Monaco Grand Prix strategy report

Pace car Monaco

Race 6 – 78 Laps – 3.337km per lap – 260.286km race distance – very low tyre wear

Monaco GP F1 Strategy Report Podcast – featuring Rob James from theBox of Neutrals podcast.

Monaco is the most prestigious, glamorous and unique event on the Formula 1 calendar and the challenging street track produced another thrilling grand prix on Sunday. The race featured so many different elements and incidents, but Lewis Hamilton emerged from it all to claim his first win of 2016.

Strategy once again played a crucial part in the race. Conditions were ideal for producing a stunning spectacle, starting in very wet conditions but gradually drying out as things progressed. Here are all of the main strategy stories from the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix:

Red Bull takes a risk

Many were expecting rain at some point on Sunday but Red Bull Racing still opted to take a risk in qualifying and attempt to get Daniel Ricciardo through to Q3 on the super-soft tyre, meaning he would start on that compound if things remained dry.

Red Bull left it late fitting the red-marked tyre to his car in Q2, meaning no one was able to copy that strategy, but it proved to work and Ricciardo easily progressed through to the top 10 shoot-out. Obviously the rain arrived in time for the race start, making the decision redundant, but what could have happened if things were dry?

It is hard to really predict how the race could have panned out. A two-stop race was theoretically fastest but traffic problems would have cost drivers time, so a one-stop was always going to be the preferred option.

The super-soft tyre showed good performance and durability during practice, as the middle compound of the three taken to Monaco by Pirelli. Running a longer first stint if things had remained dry, having started from pole position, would have helped Ricciardo stay out of traffic and given him an advantage when the ultra-softs started to go off.

With Monaco being so difficult to overtake on as well, it could have helped him stay out front for longer. But then, if he had lost a few positions early on while others were on ultra-softs and then gone to the new purple-marked compound for his final stint, he could have struggled to get past the cars on the slower tyres.

Vettel makes an early move

Kevin Magnussen was the first to move onto the intermediate tyres early on in the race, just as his team-mate crashed. Sebastian Vettel was the first front-runner to make the switch and initially times were quite comparable, but the inters soon found more grip and speed.

The problem was, the early stoppers found themselves in slower traffic and that severely impacted their races – Vettel got stuck behind Felipe Massa, Jenson Button struggled to get past Pascal Werhlein. So Rosberg and leader Ricciardo actually benefitted in that respect, with their late stops, saving them from losing ground.

Mercedes keep Hamilton out

This was quite a brave decision. The move over from intermediates to dry tyres is a very tricky one to get right and going too early, especially in Monaco, can prove costly. But when Marcus Ericsson and a few other drivers dived into the pits and moved onto slicks, their times soon proved it was the right moment.

Mercedes took a risk keeping Hamilton out for so long on the full wets but the degradation of the tyres and wear of the grooves meant he was able to keep up a decent pace. Ricciardo soon caught up to the W07 but of course, then Mercedes rolled the dice and pitted him for dry tyres. Hamilton undercut Riccardo slightly but he went off on his out-lap, which cost him time.

Fortunately for Hamilton, Red Bull were not ready with Ricciardo’s super-soft tyres and so he ended up emerging behind the Mercedes. Had that not been the case, the small off would have been a big help to Ricciardo snatching the lead back. It was interesting to see so many drivers going for different compounds and that was also the case at the front.

Hamilton went for the ultra-softs, which had more performance but were not as durable and he struggled initially in the cooler conditions. Ricciardo was on the super-softs and they were less of a risk for getting to the end, but he was stuck behind Hamilton and took a lot out of them before the Silver Arrows’ tyres found the sweet spot late on.

Low tyre wear all round

As always in Monaco, tyre wear was very low and this would have likely saw a one-stop race had things remained dry. Hamilton still went for that strategy due to Mercedes’ risk keeping him out but wear on the full wets and the ultra-softs was impressive, with 31 and 37 laps respectively on each.

Across the board, most of the drivers were able to get long stints out of their wet, inter and slick tyres. The soft compound proved to be strong initially for those who switched to it from inters and it held up well, but the ultra-soft and super-soft-shod cars had the advantage once the temperatures rose and the tyres rubbered in.

Hamilton soldiered on with his tyres in the final laps but Ricciardo struggled even more, probably from his early attacking laps in the stints and being stuck behind the Mercedes for so long. The slow pitstop cost him dearly and had it not happened, he would have likely gone on to take victory, especially as he looked to have far superior pace early on in the dry part of the race.

Hardest tyre gets some use

Unlike previous rounds, the hardest tyre in the range – the soft – got some use during the race and held up well pace-wise against the ultra-soft and super-soft, helped by the conditions, temperatures and the track evolution. Sergio Perez went for the alternative strategy and did a great job to finish third, with Vettel and Nico Hulkenberg also doing the same and performing well in the final laps. The latter was even able to nab sixth from Rosberg on the line.

Jack Leslie @JackLeslieF1

Longest Stints

Soft: Perez (48 laps)
Supersoft: Button (47 laps)
Ultrasoft: Rosberg, Hamilton (47 laps)
Intermediate: Nasr (24 laps)
Wet: Wehrlein, Hamilton (31 laps)

Most Stops

Magnussen, Haryanto, Nasr, Bottas, Ericsson (3 – including drive-throughs)

All the Data

Thanks to Pirelli Motorsport for the detailed infographics



Stints by Driver

SCSafety Car
Lap 1-9
Lap 35-36
Lap 49
Redbull3. Ricciardo
Start P1
Wet 23 laps Pit 25.054
Intermediate 9 laps Pit 35.327
Used Supersoft  46 laps
Finished P2 (-1)
Ferrari5. Vettel
Start P4
Wet 13 laps Pit 25.114
Intermediate 18 laps Pit 25.561
Soft 47 laps
Finished P4 (+0)
Merc6. Rosberg
Start P2
Wet 20 laps Pit 26.698
Intermediate 11 laps Pit 27.680
Used Ultrasoft 47 laps
Finished P7 (-5)
Ferrari7. Raikkonen
Start P11
Wet 10 laps
Retired Lap 10 (DNF)
Redbull8. Grosjean
Start P15
Wet 15 laps Pit 33.490
Intermediate 15 laps Pit 25.111
Ultrasoft 46 laps
Finished P13 (+2)
Sauber9. Ericsson
Start P19
Wet 11 laps Pit 27.176
Intermediate 15 laps Pit 26.435
Ultrasoft 20 laps Pit 33.342
Used Ultrasoft 2 laps
Retired Lap 51 (DNF)
FI11. Perez
Start P7
Wet 21 laps Pit 25.714
Intermediate 9 laps Pit 25.608
Soft 48 laps
Finished P3 (+4)
Sauber12. Nasr
Start Pitlane
Wet 8 laps Pit 28.242
Intermediate 24 laps Pit 26.836
Ultrasoft 16 laps
Retired Lap 48 (DNF)
Merc14. Alonso
Start P9
Wet 14 laps Pit 25.512
Intermediate 18 laps Pit 26.836
Supersoft 46 laps
Finished P5 (+4)
Williams19. Massa
Start P14
Wet 20 laps Pit 24.934
Intermediate 12 laps Pit 25.182
Supersoft 45 laps
Finished P10 (+4)
Toro20. Magnussen
Start P16
Wet 7 laps Pit 25.583
Intermediate 14 laps Pit 38.811
Intermediate 8 laps Pit 25.879
Supersoft 3 laps Pit 31.241
Retired L32 (DNF)
Toro21. Guttierrez
Start P12
Wet 16 laps Pit 26.044
Intermediate 16 laps Pit 27.407
Ultrasoft 45 laps
Finished P11 (+1)
McLaren22. Button
Start P8
Wet 8 laps Pit 25.766
Intermediate 22 laps Pit 25.450
Supersoft 47 laps
Finished P9 (-1)
Redbull26. Kvyat
Start P8
Wet 7 laps Pit 27.698
Intermediate 11 laps
Retired Lap 18 (DNF)
FI27. Hulkenberg
Start P5
Wet 15 laps Pit 25.215
Intermediate 16 laps Pit 27.064
Soft 47 laps
Finished P6 (+1)
Toro30. Palmer
Start P18
Wet 7 laps
Retired Lap 7 (DNF)
Toro33. Verstappen
Start Pitlane
Wet 12 laps Pit 25.604
Intermediate 19 laps Pit 25.459
Soft 3 laps
Retired Lap 34 (DNF)
Merc44. Hamilton
Start P3
Wet 31 laps Pit 26.315
Ultrasoft 47 laps
Finished P1 (+2)
Toro55. Sainz
Start P8
Wet 21 laps Pit 27.738
Intermediate 10 laps Pit 28.112
Supersoft 46 laps
Finished P8 (+0)
Redbull77. Bottas
Start P10
Wet 15 laps Pit 27.364
Intermediate 25 laps Pit 25.478
Supersoft 19 laps Pit 24.673
Ultrasoft 28 laps
Finished P12 (-2)
Toro88. Haryanto
Start P19
Wet 11 laps Pit 29.117
Intermediate 23 laps Pit 27.380
Ultrasoft 13 laps Pit 26.292
Used Ultrasoft 27 laps
Finished P15 (+4)
Toro94. Wehrlein
Start P20
Wet 31 laps Pit 26.517
Ultrasoft 45 laps
Finished P14 (+6)