Monte Carlo, Monaco (Sports Network) - Defending Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel won the Monaco Grand Prix for the first time after holding off Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button in a fierce battle during the closing laps on the famed Monte Carlo street circuit.
Vettel's dominance in F1 continues, as he has now won five of the first six grand prix this season. It was also his 15th career victory.
He overcame a pit-road blunder early in the race when his Red Bull Racing crew was not fully prepared for his stop. The young German only pitted once during the 78-lap race. He traveled the last 62 laps around the tricky 2.075-mile (3.34-kilometer) circuit on prime tires.
"I think the race today was pretty entertaining from inside the car at least," Vettel said. "We had a good start in the race. I could pull a gap to Jenson, so I was reasonably happy. I was targeting to go longer on the option [tires]. We had a problem with the pit stop a lap after Jenson came in. We lost position and went on the hards, and he went on the softer. He was pulling away like crazy. We were staying out a bit longer on the primes."
Alonso and Button were both within one second behind Vettel when a multi-car crash occurred in the closing laps. Adrian Sutil made contact with the wall, triggering the accident. Renault's Vital Petrov slammed hard into the barrier and had to be taken to a nearby hospital. His team reported shortly after that he was awake and alert. The Russian suffered bruises on his legs. Early reports indicated that he did not sustain any broken bones.
The safety car was deployed for the second time in the race. F1 stewards then suspended the race 20 minutes for track cleanup efforts.
When the race resumed with five laps remaining, Vettel quickly pulled away and then crossed the finish line 1.1 seconds ahead of Alonso from Ferrari.
"I saw the only chance to win this race is to stay out," Vettel added. "It was really close. I was 20 laps under pressure with Fernando and Jenson behind. I know it's difficult to pass here, but it was getting closer and closer."
Alonso was attempting to win the Monaco GP for the third time. His second- place finish marked his best run so far this season. He finished four points behind Vettel for the championship last year.
"I think [Vettel] was having some problems with the tires during the last 10 laps of race," Alonso said. "We were managing the tires when I pitted, because I knew at the end of the race it was our time to attack. It didn't come in those last 10 laps, because we had the red flag and the safety car."
Button had to make three stops during the race. The McLaren driver had led in the early-going, but wound up finishing third.
"We went for the three-stop, because I was struggling a little bit in the first stint with the rear [tires]," Button said. "We thought we could jump Seb on the first stop, which we did. And then we had a really good pace on the super soft tire. When the safety car came out later in the race, it held us a little bit, because we had just pitted."
Mark Webber from Red Bull also had a mishap on his first pit stop and lost valuable track position. Webber, who won the Monaco GP last year, finished fourth. Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi completed the top-five.
Lewis Hamilton from McLaren finished sixth after he was penalized for causing a collision with Ferrari's Felipe Massa during the mid-stages. Hamilton also made contact with William's Pastor Maldonado during the final laps.
Vettel has now accumulated 143 points for the season, which is 58 more than his closest competitor Hamilton.
Sutil, Nick Heidfeld from Renault, Williams' Rubens Barrichello and Sebastien Buemi from Toro Rosso finished seventh through 10th, respectively.
Just after Hamilton and Massa collided on lap 34, Michael Schumacher suffered mechanical failure and stalled on the track. The safety car was deployed for the incident. Schumacher, the seven-time F1 champion and five-time winner of the Monaco GP, finished 22nd in the 23-car field.
Sergio Perez from Sauber did not compete in the race after suffering a concussion and a bruised thigh in a serious crash during Saturday's qualifying. Perez will remain hospitalized until Monday.
05/29 12:29:28 ET