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2016 Monaco Grand Prix: The Fallout
The Monaco Grand Prix never disappoints; Exciting yet challenging street racing separates the men from the boys, and the competition is what all drivers want to win.
With its limited opportunities to pass, some fans consider this prestigious race to be boring, but they underestimate the sport’s slowest and most difficult combination. Narrowly winding their way around the streets of the Kingdom, drivers face tight corners and numerous elevation changes as they negotiate their way through the narrow and winding track, dealing with dangerous hairpin bends and treacherous tunnels.
This year’s competition was remarkably unpredictable. After the sun poured down on this glittering playground for the rich and famous during practice and qualifying, it rained on race day, forcing a Safety Car to start and putting pressure on team strategies as the conditions change means that the stopping time of the tires will be important. .
A year on from a spectacularly bad pit stop call by Mercedes that cost Lewis Hamilton victory, this time it was Red Bull Racing’s turn to pull defeat from the jaws of victory. For the second race, Daniel Ricciardo was furious that his team had been robbed of a chance to win by what he felt was a strategic blunder.
The Australian’s frustrations headlined a week where he and the team could – and should – have dominated, but to be fair it wasn’t just the driver/team combination that had a major problem with their relationship this weekend…
MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS
Tensions continue to grow as the race between the two teams’ Championship contenders escalates when Nico Rosberg again overtakes Lewis Hamilton during the race and leaves the pole. The German, hoping for his fourth successive victory in his certified home race, started second with his team-mate in third after Hamilton suffered a fuel pressure problem in Q3 that saw him run just one run. limited to Ultra Soft tires.
When the race started on Lap 8, Rosberg struggled to generate the right tire temperature. His pace was too slow on the 16th and he gave way to his rival and partner, citing his lack of speed and the challenges of the break in the seventh.
Hamilton began to follow Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who pitted on lap 23 to switch from his wet tires to intermediates, while the reigning World Champion stopped short of opting for intermediates between full wets. on them began to compete and untread slicks. He masterfully managed his wet tires until switching to ultrasoft slicks on lap 34. Red Bull followed suit, calling the Australian to switch to Super Softs; However a lack of confidence meant the tires were not ready and the delay cost Ricciardo.
The fight was between Mercedes and Renault Red Bull Racing RB12. Hamilton withstood any challenge from Ricciardo, although the pressure was on as the Briton lost time and composure at the rear, adding to the fray on Lap 37.
Ricciardo ran into him when they reached the gate and vented his anger when Hamilton blocked him, legally as announced by the stewards after the investigation. After that, he was never really close enough to challenge again, and Hamilton cruised to his 44th Formula 1 win and second Monaco crown.
RED BULL RACING
It must have been a dream weekend for Daniel Ricciardo. After a change of strategy cost him victory in the previous race in Spain, the Australian was on fire in practice and solid in Monaco, securing his first Formula 1 pole position and the most important class in the sport’s calendar. .
With the Safety Car starting the race, the Australian’s position was unassailable. Even when the race started after the track began to dry, it seemed all he had to do was lead the pack around 78 holes to victory.
But there is no such thing as a “sure thing” in Formula 1 and when the team called on him to switch to dry weather tyres, he hoped they would be ready and waiting for him; but they were not. An unforgivable mistake by the team saw Ricciardo lose precious seconds on a botched stop that ultimately cost him the race.
As for Red Bull’s newest recruit, what a difference two weeks makes. Max Verstappen, fresh from his first Formula 1 win in Spain, had to start the race after crashing in qualifying when he clipped the front right wheel of his car on the exit of the pool.
With the help of a Safety Car start, the young Dutchman was able to hold onto the back of the pack and began to improve once the field was cleared, moving his way to tenth position.
But Monaco is an unforgiving track, especially for such a young and inexperienced driver. Despite looking relaxed and confident in the tough conditions, the 18-year-old made a mistake on the climb to Massenet, locked his brakes and crashed into the wall. It was his third crash in two days – and his second at that corner – which took much of the spotlight off the youngster’s heroics two weeks ago.
Kimi Räikkönen dropped to eleventh on the grid after finishing a disappointing sixth, following a five-place penalty for a gearbox change made after last practice.
Struggling to achieve anything in the wet conditions, he went off the track at a hairpin turn on Lap 11, hitting the barriers and breaking his front wing. He went through the tunnel at the Nouvelle Chicane with his wing under his front wheel, but escaped a penalty when he was later confronted by the stewards for driving his Ferrari in a dangerous position.
Teammate Sebastian Vettel still took the points in fourth, but it was a disappointing week for the German. After beating the timesheets in the final practice session, he was unable to match the pace of his former teammate’s Red Bull and found himself second on the grid again.
He tried to break the cars in front and get in front of one of the top ten runners to switch to the intermediate tires when the track started to dry. This left him behind the Williams of Felipe Massa who opted to stay on the wet tire and Vettel struggled to pass him.
By the time Massa pitted, the four-time World Champion had lost too much time and found himself behind Sergio Pérez as Force India moved from eighth to third. Although a podium place was within Vettel’s grasp, he was unable to find a place to pass.
Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari each potentially have a vacancy in 2017.
Nico Rosberg is still negotiating a new contract with Mercedes and will neither confirm nor deny that he has held talks with Ferrari. After bowing out of team orders at Monaco and moving on to rival Lewis Hamilton, can the German survive another season in what has become a very tense situation at the Sliver Arrows? Rosberg is happy when he wins, but if Hamilton’s victory in Monaco is the start of his 2016 revival, can Rosberg handle the pressure?
The exact details of Ricciardo’s performance-based contract are unknown, but it is thought that the option for next year is dependent on the performance of the driver and the team which means that there could be an opt-out option. Red Bull have now “spoiled” two Australian races in a row and any further problems could be the final straw for the Honey Badger.
But where can he go? The only teams of caliber are Mercedes and Ferrari. Mercedes, for the most part, is big on allowing their drivers to race and not use team orders so that would be a good fit. But is Lewis Hamilton a good partner for Ricciardo?
While at Ferrari, although Ricciardo showed in 2014 that he is not afraid of the four-time World Champion as a team-mate, Vettel is the de facto number 1 at Ferrari and he will not accept to compete against the driver who beat him so impressively in the same way. Their last year together was at Red Bull Racing in 2014.
Ferrari have yet to exercise the option on Räikkönen’s contract, although Vettel has reportedly – and unsurprisingly – stated that the Finn is his favorite teammate. But how much is the German still pushing with the Scuderia? Are they running out of patience? Or they admit that they are still in a rebuilding phase and may have to wait another year or two before their 1st driver restores them to their former glory.
Only time will tell as we head into Formula 1’s crazy season.
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