Formula 1 Racing

Was I nuts to have enjoyed the Monaco Grand Prix?

George Russell, Mercedes W15

In fact, and I know I am in a minority here, but as Monaco Grands Prix go, it was one I actually enjoyed.

Monaco Sundays have never been about overtaking. Everyone knows the second they turn up in the Principality that the fight for victory is 99.99% about getting yourself on pole position because, with passing almost impossible, track position is king.

An overtake at Monaco is a rarity and it’s often only when the race gets hit by the unpredictability triggered by wet weather that things get a bit spicier. Olivier Panis can confirm that after his shock triumph in the 1996 race.

Rain is why last year’s Monaco GP had 23 overtakes, and the year before got up to 13. When it is dry, you can easily count the overtakes on one hand. It was four this year (the same as in 2018). And if you want to talk about lack of passing, then you only need to go back to the 2021 race where there were a grand total of zero.

The one jeopardy moment of a dry Monaco has always been the pitstops, with the potential for either a blunder to derail the weekend’s efforts (think Daniel Ricciardo’s missing tyres in 2016) or it to potentially swing the GP on its head (think how Sebastian Vettel overcut Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in 2017).

Last weekend’s immediate red flag caused by Sergio Perez’s hefty take out with the two Haas cars pretty much robbed us of this strategy element this time out, as it was fairly obvious that the best route to victory was to no-stop by heavily managing the tyres.

While that triggered some pretty defeatist thinking – as George Russell in particular played it super slow to ensure his mediums could make the end – it opened up to me what become a different type of intrigue.

George Russell, Mercedes W15

Photo by: Erik Junius

As Charles Leclerc aimed to pace things at the front, and Russell in fifth paced things even more to leave an ever widening gap in front of him, the prospect of fourth placed Norris being able to get a free pitstop, change tyres and then surge back to the front – potentially with a rubber advantage that could allow some passing – became fascinating to observe.

Watching the sector times ping up each lap, and the gap between Norris and Russell steadily extending, there was a gripping cat-and-mouse game unfolding that was captivating to watch as the laps ticked by.

As my regular sim racing buddies well know, I’m a big fan of long tyre and fuel saving races – where the enjoyment…

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