By Aidan Mouellic, Staff Writer
The most anticipated race on the 2013 Formula One calendar occurred over the past weekend. The 72nd edition of the Monaco Grand Prix began with qualifying heats on May 25, but before the racers could dance their cars around the twisting streets of Monaco, controversy regarding the Mercedes-AMG team arose.
The FIA (the governing body of Formula One) states that no team is allowed to test vehicles in-season. This rule was put in place to help protect teams with smaller budgets that could not afford to extensively test their cars throughout the year. Banning in-season testing theoretically gives the Formula One racing league a more level playing field and prevents the big budget teams from constantly improving their cars in private practice before races.
The controversy surrounding the Mercedes-AMG racing team, which is home to drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, arose when F1 tire supplier Pirelli effectively borrowed the Mercedes-AMG team right before the Monaco GP to test their newest tires. Red Bull racing and the Ferrari racing team filed an official protest with the FIA in regards to the tire test that Mercedes did with Pirelli. The teams that filed the protest claimed that the tire test that Mercedes participated in was a violation of the in-season testing ban and gave Mercedes an unfair advantage in the future races. Mercedes seemed to have found a loophole though which allows Pirelli to do testing with any team during the season. The FIA has not disciplined any parties involved even though the rules state that in-season tire testing must be done with an F1 car that is two years old; Mercedes used their 2013 car for the Pirelli testing.
When qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix did get underway the driver’s delivered spectacular performances on an especially unforgiving circuit. The first two qualifying session of three were affected by rain which hampered the efforts of many drivers who are not especially suited for wet conditions. At the end of the three rounds of qualifying, the Mercedes-AMG racing team came out on top with the German driver Rosberg taking pole position with a time of 1:13.88 over the challenging 3.34-km course with his British teammate Lewis Hamilton coming in second. Current championship leader Sebastien Vettel took third place on the grid after qualifying.
On race day, which is always held on the Sunday after qualifying, Rosberg led the race from beginning to end to claim victory. The race was marred by crashes and a red flag halting the race had to be brought out on lap 45 of 78. Once the wreckage from the crash was cleaned up, the race was restarted with Rosberg on the front followed by Vettel, Mark Webber and Hamilton. Rosberg managed to keep his race-long lead until the end despite heavy pressure from behind and claimed the checkered flag at Monaco. This was a special win for Rosberg since his father, Keke Rosberg, won the race 30 years earlier. This has earned the Rosberg’s the distinct honour of being the only father and son duo to both claim victory at the Monaco Grand Prix. Rounding out the podium were Red Bull-Renault drivers Vettel of Germany and Webber of Australia.
The next race on the F1 season calendar is the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal on Sunday June 9. Qualification rounds will occur on Saturday June 8.