Monaco GP: the Top Gear preview

ImageTomorrow morning then, the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, the atypical, anachronistic antidote to all Bernie’s new world circuits kicks off and, almost despite ourselves, we are quite extraordinarily excited. So the cars travel more slowly than anywhere else in the world (30mph around the hairpin); so overtaking is rarer than a shirt buttoned anywhere above the chest; so you’ll not find another race where the spectators spend more time looking at each other than at the cars.

None of it matters; the climbs, the drops, the bumps, the barriers — stuff F1 drivers don’t see from one year to the next make it the greatest spectacle in racing and unquestionably the greatest challenge of a driver’s talent.

And let’s face it in a year when races have been won (as we have said more than once this year) on a strategist’s laptop on a Saturday evening, it will be good to see the right stuff come once more to the surface.

One hell of an argument has broken out since the Spanish Grand Prix and Fernando Alonso’s win of the back of a successful four stop strategy. Seems you either believed that Ferrari gambled on Fernando Alonso being able to go like stink in each of his five stints and that such a move should be applauded because others failed to see the opportunity or didn’t have the machinery to make it work.

Or you believed that, just as we have seen before, too many drivers, too many cars were circulating well below what they/it could do. And when that group includes Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel then Alonso’s victory was a hollow one.

Martin Brundle (@MBrundleF1), typically, brought the two arguments together with one tweet: “Some people missing the point. Multi-stop F1 strategies used to require banzai qualy style laps and unassisted overtaking to make them work” The point being that it’s not just about the capricious nature of this year’s tyres (which Pirelli has said it will upgrade from the next race, Canada, onwards).

Ferrari and Alonso’s race in Spain would have been audacious if it had asked rather more of Alonso’s genius. Sure, he drove brilliantly, but only because he drove to a program. So long as he stuck to it here was little or no jeopardy. If you could hack the teams’ laptops of a Sunday morning, you could make a killing at the bookies.

Monaco of course throws a spanner in the software however because even with DRS it is so bloody hard to get past the car in front. It’s why some folks are wondering if Mercedes can actually convert Saturday pace to Sunday podium. At the very least it’s going to mean every team will need to be as quick as Red Bull in the pits (cramped, crowded pits don’t forget) and likely some controversy around the pit exit. It will also mean that the “banzai qualy style laps” of Brundle’s tweet will need to be in evidence, if at all possible.

Qualifying on Saturday will be extraordinary. Using the above argument and assuming Hamilton and Rosberg again find themselves going backwards from the front row, third might be good enough for the win, assuming the track is clear once the Mercs have made their first stop and, rather more optimistically, Mercedes doesn’t have a obvious team strategy in place where the pole car stops a considerable number of laps before the second placed car. Well, that’s one theory.

It will be interesting to hear the take of Gary Anderson — officially now our über-analyst. It will have to be ‘hear’ since the BBC TV aren’t live this weekend, so make sure you can find Radio 5 Live Sports Extra. The two 90min practice sessions are at 0900 and 1300 tomorrow so you might want to plan your day around that. What’s happening in F1 right now is complex maybe rather than plain exciting, but that’s all the more reason to get in deep. Anderson’s your man for that, especially if you don’t have Sky/can’t possibly think of reason for missing work tomorrow.

Now, can you come up with a winning strategy for your favourite team?

Comments are now closed

But tomorrow is Thursday….?

Report this comment

And in Monaco, practice sessions 1/2 happen on Thursdays.

Report this comment

IN MONACO ITS ALWAYS THURSDAY PRACTICE DAY. THE ONLY CIRCUIT THAT DOES THIS.
IT´S GOING TO BE DIFFICULT, THERE ARE ALWAYS SAFTY CARS ON SUNDAYS. I THINK THAT HAMI WILL TAKE POLE BUT SUNDAY THINGS WILL BE DIFERENT.

Report this comment

I’m just gonna say it again, Webber and Button 2014 for McLaren.

Report this comment

Reblogged this on What's Occurin'?.

Report this comment

mercedes target a front row lockout, then come the race the 2 drivers drive wheel to wheel throughout the race. no one will pass because its monaco

Report this comment

mercedes get 1-2 in qualifying then go around the track together so the others can’t pass, at a slow enough speed so they tyres don’t eat themselves then when the others pit pick up the pace then do the same again. fool proof

Report this comment

I think Vettel will take pole on Saturday but I think Webber will win on Sunday on a three stop strategy

Report this comment

interesting circuit Monaco, should promise action
but usually is as exciting as Eddie Jordan shirts.
may be a, Distant cousin off James May with his
terrible shirt collection.

All EJ needed is, is matching socks and tie
and he be the worst dressed man in Britain.

Report this comment

Ferrari is where it’s at! GO ALONSO

Report this comment

I think that Lewis should let his dog Roscoe drive.

Report this comment

who cares, F1 sucks.

Report this comment

McClaren strategy: Like all good Woking class competition drivers, the magic fuel additive, sugar, in all of the competitors tanks. Simples!

Report this comment

good qualifying session, better than I thought it would be
as Monaco can be boring to watch.

Report this comment