The Monaco Grand Prix was one of those magical moments when you saw what might best be termed ‘the premium benefit’ of paying top dollar to top drivers to do a top job.
As Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button – four world championships between them, and soon to be five – slammed across the finishing line in tight formation you just had to admire the obviously, namely the absolute and unremitting precision which they had brought to bear on their professional calling for two frenetic hours.
Vettel drove superbly, which he always does; Alonso increasingly radiates an extrovert joie-de-vivre which signals an admittedly grudging acceptance of Ferrari’s current status as also-rans; Button simply reveled in the controlled confidence of a man who was absolutely certain he could have won had not the first safety car period fallen at a strategically unhelpful moment.
Their team-mates, by contrast, had simply miserable afternoons. Lewis Hamilton showcased just how difficult the demands of Monaco can be by getting involved in controversial collisions with Felipe Massa’s Ferrari and Pastor Maldonado’s Williams; Massa himself seemed to be floundering yet again; Mark Webber drove well, if unobtrusively, to deliver fourth place in a race he had dominated 12-months earlier.
Of the three, only Hamilton has a rock solid future with his current team beyond the end of the current season.
Webber is likely to stay with Red Bull only if he can recapture his 2010 form, which he probably can. Massa, for all Maranello’s protestations, is likely to stay at Ferrari only if he can get consistently closer to Alonso, which he probably can’t.
Either way, the balance of the season promises to be a storming affair. In Vettel’s wake.