Reigning world champion, Fernando Alonso has won the Monaco Grand Prix, leading from start to finish at the principality, the seventh round in the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship.

The Spaniard, who started from pole, finished the event around 15 seconds up on Juan Montoya, who was runner-up for McLaren-Mercedes.

Alonso began the event perfectly, with a textbook start, to maintain P1 into the first corner. Initially Mark Webber led the chasing pack, until a mistake at the start of the second lap, when he went wide going up the hill, let Kimi Raikkonen through to hassle for the lead. Alonso and Raikkonen then traded fastest laps, but the 'ice-man' could find no way by as is the norm on the tight and twisty confines that make up the Monte Carlo challenge. Webber and Montoya meanwhile both slipped back, while Rubens Barrichello held fifth, the one-stopping Honda holding up the likes of David Coultard, Nico Rosberg and Giancarlo Fisichella.

Of the front-runners, Montoya was the first to pit around lap 21, with Raikkonen stopping on the following lap. Both re-joined ahead of the 'Barrichello train', which was over 30 seconds back by lap 20. Indeed JPM maintained fourth, while Kimi dropped to third in the sister MP4-21, after Webber put a charge to make up some of the ground he had conceded earlier on.

Alonso by now was out on his own - and two laps after Raikkonen had pitted, he also stopped for fuel and tyres. The Renault number one driver though was stationary only for 7.9 seconds, and while he re-joined in front of Kimi, the Finn was right up there with him and now had the advantage of being able to run longer in his middle-stint, courtesy of a longer first stop - around 10.3 seconds.

Webber was the next to blink, coming in from the lead and re-starting just behind Alonso-Raikkonen, after a series of quick laps brought him right back into contention. At this point in the race, Alonso appeared to be on the back-foot with Raikkonen and Webber all seemingly quicker, but slowed by the Spaniard. The three-battle for the win quickly became a four-way fight by lap 32, with JPM catching up thanks to a seemingly slow Alonso, while further back, Nick Heidfeld was ninth, holding up a gaggle of cars which included Ralf Schumacher, Jarno Trulli, Jacques Villeneuve, David Coulthard, Giancarlo Fisichella and Nico Rosberg in 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th respectively.

The leaders began to increasing encounter traffic at this point and Alonso and Raikkonen broke free, while Webber and JPM both lost out. With 30 laps to go though Webber became the first high profile retirement, when he was forced out just after the exit of the pit-lane when his car caught fire. The safety car was deployed and Alonso and Raikkonen both pitted, the latter losing any advantage he might have had by being able to run longer. They re-joined 1-2 and looked set to battle it out all the way to the chequered, when 2 laps later, Kimi was forced out, when his car too gave up the ghost.

After that Alonso was unchallenged on route to his twelfth career win, one he was quick to dedicate to Eduoard Michelin, the head of the Michelin tyre company, who sadly passed away on Friday following a fishing boat accident.

Montoya's second place meanwhile was some consolation for McLaren following Raikkonen's retirement, although in truth, the Colombian was again outshone by his team-mate and was never really in contention for the win.

David Coulthard took the final spot on the podium, the first for Red Bull Racing, just ahead of Rubens Barrichello's Honda and Michael Schumacher, who charged up from last in his Ferrari 248 F1, after having been stripped of his pole late on Saturday, to take four points for fifth. DC was lucky to take third though, as a host of other drivers would have taken the position but for bad luck. In addition to Webber and Raikkonen, Jarno Trulli was also on course to take the position until he lost drive with 5 laps to go, while Barrichello would also have finished ahead, if he hadn't picked up a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit-lane.

Giancarlo Fisichella, who like Schumi was also penalised by the stewards after qualifying, took sixth. The Italian pulled off two of the most noticeable passes of the event coming out of the tunnel, when he locked-up on route to moving passed DC and then in a similar manoeuvre, did the same to Villeneuve on the very next lap. The Renault driver though lost out under the safety car and had to be content with 3 points at the finish.

BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld and the Toyota of Ralf Schumacher completed the top eight, both putting in steady drives to round out the points scorers, while Felipe Massa was unable to make the same kind of progress as his Ferrari team-mate, Michael Schumacher and took ninth, with Vitantonio Liuzzi tenth for Scuderia Toro Rosso.

Of the rest, Jenson Button had an afternoon to forget, the Brit coming in eleventh and a lap down, after struggling with the Honda RA106. It was one of his worst events for sometime and one he will no doubt be glad to see the back of.

Midland's Christijan Albers took twelfth, despite a coming together with his team-mate, Tiago Monteiro at the start, that will no doubt do wonders for inter-team relations! The Portuguese driver had to pit for a new nose after their little incident and he finished up 15th, with Scott Speed and Jacques Villeneuve the two drivers' in the MF1 Racing sandwich, in 13th and 14th. JV lost out on a better finish after being handed a drive through for passing under yellows during the safety car period.

Jarno Trulli was the last classified finisher in 17th, despite going out while third with six laps to go, while Christian Klien retired having completed 56 laps. The Austrian was on course to get a good finish and would probably have beaten DC for third in the lead RB2, however his car apparently suffered some sort of gearbox problem ending his day prematurely.

The other retirees in addition to Webber and Raikkonen, mentioned earlier, were Nico Rosberg and Takuma Sato. Rosberg was held up during the early part of the event by the 'Barrichello train' and the German then retired with 25 laps to go, when the throttle on his Williams stuck open and he went into the barriers.

In terms of the championships, Alonso's victory sees him increases his lead over Schumacher from 15 points to 21, while in the manufacturers' Renault's advantage over the Scuderia also goes up - the regie now 28 points in front.

The F1 circus now heads to Silverstone for the British GP in two weeks time, when the battle for the 2006 titles will resume.