It was a wild day in Monaco for the 6th round of the 2011 Formula 1 World Championship. The start was surprisingly low key with drivers carefully plotting a course through both the traffic and Sainte-Devote. Alonso came out ahead of Mark Webber while Michael Schumacher had a terrible start - getting bogged down off the line and having cars stream past before clipping the rear wing of Hamilton's McLaren before turn 1.
Michael made up for his bad start though by passing Lewis Hamilton in the Loew's hairpin for 9th place. The normally painful move will be made even worse by the fact that Lewis was on the harder tire and needed to hold his place. This marked the start of a miserable day for the Brit and it wasn't the last notable thing to happen to him at that hairpin. Meanwhile Rosberg tried to emulate his teammate by getting in front of Massa and holding on through the first lap.
While most of the field attacked and defended, Vettel was getting to work - by the beginning of the 3rd lap he was over 3 seconds clear. His team will have been slightly worried when Michael told his team his rears were starting to grain already on lap 9 of the race though. Lewis takes full advantage on the next lap and slips his car down the inside of Sainte-Devote. He quickly sets off after the next pack of cars that are conveniently being held up by the sister Mercedes car of Nico Rosberg.
The misery compounded for Michael as he was passed on the next lap by Rubens Barrichello surprisingly racy looking Williams. The Brazilians teammate was also doing well, holding onto 7th early. The Mercedes team had seen enough from their first set of tires though and brought in Schumi for his first stop to replace his tires and his wing. Button was next on lap 16, coming out 4th.
The next pit stop was by the normally perfect Red Bull pit crew but they appeared to drop the ball completely as their two drivers almost stacked up for pit stops. Vettel didn't have the right tires ready when he came in for his stop and ended up on primes; Webber suffered more and had a 15 second stop time to switch from options to options.
Alonso took advantage on the next lap and came out of the pits 3rd. The McLaren team seemed to try with Lewis but produced another Benny Hill pit crew moment and left Hamilton sitting still for 9.7 seconds.
Paul di Resta's Force India started a trend of drive-through penalties for drive-by muggings for position when he dive bombed a Toro Rosso into Loew's. The trend continued with Hamilton trying the same move on Felipe Massa before the Brazilian wrecked going two wide in the tunnel. Di Resta had another incident at Loew's later in the race and drove straight into the back of d'Ambrosio's Virgin. Hamilton had a relapse later in the race and tried to dive bomb Maldonado into Sainte-Devote, wrecking the young Venezuelan.
At around the same time Lewis and Massa came together, Glock became the first retirement with a suspension problem forcing him to pull off near the swimming pool. This shook up pit stop strategy and really set the race up until the end.
Jenson ended up in 2nd behind Vettel and was told he had to win the race on track. The McLaren driver had the option tires but couldn't manage to get around the Red Bull even with Sebastian on primes. Jenson came in for his last stop on lap 49 and basically sealed his 3rd place barring any accident in front. This put Alonso directly behind Vettel chasing for the lead, and Button quickly caught back up to the front pack by lap 63. The trio began to push through traffic at full pace, never growing their split time to more than a few seconds. Sutil and Kobayashi come together just behind for 4th place and Kobayashi makes the pass stick, leaving Sutil to hold up a massive pack of cars. On lap 67 Alonso had his best look at Vettel but the German saw it coming and held a good defensive line into Sainte-Devote.
This was to be the last competitive racing at the front, as a massive accident struck shortly after. With the leaders rapidly approaching the pack of 7 cars held up by Sutil, the Force India goes wide into Tabac as Hamilton goes inside. The car can't hold on through the outside and slams the wall, ripping off the rear right tire and sending him uncontrolled through the first chicane after Tabac. This caught Hamilton off guard and he slowed, but the Toro Rosso of Alguersauri didn't and slammed into his rear very hard. Directly behind the Toro Rosso- Vitaly Petrov was unable to avoid contact and slammed hard into the barrier on the outside.
All of this happened directly in front of the leaders and they thread the needle of the wreck shortly before the Safety Car signal went up. Unfortunately the race had to be red flagged since the Russian Renault driver was unable to get out of his car and was taken to hospital where he was checked for further injury. He seems to be in good condition and was suffering from pain in his legs which doctors say is nothing serious.
This red flag didn't end the race, but suspended it, with fewer than 10 laps to race. At the restart Vettel had a great start as did Alonso but Jenson wasn't as lucky and sealed his race spot with his initial gap. A little further back Hamilton made his ill-fated move on Maldonado but the wreck was cleared very quickly. The last gasp of action was Kamui Kobayashi missing the Nouvelle Chicane and having to give a spot up to Webber and did very well to not give up another to Hamilton in the process.