Clip The Apex
First we take Manhatten, then we take Berlin sang Leonard Cohen. He obviously hadn't studied his Formula E Calendar well though because first it's Berlin, then Geneva and then Manhatten. In fact it's not even Manhatten it's New Jersey so I'm starting to think Leonard Cohen knew bugger all about Formula E. This weekends race in Berlin will once again be at the man made airport track which means they can make up whatever lay out they want. Hopefully it'll be a fun one.
It's squeaky bum time in Formula E with 4 races left. There are 116 points left available which means mathematically anyone all the way down to Lotterer in 8th can win the championship. Realistically though it's a two horse race between Vergne and Bird with Vergne holding a 31 point lead. Rosenqvist in 3rd is a full 61 points behind Vergne and needs some none finishes and clean sweeps to get back in contention but if the season goes to the form it previously has then it's not likely. Vergne holds his commanding lead due to being consistent as he's not been out of the top 5 all year. Bird too has been fairly good at scoring points even on his bad days.
Last time out JEV took a victory in his home town and held off Bird to do so. Bird really needs to get the jump on him here to start closing the gap. The last round at New York is a double header and Bird was supreme there last year. This has to be in the back of Vergne's mind but he's experienced to know that all he needs to do is keep sticking it in the podium.
Outside of these two I'm sure we'll have the usually entertaining shernaigans with Audi probably exceptionally keen to get a win in their home race. Jaguar too really need to capitalise on that good form and get that first win.
Channel 5 actually have the race live on their main channel this weekend with coverage starting at 16:45. Qualifying is on Spike at 12:45.
Monaco. The principality of Monaco to be completely correct. Its name comes from a 6th century BC Greek colony in the area who believe they descended from Hercules himself. Despite their laws trying to suggest otherwise they have a monarch who holds ultimate autonomy over the region. It's all very Game of Thrones. All this for an area that is just over 2km squared. The region has a population of 19,000 people with around 10,000 of these being motor racing drivers avoiding paying tax in their own country. Monaco is famous for 3 things - the rich and crooked, casinos and motor racing. Yes it's F1's 'jewel in the crown's where the colours are brighter and the crowd are all beuatiful people.
Ok let's have a look at some of our readers letters. Here's one:
All street circuits in F1 are pointless with Monaco being doubly so. It's not fit for modern race cars and should be disposed off immediately. I resent paying for a Now TV subscription to watch it.
Angry of Scotland.
Well Angry of Scotland does have a point and his view is shared by many. It is pretty silly having race cars on a track like Monaco where overtaking has been virtually impossible for the last 30 years. To be honest though overtaking is virtually impossible at every track now so maybe it was a trend setter. Personally I like Monaco for the look and the fact it's a challenge for the drivers to even make it round. There will be no 'rejoin the track by going to the left of the bollard' here. If you leave the black stuff you're in the wall.
One of the things levelled at Monaco is that it's an exceptionally boring race. This is not always true but let's be fair how can it possibly be more boring than the steaming terd that was the Spanish Grand Prix? Yes we come here off the back of a 1-2 from Merc, a supreme drive from Lewis, a lackluster performance from Vettel and Verstappen actually finishing a race. Unfortunately it was all so boring that nobody really cares. Hamilton is very much in control of the championship now and is in good spirits so I fully expect him to be as unbeatable here as he was in Spain. Vettel has never been awesome here and I expect him to get some trouble from the Red Bulls.
Speaking of which Max Verstappen has to be one of the favourites to be first in the wall. Probably joint along with Grosjean and the two Williams drivers. My little boys pushchair takes corners better than that Williams so I fully expect them to both crash out. This race has ways bought about a lot of retirements and we've often seen a cautious approach lead to big points. The track is also seen as a leveller for the cars and we are told this means driver skill is far more important than the car. What this means is we'll get a lot of articles in the build up about how this is Fernando Alonso's chance to take an amazing and shocking win. I guess we'll see when we get there.
Last and not least let's talk about Charles LeClerc. The home town boy. Not only a home town boy but one who choses.to race under a Monegasque licence as well. LeClerc comes here off the back of two really results in a Sauber which looks a lot better than people expected. Could he pull off some sort of miricale podium here? I wouldn't put it past him.
So who is going to bother to watch?
Here's a fascinating fact for all you fans of fascinating facts, at the outbreak of the Second World War there were just 11 democratic countries in the world. As many of you will know, Spain was not one of them having only a few years before seen a bloody civil war ravage the country. Fascist leader General Franco took power in a dictatorship that would last until his death in 1975. Strangely, despite receiving substantial military support from Nazi Germany during the civil war Franco kept Spain neutral during WW2 which meant that the British could retain control of Gibralter and with it the gateway to the Med without significant fear of invasion.
The first Spansh GP took place as the final round of the 1951 season with a second being held in 1954 but it wasn't until 1967 that the race became an annual feature on the F1 calendar. Of these early races perhaps the best known is the 1969 GP at Montjuic Park. This was the final race in which F1 cars used huge wings on sticks bolted directly on to the suspension and in some cases over a metre high. Graham Hill's Lotus, so adorned, suffered a huge wing failure going over a rise on one of the fastest parts of the circuit. As he pulled himself from the wrecked car and ran back up the hill to warn his team mate, Rindt crested the rise and exactly the same thing happened to his car. It was no shock when at the next race in Monaco high wings were banned. As a side bar to this, Colin Chapman was the only person to predict this occurance and had already designed a small flap like wing to run over the Type 49's rear chassis. This additional downforce greatly assisted Graham Hill in taking his fith and final Moncao GP victory and the final win of his F1 career.
Alternating between Montjuic and Jarama until 1975 and then only at Jarama until 1981 the Spanish GP eventually fell out of favour. By 1981 Jarama was deemed too narrow for modern racing however the 1981 race was another classic GP with Gilles Villeneuve holding off a train of cars in F1's second closest finish to take the final win of his racing career.
The absence of a Spanish GP only lasted 4 years before Jerez hosted the return in 1985. Ayrton Senna's Lotus taking the win. Eventually the Spanish GP found a new and permanent home at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in which openend in 1991. The first race being best remembered for that run to the first corner and wheel to wheel battle between Senna and Mansell.
For many years Barcelona has been used as a testing track so the teams will be more than familiar with car set ups around here and if pre-season testing is anything to go by, Mercedes should feel confident that they will be the team to beat here. Given the unpredictable nature of the first few races this season it would be good to see what has for many years been a non event turn into something similar to the early 90's races.