David Coulthard completed his personal grand slam of Formula One victories this afternoon, adding Monaco to previous wins at Silverstone, Monza and Spa.

The Scot was in the right place at the right time to inherit victory from the dominant, but ultimately luckless, Michael Schumacher, but drove a mature race around the Principality's mean streets to take his second win of the season.

The event began under the usual suspense of whether everybody would make it through the first corner and, after Schumacher's retirement with suspension failure, effectively began again as the scramble for places assumed higher stakes. Alex Wurz was the first man guilty of causing a delay, stalling his Benetton after it began smoking ominously as the grid reformed, and then, at the second time of asking, the red flags appeared before the field had made it as far as the tunnel.

Related Articles

Although the obvious reason for the stoppage appeared to be the roadblock caused by Jenson Button and Pedro de la Rosa tangling at the Grand Hotel hairpin, there was some concern that the race computer had not started with the pack leaving the grid. Whatever, it took some time for the track to be cleared and, with the stricken cars being craned away rather than restarted, for the drivers to run back to the pits.

At the third attempt, the race eventually got underway, with all but the unfortunate de la Rosa able to take part. The Spaniard had already suffered two crashes in the weekend and was left without a car, while Button, Nick Heidfeld and Marc Gene joined Wurz in starting from the pits.

As they had on take two, the field managed to safely negotiate Ste Devote as second on the grid Jarno Trulli opted to tuck in behind the pole-sitting Schumacher instead of trying to outdrag him to the first corner. Team-mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen followed suit from fourth, forcing Mika Hakkinen - in fifth - to hold station. The Finn had already passed his German rival at the second start, but would now be forced to stare at his exhausts as the race proceeded in orderly fashion almost to the one-third mark.

Further back, Ralf Schumacher opted for the aggressive route at the start, and found himself in sixth as the field streamed up the Beau Rivage. Jean Alesi, behind him, had also made up a place by passing Rubens Barrichello off the line, but then found himself pushed back by Schumacher's charge.

At the front, another Schumacher charge was already opening out a clear advantage over the pack, as Michael pushed his Ferrari some three seconds at the end of the second lap. The gap continued to grow at a rate of around a second a lap thereafter, and the German appeared to have the race in his pocket by the time the first retirements began to gather behind the barriers.

As the field found itself running line astern, with very little change of order, mechanical sympathy began to become the order of the day. Track temperatures of around 40 degrees had been recorded before the original formation lap, and the effect of the heat on the cars was a major concern along pit-road.

Button was the first to depart, an unknown engine problem preventing him from having the acceleration he wanted, and he was joined quickly on the sidelines by fellow pit-lane starter Wurz, who became the first of many to be caught out at Ste Devote. Five laps later and both Minardis were also out, Gene with mechanical problems that saw him crawl off at Casino Square, Gaston Mazzacane with another accident.

This was lap 23, and Schumacher Snr already had a similar number of seconds in hand over the resolute Trulli. The Italian was using every part of the road in defending his position from Coulthard, and his actions were being mirrored in fourth as Frentzen tried desperately to keep a very determined Hakkinen at bay.

The Finn's chance of catching the leader began to look up as Pedro Diniz joined the list of retirements, parking his battered car on Beau Rivage, but the Safety Car never got past the stage of being on stand-by as the marshals moved the broken Sauber behind the barriers in their traditionally efficient manner.

It would have mattered little. Four laps later it was Hakkinen's turn to slow, dropping away from Frentzen on the run to Mirabeau and hobbling to the pits and what seemed immediate retirement. The black-clad McLaren mechanics swarmed over the front of the Finn's car before, remarkably, sending him on his way again, his car well enough again to set fastest laps in his pursuit of points.

As Hakkinen was being attended to, Trulli's luck finally ran out, as the Jordan coasted in, its gearbox dead. Coulthard was now up to second, comfortably ahead of Frentzen, and able to put in his best laps as he cut into Schumacher's still growing lead. The pair traded fastest laps as Hakkinen got back up to speed but, even as the Ferrari crew refuelled the lead, it was apparent that Schumacher still had the race under control.

The illusion lasted precisely another six tours for, as he passed the pits on lap 55, Schumacher's car crabbed to the left, its right front pawing the air as he wrestled with a suspension failure. Coulthard was through in a flash, and the rest of the field followed suit as Schumacher manfully dragged the Ferrari back to his garage. The diagnosis was not good. A broken exhaust had exposed the rear of the car to hot gases and, the words of the leader, had 'cooked' both the delicate suspension and his chances of equalling Graham Hill's Monaco tally.

Coulthard was now comfortably in front, probably pleased that he hadn't qualified on the seemingly jinxed pole position, and holding a handy lead back to the second-placed Frentzen, despite having made his own pit-stop among the chaos. Frentzen, in turn, had his hands full, Barrichello having taken advantage of the demise of both Hakkinen and Alesi to close right in on the Jordan.

Both had pitted at exactly the same time - lap 53 - and were apparently in a fight to the finish, until a message from the Italian pit forced Barrichello to cut his pace. Ironically, the relief at seeing his rival dropping away proved too much for Frentzen, and a moment's lapse of concentration saw him joining the growing scrapyard at Ste Devote with just eight laps between him and second place.

The first corner had no proven to be a safe place throughout the race, as both Ricardo Zonta and Ralf Schumacher joined its other victims. The Brazilian hopped out of his car unhurt despite a big impact, but Schumacher was not so lucky. He, too, had managed to get out of his car unaided, but looked uncomfortable as he hobbled towards the safety of the barriers, blood already staining the outside of his overalls.

Attention from the doctor was summoned, and the last sight of the German was as he was stretchered away to the medical centre. Last reports suggested that nothing was broken, but Schumacher appeared to be in some distress.

His place in the points had been assumed by Eddie Irvine, the Irishman getting the better of Jaguar team-mate Johnny Herbert as the Englishman - who had made the faster start - made two stops in the pits to cure a mystery problem with his R1. Irvine's progress would eventually take him to fourth spot, and the team's first points, but never close enough to challenge the quietly efficient Giancarlo Fisichella for the final step on the podium.

The Italian held his place at the start, but was quickly looking for a way around Barrichello's Ferrari. Once the Brazilian pulled away, however, Fisichella concentrated on bringing his car home, recording a fourth successive Monaco points score into the bargain, and taking third as others fell by the wayside.

Mika Salo, too, had fortune to thank for his climb into the top six, inheriting the last place with Schumacher's retirement before moving up to fifth as Frentzen smote the wall. The Jordan's accident also allowed Hakkinen to claim a valuable score, and eased the pressure he was putting on countryman Salo. A recurrence of his earlier problem also saw the champion back off in the closing stages, leaving a strung out top six at the flag.

Coulthard, meanwhile, was untroubled except for catching his team-mate and wondering how difficult Hakkinen would make it for him to pass. In the end, all the Scot had to do was move off line approaching the chicane and he was home free. It was a valuable victory for the man many consider still to be McLaren's number two, and elevates him into second spot in the championship. It should have been Schumacher's race but, having added Monaco to the other jewels in his crown, the Scot will now be setting his sights on depriving the German of a bigger prize.