Formula 1 Racing

Why F1 drivers were “slower than Formula 2” at times in Monaco · RaceFans

Why F1 drivers were "slower than Formula 2" at times in Monaco · RaceFans

The combination of a first-lap crash, the quirks of Formula 1’s regulations and the unusual nature of the Monte Carlo circuit produced a bizarrely slow and processional race.

The first-lap crash which eliminated Sergio Perez and the two Haas drivers was the trigger. The pile-up damaged a barrier and scattered debris across the Beau Rivage section, leaving race control no choice other than bring out the red flags.

At that point almost every pit wall strategist made the same decision. Whether their drivers had started on the medium tyre compound or hards, they would switch to the opposite rubber, getting their mandatory tyre change out of the way without the punishing time loss of making a pit stop.

For the top four this meant running the rest of the race on the hard tyre compound. George Russell, Max Verstappen and others faced the challenge of running to the end on mediums. Oddly, Williams left Logan Sargeant on the same rubber, dooming him to make a pit stop later in the race which dropped him to last place.

Reaching the end of the race on what was essentially a no-stop strategy did not prove too great a challenge. The reason drivers kept their pace so low was that the front runners did not want gaps to open up behind them which would allow their pursuers to pit and switch to a more aggressive tyre compound which might allow them to attack.

Leader Charles Leclerc moderated his pace to ensure Russell never fell so far behind Lando Norris that the fourth-placed McLaren driver was able to pit.

That allowed second-placed Oscar Piastri to briefly think of trying a pass on the Ferrari driver. “I had an attempt about 10 or 15 laps in, into turn eight,” he said. “We were going pretty slow. I think at one point we were going slower than Formula 2.

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“When you’re going that slow, you’ve got a fair few options. But I kind of knew that once I showed my hand in where I was going to try and overtake, that he would probably be wise to it from there. So I managed to get very close in turn seven, one lap. I tried to show the nose in turn eight but he reacted just quick enough, so after that point I knew I was going to be very limited on options.”

Verstappen made one of few true pit stops

Behind Russell, Mercedes brought Lewis Hamilton in when he had enough of a gap behind. They slipped up, however, failing to ensure Hamilton kept up the pace on his out-lap, which gave sixth-placed Verstappen the…

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