Pit Chat: Don’t go to Ferrari university…

Maybe give Ferrari’s lessons on strategy a miss next time, the neooowww guy returns in Monaco and Daniel Ricciardo finds someone new to irritate.

Here are the best bits from the Monaco Grand Prix weekend.

But first…

BMW play a blinder

You may recall that after the Spanish Grand Prix, Mercedes said farewell to their big boss, the unmistakable Dieter Zetsche who is now enjoying retirement.

BMW also said goodbye with this very cheeky advert…it’s absolutely brilliant. Funny yet respectful of the rivalry between them as car manufacturers.

If you’ve already seen it, don’t let that stop you from watching again.

Just like old times

From the old (sorry Dieter) to the young with Max Verstappen, who reminded us of the good times he had with Daniel Ricciardo before deciding to leave for Renault.

We enjoyed that lingering smile from Max as he tried to keep the banter exchange going…until the fun stopped for another question.

And although many are keen to point out just how more mature Max is nowadays, there is still a little bit of the kid left in him…

Ricciardo, meanwhile, seems to have found someone else he can annoy…

Turns out he was just after an autograph…

Radio ga-ga

Elsewhere, there were plenty of stand-out radio messages from the Monaco Grand Prix…

Romain Grosjean has clearly been having swearing lessons from Guenther Steiner:

Kimi Raikkonen gave us one of the most Kimi Raikkonen radio messages of all time:

Robert Kubica openly questioned Williams’ strategy on race day in Monaco:

And sounds like Sebastian Vettel is having to think about an awful lot when driving the Ferrari. Is he just doing everything?

Ferrari University

One thing Sebastian isn’t doing is holding a class on the importance of strategy in Monaco. No, he’s leaving that to the professionals.

They actually held one prior to their monumental cock-up on Saturday. You could not make this sh*t up.

But Charles Leclerc actually did make it to the end of Q3, you know? Well, sort of…

Any other business

Ferrari-backed drivers were also getting ruled out on the football pitch. Antonio Giovinazzi with a lovely little finish but he was sadly offside.

The neeeeoooowwwww guy made an unexpected return in Monaco…

…while we think someone needs to sit down with Fox Sports and explain how Formula 1 works.

Poor Pierre gets the Where’s Wally treatment…

And here is the start of what we will most remember about Seb this season: his funny quips in press conferences.

Last word

Ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend we lost a great man, a fearless champion and an inspiration to drivers past, present and future.

Many tributes were made to the legend that is Niki Lauda, but none created a bigger lump in the throat than this…

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Conclusions from the Monaco Grand Prix

Nothing went right for the local boy, Mercedes win it for Niki but do it the hard way (or did they?) and Red Bull get away with a soft penalty while their B-team also scores big.

What’s luck got to do with it?

Burnt by tactical blunders (various grand prix), reliability issues (Bahrain) and the occasional self-inflicted error (Baku), Charles Leclerc’s first season with Ferrari has been a baptism of fire.

The home-town hero’s Monaco experience was dire on Saturday and even worse on Sunday. The strategy call to leave him in the pits in Q1 left him stranded near the wrong end of the grid, from where a recovery was always going to be a challenge.

Although Leclerc brandishes his attacking credentials in the opening phase of the race to complete some great overtakes, he eventually hit the barrier while trying to get past Nico Hulkenberg and the ensuing puncture effectively ended the Ferrari driver’s race.

He must be wondering what he needs to do to earn a lucky break, particularly when he sees good fortune going the way of his rivals.

Monaco overtaking is not impossible, but it is a gamble

As in 2018, this year’s event around the tight streets of the Principality served up a fine race. Almost every team and driver said before the race that “overtaking is difficult”, which is true. But Leclerc proved that if a driver is willing to roll the dice overtaking is possible, albeit risky.

Leclerc’s brilliant moves on Lando Norris at the hairpin and on Romain Grosjean at Rascasse, prove the point.

The Ferrari star would later hit the barrier at the latter corner after trying to replicate his previous overtake, but in truth he didn’t have too much to lose. And that’s Monaco in a nutshell, right there.

Mercedes give Niki a fitting send off

So the Silver Arrows failed to keep their incredible record of consecutive 1-2 finishes going, though Lewis Hamilton’s victory means that the team still has a clean sweep of victories in 2019. The win came less than a week after the death of Mercedes director and paddock legend Niki Lauda.

The three-time champion’s influence is such that every driver and team paid tribute to a man that transcended the realms of what is humanly possible in his glittering career.

But it wasn’t easy

Mercedes admitted that they made a (rare) mistake in sending Hamilton onto his second stint with the less durable medium rubber while the rest of the field was shorn with hard tyres. Max Verstappen harried Hamilton all the way, even making contact with the Mercedes going into the chicane in the closing stages.

Hamilton again underscored his class to deal with severely worn front tyres in a masterclass of a performance that he described as “a miracle”.

But there is another but

However there is a nagging feeling that Hamilton made a meal of his situation on the medium rubber, given that some of the midfield runners managed to eke out long stints on soft tyres.

Moreover, Daniel Ricciardo managed to win in Monaco in 2018, nursing his stricken Red Bull home despite losing his MGU-K and around 150 horsepower. And lest we forget that Hamilton was behind the wheel of the W10, arguably the most dominant car in the history of the sport.

Max gets away with it

Verstappen, though, was fortunate to be in a position to fight with Hamilton as the 5-second time penalty he received for an unsafe release into Valtteri Bottas was incredibly lenient, particularly when contrasted with the 10-second penalty Antonio Giovinazzi for an on-track incident that posed far less danger than Red Bull’s decision to let Verstappen leave his box to drive directly into the path of the hapless Bottas.

Safety car shakes up race for best of the rest

Leclerc was probably fortunate to escape sanction for driving around Monte-Carlo with a puncture at high speed, flinging rubber and carbon fibre across the track in the process. The net result was a safety car, which triggered a mad rush for the pits.

Daniel Ricciardo, then running fifth, and Kevin Magnussen, who was sixth, both took the opportunity to dive into the pits. But they emerged behind Alfa’s Kimi Raikkonen who was running a long first stint, and who subsequently held the pair up to completely ruin their hopes of scoring the bag full of points that they were expecting.

Torpedo on target

Daniil Kvyat was one of the beneficiaries of the safety car and scored his best-ever result for Toro Rosso with a fantastic seventh. The Russian is more mature since returning to the cockpit, though he has lost none of his speed.

Team-mate Alexander Albon impressed again by claiming P8, to cap a fine day for Red Bull’s B-team.

Richard F Rose

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Monaco Grand Prix driver ratings

Lewis Hamilton is top of the class in the Monaco Grand Prix driver ratings, but plenty of praise for those behind in a tense race at Monte Carlo.

Our friends at Late Braking are back once again to go through the field and give their verdicts. The scores are in…

Lewis Hamilton – Despite all of his doubts throughout the race, the narrow streets of Monaco worked in his favour as Hamilton picked up win number three in the Principality despite significant pressure from behind.

Tyre management has arguably been the biggest weakness of Hamilton’s career but he did a great job on worn medium tyres to hold off his rivals and open up his championship lead to seventeen points. Saving Mercedes who admitted that they put the wrong compound on his W10.  9

Sebastian Vettel – Six races in to the season and it’s Sebastian Vettel who has finally ended Mercedes run of one-two finishes as he came home second following Verstappen’s penalty.

Following the shambles of Saturday, Vettel looked in control during the race and managed his tyres more effectively than those around him. It might not have been the win that Ferrari need but splitting the Mercs is at least a starting point. 8

Valtteri Bottas – F1 is a cruel game that is often won and lost on tenths of a second. Bottas could definitely argue that case as he missed out on the all-important pole position on Saturday.

Pitting after Hamilton cost him as he was beaten out of the pit lane by Verstappen, a penalty for an unfair release rectified that one but the ensuing puncture forced him back into the pits which affected his battle against Vettel. The championship deficit goes from seven to seventeen points and the onus is once again on Valtteri to fight back.  8

Max Verstappen – A spirited and gutsy performance from Verstappen that was cruelly not rewarded with a podium. A penalty that he could do little about pushed him back two positions but not before giving his all to overtake Hamilton for the lead.

It wouldn’t be unfair to consider whether the Verstappen of a year ago would have been mature enough to patiently stick behind Hamilton for so long, and even when he lunged for victory late in the race, there was still an element of control behind the move. 8

Pierre Gasly – 5th place plus fastest lap is a prediction that I’m sure many made before the start of this race and it soon came to fruition. Starting 8th thanks to a penalty, Gasly worked his way into the top 5 with no real hope of catching the top 4 drivers.

The result was Gasly deciding to pit in the closing stages and obtain the fastest lap which he duly delivered on. Still, it’s another weekend where Verstappen showed what the car is capable of and Gasly was a long way off that mark.  6

Carlos Sainz – Monaco is so often a game of strategy rather than pace and whilst Carlos Sainz was a long way from slow, it was definitely the former that gave him P6 in the Grand Prix.

His decision not to pit under the safety car worked out a treat and from there it was just a case of keeping the pesky Toro Rosso drivers behind him. 8

Daniil Kvyat – The revival of Daniil Kvyat’s career continued at Monaco as he secured his best ever finish for Toro Rosso. Another who benefitted from refusing to pit under the safety car, Kvyat responsibly led home his teammate and secure the double points finish they should have had in Spain. 8

Alex Albon – It’s hard to not be impressed with Albon and how he has adapted to F1 so quickly. Debut races at Monaco are a long way from a walk in the park but Albon was quick all afternoon and was rewarded with his best F1 finish to date. 7

Daniel Ricciardo: More Renault frustration

Daniel Ricciardo – The 2018 Monaco Grand Prix winner can’t have been expecting a similar story this time around but he would have hoped for a little more than P9 after the first few laps. Pitting under the safety car seemed like a sensible idea but being held up behind slow cars seriously cost him and he did well to salvage points. 7

Romain Grosjean – A lot of attention will be put on Hamilton’s 67 lap stint on the medium tyres to end the race but spare a moment for Romain Grosjean who completed 50 laps on the soft tyres before making his one and only pit stop. 7

His effective management of tyres and clever strategy helped him to points but as usual it wasn’t all good for the Frenchman as a penalty cost him a position to Ricciardo at the death.

Lando Norris – All aboard the Norris train. For whatever reason, Norris seriously struggled with his pace as he found himself losing massive chunks of time to the cars ahead but Monaco is the one track you can get away with that as track position is king.

He very nearly helped himself to points but agonisingly missed out. 6

Sergio Perez – From as early as Thursday, it became pretty clear that Racing Point would struggle to get into the top 10 on race day and that proved to be the case as Perez led home the pink panthers in 13th. His highlight was an attempted move on Magnussen, only for K-Mag to cut the chicane, which he was later penalised for. 6

Nico Hulkenberg – The best of the rest from 2018, Hulkenberg isn’t having things go his way in 2019 thus far with Ricciardo looking quicker by the weekend.

The Renault promise of 2019 is fading fast and he has now gone four races without scoring. Something that didn’t happen to him at all in 2018.  5

Kevin Magnussen – No doubt Magnussen is quizzing the millionaires of Monaco as to whether they can create a time machine. Looking quick all weekend, it was the fateful decision to pit under the safety car that cost him points. A five-second penalty for cutting the chicane to gain an advantage over Perez also didn’t help.  6

George Russell – It’s hard to fault anything Russell is doing right now as he constantly beats his teammates and he even beat a few other drivers this time round. 15 seconds behind the next car up the road might sound like a lot but over a 78-lap race in a Williams, I would say that’s pretty impressive.  8

Lance Stroll – After a tenth straight Q1 elimination, this was always set to be a tough race for Stroll and so it proved to be. A five second penalty didn’t help him but at no point was he set to challenge the points-scorers. 5

Kimi Raikkonen – Officially speaking, this was the worst result for Alfa Romeo/Sauber since the Monaco Grand Prix in 2017 with Kimi the better of the two drivers in 17th. A tough qualifying session indicated a long Sunday was ahead of the Finn and that’s exactly what happened on a not so happy 300th race weekend . 5

Robert Kubica – For the first time this season, Kubica was not classified last. After receiving a hefty tap from Giovinazzi early in the race, he kept the Italian behind for the rest of the race and came home P18.  6

Antonio Giovinazzi – Only three drivers have failed to score this season. The two Williams guys and Giovinazzi. Not a great look. This was a torrid weekend and one that falls in the ‘one to forget’ category. 4

Did not finish

Charles Leclerc was "too aggressive" with his Monaco overtakes says Nico Hulkenberg.

Charles Leclerc – Leclerc said on Saturday that he would attack this race with everything he had and he wasn’t lying as he made a few daring overtakes early in the race. The one on Hulkenberg failed to work though as he received damage that caused him to retire.

The bulk of the damage was done on Saturday and doesn’t fall on Leclerc’s shoulders but that doesn’t make him blameless. Verstappen scored points after starting P20 last year so all hope should not have been lost. Perhaps a more conservative approach would have been wiser. 5

The Monaco Grand Prix driver ratings are courtesy of the good folks at Late Braking. You can check them out in the following places:

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Hamilton whinges reminiscent of Fry and Laurie sketch

Some think it is a case of when rather if Lewis Hamilton’s breaks Michael Schumacher’s remaining records. His radio whinges are also on the agenda.

Plus the consistency of penalties from the FIA and the Monaco layout also come under scrutiny.

Join the discussion over on the PlanetF1 forum here or head to the comments section down below…

Pathetic penalties

I just can not understand the weak 5 second penalty for Verstappen after that release. Nothing against Verstappen, but that forced Bottas damage and he had to pit again.
He already lost 1 place due to an unsafe release and another for having to box due to damage (caused by the unsafe release!?)

In the past, even when there was no contact when drivers had an unsafe release, the penalty was huge. It seems pathetic that Giovinazzi got a bigger penalty for what he did than this.

This was very unfortunate for Bottas. He looked very solid this weekend and until Red Bull messed up his race, Mercedes were certainly going to get a 1 -2 finish.


What do we do about Monaco?

Seb ends 1-2 streak; all guts no glory for Leclerc.

Yeah Monaco has its detractors, but… track position is so important, so…. do better on the Saturday.

I wouldn’t want to see a season of Monaco’s, but likewise it presents a different challenge and one of the few races that can cause an upset still with a bit of luck and safety cars.

That said I still think they could open the track up a bit in at least one place, just to give a chance. There is room to an alterative option from the Chicane pretty much right up to Rascasse.

Yeah might need a bit of creative engineering or removal of some of the waterfront structures, but it is possible to engineer a better overtaking chance.


Not everyone found it tense

Boring race as expected. I think the most annoying part is the driver at lead can crawl to the victory and rest can’t do anything about it as there is barely space for 2 cars. Same for the midfield battle. Ricciardo and KMag got behind and were stuck in traffic. Sainz got lucky and STR simply followed him all race.

Hamilton moaning was very annoying. Wish Mercedes had asked him to pit. It would be slightly more interesting race as Max would at least had a go and build 5+secs gap and rest had to respond rather than just counting laps.


A little bit of Fry and Laurie

Does anyone else get fed up with Hamilton’s constant whining on the radio? I got to the point where I muted the tv every time I saw his radio comms were about to come up.

I’m convinced by the amount of times he bangs on, that he does it as a ploy to try and bluff other drivers. It’s not just Monaco, it seems like it’s every race I’m watching, he’s banging on about the tires going.

It reminded me of this sketch…

Charles LeBrad

I’ll bite.

I think the whining on the radio is a combination of things. One – FOM driving a storyline and constantly airing those radio calls, and two – hamilton playing expectations management with the public at large and himself. He’s basically saying “look World – my team messed up and I might not win this race as a result.”

He’s also creating a positive feedback loop with the team that forces them to make better calls so in a sense – his whinging on the radio is him trying to get the team to step their game up.

If you don’t want me whinging stop making dumb calls. So far it has seemed to work. It is annoying to listen to but I think all drivers do it. In Monaco it was amplified by the commentary team and the race director.


A case of when rather than if?

So a little breathing room in the championship now for Lewis and you get the sense that he’s going to start to pull away from Valtteri now. It’s interesting to note that this is win number 77 for Lewis. He’s getting up there now and I do think that he will have a very high total this year in the win column.

We’ve just about transitioned from “if” to “when” when it comes to the question of topping Schumacher’s record win total. It’s looking 85-90% certain that Hamilton will get to 92 wins now. It will almost certainly happen next season.

The championships are a different story. You never know what will happen year on year with regards to that and any title shot could be your last. I think he’s in good shape this year though. Bottas has been very strong so far this season but I’ll need to see him challenge Lewis for a full season before a believe it.

Mercedes have regained their position as outright best car in the field and their operations staff have been very solid for the most part. Okay they got it wrong today but they haven’t made a meal of things the way Ferrari have this season.

Only Red Bull are stronger operationally during the races and they don’t have the car to match Mercedes most of the time. I expect that to change as the season presses on and I expect Red Bull to surpass Ferrari this year and be a very serious threat in 2020. They are in the ascendancy IMO and Hamilton will have to watch over his shoulder for Max more frequently moving forward.


I’m not sure I agree it’s that certain. His win rate in the hybrid era is 51.9% – that means he should win 8 more races this season (the second highest ever in a season) – that puts him on 85 wins.

He would then need to win at least 7 next season – and that will only happen if Mercedes produce the best car again. Yes, they are most likely to, but it’s far from a certainty, especially as Red Bull will be in the second year with Honda, and the Honda engine will be closer in performance to the Merc.

While it’s highly unlikely he won’t win races in 2020, if it does turn out Mercedes are no longer the dominant team, I can see him walking at the end of 2020, whether or not he wins the championship. At the end of this season he’ll be the same age Schumacher was after winning his 7th WDC.

If he was a record chaser, then I could see him staying just to get his name listed above Schumacher, but he’s always said he doesn’t care about that, and I do think he’s keen to have a post F1 career doing other things and once he’s just making up the number in F1, there will be no reason for him to stay.


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Verstappen deserved 20s or a drive-through

How does Max Verstappen’s unsafe release, the puncturing of Valtteri Bottas’s tyre and putting the lives of pit crews in jeopardy equate to a five-second penalty when all Antonio Giovinazzi did was slow Robert Kubica to earn a 10s penalty?

The answer: by racing in Formula 1.

Formula 1’s stewarding and penalty system has long been the butt of many a joke.

Without permanent stewards in place, the decision making on any day of a grand prix weekend is all often subjective.

That meant in Monaco on Sunday that this…

Was worth five seconds, while this…

Earned Giovinazzi 10.

How is that even possible?

Racing for position, potentially the race win, Red Bull were quick to release Verstappen from his pit stop as the top four all came into the pits during a Safety Car period.

Red Bull, though, were too quick and put the Dutchman into the path of Bottas.

He hit the Mercedes, punctured Bottas’ tyre, got out ahead of the Finn and then cost him an additional position as he had to pit again for another set of tyres and – take a look at how close pit and safety crews were in the below pic – he also put lives at risk.

So that’s a) unsafe release, b) causing a collision and c) gaining an advantage.

He was hit with a five-second timed penalty and yet Giovinazzi, who only caused a collision – albeit one that cost Kubica positions but which didn’t damage either car – was given a 10-second punishment.

The stewards explained Verstappen’s penalty: “Car #33 struck car #77 while continuing the move towards the fast lane and subsequently pulled ahead gaining a sporting advantage following the contact.

“The stewards believe that although ahead at the time the driver had the opportunity to avoid the contact contributing to the unsafe release.”

Then they explained Giovinazzi’s: “The Stewards considered that the passing attempt by car 99 was too late to be executed and that he was wholly at fault for the collision with car 88 in turn 18.”

And given that Lance Stroll and Kevin Magnussen were also penalised on Sunday for having “gained an advantage”, five seconds each, that should bring Verstappen’s tally to 10 for contact, five for gaining an advantage and at least five for an unsafe release.

Only a 20-second penalty or a drive-through – about 22s – would have been a just call.

Formula 1’s stewarding failed, again.

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Kubica questions Russell’s ‘priority’ in Monaco

Robert Kubica has questioned Williams’ strategy after George Russell was given “priority” despite the Polish driver being ahead in the Monaco Grand Prix.

The Williams drivers lined up 19th and 20th on the Monte Carlo grid with Russell ahead of his team-mate.

It was, however, the Pole who made the better start and gained track position over his team-mate.

Williams, though, opted to pit Russell first with the rookie stopping on lap 10 under the Safety Car while Kubica only pitted on lap 21.

Russell finished P15 to Kubica’s 18th place.

“I thought the driver in front gets priority over who is behind?” Kubica asked his engineer over the radio.

The response: “Copy that, we’ll chat when you get back here.”

Kubica’s woes were compounded when he was tagged and spun by Antonio Giovinazzi with that costing him time as the duo, along with Charles Leclerc, briefly blocked the track.

Sport.pl quotes him as having told Eleven Sports broadcaster after the race: “What can I say?

“As is usual in Monaco, there was not much going on.

“I gained two positions on the approach and exit of the first corner and then drove to my rhythm.

“A lot of people said that I would not be able to drive here, so it was good to finish.

“Overall, the race was quite good, but the strategy was not the best.

“That’s that.”

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