Formula One touched down in Monaco this weekend with Lewis Hamilton leading the Championship by 17 points from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Monaco isn’t power sensitive unlike most circuits so a shaken up order was to be expected with driver’s skill and qualifying being the key factors.
Ultimately, it proved to be a fairly boring race but just what lessons were learned this weekend?
Red Bull Wow
Celebrating their 250th Grand Prix weekend, Red Bull were just sensational from the off, with Daniel Ricciardo setting a new lap record in every session (race aside).
Coming into this weekend, the Aussie thought others were taking the pressure off themselves by calling Red Bull the “favourites” but wanted to “prove them right”.
Oh boy, did he prove them right with such domination throughout the entire weekend with a brilliantly controlled drive despite power issues.
Discussing how he managed to avoid losing the win, Ricciardo said; “It’s a tight track and we had a good car so I could make up enough time in the corners to not be vulnerable on the straights.”
Now that is brilliant driving and how to maximise the car’s qualities to extract the maximum so could protect yourself on the weaker parts of this circuit.
Teammate, Max Verstappen however missed qualifying after a FP3 crash but drove a brilliant race to clinch two points with a ninth placed finish, despite fresh questions being raised.
Questions for Verstappen
Whilst Ricciardo was imperious around the streets of Monaco, fresh questions will now be asked of Verstappen about his driving style.
Known for his speed and aggressive driving, the young Dutchman has found himself having an incident at some point throughout every race weekend so far this season.
Fair enough, drivers make mistakes but with Verstappen, it seems to be a regular occurrence despite his talents.
In Australia and China, he spun under pressure whilst Bahrain saw a Q1 exit after crashing on exit of turn 2 into turn 3.
Baku and Spain also saw incidents but around Monaco when need wits about you at all times, Verstappen for fourth consecutive season has suffered a crash at this circuit, thus ending his Saturday and pole hopes.
That fact alone would be worrying but when he has had these incidents throughout the previous five race weekends so far in 2018, alarm bells surely has to be ringing about whether he needs to tweak his driving style.
Canada definitely will be a key point in Verstappen’s season because we will see whether he has learned to match his speed to the car’s absolute limits at a track that might suit his style, or if he has potentially picked up Daniil Kvyat’s nab of unnecessary incidents.
Progress for Sirotkin
Having endured a torrid start to his F1 career, this weekend surprisingly saw Sergey Sirotkin make solid progress.
FP2 aside, Sirotkin seemed firmly in midfield mix amongst the Force India and Renaults which is something positive for Williams.
Although 13th on grid might of felt disappointing, the Russian’s performance drew praise from Chief Technical Officer, Paddy Lowe.
Speaking to Williamsf1.com post qualifying, Lowe said; “Sergey performed brilliantly this afternoon and got the very best possible out of the car…”
Admittedly, the race didn’t go as well as expected although it wasn’t through Sirotkin’s faults, and probably highlights why maybe a fine or points deduction penalty would be better served for non driver made mistakes,
Lucky Gamble by Alonso nearly pays off
Fernando Alonso nearly pulled off a blinder after suffering a nightmare trio of practice sessions.
The Spaniard and his race engineer made some pre qualifying changes, which surprisingly worked when he got his McLaren seventh on the grid.
Speaking to McLaren’s official website about the issues at end of FP3, Alonso said that the car ‘lacked some pace and the balance was not ideal’ so they therefore ‘changed the car completely’.
Luckily it paid off and he was on course for six precious points, which would of moved them into fourth in the constructors’ championship and one point ahead of their engine supplier, Renault.
Sadly, fate intervened when transmission problems brought the Spaniard’s race to an early close on lap 53.
Speaking post race despite being ‘disappointed’, Alonso explained what happened, saying; “First, I felt a loss of power and then I was somehow stuck in fifth gear.”
Rather than bemoan his misfortunes, the two-time World Champion spoke about the future and said that McLaren must improve their ‘reliability for the forthcoming races.’
That view is the correct one to have because reliability has often been McLaren’s Achilles Heel this season, particularly early in the weekend although that hasn’t stopped Alonso from scoring points till now when it matters most.
Leclerc impresses on home debut
Making your home race debut can often be quite nerve wracking but Sauber’s Charles Leclerc delivered a solid job all weekend.
To not only beat your teammate at home race all weekend, but to also beat both Haas drivers on Saturday and in race is something to praise.
Admittedly, a brake failure took him out of the race near the end but that doesn’t take away from his impressive drive and third consecutive Q2 appearance.
When speaking post race, Leclerc didn’t mention the fact that it was his home race unlike various other drivers when its their home Grand Prix and instead focused on the positives of ‘good pace’ and being ‘competitive in the midfield.’
That is quite commendable actually and shows his maturity in drawing attention to the positives whilst reflecting on what issues he had in race, rather than discuss the fans and what it was like racing at home.
Definitely a top Ferrari driver for the future if he continues to impress.
Missed any of the first five race weekends and want to get up to date? Click on any of the hyperlinks below to go and check out my round up of the weekend.