Lewis Hamilton may have had a bad Monaco experience in 2015 and his 2016 season hasn’t been much better but if he was trying to officially place an opening bid on this year’s championship, he did it in fine fashion by winning the crown jewel of the Formula 1 calendar—the Monaco Grand Prix.
The wet race started behind the safety car for the first time in history and ran seven laps before unleashing the field on a slowly drying track. I said yesterday via Twitter that a wet race would be about the same as a dry race but a changing-conditions race would really be a welcome sight to many of the drivers like Jenson Button, Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso. As it turns out, that’s exactly what we got and it did add some drama to the day.
Perhaps the most notable elements was the brake heat issues that current championship leader Nico Rosberg was experiencing prompting a call from the team to let Lewis past him. In doing so, Lewis set about chasing Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. The key moment being a bungled pit stop for dry-weather tires when the Australian was called in but his tires were not ready. It effectively ended his bid for a win and handed the victory to Lewis Hamilton. Ricciardo was completely deflated and said that in the last two weeks, he’s been “screwed”.
A big win for Lewis Hamilton and regardless of what you think of his short-cutting the chicane and blocking Ricciardo, the incident was reviewed and no action was taken. Lewis withstood the pressure, put his foot down and made his Ultra-Soft Pirelli’s las the majority of the race to make it his first win of the season and with his teammate being passed for 6th at the line on the final lap, his has closed the gap to just 24 points.
A big win for Force India’s Sergio Perez securing a podium position in 3rd place. While it was his teammate who had qualified so well, Sergio gained from a perfectly timed stop for tires and leapt ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and gave the team a terrific points haul.
It has to be a win for the self-proclaimed third-best chassis on the grid as McLaren secured a dual-points finish with Fernando Alonso in 5th and Jenson Button in 9th.
It may not feel like a win for Daniel Ricciardo but if you look at the long game, his 2nd place finish moves him into 3rd in the driver’s championship ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. He wanted the win and who can blame him but securing 3rd in the championship isn’t a bad thing at all.
A win for Justin Bieber who managed to finagle his way into Parc Fermé to get his mug on TV with Lewis Hamilton. Not sure who his PR is but they scored big there.
This category is going to be big for the Monaco GP and we’ll start with perhaps the largest fail for Red Bull who called Daniel Ricicardo in and did not have his tires ready. They had just serviced Max Verstappen and the team were anxious to cover Lewis Hamilton’s move but the team said it was a human mistake and they will investigate. The Red Bull certainly had the pace to win the race and had they made the stop like any other typical stop, they surely would have won.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen had a fail and while mistakes happen in mixed conditions, the 2007 world champ not only blew the hairpin and ended his race but he spoiled any chance Romain Grosjean had in getting a decent result by pinching him in and forcing him to stop while the rest of the field blew past him. This added to a challenging weekend for a team who felt they should have done much better in the principality.
A fail for Sauber’s Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson who clashed at Rascasse after the Brazilian was ordered to let the Swede past but he refused prompting Marcus to try to take matters into his own hands.
A fail for Daniil Kvyat who seems to be rapidly sinking to new lows since being demoted by the Red Bull empire. The Russian clouted Renault’s Kevin Magnussen in a highly dodgy move at Rascasse and at this point, it wouldn’t surprise me if he doesn’t see out the balance of the season.
A fail for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who crashed into the Armco at Massenet which was his third crash of the weekend. The Plucky Teen is certainly trying to push the limits and with natural talent such as his, the team will do well to get him through the race craft stage of tempering his talent and finishing races.
Renault also had a fail with Jolyon Palmer suffering a crash on the front straight and Kevin Magnussen, despite being hit by Kvyat, also hit the wall and retired the car.
Clearly the WTH moment came for Red Bull who called Ricciardo in and had no tires ready. They had just serviced Verstappen but seemingly made a tactical error and that is simply something you wouldn’t expect for a team like Red Bull. Surely mistakes happen and no one feels worse about it than the team but a tough weekend for all involved.
For me, Nico Rosberg’s race was a complete WTH moment. He said he had no confidence early on, his pace was off and then he suffered a brake heat issue and fell to 7th. This isn’t the headstrong Rosberg we’ve seen so far this year and with Hamilton closing the gap to just 24 points, this championship is far from over if Nico is going to go into vapor lock mentally.
A WTH moment for Monaco after a huge piece of plastic fell directly onto main straight. WHAT? Good thing no driver got collected by that plastic at those speeds.
Also, a WTH moment for the FIA who nearly banned tear-offs in a rain race. Good thing calmer heads prevailed but it’s that kind of pragmatism over measured prudence that makes you wonder about the FIA’s other initiatives like HALO etc.
Monaco GP Results:
|2||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||7.252s|
|3||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||13.825s|
|6||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m32.999s|
|8||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|9||Jenson Button||McLaren/Honda||1 Lap|
|10||Felipe Massa||Williams/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|11||Esteban Gutierrez||Haas/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|12||Valtteri Bottas||Williams/Mercedes||1 Lap|
|13||Romain Grosjean||Haas/Ferrari||2 Laps|
|14||Pascal Wehrlein||Manor/Mercedes||2 Laps|
|15||Rio Haryanto||Manor/Mercedes||4 Laps|
|–||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||Spun off|
|–||Kevin Magnussen||Renault||Spun off|
|–||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||Collision|
|–||Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||Spun off|
|–||Jolyon Palmer||Renault||Spun off|