Clip The Apex
Monaco. It is the Marmite race of F1. You either love it or hate it and it’s a left over event from YEASTeryear (thank you thank you, I’m here all week, try the chicken). Personally I love it. I love the colours, the walled in racing and the fact it’s a ridiculous place to have a motor race. Those who hate street circuits will grumble about there being no overtaking and I see their point, but the thing about Monaco is that if you do get an overtake its usually spectacular or ends up in a big smash. It’s a quality over quantity situation.
CTA’s most controversial race of all time was the 2011 Monaco Grand Prix. It concluded in an 23 page argument and the banning of at least 3 members(seriously if you have a spare half hour then go into the archives and read it) . Between a three way battle between Vettel, Alonso and Button for the lead, Mclaren rebuilding Hamilton’s car on the grid during a red flag stoppage, Lewis accusing the stewards of racism and poor old Petrov getting flack for ‘feigning injury’ and ruining the race, there was a lot to discuss. If this years race is half as exciting as that one then we’re in for a treat.
2011 was a bad year for Lewis Hamilton but usually he is pretty hot round the principality. Sebastian Vettel on the other hand has not shown great form round the place – with that 2011 race being his only win. Because they are the title contenders you would expect them to be the ones at the front but as this is the great car leveller it could work out differently. Another thing you would expect this year is for this to be a one stop strategy. Track position is key so no one at the front will take too many gambles. Its pretty much a certainty that Hamilton will wait to see his rivals are stopping before he comes in, he’s been burnt by Merc on a tyre strategy like that before. Speaking of which how many times do you think Ricciardo will ask if his tyres are ready on his in lap? Dozens if I was him. Ricciardo is actually my tip for the win. I think he is exceptional round Monaco and will be hungry for a result given Red Bulls poor form so far.
Last year Max Verstappen became the youngest F1 driver ever to hit a wall in every session, before becoming the youngest F1 driver ever to walk back to the pit lane, then the youngest F1 driver ever to walk back in the garage and finally the youngest F1 driver ever to eat a toasted cheese and ham Panini. David Croft described this as the most exciting thing to happen in F1 in decades and Martin Brundle said he wished F1 had 5 more like him…….over footage of Carlos Sainz doing something amazing. In all seriousness though Max needs to dial in this year as this is Red Bulls big chance at race wins.
As I’ve said elsewhere Force India are clearly the 4th best team at the moment and are pushing Red Bull for that third spot. They have a great driver pairing but this is the first time Ocon has ever driven at Monaco so I expect him to be slightly lower down than he has been in the last few rounds. Perez though is always worth a punt for a cheeky podium. Carlos Sainz is also someone who might defy the odds and, depending on which Kvyat turns up, Torro Rosso could have a good day too. Hulkenberg will probably get a solid result. Massa, Stroll and Palmer will all crash out by lap 10, Haas will have brake issues and I suspect Sauber might punch above their weight once again. Ted Kravitz predicted pre-season that Sauber would be plumb last and much to everyones delight they have shown that Ted Kravitz is the plumb and scored some good results. They are taking a lot of risks strategy wise and I expect to hear about them doing something like that this weekend too.
That leaves me with Mclaren. Now its now been talked about much, and might come as a shock to you, but Fernando Alonso will not be driving for Mclaren at Monaco. He’s gone to seek fame and fortune in the US for one week only. That means we get the return of a certain Jenson Button. The race is not far from his house so its an easy one for him to come too. Now if the car keeps going (that’s a big if) then Mclaren might be in a position to do well. They claim their car is one of the best on the grid and the engine is holding them back, well engine power means squat in Monaco so they should be on pace. Button really has nothing to lose, he could pull off a great result and be a hero or crash out on lap 1 and know that in 5 years time people will barely remember he even came in for that race. I hope its the former purely to annoy Mark Webber. It is put your money where your mouth is time for Mclaren though and, having won the biggest idiot award in Spain, Vandorne will be very keen to get a good result.
So you love it or you hate it but we’ll all be watching it.
Catalonia, made up of four provinces the capital of which is Barcelona, is an autonomous community in north eastern Spain(Thanks Wikipedia). To explain its long and complicated history would take more time and effort than I currently have at almost 11pm on a Sunday evening. The one fact that should concern us however, is that since 1991 the region has been home to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and the Spanish Grand Prix.
It's hard to imagine that Spain has been one of the longest serving fixtures on the F1 calendar. Making its debut as a World Championship event in 1951, it has been in and out of the calendar on several occasions and been hosted by a number of circuits but has been ever present since 1986.
Catalunya which took over from Jerez after 1990, couldn't have got off to a better start in 1991, hosting the famous dog fight between Senna and Mansell. As the years progressed however, and car designs became more overtaking unfriendly, the track has felt it more than most of the older circuit designs. A design change to the final corner took away the sweeping right hander in the name of improving overtaking but had absolutely no effect and actually reduced the risk that the most commited drivers would take to hang the car on the ragged edge to maximise their speed onto the main straight.
Interestingly, despite the circuit's poor reputation, the race has been won by a different driver in every season since 2007. It also featured the debut wins for Pastor Maldonado and Max Verstappen.