Power Ranking the Formula 1 Teams After 2014 Monaco Grand Prix
The 2014 Formula One Monaco Grand Prix turned out far better than expected.
While many of us were expecting a dull procession, the race was livened up by some great overtaking moves, driver errors and reliability issues.
Nico Rosberg took the chequered flag ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton. It was the sixth consecutive victory for Mercedes, and the team's fifth one-two finish in a row. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo rounded off the podium.
But arguably the biggest and certainly the most popular moment of the weekend was Jules Bianchi's excellent drive to score Marussia's first-ever F1 points. After 44 pointless grands prix, the sport's smallest team finally achieved their goal.
Can they move forward from here?
Looking at reliability, qualifying and race pace, here's how the teams currently rank.
The weekend couldn't really have been any worse for Caterham.
Despite seeing his cars lock out the back row of the grid, founder Tony Fernandes was celebrating on Saturday. He was in London to see his football team, Queens Park Rangers, secure promotion back to the Premier League.
He had already indicated his passion for the F1 team was waning in a preseason address to his workforce, and their performances so far have not been promising. QPR's return to the Premier League—and all the expense which goes with it—appears to have been the final nail in the coffin.
Reuters reported on Sunday that Fernandes was putting the Caterham Group, which includes the F1 team, up for sale. He wants £350 million.
On the track, the high attrition and chaotic latter stages saw the team come close to scoring their first-ever points. Marcus Ericsson was 11th.
But both drivers looked noticeably off the pace of Jules Bianchi's Marussia, which barged its way past Kamui Kobayashi on its way to a points-paying position.
The Japanese struggled with his car's handing after the contact with Bianchi, but he was slower before the incident as well and a long way behind in qualifying.
Caterham remain in last spot.
Marussia are definitely making progress.
Jules Bianchi was baulked slightly on his best qualifying lap. Had he completed it without incident, it might have been enough to put him ahead of both Saubers.
In the race, the Frenchman drove superbly. Starting 21st after a grid penalty, he made up five places on the first lap.
A five-second stop-go penalty delayed him during his only stop, but because he served it under the safety car he got another penalty—five seconds would be added to his final race time.
His Marussia never looked out of place as Bianchi battled the likes of Toro Rosso and Lotus, and in clean air he wasn't much slower than the main midfield runners like McLaren and Williams.
Kimi Raikkonen's optimistic attempt at passing Kevin Magnussen delayed both cars, and Bianchi was close enough to capitalise. He swept by and held off Romain Grosjean's Lotus to finish eighth on the track, which became ninth after the penalty.
Max Chilton had a forgettable weekend, but Bianchi showed the team are moving forward. His points finish was the most popular result of the weekend, and just reward for the all the hard work the team have put in.
They stay 10th, but the gap is now smaller.
A Sauber has gone out in the first part of qualifying at every race so far, and in Monaco they both made an early exit. Neither was within half a second of getting to Q2.
Adrian Sutil damaged his front wing in the first-lap melee at Mirabeau and dropped to the back. He began an admirable fightback, but it was cut short by an error under braking for the chicane.
The German lost control, hit the barriers and was out on the spot.
While Sutil was having a nightmare, fortune was favouring his teammate.
Esteban Gutierrez stayed out of trouble and quietly made up places as those around him dropped out. In eighth place at the start of Lap 59, he looked on course to score the team's first points of the season.
But then, disaster. Gutierrez made the once-common error of clipping the inside barrier at Rascasse. Pitched into a spin, the Mexican stalled and was out.
Speaking on the team's website, he said, "It was probably the most painful mistake in my career."
The pain could worsen. On current form, there's a reasonable chance Gutierrez threw away the only points-scoring opportunity he'll get this year.
Sauber stay ninth.
The pace and promise Lotus showed in Spain seemingly couldn't afford a hotel room in Monaco.
Pastor Maldonado qualified 15th and didn't even make the start, a fuel pump problem ending his hopes of a first Monaco finish.
Romain Grosjean started 14th. A first-lap puncture dropped him to the rear of the field, and from then on he was playing catch-up. With his Renault-engined Lotus lacking sufficient punch in a straight line, the Frenchman struggled to overtake slower cars and was fortunate to inherit eighth from Jules Bianchi.
Maldonado proved that the reliability isn't quite there yet, and while Monaco was perhaps a special case, the team's qualifying performance was very poor.
Lotus slip down to eighth.
7. Toro Rosso
Both Toro Rosso drivers made it into Q3 for only the second time in 2014.
Jean-Eric Vergne put in a good lap to start seventh, but had he hooked up all his best sectors in one lap, he'd have got ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari. Rookie teammate Daniil Kvyat started ninth.
In the race, the two Toros had similar pace to midfield rivals like Force India and McLaren—but not similar reliability.
Kvyat's engine let go after just 10 laps. Vergne was running in a strong sixth place, but first his team, then his car, let him down.
An inexcusable unsafe release from his pit stop resulted in the Frenchman being forced to serve a stop-go penalty on Lap 36, and his engine failed shortly after.
The speed looks to be there, but reliability issues mean Toro Rosso jump only one place, to seventh.
Kevin Magnussen made it three apiece in the qualifying battle with Jenson Button to line up eighth on his first F1 visit to the Principality. Button was 12th.
Elevated to sixth by a combination of a good start and rivals dropping out, Magnussen drove a mature race until his power unit developed a minor issue. He let Button through on the pit straight, and later on the same lap Kimi Raikkonen had a go down the inside at the hairpin.
The Finn misjudged his Ferrari's turning circle and both cars ended up pinned to the barriers.
They both got going again, but the incident cost Magnussen 40 seconds and he could only manage 10th.
Button hung on to the sixth place he'd inherited, giving the team a double points finish.
McLaren stay sixth.
Felipe Massa kept the car on the track to finish seventh, a result which looked impossible after a very poor qualifying performance by both Williams drivers.
Valtteri Bottas led the way but could only manage 14th, with Massa down in 16th. Good starts saw them running 12th and 13th, respectively, after one lap and retirements moved them both slowly up the order.
Their race pace looked reasonable if unspectacular. Bottas was eighth when a power unit issue forced him to stop the car at the hairpin.
Massa, meanwhile, gambled on strategy and was out of the points when his teammate retired.
But as others faltered, the Brazilian carried on and ended the race on fresher tyres, fighting Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button for "best of the rest" behind the two Mercedes, Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso.
The failure for Bottas looks like a one-off thing and shouldn't worry the team moving forward, but they'll be aiming for a much better Saturday showing in Canada.
Williams drop one place to fifth.
4. Force India
Force India had a reasonable Saturday. Their drivers lined up 10th and 11th on the grid, Sergio Perez leading Nico Hulkenberg.
But one of the drivers' races lasted only five corners. Perez went a little wide at Mirabeau on the first lap and cut back across the front of Jenson Button's McLaren. The resulting contact left him facing the wrong way and out of the race.
Hulkenberg was fortunate he'd got ahead of his teammate before the incident.
The German drove a calm and controlled race to claim a creditable fifth.
That was only one place behind Fernando Alonso's Ferrari, but the gap between the two was staggering. In just 48 laps after the second safety car, Hulkenberg lost 70 seconds.
But then, all the other midfield cars did too.
There's very little between the three Mercedes-engined customers when it comes to race pace, so qualifying performance has been given a little more weighting.
Force India jump one spot to fourth.
The two Ferraris lined up fifth and sixth, with Fernando Alonso ahead of Kimi Raikkonen for the fourth time this year.
Raikkonen got the better start and moved up to third when Sebastian Vettel's car developed problems. The Finn showed excellent speed early on, outpacing the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo early in the stint before slowing as his tyres started to go away.
But his hard work was undone by a highly unusual collision. Max Chilton, un-lapping himself while the field was behind the safety car, carelessly tagged Raikkonen and gave the Ferrari man a puncture, knocking him out of contention.
Raikkonen later threw away eighth when he was delayed by an ill-judged attempt to pass Kevin Magnussen.
Alonso had a quieter race and was probably the most bored man on the track as he drove around all by himself on the way to fourth. He was over 20 seconds down on third-placed Ricciardo and over 70 seconds ahead of fifth-placed Nico Hulkenberg.
Ferrari aren't troubling the leading pair, but are light-years ahead of the rest.
They remain third.
2. Red Bull
Third and fourth on the grid was about as much as Red Bull could have hoped for.
Sebastian Vettel is still misfiring, and his RB10 isn't helping matters. The turbo packed up after just a few laps, and Vettel was forced to retire for the second time this year.
But, as has often been the case in 2014, Daniel Ricciardo gave the team a reason to smile.
He dropped to fifth at the start and benefited from Kimi Raikkonen's puncture to move up to third after the second safety car.
Later on he took advantage of superior tyre management and a speck of dirt in Lewis Hamilton's eye to close up onto the rear of the Mercedes, but he couldn't find a way through.
Red Bull will take heart from how well the car looked after its tyres, but Monaco was supposed to be their big chance.
They remain second.
It's becoming increasingly likely the team in first spot will remain there until the end of the year.
Monaco was the banana skin for Mercedes. Their powertrain advantage did not count for as much, as evidenced by the chasm which appeared between Ferrari and the Mercedes-powered midfield cars.
The pressure was on all week amid speculation one of the Red Bulls could snatch victory, but on Saturday and Sunday the outcome was the same. A front-row lockout and another one-two finish.
Yes, the gap was smaller in qualifying, and in the race Daniel Ricciardo finished right on Lewis Hamilton's tail.
But Monaco is a very unusual circuit. Expect another annihilation of the field in two weeks in Canada.
Mercedes remain on top.