The Monaco Grand Prix never fails to disappoint; The glamorous yet challenging street circuit separates the men from the boys, and it’s the race every driver wants to win.
With its limited overtaking opportunities, some spectators find this prestigious race boring, but underestimate the complexity of the sport’s slowest and most difficult circuit. As they detour through the streets of the Principality, drivers are challenged by hairpin turns and numerous elevation changes as they make their way down the narrow, winding track, tackling the dangerous hairpins and treacherous tunnel.
This year’s race was spectacularly unpredictable. After the sun shone down on this bright playground for the rich and famous during practice and qualifying, rain fell on race day forcing a Safety Car start and putting pressure on team strategies as changing conditions meant that the timing of the tire stops would be crucial. .
A year after a monumentally bad pit stop call from Mercedes that cost Lewis Hamilton the victory, this time it was Red Bull Racing’s turn to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. For the second race in a row, Daniel Ricciardo was furious at being robbed, he felt, of the opportunity for victory by a strategic error at the hands of his team.
The Australian’s woes topped a weekend that he and the team could, and should, have dominated, but to be honest, that wasn’t the only driver / team combination that saw significant strain on their relationship this weekend. ..
MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS
The tension continued to build as the rivalry between the team’s two championship contenders increased as Nico Rosberg again topped and outscored Lewis Hamilton during qualifying. The German, hoping for his fourth consecutive victory in his foster home race, started second on the grid with his teammate in third place after Hamilton suffered a fuel pressure problem during Q3 that limited him to just one. race with Ultra Soft tires.
When the race started on lap 8, Rosberg had trouble generating the correct tire temperature. On lap 16 his pace was excruciatingly slow and he gave up his place to his rival and teammate, citing brake problems as the reason for his lack of pace and eventual seventh place.
Hamilton set off to chase Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull, who pitted on lap 23 to switch his wet tires to intermediate, while the reigning World Champion opted to forego the choice of intermediate tires between tires. Full tires on which the race started and the intermediate tires. slicks without stepping on. He masterfully handled his rain tires until he switched to ultrasofts on lap 34. Red Bull followed suit, calling the Australian for a switch to supersofts; Unbelievably though, a miscommunication meant the tires were not ready and the delay cost Ricciardo the lead.
The fight was between the Mercedes and Renault’s Red Bull Racing RB12. Hamilton held off any challenge from Ricciardo, although the pressure was on when the Briton, losing time and traction behind a backmarker, cleared the chicane on lap 37.
Ricciardo ran him over when they got to the exit and expressed his anger and frustration when Hamilton blocked him, legally as stated by the stewards after an investigation. After that, he never got close enough to challenge again, with Hamilton claiming his 44th Formula 1 victory and his second crown at Monaco.
RED BULL RACING
It should have been a dream weekend for Daniel Ricciardo. After a change of strategy in the previous race in Spain cost him victory, the Australian was on fire during practice and qualifying in Monaco, securing his first pole position in Formula 1 and the most crucial pole on the calendar of this sport.
With the Safety Car starting the race, the Australian’s position could not be questioned. Even when racing started after the track started to dry out, it seemed like all he had to do was lead the group around the circuit for 78 laps to victory.
But there is nothing “sure” in Formula 1 and when the team called him to switch to dry weather tires, he hoped they were ready and waiting for him; but they weren’t. An inexcusable lack of communication within the team caused Ricciardo to lose precious seconds in a failed pit stop that ultimately cost him the race.
As for the new Red Bull recruit, what a difference a fortnight makes. Max Verstappen, fresh off his first Formula 1 victory in Spain, was forced to start the race from the pit lane after crashing in qualifying when he hit the right front wheel of his car at the exit of the pool.
With the help of the Safety Car exit, the young Dutchman was able to catch the rear of the peloton and began to progress once the peloton was released, working his way up to 10th.
But Monaco is an unforgiving circuit, especially for such a young and inexperienced driver. Despite looking comfortable and confident in the difficult conditions, the 18-year-old made a mistake on the climb to Massenet, locked the brakes and crashed into the wall. It was his third accident in two days, and his second at that corner, which dwarfed the youngster’s heroic performance two weeks earlier.
After qualifying a disappointing sixth, Kimi Räikkönen dropped to eleventh on the grid after a five-place penalty for a gearbox change made after final practice.
Struggling to hold on in wet conditions, he swerved at the hairpin on lap 11, hitting the barriers and breaking his front wing. He limped down the tunnel to the Nouvelle Chicane with the spoiler lodged under the front wheel, but escaped the penalty when he later faced the stewards for continuing to drive his Ferrari in a dangerous condition.
His teammate Sebastian Vettel still took home the points in fourth place, but it was a disappointing weekend for the German. After topping the timesheets in the final practice session, he couldn’t match the speed of his former teammate’s Red Bull and again found himself lined up in the second row of the grid.
He tried to undermine the cars in front by entering the pits before any of the top ten to switch to intermediate tires as the track began to dry out. This was left behind by Felipe Massa’s Williams who opted to stay with the wet tire and Vettel struggled to overtake him.
By the time Massa pitted, the four-time world champion had lost too much time and was behind Sergio Perez, who had moved his Force India from an eighth start to third. Although a place on the podium was within reach of Vettel, he could not find the space to pass.
THE QUESTIONS WITHOUT ANSWER
Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari potentially have a vacant seat up for grabs in 2017.
Nico Rosberg has yet to negotiate a new contract with Mercedes and will neither confirm nor deny that he has had talks with Ferrari. After giving in to the team’s orders in Monaco and passing through rival Lewis Hamilton, can the German endure another season in what has become a very tense situation at the Sliver Arrows? Rosberg is happy when he’s winning, but if Hamilton’s Monaco win is the start of his 2016 resurgence, can Rosberg be able to take the pressure?
The exact details of Ricciardo’s performance-based contract are unknown, but the option for next year is believed to depend on the performance of both the driver and the team, meaning that anyone could have the option to part ways. Red Bull has “screwed up” the Australian two races in a row now and any further problems could be the last straw for the Honey Badger.
But where could it go? The only caliber teams are Mercedes and Ferrari. Mercedes, for the most part, is great at letting its drivers run and not employing team orders, so it could be a good fit. But does Lewis Hamilton, as a teammate, fit in well with Ricciardo?
Whereas at Ferrari, although Ricciardo showed in 2014 that he is not intimidated by a four-time world champion as a teammate, Vettel is the de facto number 1 at Ferrari and he will not like to face the driver who bludgeoned him on identical machinery. during their final year together at Red Bull Racing in 2014.
Ferrari has yet to exercise the option on Räikkönen’s contract, although Vettel has reportedly stated, unsurprisingly, that the Finn is his preferred teammate. But how much pull does the German still have with the Scuderia? Are you running out of patience? Or do they accept that they are still in a rebuilding phase and may have to wait a year or two before their number one driver returns them to the glory of yesteryear?
As we head into the goofy season of Formula 1, only time will tell.