Safety car start
I had this huge sense of disappointment when seeing the message from race control saying that the race would start behind the safety car. I really wanted to see who would be able to master the conditions off the line going into Ste Devote.
F1 seems to have this aversion to driving in full wet conditions. I understand the safety aspect around this, but F1 races have started on the grid in worse conditions in the past, and yet Sunday we all had to watch the first 7 laps of the race behind the safety car.
It’s also telling that every instance of a safety car start I can remember has had radio calls from the drivers to get the race underway because the drivers are fine with those conditions, but race control seem to want to run enough laps so that the track becomes suitable for intermediate tyres.
If that is the case, then why even have wet tyres for F1? Why not ditch these completely and use track drying methods such as those used in NASCAR to dry the track sufficiently to run intermediate tyres?
Qualifying in China springs to mind… a session which was delayed due to a small amount of standing water under the giant media centre complex over the main straight which caught out Pascal Wehrlein. One driver got caught out (opening DRS at the same time he hit this patch of water) so that facilitated the need to delay the session to dry this section of track.
These 22 drivers are supposed to be the best in the world, and they have the tyres to cope with such conditions, so I hope next time we see a proper grid start & let them get on with it.
Red Bull’s pit stop
There’s no diplomatic way to put this, but Red Bull cost Ricciardo the race with the pit stop error on Sunday.
He had the pace all weekend, and put in a stunning Qualifying lap to claim pole position as well, but one mistake by the team caused them to lose the race.
That pitstop took an extra 10s than his last stop (total pit lane time) and that lead to Ricciardo being 0.6s behind Hamilton on the following lap. A clean pit stop would have kept him in front and he showed he had strong pace throughout that stint to match the Mercedes, so I think he would have been in the strong position to keep Lewis behind until the end of the race with it being so difficult to overtake at Monaco.
I can understand how Daniel is aggrieved, after thinking the team cost him the Spanish Grand Prix through strategy, as this provided him a great opportunity to win the Monaco Grand Prix. His pole position lap was a joy to behold, the way he was able to get on the power, the car looked completely planned and that Red Bull had great traction around the streets of Monaco. With some ‘power’ tracks coming up soon, this may have been the best chance for Red Bull to get another win before the Hungarian Grand Prix.
I believe team orders and the Red Bull pit stop error gifted Lewis the win.
There’s no doubt he drove brilliantly to keep life in the wet tyres before his switch to ultrasofts, and had the pace on these to keep Ricciardo behind him, but would he have been in a position to win the race if his team mate didn’t let him past on lap 15? This team order allowed Lewis to be able to close the gap to Daniel by 2s over the 7 laps he had clear air.
Without this or the Red Bull pit stop issues, and with Monaco being notoriously difficult to overtake at, I think Lewis would have only been able to finish 2nd at best.
This win does kick start his championship challenge though. He needed to stop Rosberg gaining more points on him, and especially after the Turn 4 incident in the Spanish Grand Prix, Lewis needed a strong result. With Nico Rosberg not on the podium this weekend, this has allowed Lewis to claw back some points and going into some of the races he is strong at (Montreal & Silverstone) he will need to keep that momentum on his side to catch up the 24 point deficit to his team mate.
It’s been a tough return for the full works Renault effort in 2016. Part of that has been the late decision by Renault to purchase the team, giving them little time to fully work on the car and make the switch from Mercedes power which Lotus used last year.
It hasn’t been a great start to the season for Renault, they have been quite a way off the pace. Jolyon Palmer hasn’t had a chance to show the speed that earned him a GP2 title, and Kevin Magnussen has only had one points finish to show for the teams efforts with his 7th place in Russia (which did earn him the Driver of the Day award).
There has already been talk of Esteban Ocon taking over Palmer’s seat, but it’s too soon to judge Jolyon on this season and replace him without giving him a chance. It was only the fast charging Toro Rosso’s on fresher tyres which stopped him getting points on his debut, and a hydraulic failure in Bahrain meant he couldn’t even start the race.
I’m sure the team will move up the grid as they start to properly develop that car as it would be great to see another full works team trying to challenge those at the front of the grid. What I hope we don’t see is for a rushed decision to change drivers while the current struggles are ongoing.
What is there to say about Daniil Kvyat’s race? After qualifying 9th (half a second slower than Carlos Sainz in Q3) it was the start of his race which ruined his entire afternoon.
Whatever electrical gremlins left him in constant speed mode for the first couple of laps destroyed any chance of a decent result. As soon as he went a lap down, it was inevitable that he would end up suffering blue flags all race long.
I can guess this must have been extremely frustrating and even more so at Monaco. But the way his race ended, crashing into Kevin Magnussen at Rascasse ending both their races, just looked like a desperate move to try and unlap himself against someone who was in 15th place at the time.
Kvyat may no doubt have been rattled by the demotion to Toro Rosso, but he can be quick on his day. It appeared on Sunday that the frustration with the car problems got the better of him and he made a mistake trying to make something of his race. Let’s hope for a clean race in Canada.
BBC 5 Live
For those who know me know that I listen to BBC 5 Live coverage during the race weekends. One thing I’ve really enjoyed this season is Jack Nicholls on commentary with the 5 Live team (& of course I’m ever appreciative of the ‘friend of the show’ tag as well!).
I’m sure I heard over the weekend that it was Jack’s first time in Monaco for the Grand Prix, and listening to Saturday FP3 while he and Jennie Gow were standing trackside, you could hear the excitement coming through his voice as they watched the action up close during this session.
It has been genuinely good to hear the BBC 5 Live team this year, the team seems to have this sense of fun about them, through the Chequered Flag podcasts as well as the live coverage. I’m really enjoying Jack’s commentary throughout the season (not just on 5 Live, but on Formula E as well) as I get the sense of excitement during his commentary which comes from someone who is clearly a fan and passionate about the sport.
This definitely came through during the weekend, and it was the first time I’ve heard anyone commentating during their first visit to a Monaco Grand Prix weekend. I can imagine I would have the same level of excitement were I ever to make the trip to Monaco myself to be able to see Formula 1 cars racing through those streets up close (1 day!).
Keep up the good work team, and of course I’ll be tuning in throughout the season too.
Lastly this week I have a special mention for the Indy 500. Monaco GP & Indy 500 on the same day make it a great motorsport Sunday at the end of May every year.
The 100th running was no exception. After that brilliant F1 race the Indy 500 had a lot to live up to and it duly delivered.
The laps seemed to tick off quicker than expected and the 3 hour duration of the race just seemed to fly by. A fast leading group made it difficult to see who could win the race, even with 30 laps to go and when Alexander Rossi took the lead I was convinced he would have to pit again for a splash & dash before the end of the race as I was following the race on live timing and saw that no-one could make their fuel last more that around 30 laps.
It was absolutely unbelievable to see Rossi win the Indy 500. Not only will he go down in history as the winner of the 100th running of the Indy 500, but he did so as a rookie, and he also set the fastest lap during the race (with an average speed of 225.288mph around the 2.5 mile oval).
I remember the last time I got emotional seeing car #98 take the chequered flag at the 500, that was Dan Wheldon’s 2011 win in the centennial anniversary race. Watching Rossi cross the finish line brought round those same emotions and I had a huge smile on my face from just watching the race.
My congratulations to Alexander Rossi for this incredible win. History will always remember the 29th May as the day the American rookie won the 100th running of the Indy 500.
So that’s the Monaco GP (with some Indy 500 thrown in). Now the countdown to Canada