Crazy racing, flying carbon fibre & dented barriers - Monaco came alive in the final stages
Sky F1's Martin Brundle on a race that started with tyre preservation and ended with bold overtakes, damaged cars and red flags.
Last Updated: 28/05/13 9:50am
That was definitely a slow burn Grand Prix but our patience was rewarded in the end with some crazy racing and the usual volume of broken carbon fibre. Not to mention dented barriers.
Speaking with Adrian Newey on Sunday night, he clearly didn't enjoy it as much as me. His main gripe was the early stages when the tail-end of the field were once again lapping considerably faster than the leaders, who were in major tyre conservation mode at the time.
It was rather pedestrian to say the least but it was always heading towards a crescendo - although the red flag period spoiled the race in many ways because 40-plus laps on one set of tyres was going to challenge many and generate some late surprises. It does feel odd to see the teams changing tyres and adjusting cars on the grid while waiting for a restart.
The drivers' briefing in Montreal should be fun and I suspect Sergio Perez may be sitting by himself, even possibly with a black eye. In the early stages his team rival Jenson Button was on the radio to highlight the fact that Perez had maintained position only by cutting the chicanes. That was a fair cop and the place was duly handed over.
Sergio then sent a clear message to the rest of the front runners that he will not be intimidated and he will counter attack immediately. He was very passive in the first two races of the season but, particularly since Bahrain, he's been super-aggressive.
Alonso says it reminds him of himself in 2008 and 2009 when he wasn't in a Championship position. Quite a compliment from a man who was on the receiving end of one of his assaults and a subsequent recipient of a 'let Perez past' official instruction.
Kimi Raikkonen, on the other hand, wants to punch him in the face for costing him Championship points. The general view was that Perez was making late and wild moves and relying on others to sort the mess out and let him through. It reminds me of my days against Senna. After some cracking moves on Button and Alonso, unfortunately he rolled the dice one too many times and connected with Raikkonen in a gap half-a-car wide.
Alonso had decided not to risk damage in this tyre-conserving traffic jam and I guess it paid dividends even if he looked unusually low energy throughout the race. He left some awfully big gaps as open invitations, especially to Sutil and Button.
The problem is that, when you exit the tunnel in Monaco, you have to commit very early with a decision to overtake - and at that point it's impossible to reverse it if the gap disappears or you've braked too late. It's the best overtaking zone on the track but it's also very high risk to say the least.
What we are seeing here is the inventive overtaking of younger drivers who've grown up in junior series and have to fight their way through scores of other great young drivers to get noticed in the last chance saloon of GP2. It's a changing of the guard in that respect and I like it. Expecting others to politely hold position behind you while you carefully protect your Championship position never was, and remains, unrealistic.
It was an epic weekend for Nico Rosberg. Other than failing to get fastest lap due to Vettel looking for some 'satisfaction', Nico was simply perfect. His pace, start and restarts where immaculate, as was his pedestrian tyre saving up front. He was simply the driver of the weekend and surprisingly put Lewis in the shade. The word 'surprisingly' is actually no longer appropriate, and it seems it probably never was.
The Mercedes multi-day 1000km test in a 2013 car with both their race drivers after Barcelona certainly cannot have harmed their performance. On the face of it, whatever the apparent agreements between the FIA, Pirelli, and the teams, it appears to be wholly unfair. We know that teams bolt on goodies for their 'promo filming days' to be carefully measured, but a full-on test at such a critical stage of the season is very significant.
If it was all above board then why not put out a press statement as happens almost daily anyway, and why not inform the other teams? Pirelli's response is that had they publicised the fact then politics would have eventually cancelled an important test for them to sort out the structural issues. I suspect that whatever pain Mercedes must now take, if any, it may well be worth it....
For the first time this year Vettel didn't lead a lap but he has created a 21-point lead in the Championship. If he had chosen to do two flying laps in Q3 he may well have been on pole and it could have been a very different story. But he didn't.
Felipe Massa has two identical-looking crashes at St Devote
Poor old Felipe Massa must feel bruised and confused post-race after two mighty accidents which appeared largely identical but apparently weren't. The first was driver error and the second was car failure. A bizarre coincidence, I reckon, and some in the paddock were wondering why he didn't initially come off the brakes. It all happens very quickly but there must be specific track and car dynamics along with driving style just at that point which triggered the unusual accidents.
Romain Grosjean also had a crunching weekend to forget - although he won't be allowed to because he carries a ten-place grid penalty into Montreal. Unfortunately, when you get a record and a reputation the penalties seem to be ever-more brutal although he did wreck Daniel Ricciardo's day.
Pastor Maldonado's crash resulted in the race being red-flagged
In all of the incidents each driver blamed the other, with the exception of Max Chilton who connected with Maldonado to set off a scary crash at Tabac. It was alarming to see the air fence bouncing back and blocking the track.
McLaren increased their consecutive points-scoring races to 63 but they would happily trade that for considerably higher in the Constructors' Championship than their current 6th position. At least the car seems to be improving.
Thankfully everyone left the circuit physically intact and we now look forward to more crazy 'hurry up and wait' racing in Montreal.