An unexpected safety car can change a race, especially around the streets of Monaco. While today’s race held more of a procession than we’re used to at any other track on the F1 calendar, the outcome of the Grandest Grand Prix of All was more than one could envision.

The Mercedes duo once again locked out the front row with their W06s, while Ferrari scrambled with Red Bull to follow. Hamilton got off to a great start holding pole position into turn 1, Sainte Devote, while Sebastian Vettel had a look up the outside of Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes.

The top ten all started on the super-soft Pirelli tire compound which held pace for most for around 30 laps, stretching the tires closer to the grand prix distance of 78 laps than expected.

At the first pit stop rotation, the only one expected given the longevity of the softer super-soft compound, the podium-glaring front-running order remained: Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel.

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The above order is how the race was expected to end.

Meanwhile, a lapped Max Verstappen, who earlier had lost his great position behind the lead pack due to a problematic pit stop that left him stationary for 31 seconds, was on a roll sliding past cars on the tail of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari. The Monte-Carlo armco had yet to taste his fresh 17-year-old Toro Rosso, and he drove like it to our amusement.

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Vettel stormed off into the distance in his Ferrari as Max Verstappen and his super-soft tires approached the rear of Romain Grosjean’s JPS-liveried Lotus. Verstappen had a couple of looks early on, and we all expected a terrific pass, perhaps even spectacular.

Max closed in on the Lotus gearbox on the pit straight. Grosjean blocked the inside and then quickly darted back to the left side to take the proper line through the corner. Max took the Frenchman at full throttle on the inside of Sainte Devote, but room there was not. Grosjean’s rear approached Verstappen far quicker than any of us, including Max, expected.

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The slowing Lotus took out the Toro Rosso’s front wheel, and Max flew toward the tire barrier so fast he didn’t even have time to take his hands off the usually manic steering wheel.

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The virtual safety car was engaged before the real safety car could get out on track to gather up the remaining cars still left racing. At this moment with under 15 laps left, more than half the field pitted for fresh rubber, including the leading Lewis Hamilton.

Whatever caught out the Mercedes engineers will be haunting them to their graves, but none will be haunted more by what could, what should have been than Lewis Hamilton himself. Lewis had the race in hand; sure the safety car would close the gap to Nico and Sebastian, but everyone in Formula 1 knows that is blindingly difficult to overtake around these streets.

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Lewis Hamilton on the fresher super-soft rubber came out behind Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel on approach to the safety car.

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The green flag was dropped and Lewis could not pass Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari to save his life following the wake of air of the SF15-T’s aero and the powerful Ferrari power unit.

A completely pissed-off Lewis would finish in third by a bewildered and consistent Nico Rosberg there to pounce on anybody’s mistake.

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What great stories did you see play out at today’s Monaco Grand Prix?

Drive of the Race | Pre-Race Briefing

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2015 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix

Pos.DriverCountryTeamTimePoints
1Nico Rosberg ROSGERMercedes1:49:18.42025
2Sebastian Vettel VETGERFerrari4.48618
3Lewis Hamilton HAMGBRMercedes6.05315
4Daniil Kvyat KVYRUSRed Bull11.96512
5Daniel Ricciardo RICAUSRed Bull13.60810
6Kimi Räikkönen RAIFINFerrari14.3458
7Sergio Perez PERMEXForce India15.0136
8Jenson Button BUTGBRMcLaren16.0634
9Felipe Nasr NASBRASauber23.6262
10Carlos Sainz SAIESPToro Rosso25.0561
11Nico Hulkenberg HULGERForce India26.2320
12Romain Grosjean GROFRALotus28.4150
13Marcus Ericsson ERISWESauber31.1590
14Valtteri Bottas BOTFINWilliams45.7890
15Felipe Massa MASBRAWilliams1 lap0
16Roberto Merhi MERESPMarussia2 laps0
17Will Stevens STEGBRMarussia2 laps0
RTMax Verstappen VESNEDToro RossoDNF0
RTFernando Alonso ALOESPMcLarenDNF0
RTPastor Maldonado MALVENLotusDNF0

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2015 Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship

Pos.DriverCountryTeamPoints
1Lewis Hamilton HAMGBRMercedes126
2Nico Rosberg ROSGERMercedes116
3Sebastian Vettel VETGERFerrari98
4Kimi Räikkönen RAIFINFerrari60
5Valtteri Bottas BOTFINWilliams42
6Felipe Massa MASBRAWilliams39
7Daniel Ricciardo RICAUSRed Bull35
8Daniil Kvyat KVYRUSRed Bull17
9Felipe Nasr NASBRASauber16
10Romain Grosjean GROFRALotus16
11Sergio Perez PERMEXForce India11
12Carlos Sainz SAIESPToro Rosso9
13Nico Hulkenberg HULGERForce India6
14Max Verstappen VESNEDToro Rosso6
15Marcus Ericsson ERISWESauber5
16Jenson Button BUTGBRMcLaren4
17Fernando Alonso ALOESPMcLaren0
18Roberto Merhi MERESPMarussia0
19Will Stevens STEGBRMarussia0
20Pastor Maldonado MALVENLotus0

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2015 Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship

Pos.TeamPoints
1Mercedes242
2Ferrari158
3Williams81
4Red Bull52
5Sauber21
6Force India17
7Lotus16
8Toro Rosso15
9McLaren4
10Marussia0

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F1 | images via Reddit