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Monaco 2006: Alonso adds Monte win to record.

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.

Related Pictures

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28.05.2006 Monte Carlo, Monaco, Fernando Alonso (ESP), Renault F1 Team - Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Monaco Grand Prix, Sunday Podium
28.05.2006 Monte Carlo, Monaco, Fernando Alonso (ESP), Renault F1 Team - Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Monaco Grand Prix, Sunday Podium
28.05.2006 Monte Carlo, Monaco, 1st place,  Fernando Alonso (ESP), Renault F1 Team, 2nd place  Kimi Raikkonen (FIN), Räikkönen, McLaren Mercedes, 3rd place, Mark Webber (AUS), Williams F1 Team   - Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Monaco Grand Pri
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