Thoughts on the Monaco Grand Prix

I love the Monaco Grand Prix. Always have.  The history, tradition, colour, spectacle and test of driver challenge are rivalled by no other race on the Formula 1 calendar and that includes the other classics at Monza, Spa and Silverstone. Despite this we all know it can produce processional races. Many people would prefer to drop Monaco completely because of this – I say no to that. I can put up with the odd procession because Monaco can, now and then, produce utter classics. It might have 50 laps of tedium out of the 78 but when something happens in Monaco it happens in a big way. Countless races in the past have taught us this. Not every year can be a classic and that’s why classics are remembered.

At least.. this is the theory I’ve subscribed to for years. With that being the case, why is it then that when a processional race rolled around this year I was so turned off by it? In the first 20-30 laps there was a lot of promise of action caused either by rain or tyre degradation and that held my attention, I was sitting there expectantly waiting the action that would surely follow. Has F1 been so good this year that a ‘traditional’ Monaco isn’t good enough any more?

Even if there wasn’t passing I expected to see attempts at passing, cars darting this way and that as the drivers tried to force their way by. Didn’t happen. Even when the pack condensed in the latter laps and we had six cars covered by just six seconds, none of them ever really seriously looked like trying to overtake the guy in front. That’s why it was boring. If I can see people attempting to pass but failing, that’s fine, that’s still racing, it just means the guy in front did a better job. To seemingly not even try… that’s no fun.

Holding Back

Why did this happen? Tyre preservation. The soft and supersoft tyres brought by Pirelli were being nursed by the drivers. Rather than go balls-to-the-wall in the quest for speed, burning up the tyres in the process, every one of the top runners was content to sit back in order to preserve the rubber to reduce the number of stops they would have to make. In all fairness I hadn’t clocked this until Sergio Perez, delayed after contact, pitted and emerged in 17th place nearly a lap behind the leaders, and with a clear track promptly set a Fastest Lap on yellow soft tyres a clear 1.5 seconds (and I have a feeling nearer 2 seconds) faster than the frontrunners were going – I have in my mind that these guys were on the faster red supersofts by this point but I could be wrong. According to the official FL list he was still 1.2sec faster than the nearest driver all race.

Okay, conservation is a valid way to win a race. We saw later in the day the Ganassi team won the Indy 500 by holding back to save fuel and tyres for the final run. Not a problem. Perhaps I expected this strategy to be run against someone else doing the opposite – running hot, burning up the tyres and pitting. Like the classic Senna v Mansell race here when Senna ran long and Mansell pitted, caught up, tried to pass… drama, intrigue, could he do it before his tyres go off too? We didn’t really see that.

Vettel and Hamilton tried. They went off-sequence with tyres which was interesting, even if it was a bit dull to see Vettel driving around by himself for a while. Perhaps we blame the TV crew here for not showing us more from the field. Once they slotted into the field I expected them to use the reds to fight past the cars around them. Again, it didn’t happen. Seems as though they pitted too early for the reds and had to conserve them – which begs the question, why do it? Surely the point of using that strategy was to make use of the extra grip. Don’t squander it by telling your guy to go slowly to nurse them.

Highs and Lows

Despite the boredom I was pleased Mark Webber took the win. I always like it when Webber wins, he’s a good guy and I’ve been a fan for ages. Good also to see Rosberg hitting form this season.

Alonso was 3rd, since he joined Twitter I’ve taken to him a lot more, he’s showing personality we arguably haven’t seen properly since his days in blue and yellow at Renault when he was the breath of fresh air ending Schumi’s reign. Since he’s effectively fighting the lone fight in a Ferrari which is not the class of the field he’s almost an underdog, which means it is okay to root for him too!

The alternate strategy only netted Vettel and Hamilton 4th and 5th. The result says Massa was 6th but I don’t remember seeing him. Force Indias took 7th and 8th, again largely missing from the screens.

Perhaps the real mystery was the whereabouts of Kimi Räikkönen. After running so well in Spain I really expected Kimi to run well here and even win it. The form was repeated on Thursday practice. Then Kimi started struggling for reasons not explained fully. Romain Grosjean qualified well but was taken out before turn one, frustratingtly as he also looked set for a good run. I still think one of them will win this year.

Bruno Senna took the final point in 10th, largely unseen by us. Perez made it to 11th by the flag but he was helped for three of those places when Button hit Kovalainen and Vergne made a stupid gamble to take intermediate wets (from inside the top 8!) when the track was still dry.

History

You absolutely have to watch this video found from British Pathe at Sidepodcast (via Joe Saward). Precious little footage exists from 1929 of the first ever Monaco Grand Prix, I certainly have never seen any before now. It is just under 2 minutes in length and is a must-see for any fan of the history of racing. You can tell even then it was almost impossible to overtake at this place!

Race Result

1. Webber – Red Bull
2. Rosberg – Mercedes
3. Alonso – Ferrari
4. Vettel – Red Bull
5. Hamilton – McLaren
6. Massa – Ferrari
7. di Resta – Force India
8. Hülkenberg – Force India
9. Räikkönen – Lotus
10. Senna – Williams
11. Perez – Sauber  +1 lap
12. Vergne – Toro Rosso +1 lap
13. Kovalainen – Caterham +1 lap
14. Glock – Marussia +1 lap
15. Karthikeyan – HRT +1 lap
16. Button – McLaren +8 laps
DNF:
Ricciardo, Pic, Schumacher, Petrov, Kobayashi, de la Rosa, Maldonado, Grosjean

Points

76 – Alonso (1 win)
73 – Vettel (1)
73 – Webber (1)
63 – Hamilton
59 – Rosberg (1)
51 – Räikkönen
45 – Button (1)
35 – Grosjean
29 – Maldonado (1)
22 – Perez
etc.

Red Bull drivers tied on points, Vettel breaks the tie on countback. Button is amazingly low in the standings considering the car he is driving.

146 – Red Bull
108 – McLaren
86 – Ferrari
86 – Lotus
61 – Mercedes
44 – Williams
41 – Sauber
28 – Force India
6 – Toro Rosso

Next Race

Canadian Grand Prix, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Ille Notre-Dame, Montreal.

Always a race worth watching as the circuit is heavy on brakes, and the walls and bumps catch the drivers out. Expect Safety Cars.

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2011 Monaco Grand Prix

This was possibly the most exciting Monaco GP in many years. It was certainly up there alongside all the classics – 1992 with Senna and Mansell, 1996 when nobody could win, 2003 with Montoya and Raikkonen.

We saw passing moves in places we wouldn’t normally expect them. At Monaco we normally see passes just at the chicane and that’s all. This time they didn’t really try it at the chicane (not on TV anyway), understandably so given the accidents of Rosberg and Perez this weekend. Instead the attempts were made at the hairpin and at Sainte Devote. Amazingly enough some of them worked!

I always thought a hairpin pass was a fluke, on the rare times I see it happen the move more often than not fails. This time it was successful maybe half the time – the other half causing damage and penalties (see Massa/Hamilton as well as Di Resta’s wars). It was good to see that a supposed “no-no” could be made to work when both parties co-operate, and it did need the leading car to concede he’d lost the corner and leave space. My read of the Massa and Hamilton collision at the hairpin was that it was a racing incident, neither to blame. Hamilton went for a move just as he had with Schumacher, but it just so happened that Massa at the same instant decided to try the same on the Toro Rosso in front of him.

It was interesting to see Schumacher back off against Hamilton, something I really didn’t expect when the move started. Memories of banging wheels with Alex Wurz in ’97?

However, the move in the tunnel was all Hamilton. You can’t pass in the tunnel without it going wrong for one or other of the parties, and that’s nothing new. Where was Massa supposed to go? The better option would’ve been to draft behind Massa and get him into the chicane just a few hundred meters up the road. The tunnel is just wide enough for two cars but the outside is always covered in marbles, that’s why Massa skated into the barrier.

It was good to see Hamilton in battling mood though, if he’d just kept his head a little he’d have been seen completely differently in this race, as the swashbuckling hero fighting through the field. Instead he looked hot-headed, crashing into people and then getting out of the car to complain about it.

The top three drivers put in excellent drives, solid smart performances from the champions they are. Before the red flag they were nearly a minute up on the chasing group. They ran different strategies and speeds all day, yet had converged with less than ten laps to go, we were set for a fantastic battle for the lead in the closing stages and not for the first time this year! Who says F1 in 2011 is boring? Far better than having all the racing done by 1/3rd distance – the first pit stop – and then watching a parade.

Vettel made his one-stop strategy work despite some very old tyres. Alonso was on him for several laps and couldn’t get by – we’ll never know if he would’ve made it or if Vettel’s tyres would’ve dropped off even more.  Button put in flawless laps to reel in this pair on his newer tyres, closing in a decent gap to start battling Alonso. The BBC commentary was talking up a Button win, or at least a second-place. I’m not so sure that would’ve happened but I was on the edge of my seat hoping either driver would take the win from Vettel! Nothing against Seb, he’s just been winning too much lately and the others need the points.

I use the Softpauer iPad app during F1 races and qualifying sessions and I could see on the map that the lead trio were catching a massive group of cars, there must have been 6 or 7 of them there! This group was being led by an Adrian Sutil trying valiantly to make his tyres last to the end of the race. Webber and Kobayashi had fallen behind through the stops but both made it past him, and the group behind him included Hamilton, Petrov, Alguersuari and Rosberg (some of those a lap behind Sutil but now running faster on fresher tyres).

Now it was always going to be fraught but I thought they’d be sensible and pull over one at a time to let the leaders through. Instead Sutil under pressure from Hamilton slid into the marbles after Tabac, into the barrier causing a puncture. Hamilton had to lift off in avoidance, surprising Alguersuari who rode up over the McLaren’s rear wing. Poor Vitaly Petrov was following Alguersuari just as closely, he had nowhere to go when he was confronted with this accident and hit the barrier. Petrov said in post-race quotes that he chose to hit the barrier rather than another car, but he can’t have known he’d hit so hard and cause himself minor injury.

The red flags came out and I was sure it was just a race suspension whilst others were saying it was over, though of course it would come at the discretion of the organisers if they couldn’t get the track cleared or if the barrier was damaged. Restart they did, but what nobody reckoned on was the teams being allowed to repair accident damage and fit new tyres. Most people (including me) expected neither tyre changes nor repairs except in the pitlane, and maybe then only once the field was moving again.

A great way to suck out the tension of the race. However, I can understand the rule exists for safety reasons, if there has been an accident you don’t want to leave people out there on damaged tyres after running over carbon fibre shards, so it is a difficult one. It is very hard to argue for a reduction in safety, so I think we should chalk this one up as something that just happens in racing sometimes.

Good to see Williams finally get some points, it would have been even more had the collision not occurred between Maldonado and, yes him again, Hamilton. Also a shout out to Kamui Kobayashi and the Sauber team, who played the strategies and Safety Cars to perfection to record a strong 5th ahead of all the melee.

I hope some of this isn’t just my blinkered glasses since I’m a huge fan of the Monaco Grand Prix, I really do think this was an excellent race in its own right, not even “by Monaco standards”, and the red flag doesn’t detract from that at all.

Result

  1. Vettel
  2. Alonso
  3. Button
  4. Webber
  5. Kobayashi
  6. Hamilton
  7. Sutil
  8. Heidfeld
  9. Barrichello
  10. Buemi

Driver Points

  1. Vettel 143 (winner)
  2. Hamilton 85 (6th)
  3. Webber 79 (4th)
  4. Button 76 (3rd)
  5. Alonso 69 (2nd)
  6. Heidfeld 29 (8th)

Vettel is already looking unbeatable. Can he wrap this up as early as the Hungaroring in July, as Schumacher once did?

Constructor Points

  1. Red Bull 222 (1st & 4th)
  2. McLaren 161 (3rd & 6th)
  3. Ferrari 93 (2nd & DNF)
  4. Renault 50 (8th & DNF)
  5. Mercedes 40 (11th & DNF)
  6. Sauber 21 (5th & DNS)

Red Bull are in charge. McLaren could yet fight back though, they have a chance in this fight.

The next race is the Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal in two weeks.

Delayed Race Notes: Monaco Grand Prix 2009

2009 Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monaco
Circuit: Monte-Carlo
Location: Monaco
Distance: 78 laps

Coverage: BBC One
Anchor: Jake Humphrey
Analysts in the paddock: David Coulthard (DC) and Eddie Jordan (EJ)
Race commentary: Jonathan Legard and Martin Brundle
Pit and paddock reports: Ted Kravitz and Lee McKenzie

Tyre selection (red): SS / S / M / H

[Apologies for the ridiculous delay due to my accountancy exams! These notes were taken live during the race but only edited now. I almost didn’t post these because they are so out of date, but in some ways they are an interesting historical record!]

BBC coverage is a GO at 12.10pm BST (13.10 Monaco local time) with 50 minutes until race start.

We open with classic clips in black & white.
Humphrey has been inserted into the video as if he was introducing it at the time, and talking to drivers such as Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart in period. Nice work!

Now we’re live and in colour. Great detail on the CGI overview of the circuit!
The guys are on a boat in the harbour – not sure this will work well, ITV tried it a few years back and a pundit was seasick.

EJ: We’re closer to the track here, closer to the action. Everybody wants to be here, this is the jewel in the crown of F1. Adorable place.

DC: Valencia and Singapore coming up later in the year but they have a modern twist to them, they have runoff areas, at Monaco you are rubbing the barriers.

Points coming in:
D: Button 41, Barrichello 27, Vettel 23, Webber 15.5, Trulli 14.5
C: Brawn 68, Red Bull 38.5, Toyota 26.5

Lee McKenzie is on the hill overlooking La Rascasse, packed with people, the ‘cheap seats’ she calls them. One fan says it costs £75 for a ticket. To sit on a muddy hill! I’m sure they are glad it’s not raining. People have tents pitched to get the best spots.

Ted Kravitz is having a chat with Max Mosely.
MM “We’re slowly getting a situation were we can all agree, or at least the majority are going to agree. The budget cap looks like going ahead at 45m euros in 2011 with an intermediate year in 2010. Everyone understands we cannot go on at the present level, the money isn’t there.”

[Later in the week the FOTA teams entered for next year on condition of a big cap in ’10 and a €45m cap in ’11 – and we all know the shenanigans that followed that]

Ted’s Qualifying recap:

– Lewis into the barriers. Apologised to the team.
– Massa spins but survives to Q3.
– Toyota eliminated in Q1, same story for BMWs who in desparation tried several setup changes. Didn’t work.
– Indias and Toros got higher positions as a result but Piquet underperformed again.
– Vettel disapointed not to do better than 4th with the lightest fuel load of all.
– Kimi on front row but may not be able to use KERS on the start, he says the straight is too short.
– Button on pole from Kimi 2nd then a disappointed Barrichello.
– Hamilton starts at the back after a gearbox change.
– Glock starts from pitlane after changing…something..

Onboard lap of Jenson Button’s pole position, while he talks about it with Lee.

Says it is always tense, you’ve got to get the perfect gear shifts.
He’s not thinking about the championship, he’s taking it race by race.
Honestly? Really?! You’ve won 4 races out of 5 and you’re not thinking of the title? Pfft.

We can hear cars heading to the grid now.
Recap of Senna vs Mansell in 1992, close-run thing but Mansell on fresh tyres couldn’t get by Senna on worn tyres, a demonstration of how hard it is to pass here.

Ted is with Nigel Mansell (recorded):
NM “It’s a wonderful place, the principality. Between Barrichello and Jenson we’ll have a fantastic weekend. Adversity builds character, we all know what a terrible year he had last year. Another possible British world champion, one after another? I can’t remember when that was last done.”

Shots of Bernie and then Mika Hakkinen entering the paddock.

We can see the grid now and how much smaller it is than the circuits of the rest of the year.

Jean Todt, Max Mosely, some people I don’t recognise, they are all here.

DC: Hamilton will struggle to score points from there [the back] but at Monaco anything can happen.
EJ: There’s no rain so this will be a long hard hot race.

Martin Brundle is on the start line for his gridwalk.

MB “8 GP2 cars were penalised for cutting the first corner, let’s hope that doesn’t happen today.”
John Button, Jenson’s dad: “He’s even surprising me now.”
Prince Michael of Kent: “With my RAC hat on it’s nice to keep up with Formula 1, we’re going to be in the Brawn pit today.”
MB: “The cars are spaced 8 metres apart which is the length of the average ego in F1.”
Jenson: “I’m on pole so I’ve got the easiest race compared to the rest, but it’s still not going to be easy, Kimi will be fast off the line. We’ll have to see what tyres people are on. Looking after the tyres will be a key part of this race.”
Jacques Villenueve, are you missing this?: “Slick tyres, the cars look fun to drive, I’m missing it a bit now. Monaco is always a good race to watch, with all the chaos in F1 now you never know.”
Michael Johnson, what brings you here?: “I’m just here checking it out, I’m a big fan, I usually come to Monaco and I’m trying to get to a few more this year. Button is doing a great job, he’s got a lot of confidence right now.” He says all of the stuff around the grid isn’t too distracting because the drivers are so focussed, they only see the objective.
Bernie Ecclestone has his arms around Geri Halliwell [!!]:
GH: “I love fast cars, bit of a speed freak. I’m proud of Jenson Button. My father was a car dealer so I’m very excited! [to Bernie] We go way back how excited are you?”
BE: “Super upset with him keeping winning, it should be unpredictable, it’s bloody predictable again.”
GH: “Everyone has their moment though!”
MB: “I’d like to apologise because I said it was Bernie’s daughter. Bernie, is common sense going to break out in Formula 1?”
BE: “No of course not!”
MB: “It should do though shouldn’t it?”
BE: “Don’t worry it will.”
MB: “Thanks for your time. Jake.”

Deluxe gridwalk! Silence as we look at the Royal Box… Jake comes in and says we were waiting for an anthem.

Monagasque National Anthem
Royals stand to attention. F1 people completely ignore it, we don’t bow to such things as protocol, we’re F1, we’re more important than that.

The guys witter on about something, just filling time really. I’m more interested in the official feed’s atmospheric shots of the grid.

Quick chat, Jake and Jonathan Legard:
“Button looking great, I wonder if they’ll be some danger from Raikkonen and Red Bull, and don’t forget Barrichello. The teams bring extra front wings here because there is a greater threat to being dislodged.”

Winner for today?
EJ: Jenson.
DC: Jenson.

Official F1 Intro

Chatter.

Mechanics clear the grid.

Green light for the Formation Lap.

START ORDER

Button, Raikkonen
Rubens, Vettel
Massa, Rosberg
Kovalainen, Webber
Alonso, Nakajima
Buemi, Piquet
Fisichella, Bourdais
Sutil, Heidfeld
Kubica, Trulli
Hamilton

Glock (p/l)

Cars are forming on the grid.

1.2.3.4.5.hold…GO!!

All clear through Ste Devote, amazing.

No incidents at all on lap 1, I am super-impressed!

Replay: Hamilton passes Trulli before Tabac

Start replays..
Hamilton takes Kubica off the line.

Kubica has pitted.

L3 Glock cuts the swimming pool chicane. Rubens sets the fastest lap.

L4 Button now faster! Brundle is saying these two are title rivals now.

L7 Massa tries a pass on Vettel but overshoots, he has to give the position back and does so – but Rosberg follows Vettel through! Massa lost a place.

Hamilton on a light load is stuck behind cars with twice as much fuel as he has, this is a strange strategy from McLaren.

L9 Ted news: Vettel’s tyres have gone, we’re only 9 laps in and his tyres have gone.
Vettel is now 18 seconds behind Button, already!

L10 Rubens radio – look after your tyres, they may be fragile.
They’ve been watching Vettel.
Vettel suddenly drops off, Rosberg and Massa pass him. More cars passing him.
Vettel pits.
Buemi and Piquet off at Ste Devote.
Hamilton also pits.

L12 Piquet pits and retires with accident damage. Buemi is out.

L14 Kimi is catching Barrichello who’s tyres are starting to fall away.
Massa radio: Brawns struggling with soft tyres, you’re 1-2 seconds faster than them so keep it up.

L16 Raikkonen pits and takes more of the harder tyre, as Rosberg sets the fastest lap!

L17 Vettel has pulled over just after Ste Devote, he’s hit the barrier? His car already in the air on the crane!

L18 Barrichello and Button have pitted. Rosberg takes the lead, Button gets out ahead of Massa who is now 3rd.

Rosberg, Button, Massa, Kova, Weeber, Barrichello, Kimi, Alonso

L19 Rosberg pits and comes out behind Alonso for 8th.

L21 Massa pits from 2nd and emerges behind Alonso but ahead of Rosberg for 7th.

L22 Heikki pits and is out 7th. Only Webber and Alonso of the frontrunners have to pit.

L23 Webber pits now, he’s out behind Massa for 6th – both have jumped Rosberg now. Williams went for a long stop?

L24 Piquet with Lee: I don’t know what (Buemi) was thinking about, he probably thought he was quicker but we all thought we were quicker, Vettel was holding everybody up. I was probably going to finish 7th.

Seems like Alonso is going long. I can’t remember the weights..

L29 Barrichello sets FL as Alonso pits, he’s out in 11th I tihnk.

L31 Kubica pits to retire, he is hte 4th DNF of the day.

L32 Rubens sets the first lap under 1m16s, and is beaten immediately by Kimi and Felipe.

L35 Both the Ferraris are setting very quick times. Webber is coming with them only slightly slower.

L37 Button laps Hamilton.

L41 Massa has been putting too much of the car over the swimming pool chicane marking, could be penalised if he’s not careful.
Smedley on the radio tells him he’s had another warning from the FIA!

L43 Webber sets fastest lap!
Heidfeld pits and takes supersofts.

The guys on one-stops have made an error, after what we saw earlier they’ll never get to the end on supersofts from here.

L46 Mark Webber is catching the Ferraris.

Things have been fairly settled for a while now, I think we are waiting for the next stops for the frontrunners. We have two races going on: two-stoppers and one-stoppers (with Hamilton on a stupid 2-stop among the back of the latter).

L50 Trulli finally pits. Bourdais, Fisi and Glock are still going.
L50 Barrichello pits from 2nd and emerges 5th as Massa sets FL.
L51 Button pits now. He’s out behind Kimi! Kimi does need to pit again though.

Alonso cuts the main chicane.
L53 Kovalainen out! He’s crashed at the swimming pool chicane.
Spun coming out of the first section and spun into the wall. Shame because he was running well.

L54 Raikkonen pits. No SC for Heikki.

Hamilton pits for a new nosecone and hard tyres.

L57 Webber and Massa pit at the same time from 2nd and 3rd.
Massa is out and beats Rosberg for 4th, but Webber doesn’t make it and is 6th. Rosberg may need to stop again.

L59 Glock pitted from near the back. Bourdais must have pitted recently too.

Vettel with Lee: I was braking a little too late, locked the rears and hit the wall. We thought those tyres would work for the short stint but they didn’t.

L63 It was a good race earlier on but the Ferrari challenge seems to have been blunted, and Webber is bottled up behind Rosberg.
Nothing much going on at all.

Bourdais’s stop earlier put him 8th somehow! He’s the leader of the one-stopper group some distance behind the two-stoppers, and with Fisichella right behind him.

L65 Heikki: We were going a couple of laps longer and would have worked for us, but I just lost the car.

L66 Rosberg pits and is out in 7th in the big gap between Alonso and Bourdais.

L67 Alonso pits and is out alongside Sutil who is a lap down. Alonso now 7th.

Button, Barrichello, Kimi, Massa, Webber, Rosberg, Alonso, Bourdais, Fisi, Naka

L70 The two Ferraris are running close together,

L72 Glock passes Heidfeld. Hamilton passes Trulli and is behind Heidfeld. All go at the back!
Nakajima pits with 8 laps to go

Just the run for home then, it seems everyone has backed off to make it without crashing. Nothing happening, just enjoy Monaco.

Final Lap

Nakajima in the wall at Mirabeau!

JENSON BUTTON WINS!

Cooldown lap

Jenson parked in Parc Ferme and he should be on the front straight!! Different procedure at Monaco, the top three should park on the main straight!
He’s out of the car and running down the main straight!

Podium, trophies.

British national anthem.

Nice to have a real band on site for this GP, such a different sound to the old recordings.

Champagne!

Commentary ends.

[Usually I add a little bit of the BBC post-race in here but I don’t seem to have taken any notes for it on this occasion]

Race Results
1. Button 78 Laps
2. Barrichello +7.6sec
3. Räikkönen +13.4s to winner
4. Massa +15.1s
5. Webber +15.7s
6. Rosberg +33.5s
7. Alonso +37.8s
8. Bourdais +63.1s
9. Fisichella +65.0s
10. Glock + 1 lap
11. Heidfeld + 1 lap
12. Hamilton + 1 lap
13. Trulli + 1 lap
14. Sutil + 1 lap
15. Nakajima + 2 laps
R. Kovalainen (Accident)
R. Kubica (Brakes)
R. Vettel (Accident)
R. Piquet (Accident damage)
R. Buemi (Accident)

Championships

Drivers
(Prior + Monaco = Total)
1. Button 41 + 10 = 51
2. Barrichello 27 + 8 = 35
3. Vettel 23
4. Webber 15.5 + 4 = 19.5
5. Trulli 14.5
6. Glock 12
7. Hamilton 9
8. Alonso 9 + 2 = 11
9. Räikkönen 3 + 6 = 9
10. Massa 3 + 5 = 8
11. Rosberg 4.5 + 3 = 7.5
12. Heidfeld 6
13. Kovalainen 4
14. Buemi 3
15. Bourdais 1 + 1 = 2

Constructors
(Prior + Monaco = Total)
1. Brawn Mercedes 68 + 18 = 86
2. RBR Renault 32.5 + 4 = 36.5
3. Toyota 32.5
4. Ferrari 3 + 11 = 14
5. Renault 9 + 2 = 11
6. McLaren Mercedes 13
7. BMW Sauber 6
8. Williams Toyota 4.5 + 3 = 7.5
9. STR Ferrari 4 + 1 =5
10. Force India Mercedes 0

The next race was the Turkish Grand Prix, for which I will upload notes later this week.

I am not sure if I will post notes for the IndyCar season as I did last year, I’m leaning towards not doing so because I have only posted St Pete so far. Perhaps I will do a shorter version.

F1 Preview – GP de Monaco 2009

FIA Formula 1 World Championship
– 67e Grand Prix de Monaco (6/17)
– Monte Carlo, Monaco
– 78 laps
www.formula1.com
F1.com Track Map
Live timing

Event History
This is the big one, the grand-daddy of all Grands Prix. The very first Monaco GP was held in 1929 and 2009 marks the 67th edition of this classic race.

Despite being commonly referred to as Monte Carlo, that is only one small area at the top of the hill with the Casino, and the Hotel and Cafe de Paris. The harbour area is La Condamine.

There have been so many events at this race over the years it is impossible to provide a good enough summary here, needless to say the place is known for odd results! You need a lot of talent and fair amount of luck to win at Monaco because it has a knack of biting you.

Notable highlights include:
– Mansell getting a suspected puncture, pitting for new tyres and then hounding Senna all the way to the flag.
– Gilles Villeneuve winning in a turbo Ferrari when turbos were not meant to be suited to the place against the Cosworths.
– Panis winning in 1996 after not stopping when everyone else made one stop or more in changeable conditions.

– The final two laps of 1982:

The opening part of the classic movie Grand Prix:

There are an absolute ton of videos on YouTube, just run a search for Monaco Grand Prix!

Circuit
The 2.1 mile street circuit is known for being a test of both driver and machine, and while it is the shortest circuit of the year it is also the longest at 78 laps and usually runs quite close to the 2-hour time limit.

The proximity of the barriers makes for a unique challenge in GP racing with the smallest of errors causing race-ending accidents. There are only a few run-off areas, and some of these are relatively recent innovations.

In terms of circuit layout the actual footprint of the track has hardly changed through the entire history of the event, yet there have been notable changes to the surroundings. The addition of the swimming pool section and the Rascasse to replace the hairpin, the new tower blocks appearing every few years along the track (this year check out the new one at the chicane where there used to be a cliff face), the much later and very recent addition of the new pit buildings.

The track demands precision guidance of the car, yet the fastest way around is to hustle it as it is heavily dependant on mechanical grip from the tyres rather than aero grip.

Onboard lap, Nico Rosberg 2008:

Form
It has got to be a battle between Brawn, Red Bull and Ferrari, hasn’t it? I don’t see anyone else getting involved and I only include Ferrari because Massa ran well in Spain and Kimi qualified well here today.

Look also for Renault to score decent points and Force India to surprise some, though perhaps only because BMW and Toyota are having such a hard time this weekend.

What to Watch For
– The fastest blue flagger in all of racing. He’s on the hill after Ste Devote! Only the exit of the final turn at Long Beach comes close.
– Lots and lots of rubber marbles from the tyres after about 1/3rd distance. Its this as much as the walls that make passing hard here.
– Drivers making silly errors causing lengthy Safety Car periods.

UK TV

R: BBC One will air the Race live at 12:10pm with the race to kick off at 1pm.

US TV

R: SPEED will air the Race live at 7:30am ET

Parade Lap
Before the race festivities be sure to go to Sidepodcast.com Live Comments at 11am and await the live pre-race Parade Lap show, a lovely relaxed way to get into the GP. This is a live discussion which will end just as the BBC’s coverage begins, perfect!

Enjoy the race, my notes will hopefully be up in the gap between Monaco and Indy! Then again, you know me, maybe they won’t be.