Monaco Takeaways: Italian drama on the French Riviera

Monaco Takeaways: Ferrari soap opera on the French Riviera

Monaco Takeaways: Italian drama on the French Riviera

The Monaco Grand Prix weekend was dramatic, and in one aspect, it was a sequel to the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, as the Italian soap opera went up a notch in the French Riviera.

Some people are gracing us with opinions on how Monaco may or may not be relevant to modern-day Formula 1, but after our beloved sport’s latest visit to the Principality on the coast of the Mediterranean, we were left with some interesting afterthoughts.

Yes, there was not much overtaking during the race, but the weekend overall provided enough drama, and guess what… The marina was real this time.

Before the race, the big question was: How will the 2022 F1 cars go around Monaco?

Well, they went fast enough, as the pole lap clocked by Charles Leclerc was a 1:11.376, compared to a 1:10.346 in 2021 also courtesy of the Ferrari ace, and had he been able to complete his second run in Q3 – thanks a lot Checo – chances are it would have been even closer.

With that out of the way, the new cars with their stiff suspension setups were a handful for drivers, a bruising experience for a seven-time F1 World Champion, and a humbling experience for the reigning Champion.

The obesity of this crop of F1 cars meant braking around the streets of Monaco was a delicate affair, the only good thing to come from this atrocity blemishing this generation of F1 machines.

Qualifying remained king, and what a joy it was to see the onboard footage of Leclerc’s pole lap, and what a pity that we were robbed from his second attempt – thanks again, Checo.

However, Ferrari were back to their old habits, and their shenanigans gave us our first Takeaway from a few other Takeaways from the Monaco Grand Prix.

Ferrari hit back, oh dear…

In my previous Takeaways column from Barcelona, I said that Ferrari needs to hit back as soon as Monaco. Instead, the Reds simply shot themselves in the foot, again.

With Max Verstappen on a roll, Ferrari and Charles Leclerc needed to halt the Dutchman’s momentum, and the Monegasque was on the right path, dominating the weekend from the word go, and capping things up with a majestic pole position on Saturday.

Unlike 2021, Leclerc stayed away from the barriers, and was dominantly leading the race on Sunday, but then we had those pesky conditions during the race, with rain at the beginning and the gradual drying of the track, something Ferrari’s strategists do not really enjoy.

Without going into details, it was another Red farce, and Leclerc fell three more points behind Verstappen in the Drivers’ Championship, as luckily, the Red Bull ace was not on his A-game.

Again, a fast car does not guarantee winning the Championship, and hopefully, Ferrari do not end up frustrating their latest hope of their first F1 Drivers’ Crown since 2007.

They already have one engine-related DNF, one strategy blunder, and one driver error – yes Charles we didn’t forget Imola – and that’s all they’re allowed if they really want to win this year.

Checo wins, what next?

First and foremost, big congrats to Sergio Perez on his Monaco win. What an achievement!

Red Bull employed team orders in Barcelona to move Perez out of Max Verstappen’s way, the former grudgingly complying and playing the team game.

In Monaco, however, Checo was the better driver, and you could feel that his anger from Barcelona was driving the RB18, while Verstappen could not get to terms with the venue where he won in 2021.

In the race, the team pitted Perez first, probably to experiment with him, but as it turned out, that decision was the right one at the right time, as he ended up jumping the Ferraris, while Verstappen could only overtake Charles Leclerc.

Jos Verstappen was not happy with the strategy assigned to his son in Monaco, but I don’t feel Red Bull did that on purpose, as Max remains their winning horse whom they will back all the time.

I said before that Perez should not expect to be given preference over Verstappen, and I stand by that, but with Red Bull renewing the Mexican’s contract for two more seasons, he may think that he can fight for Titles, and that should make things between the pair quite interesting.

As things stand, Checo is within a shot at the title, but let’s be realistic here; Red Bull will not back him up unless Max has off weekends more frequently, which I highly doubt will be the case.

While going to the Monaco podium, Perez was overheard chatting with his boss Christian Horner in the context of his contract negotiations. Maybe he wanted to remove the clause that says he has to support Verstappen and accept team orders?

But probably he was just saying that he should’ve asked for more money.

The Race Directors

The way things were going on at the start of the race, I was really concerned that we would be heading towards another “Spa 2021” situation.

I would understand that if the rain was heavy ahead of the race start that the Race Directors would postpone it, and send the Safety Car out to check the track conditions before green-lighting the race, but to sit there waiting for the rain to start was… well stupid.

Then they send the cars out behind the Safety Car when the rain starts and intensifies, only to return to the pits after two formation laps.

First, what’s the use of having the ultimate 20 racing cars in the world, driven by the best 20, or 15 drivers in the world if they cannot race in wet conditions?

Second, while being extra cautious at a track like Spa due to its high-speed nature may be understandable, why be extra diligent around the slow Monaco track, especially as it is a street circuit, so it should be equipped with proper rainwater drainage system ensuring it dries up rather quickly.

That’s the first blip from the newly-installed race-directing regime. Hopefully we don’t get any more.

A quick Monaco hit

A nice tweet which I captioned: That’s how you take pole in Monaco.