Monaco: Narain Karthikeyan’s nightmare at the glamorous Monaco Grand Prix was complete when he was forced to retire due to mechanical problems with more than two-thirds of the race remaining at the Monte Carlo street circuit here on Saturday.
Kimi Raikkonen extended his dominance to clinch his second successive win, while Nick Heidfeld and Mark Webber gave a two-three finish for Williams-BMW after a race filled with drama and excitement.
The McLaren driver, who won the Spanish Grand Prix a fortnight ago, is now second in the overall championship table behind leader Fernando Alonso, who finished fourth here.
Michael Schumacher of Ferrari handled a tough race well to come seventh with teammate Rubens Barrichello behind him in eighth, first time both the Ferraris finishing with points in a race this season.
Karthikeyan, driving for the first time in Monaco, a venue where the car manufacturers get to show case their product to their sponsors, made three pits stops before retiring due to break problems.
It was the second time that Karthikeyan’s Jordan Toyoto EJ15 car had failed to complete the race. He had retired in the Bahrain Grand Prix at Manama in April earlier. Karthikeyan’s teammate Tiago Monteiro came thirteenth, three laps behind the winner.
It was Raikkonen all the way as the Finnish driver led from start to finish. “I have been rather confident and happy all weekend but you never know what happens during this race,” the Finn said.
Raikkonen’s only moments of doubts came when Christijan Albers of Minardi spun and blocked the traffic with 54 laps to go.
It allowed other drivers to take a pit stop while Raikkonen, on a one-pit stop strategy, missed his.
“I was worried when the safety car came out... The team got a bit confused and we did not really understand each other,” Raikkonen said. “But it was a happy end after all. I just tried to keep the times regular.”
Alonso, who started on the front row behind Raikkonen, struggled with his tyres and dropped from second to fourth late in the race when Hiedfeld and Webber passed him to take their spot on the podium.
Schumacher’s plans went haywire when he was hit from behind by Coulthard’s Red Bull after being halted by Albers.
While the German had to change his car’s nose, due to which he was lapped by most frontrunners, Coulthard was forced to retire.
The blockade also cut Raikkonen’s lead considerably as the safety car was on the track for over five laps but the Finn answered strongly by putting in several fastest laps and build a 29-second advantage over Alonso. And though Raikkonen had a long pit stop at 41, he was able to come out with a 15-second advantage over the Spaniard.