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Monaco GP Takeaways: Who's the slowest of them all?

Monaco GP Takeaways: Who’s the slowest of them all?

Monaco GP Takeaways: Who's the slowest of them all?

The 2024 Monaco GP showed that sometimes, if you want to win a race, you should be the slowest out there and not the fastest.

Before we go any further, let’s set one thing straight. Yes the racing was a boring and a sleep-inducing procession, but that has been the case for a while now in Monaco.

But qualifying is always exciting around the Principality and that makes up for the boring race, and before anyone jumps to conclusions, Monaco must stay on the Formula 1 calendar, it is the Crown Jewel.

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That the racing in Monaco is a procession, overtaking being a rare event is not the fault of the venue as much as it is the fault of F1 and the FIA who have continuously developed regulations which resulted in bigger F1 cars, and while one of the reasons for this evolution is safety, I am sure with all the advancements in the sport, we can have safe, but smaller cars. After all, Sergio Perez’s and Kevin Magnussen’s Lap 1 incident showed that safety is paramount.

Every year F1 visits Monaco, we have the same discussions about the racing with ideas and suggestions to improve, some unacceptable if not ridiculous, but the best solution might be smaller cars, and not only for the sake of better Monaco racing, but also since drivers are always complaining how the big and heavy F1 cars behave.

With that behind us, let’s head on to the racing. And early on we noticed that no one was willing to push, but the fight was on who could go slowest to make one set of tyres last for the whole racing distance. The only time we saw a driver pushing was when the drivers ahead were close to getting a gap big enough for a pit stop.

And even when the pitstops happened, we had hope to see some overtakes, but disappointment was the outcome after a handful of passes that did not make any difference.

Ferrari and Charles Leclerc were clearly the favorites from the start of the weekend, with Red Bull clearly in trouble, McLaren there or thereabouts, while Mercedes were in their own division once again.

A bad race, but a great result

Leclerc: I was losing concentration with all the emotions

While the race was very boring, it was great to see Leclerc finally on the top step of the podium at his home Grand Prix. He had the pace all weekend, did not make any mistakes, nor did Ferrari who gave him a car that did not break.

Leclerc drove under immense pressure, but kept a cool head with no mistakes. Of course Oscar Piastri could not really launch an attack but again, the slightest of errors would have had a disastrous outcome for the local hero.

Luckily nothing wrong happened and the kid who used to watch F1 cars racing from his balcony finally got to drive one to a win, and the emotions were evident at the chequered flag.

It seemed like Leclerc’s sixth F1 career win was the culmination of all the effort and hard work he had to put in to reach this point in his racing career, which was not easy as he lost two significant supporting individuals on the way; his father Hervé Leclerc who sadly passed before seeing his son in F1, and the late Jules Bianchi, his godfather and mentor, who also tragically died in 2015 after a crash behind the Safety Car in the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.

It was clear that Leclerc was racing last Sunday with these two on his mind, which was a huge and additional pressure to deal with, but he prevailed.

So congratulations to Charles and while Lando Norris’ Miami win was a popular one, the Monegasque’s Monaco GP victory last Sunday was even more so as I doubt you would find anyone not happy for him.

Red Bull’s woes continue

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 25: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 25, 2024 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The Monaco GP was the third race in a row that we see Red Bull and Max Verstappen struggling in, and it seems that we need to recalibrate our brains now to cope with their current situation after that dominant run since 2022.

While Verstappen struggled in Miami, he did win the Sprint and came second in the race, and while Imola was also a challenge, he was able to take pole and win, but there was no recovery in Monaco.

When you see that Perez qualified 18th, you realize that Verstappen wrung the neck of his RB20 in qualifying, but that error on his second Q3 run just shows how much he was pushing to overcome the car’s deficits, but in the end he could not defy the laws of physics.

In the race Verstappen did not have the pace advantage to pass George Russell on aging Medium tyres, while being on new Hards, which shows how tiny the RB20’s pace advantage is right now.

Now we have to be aware that Red Bull are yet to have a major car upgrade, while Verstappen claimed that the problems he faced in Monaco were due to how the car was conceived. It was not simply a setup issue.

Now the reigning F1 Champions have had issued in Monaco with the ground effect cars, and also in Singapore, so it seems they have not eradicated those weaknesses in the RB20.

Will an upgrade fix that? Or will they have to wait for 2025? And most importantly, out of the remaining 16 rounds in 2024 how many will prove to be a challenge for Red Bull and Verstappen?

Perez and Magnussen

crash monaco grand prix big accident perez magnussen hulkenberg f1

The only bit of drama we had in Monaco, was the first lap incident between Perez and Magnussen who got tangled up and took out the luckless Nico Hulkenberg on the way.

Now first we have to express our relief that all those involved walked away safely from that crash, and credit goes to the high level of safety in F1 these days.

But back to the incident, it was simply a racing incident caused by two drivers who had a brief loss of judgment. Perez’s onboard showed he was looking in his right mirror where a Magnussen clearly was, and while he could’ve taken the decision to given his rival space and live to fight another lap, he closed the door.

Magnussen on the other hand is… What to say? Kmag will always be Kmag, as infamous as can be and decided to keep going into a disappearing gap, and the result? Carnage.

Now the positive thing is that the stewards at the Monaco GP looked into the incident in isolation and did not get affected by Magnussen’s most recent escapades that meant he is now two penalty points away from a race ban.

As such, they judged it was a racing incident and did not also consider its consequences. The right call. Not defending Magnussen but it is all too easy to get carried away with all the discussion now surrounding the Haas driver’s questionable tactics. This time it was not only his fault.

Monaco GP Quick Hits

Piastri: We'll give it everything

  • McLaren did not seem to be the same potent force they were back at Imola, but Piastri was impressive around the streets of Monaco. He outpaced his more experience teammate Norris all weekend long, and second place from the Aussie was a nice tribute for Ayrton Senna on the day the team were racing in his colors.
  • Mercedes got the second part of their upgrade package for the Monaco GP, and while they hailed the weekend as a great improvement, they remained in no-man’s-land.
  • Another weekend to forget for Aston Martin. Although Fernando Alonso could not make it into Q3 and was outqualified by Lance Stroll, he played the team game and backed the pack behind him and his teammate to give the latter a pit stop gap.
    The Spaniard’s efforts were all undone when the Canadian decided to tag the barrier while chasing Pierre Gasly, limping back to the pits with a puncture, rendering the whole Aston masterplan useless.
  • Speaking of Gasly, what the hell was Esteban Ocon thinking? Alpine boss Bruno Famin said there would be consequences and their should be. Ocon needs to know he doesn’t own the team. He has a history of not getting along with teammates and the stewards deemed the incident his fault. Kid needs disciplining.