My favourite race of the season took place this weekend: the Monaco Grand Prix- one of the wealthiest race tracks of the season. Not to mention the home of Lewis Hamilton, whom didn’t have such a great race. After being knocked out of Q2 in qualifying on Saturday, Lewis started 14th in the race. This was quite a disappointment to Lewis because the Monaco racetrack, Grand Prix de Monaco, is a street race and it is one of those tracks that it’s extremely difficult to overtake and gain an incredibly strong lead on drivers behind. However, on Sunday, Lewis did manage to finish 7th in the race giving him some reasonable amount of points (yay!)
Monaco Grand Prix 2017 was probably the showdown between Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastien Vettel, both of which are Ferrari drivers. On Saturday, Raikkonen qualified his first pole after seven years whereas Vettel qualified in second position. As you could probably imagine, Raikkonen was elated and extremely proud of his result although we never can really tell how he feels:
Sunday’s race resulted with Raikkonen finishing 2nd with Vettel winning the race and you can see from above, Raikkonen was fuming due to Ferrari tactics that apparently favoured Vettel over Raikkonen in the race. The team did win their first Monaco Grand Prix after 16 years but there was quite a lot of speculation into the team tactics with Vettel surprisingly showing some sympathy…
“I can understand that Kimi is not happy,” Vettel said. “I would feel 100 per cent the same.”
Passing is always virtually impossible on Monte Carlo’s streets as stated before, the more so with this season’s wider cars. Ferrari pulled Raikkonen into the pits earlier than his team-mate, however, and he emerged into traffic. Whereas, Vettel stayed out and put in some very strong laps in clean air on his ultrasoft rubber tyres, enough to take the lead from Raikkonen through his stop. The German’s take on the events was that it had not been arranged by his team. “
From the team point of view there was no plan of any team orders or anything, he said. “When Kimi stopped I was just going flat out as fast as I could. I was surprised when I came out ahead. It worked well for me to stay out longer. We’re racing, we get on well but I can understand that Kimi’s not entirely happy today. He drove well in the first stint and then got the message to go in. You do the pit stop and then you push. Obviously it’s a bad surprise when somebody comes out ahead. I’ll take it, there’s no reason to lie or anything. I’m very happy about it today but I can understand he’s upset.”
The win puts Vettel 25 points clear of Hamilton in the championship after the Mercedes driver, having struggled putting his tyres into their ‘temperature operating window’ all weekend, had to accept damage limitation as his role here. He and Bottas remain free to race and Ferrari have said the same applies to their drivers but Hamilton claimed this proved they were now favouring Vettel.
“It’s clear to me that Ferrari have chosen their No.1 driver,” he said. “They are pushing everything to make sure Sebastian will maximise all his weekends. In strategy that just doesn’t happen. For the leading car it’s very hard for him to get jumped by the second car unless the team decide to favour the other car – so that is very clear.”
Raikkonen, who has not won a race since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix when he was with Lotus, looked to be more than aware this was a chance that had been manoeuvred out of his hands. “I got the bad end of the story today,” he said. “I mean it’s still second place but obviously it doesn’t count for a lot in my books at least.” Nor was he forthcoming on what rationale the team had for pulling him in when they did, with the data that would have shown there was a risk he would emerge among slower cars. “I don’t know,” he said when asked about the timing. “Obviously I have just finished the race. I have no idea. Obviously they have reasons for whatever we did. It doesn’t matter here or any other race. It’s not up to me to answer that.”
It had not been an inspiring race and Monaco, so often a procession, is likely to remain so in the future with this season’s cars bringing passing all but to a close on the street circuit. Yet it was a huge result for Ferrari and not just in giving their man an entire race win lead in the title race.
In mitigation Raikkonen’s times were slightly dropping when they called him in. Equally Toto Wolff, the Mercedes director of motorsport, believed the strategy being in Vettel’s favour had been unexpected.
“They deserved to win, they had the quickest car out there,” he said. “It wasn’t clear how the tyre would perform, they needed to pit one of their drivers and put them on the supersoft and, as it panned out, the supersoft was not quick enough. Sebastian was able to pull out some stunning laps and that gave him the advantage. I don’t think they saw that coming. It was the right result for the team and the championship but I don’t think it was orchestrated.”
Behind them Hamilton had stayed out of trouble, going long before his stop to claim seventh, in the circumstances a relatively positive result. But he has dropped well behind Vettel in the title fight and this is the second race in which he has been unable to make the tyres work, something he acknowledged could not continue. “Of course I can’t afford another weekend like this, of course not,” he said. “The Ferraris are quick and seem to work everywhere, so these next 14 races are going to be very, very difficult. They have arguably the strongest car all year, like our car last year where it worked everywhere. This car is not working at every place we go to. The more races we do the more we learn and the stronger we get.”
Moment of appreciation for the Monaco GP circuit and highlights because it’s my favourite race of the season:
And for those who want a quick update of the points and who’s where in the championship….
|1||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari||129|
|2||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas||104|
|3||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas||75|
|4||Kimi Raikkonen||Scuderia Ferrari||67|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||52|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||45|
|7||Sergio Perez||Sahara Force India||34|
|8||Carlos Sainz||Scuderia Toro Rosso||25|
|9||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing||20|
|10||Esteban Ocon||Sahara Force India||19|
|11||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault Sport F1||14|
|12||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team||9|
|13||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team||5|
|14||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso||4|
And constructors’ standings…
|1||Mercedes AMG Petronas||196|
|3||Red Bull Racing||97|
|4||Sahara Force India||53|
|5||Scuderia Toro Rosso||31|
|6||Williams Martini Racing||20|
|7||Haas F1 Team||14|
|8||Renault Sport F1||14|
So that’s the results after 6 rounds out of 20 rounds in this season. Monaco may not have been Hamilton’s weekend, but I’m sure he’ll bounce back better and stronger than ever for the next race in Montreal, Canada on June 11th.
Stay tuned til then.