The Wet and Sensational 79th Monaco Grand Prix

The Monaco Grand Prix was made difficult due to the weather, but more difficulties awaited the drivers from the track itself.

The history of Monaco Grand Prix

Regardless of whether you watch rugby, basketball, or football, we’ve all heard of the Monaco Grand Prix race track and have caught a glimpse of the scenery of the exotic race track.

Monaco Grand Prix is one of the oldest tracks in the calendar and has remained unchanged since its inception in 1929.

Its popularity is that the street circuit is probably the most challenging and shortest track on the calendar spanning over 3.3 km only. Monaco Grand Prix has also hailed some of the best memories and racing instances.

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What makes this track more demanding for the driver is that the race track is like the streets of Monaco, which are incredibly narrow and have a range of altitude changes and tight turns.

The slender track makes overtaking difficult in the recent era where cars have become more prominent and broader than previous F1 cars.

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The race shares the day with the Indianapolis 500 and Coca Cola 600, which combine to become the crown jewel of automobile racing.

How a typical F1 race weekend looks like

For those who’re not familiar with what a race weekend schedule looks like, it’s broken down into three days (Friday, Saturday & Sunday).

Friday contains two free practice sessions where drivers learn the track and test out car setups. Saturday includes the final free practice session each of 1 hour.

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A qualifying session is broken down into three parts as follows. Qualifying is a test of setting the fastest lap time and the ranking order of lap times defines the grid order on race day.

The first part (Q1) is 18 minutes of setting the quickest lap, and the bottom five drivers(16-20) are knocked out.

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Q2 follows, which eliminates the slowest five, and their time-order is how they line up on the race grid. The final Q3 is for 12 minutes, where the ten fastest drivers earn the final grid position.

Finally, on Sunday, the cars line up as per the qualifying result and then race for points awarded based on race position only. The point system looks like this.

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There’s also an extra point for grabs for whoever sets the fastest lap time during the race.

What Happened during the weekend

Going into the weekend, the driver championship was heating up with Max Verstappen(defending champion) leading Charles Leclerc with 4 points with 110 for Max and 106 For Leclerc.

A win at Monaco Grand Prix would give either of them a comfortable lead. It looked like the native Monegasque, Charles, would finally break the Monaco Grand Prix curse as he dominated the entire weekend.

He topped the FP1 charts with a time of 1:14.531, FP2 in 1:12.656, and was only seven-hundredths of a second behind Perez in FP3.

Ferrari undoubtedly had the better car for slower corners than Redbull, and Ferrari set the stage for the hometown hero to win the race.

Qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix

As the time ticked on with Q3 and Q2 passing by, it looked clear that it was a two-horse race between Ferrari and Redbull.

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But there were a few surprises in the session, such as Pierre Gasly not qualifying for Q2, despite having a decent record at this track.

Lando Norris of Mclaren put up a respectable P5, but the woes for Daniel this season continued as he could only rank 14th. Similarly, Sebastian Vettel also made a Q3 appearance, ranking 9th on the grid.

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Monaco Grand Prix has probably the most important qualifying session of the year due to difficulty overtaking; thus, getting a pole in Monaco has one hand on the win already.

This hand was Charles Leclerc, who netted a 1:11.3 getting his 5th pole. Next in line was his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz 2 and a half tenths behind.

Perez was third with 1:11.629 and Verstappen 4th with 1:11.666. Monaco Grand Prix is only the second time Perez has out-qualified Verstappen; but Perez looked the better driver throughout the weekend, going toe to toe with Leclerc.

The wet-dry race

There was a 50% chance of rain on Sunday, and it showered right before the race was about to start. The forecast initially meant the race was delayed to 3:18 local time.

After the race kicked off behind a safety car for the formation lap, the lap ended relatively short; as the Marshalls waved red flags due to extreme showers making a track like Monaco undrivable.

The race started at 4:05 with all the cars on wet who slowly pitted for intermediates who are faster but provide lesser grip.

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Intermediate soon had the advantage as the showers went away, and a dry race line appeared. While Perez was the first of the four front runners to pit for inters and slicks; followed by Verstappen after two laps, Sainz made the direct shift to slicks. 

Ferrari Strategy Disaster

Interestingly, Charles pitted late for inters and went to slicks along with Sainz. This led to Perez and Verstappen pulling the overcut on him.

The overcut was made possible due to a strategical error from the pit wall for Charles. He was radioed for a pit, only to tell him to stay out after he was already in the pitlane.

It was clear that bringing him in was a mistake as he fell from 1st to 4th. Perez’s brilliant out-lap also helped his case in getting the first place.

In lap27, Mick lost the rear of his car, crashing spectacularly at the swimming pool, breaking his car into two.

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While he was safe and well, FIA decided to red flag the race repair the barrier. Due to the innumerable delays, the stewards cut the race down to 43 remaining minutes.

The restart saw Redbulls going with the mediums while the Ferraris went for slightly used hards. 

The order of the top 4 continued as it was as the mediums held up for Sergio Perez. He landed his first Monaco Grand Prix win, a track Redbull has won 3 out of the four last times.

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The win was important for Perez, who had trouble with Redbull and their team orders. Particularly at the Spanish GP, he gave Max’s lead in the race.

Consequently, he finished second behind him in a race he could have won easily. The runner-up Carlos Sainz was only 1.1 seconds behind Perez, followed by Verstappen 3 tenths behind.

The race’s fastest lap went to Lando Norris, who continued his form at 6th place.

How does Monaco Grand Prix look in the big picture?

Sunday ended a miserable weekend for Charles, who came 4th. This spiced up the driver’s championship, with Perez trailing Charles by only 6 points.

There’s also some speculation around whether we’ll be seeing Monaco Grand Prix next year on the race calendar or not.

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Critics have stated that the track is too narrow and unsuitable for modern cars. The newer ones are bigger and broader than their ancestors.

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But it’s important to note that the fight is far from over. F1 circus travels to Baku on 10th June for another street race, which is exciting and challenging.

Its also worthy to note that Sergio Perez won the last Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The tickets for the race are available here online.

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