Mark Webber won the Monaco Grand Prix from the pole Sunday while Fernando Alonso moved narrowly into the championship lead in Formula One.
Webber is the sixth different driver to win in the opening six races of the season, a first for the series.
Drivers favored a one-stop tire strategy on the most difficult track for overtaking. Webber, in effect, needed to make it to the first corner in front and then negotiate a clean pit stop.
The 35-year-old Australian did just that to stay ahead of Nico Rosberg and Alonso for his eighth career win. It was his second victory in three years at Monaco for Red Bull, which has won the last three at this track from the pole position.
”I’m feeling incredible,” Webber said. ”It was reasonably straightforward at the start. It’s just a matter of then getting back into a reasonable gap (with) the weather threatening.”
Alonso, who is bidding for his third F1 title, headed into the race tied with two-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel with 61 points. He now leads Vettel and Webber by three points.
”It’s interesting to see the constant surprises we’re having this season. You never know who’s going to be in pole and win the race,” Alonso said. ”It’s difficult in Monaco, but we managed the traffic.”
Several drivers failed to finish, including Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher.
Vettel drove brilliantly to finish fourth, after starting ninth, and Red Bull’s strategy of keeping him on the same set of tires for 46 laps worked to perfection.
”It was an amazing day for the team,” Webber said.
McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton finished fifth ahead of Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.
Webber clenched his fist as he crossed the finish line less than one second ahead of Rosberg’s Mercedes.
”Unfortunately, it didn’t come together perfectly, but I’m happy with second place overall,” Rosberg said.
Although the front six were relatively untroubled as rain splashed the Monaco circuit late in the afternoon, there was chaos elsewhere.
The race was only seconds old when a crash took out four drivers, including Frenchman Romain Grosjean, one of the favorites.
Schumacher appeared to nudge his Mercedes into Grosjean as they jostled for position, sending Grosjean’s Lotus spinning sideways.
Pastor Malonado’s Williams was caught in the mayhem and bashed into Pedro de la Rosa’s HRT as all three went out of the race while Schumacher continued. Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi, whose Sauber was also damaged, failed to restart after making a pit stop for repairs.
”I’m very disappointed,” Grosjean said. ”I wanted to finish the Grand Prix, but it was a terrible start and that was that.”