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Parc Ferme: Monaco’s mixed bag

Parc Ferme: Monaco’s mixed bag

Parc Ferme: Monaco’s mixed bag
Harboring the potential to deliver a dull racing weekend, the Monaco Grand Prix furnished all the goods that is Formula 1: Affluence, a star-studded backdrop, heritage, and heroic performances.

It also gave us an insight into the chassis on the Formula 1 grid and, following a bit of ‘upskirting’, a view of the underside of the Red Bull RB19 and the Mercedes W14-B. We can also now consider the myth that the RB19 is all aero and no mechanical grip dispelled.

It’s not all in the floor

I’m not convinced that the voluptuous curves underneath the Red Bull is the real source of its speed.  As many teams and aerodynamicist designers are aware, airflow over a body is capricious and neurotic in nature. Control requires an adaptable approach that can react quickly to its moods.

From a driver’s point of view, this has to be  predictable. The RB19 does this, but on the basis that the floor surfaces are supposedly fixed, the question is, where is all that consistent flexibility coming from? Much is made of the anti-dive geometry, and while this helps, it cannot be the complete solution.

Changeable, moi?

Unlike the other pilots, you don’t hear Max Verstappen complaining of unpredictability in his charge. In fact, Adrian Newey seems to have developed a car that works for the young Dutchman.

Allowing it to unload some of its mega rear grip and associated understeer when turning into a corner is required and returning it for the exit. It would be remiss of me at this point not to mention Verstappen’s contribution to all this.

His qualifying lap was sublime as he bounced millimetre perfect off the barriers.  However, with the budget cap, I don’t see the other teams unravelling Newey’s alchemy any time soon.

A graveyard for ambition

If, as a driver, beating your teammate is your second objective in a race, not being lapped by him has to be your third!  The short length of the Monaco track leaves a racer vulnerable to being lapped and this year was no exception.

First up must be Sergio Perez. Binning it in Q1, his weekend just went from bad to worse as he he ended up in the  “+2 laps zone” at the finish. Only ardent fans would still believe he has a cat in hell’s chance of lifting the Title. He has the speed on ‘his’ day.  However, he doesn’t seem to have enough ‘days’ to turn desire into reality.

Dad, can I have a faster car?

After Perez came Lance Stroll. Driving his way to the back of the Monaco grid, he was only saved from the ignominy of being lapped by his teammate through retirement.

Fernando Alonso normally finds a way to be effusive over Lance’s performance at the end of a race, applying a gloss to a dull picture. However, even he found his platitude bag empty on this occasion. The writing is on the wall here, same car, different driver, less talent, point made.

Citizen Stroll

However, Stroll the Elder deserves respect in the manner he has turned the Aston Martin F1 team around. I was always a bit suspect here, but I’m now convinced he’s the real deal. A proper F1 team owner who has learnt how to get sh!t done in the world of motor racing.

Some say that he should prove it unequivocally and replace his son with someone more effective, but hey, would you, would I?

However, I do make one request to the man behind the sunglasses. Cowboy up and stop pretending that Lance would be there even if he weren’t your offspring. He wouldn’t, and we all know it. It’s your train set, and you seem to be operating well, so you’ve earned the right to have a paying driver and tell everyone to talk to the hand. Please walk that road.

No slow corners please, we’re Williams and Haas

Monaco Qualifying and race performance clearly demonstrated that both teams do not have ‘chassis’ and are relying on other aspects of their car to get them up the grid. The Haas needs high downforce corners, and the FW45, long straights. It makes you wonder what Guenther Steiner’s boys could do if they developed the VF-23’s mechanical grip!

Return of the Mach?

However, for Williams, the problem seems to be the area between the seat and steering wheel in their number two car.

Confirming his bottom-of-the-noobs-league status, Logan Sargeant was the pit lane bicycle around the little principality. Everybody had a go with him.  Done like a kipper into Mirabeau by Kevin Magnussen, he was even overtaken around the outside of Rascasse by Stroll!

After that, I lost count. Meanwhile, in the Mercedes box, Mick Schumacher was seen polishing his helmet and cleaning the visor…I wonder.

Smells like Ferrari spirit

Finally, going into Monaco, Otmar Szafnauer faced the prospect of a very uncomfortable post-race discussion with Alpines CEO: Laurent Rossi.

Taking a leaf out of the book of Ferrari’s John Elkann, Rossi publicly waved the sword of career termination in Szafnauer’s face following a challenging start to the season.

However, Messrs Ocon and Gasly’s performance have now changed the tone of that conversation. I now imagine it will be more like: “Good morning, Laurent, remind me, what was the purpose of this meeting?”

Well done, Alpine et al. Maybe Leblerc and Sainz can do a similar job for Vasseur in Spain?