was again fastest, and Rosberg was able to get to second this time, ahead of Vettel and Räikkönen. Kvyat was fifth, followed by Sainz and Verstappen. The last three of the top ten were Alonso, Hülkenberg and Grosjean. Pérez was eleventh, ahead of Massa and Bottas. Behind were Maldonado and Button. Ricciardo came back down to sixteenth, followed by Nasr. Ericsson was not able to run when his car had technical problems. Merhi had finally beaten Stevens, but during his run less than twenty minutes after the start of the session, his car skidded going out of the tunnel, causing his nose cone to hit the barriers. The red flags were brought out briefly, which the rain came out before the session started, and only a few drivers came out on the damp track when ten minutes of the session were remaining.
Vettel was fastest with a time of 1:16.143, followed by Rosberg and Hamilton. Hamilton could not improve at the end due to getting stuck in traffic, and earlier complained that he did not have the same amount of grip as earlier, being told that the temperatures of the tyres were to blame. Ricciardo was fourth, being followed by Sainz. Räikkönen was down in sixth after his car swiped the barriers on the exit of Sainte Devote midway through the session, which brought out the red flags for four minutes and twenty-seven seconds, and made him unable to do another run along with a punctured tyre. Kvyat was up next, followed by Button, who was an impressive eighth. Verstappen was behind, having also made contact with the barriers, only to be at the Anthony Noghes turn, and a rear wing endplate came off his car.
Grosjean completed the top ten, and Pérez went eleventh despite almost hitting Vettel while he was going slowly in Rascasse at the end of the session. Maldonado followed, having previously went onto the escape road at Sainte Devote along with Ericsson, who was eighteenth. Ericsson also overshot the chicane twice, as Hamilton, Sainz, Kvyat, Vettel, Grosjean and Bottas have also done the same thing once. Hülkenberg went thirteenth, followed by Alonso, Bottas and Massa. Nasr was seventeenth ahead of Ericsson. Stevens was once again faster than Merhi, who also overshot the chicane, as well as going over the rumble strips in the Swimming Pool.
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-Renault||1:19.086||3||1:19.639||16||1:17.120||4|
|9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber-Ferrari||1:21.219||18||No Time||20||1:19.269||18|
|11||Sergio Pérez||Force India-Mercedes||1:20.619||14||1:19.300||11||1:17.832||11|
|26||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull-Renault||1:19.520||7||1:18.548||5||1:17.471||7|
|27||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:20.784||15||1:19.151||9||1:18.102||13|
|33||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso-Renault||1:18.899||2||1:18.782||7||1:17.788||9|
|55||Carlos Sainz, Jr.||Toro Rosso-Renault||1:19.245||5||1:18.659||6||1:17.256||5|
Rosberg went fastest in Q1, ahead of Hamilton. Nasr was the first of the five drivers who were excluded at the end of Q1. Bottas was seventeenth, having to abandon his improvement of his time when he got caught up in traffic at the end of the session. The other drivers in the knockout zone were Ericsson, Stevens and Merhi.
While doing his first run in Q2, Hamilton had to come back into the pits for a change on his front wing, which he ended the session with the second fastest time. His teammate Rosberg was quickest, but at the end of the session, his right front tyre locked up, causing him to go onto the escape road at Ste Devote, but it did not affect Hamilton like the previous year, because it was not the final session. However, with the yellow flags brought out, it did prevent several drivers from improving their times, especially Button, who had to back out of getting McLaren into Q3 and settle with the twelfth fastest time. Grosjean was eleventh fastest, but already had a penalty that dropped him down five places after his gearbox was changed. Hülkenberg and Massa were also knocked out, along with Alonso, who had the slowest time after his car turned itself off while going along the start/finish straight, forcing him to stop on the exit to Sainte Devote.
Hamilton was fastest in Q3, finally getting his first pole position in Monaco. Rosberg was second, which he had another heavy lock-up at Ste Devote. Vettel followed, ahead of Ricciardo and Kvyat. It was thought that Ricciardo was unable to get to third when he had what was thought to be a communication glitch. Räikkönen was sixth, having hit the wall at Portier during his first run, and complained that he had oversteer. Pérez was an impressive seventh, and Sainz got the eighth fastest time ahead of Maldonado and Verstappen.
|4||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-Renault||6||1:27.611||7||1:16.706||4||1:16.041||4|
|5||26||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull-Renault||4||1:16.845||5||1:16.453||5||1:16.182||5|
|7||11||Sergio Pérez||Force India-Mercedes||7||1:17.376||10||1:16.999||7||1:16.808||7|
|8||55||Carlos Sainz, Jr.||Toro Rosso-Renault||5||1:17.246||8||1:16.762||8||1:16.931||PL*|
|10||33||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso-Renault||3||1:16.750||6||1:16.546||10||1:16.957||9|
|13||27||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||10||1:17.552||13||1:17.193||11|
|107% time: 1:21.884|
- * Sainz was forced to start from the pit lane for not taking a compulsory weighbridge call during the first qualifying session.
- † Grosjean was given a five-place gird penalty for having his gearbox changed.
|______________||Carlos Sainz, Jr.†|
- * Grosjean was given a five-place gird penalty for having his gearbox changed.
- † Sainz was forced to start from the pit lane for not taking a compulsory weighbridge call during the first qualifying session.
Hamilton kept the lead going into Turn 1, as Vettel failed to get past Rosberg. At the same time, Ricciardo was passed by Kvyat. There were a couple of incidents on the first lap. First, Massa had a lot of damage to his front wing and front right tyre after contact with Hülkenberg at Ste Devote, which he stated: "I'm finished, man. Finished." Next, Alonso made a touch with Hülkenberg, causing the latter to go into the barrier at Mirabeau and lose his car nose, but he was still able to keep going and take a pit stop along with Massa. By lap 5, Maldonado reported that his brakes were not working well. Verstappen soon went to make a move past Maldonado, but they both touched, causing some carbon fiber to break off Verstappen's car. Verstappen finally managed to get past Maldonado on the next lap at Ste Devote, while Alonso was given a five-second penalty to serve in his next pit stop for his incident with Hülkenberg. Maldonado was forced to retire on the same lap with his brake problems.
By lap 10, Hamilton was about three seconds ahead of Rosberg, and was later 6.4 second ahead on lap 24 along with breaking 1:20 to set the fastest lap at that time. Kvyat soon pitted, and still remained in ninth. Verstappen, however, had a slow stop, when the Toro Rosso crew struggled to get his rear tyres off, making the pit stop last for 31 seconds and have him rejoin in thirteenth. Hamilton set a time of 1:19.7 on lap 30, and was nine seconds ahead of Rosberg. Alonso served his penalty during his first pit stop on lap 35, luckily coming back out in the same position of ninth, while Hülkenberg came in for his second stop. After Rosberg and Vettel took their pit stops, Hamilton took his first pit stop on lap 40, and came back in the lead. On lap 41, Räikkönen had a lock-up at Turn 11, allowing Ricciardo to get closer. Having already been in the points, Alonso had to retire on lap 42 after having problems with his gearbox, forcing him to stop the car on the escape road at Ste Devote. Button, however, was okay, running in eighth place. Hamilton was already 10 seconds ahead of Rosberg on lap 45. The stewards were investigating Merhi after he crossed the line at the pit exit, but they gave no further action.
With thirty laps to go, Verstappen took his second pit stop, and dropped from twelfth to thirteenth behind teammate Sainz. Hamilton kept increasing his lead, being 11 seconds ahead of Rosberg on lap 52, and Vettel was two seconds behind Rosberg. Verstappen was soon lapped by Vettel, but kept close behind him. As Vettel got towards some traffic, Sainz moved out of the way, but it also allowed Verstappen to snatch twelfth. Later, Bottas was about to be lapped, and he too was passed by Verstappen for eleventh. As Verstappen continued to stay on the slipstream of Vettel, Grosjean allowed Vettel to lap him at the hairpin, but this time, Verstappen could not get past. Verstappen urged to get past Grosjean for tenth place, but it then turned into disaster on their 63rd lap, when Verstappen hit Grosjean's rear tyre under braking at Ste Devote, and hit the barrier.
Verstappen's accident made the first appearance of the virtual safety car, and Verstappen was not injured. However, the switch to the actual safety car was later made. Button and Pérez made their final pit stops, as well as Hamilton, who then lost the lead to Rosberg and came out behind Vettel, leaving many to question why the team had him come in. Hamilton soon said on the team radio: "What's happened, guys?" The safety car came in at the end of lap 70, but Ricciardo made contact with Räikkönen as he went past for fifth. The stewards gave no further action for this incident, not believing that both drivers were to blame for each other. Meanwhile, Hamilton was unable to find a way past Vettel, saying on the team radio: "Impossible to pass." With Rosberg being 4.3 seconds ahead of Vettel, Ricciardo was closing in on Hamilton, who still could not find a way past Vettel on a narrow street circuit, and said a quote on the team radio similar to in Malaysia, being: "Please stop talking to me, please." Ricciardo had to back off when being ordered to let Kvyat pass after overtaking him.
Rosberg continued to lead and win the Grand Prix, completing a hat-trick of wins in Monaco, and screamed: "Wooohooo!" Vettel finished second, with Hamilton third. His reaction included him stopping at Portier before rightfully going back to the start/finish straight, where he seemed to still have frustration when he clattered into the third place marker. Kvyat finished fourth ahead of Ricciardo, and sixth place was given to Räikkönen ahead of Pérez. Following them was Button, giving McLaren their first points of the season. Nasr and Sainz finished the top ten.
Following the race, there was controversy over Hamilton's second pit stop which snatched the victory from him. Hamilton explained during an interview: "I can't really express the way I feel at the moment. So I won't even attempt to. You rely on the team. I saw a screen, it looked like the team was out and I thought that Nico had pitted. Obviously I couldn't see the guys behind so I thought the guys behind were pitting. The team said to stay out, I said "these tyres are going to drop in temperature," and what I was assuming was that these guys would be on Options and I was on the harder tyre. So, they said to pit. Without thinking I came in with full confidence that the others had done the same." When asked by the Sky Sports F1 team if he spoke to the strategists, Hamilton replied: "No, but it was a collective decision between us all."
Toto Wolff said that it was the team's fault, explaining: "It was our decision to call him in and our mistake, pure and simple; in these situations, a driver trusts his team. Lewis had driven flawlessly until then and really delivered a perfect weekend, with a stunning pole lap and a masterful race. There's nothing more to say other than to highlight the grace with which he handled the situation; he was a leader and a true sportsman this afternoon." He also said that "We simply got the calculation wrong. We thought that we would have a bigger gap - a couple of seconds more - but we didn't." He added that they did not know that the virtual safety car was switching to the safety car, saying: "In Monaco you don't have a GPS - and that makes everything more difficult. That's why we got it wrong when it switched from the virtual safety car into the safety car."
Rosberg said: "It took me some time because I couldn't understand what was going on. I saw the Safety Car and there was no Lewis in front of me, so I looked behind and saw he was in a battle with Vettel all of a sudden. I didn't see him come out of the pits so I just saw them battling all of a sudden behind the Safety Car and thought 'what the hell is going on?' Then I slowly figured out what was going on and at that point I was still sure Lewis would win because those tyres were like ice, they were frozen. My engineer was telling me the tyre temperatures and I'd never heard them in my life before with these tyres. They were so cold, but somehow I managed to bring the temperatures up quickly and pushed like mad after the Safety Car came in. It's not the first time and it's not the last time, but I'm sure it ranks as one of the most horrible moments for him. It won't be far off losing the championship in Brazil [in 2007] because Monaco is Monaco and to lose it in that way is really not good – especially as he's done such a great job this weekend. He drove awesomely and fully deserved it, he didn't put a foot wrong. So I've got a lot of space for empathy for him – but at the same time a lot of space to just be happy. I've had a good run and been extremely lucky today for sure in a big way, but I don't think about that at the moment. I just think about taking the win and enjoying the moment."
- Daniel Ricciardo's 75th Grand Prix.
- Daniil Kvyat's 25th entry (24th start).
- Nico Rosberg reaches 1,000 career points.
Standings after race
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|V T E||Monaco Grand Prix|
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