As the F1 circus heads to the glamourous principality, we take a look back at what perspired there last year. I usually watch these races while working out at home, so it makes it a bit less difficult to really doze off after everyone has made their single pitstop and just settles in for the drive to the line with 40 odd laps to go. This time I got lazy and watched it from my sofa..how I regretted that decision.
Before we get to the race let’s take a quick peek at what happened during quali. Alonso got too intimate with the barriers in FP3 so had to sit out quali and start from the pitlane. Webber dominantly took pole in front of Kubica (it still feels very weird to see him driving around knowing what happened to him this year) and Vettel. Massa nabbed p4 ahead of Hamilton and Button, who had both Mercedes cars on his tail. It is perhaps interesting to note for this weekend’s race that the Mclaren’s did not look particularly dialed in for Monaco as both Button and Hamilton struggled quite badly in quali.
The 2010 Monaco Grand Prix saw a fairly eventful start, Kubica agressively pointed his car towards Vettel on the grid, yet still did not manage to keep fingerman behind him into Turn 1. Barichello had a lightning start to move in front of the Mercedes and Button. The field was quickly brought back together as Hulkenberg had a peculiar crash in the tunnel on lap 2 and prompted the first safety car of the GP. This would prove crucial for Alonso’s race as he pitted straight away to fit the hard tire and get his mandatory pitstop out of the way. Imagine 2011 Pirelli hards being expected to last for 76 laps – oh how F1 has changed in just a year’s time! During the safety car period Button was forced to retire due to his mechanics’ negligence leaving his radiators blocked so the car overheated and ground to a halt in a plume of smoke.
As the safety car comes in the most interesting thing happening on track is Fernando Alonso fighting with – of all people- Lucas Di Grassi in the Virgin, who to his credit did not make Alonso’s life easy. It got to the point that the Spaniard got quite hot headed in the cockpit and started gesticulating at Di Grassi who of course had every right to defend his position in this case (Nando does not seem to like drivers that don’t bend over and take it when he is behind them 😉 ). The camera follows Alonso for about the full 10 coming laps as absolutely nothing is going on at the front (and throughout the field), except for Webber edging away from Vettel lap by lap.
On lap 18 Hamilton triggers the pitstop wake up call and comes out just in front of Alonso. So because the Bridgestones were retardedly durable Alonso was already well on his way to jump the entire midfield in the pitstops due to his first lap stop (Ferrari should have probably remembered this in Abu Dhabi when Petrov pitted after the lap 1 safety car in Abu Dhabi). In fact, even though getting from P24 to p6 after the pitstops were over, Alonso actually only had to pass the backmarkers HRT, Virgin and Lotus on track, with only Di Grassi putting up some real resistance. Rosberg tries something different from the rest and goes a whopping 29 laps on his softs before pitting. It changes nothing for Rosberg except that Alonso jumped him.
We doze off yet again until on lap 32 Barichello has a spectacular crash running up the hill and throws his steering wheel on the track in anger, which gets picked up by Senna’s HRT and was reportedly dragged along all the way to the chicane after the tunnel. The resulting safety car again does nothing but reduce the lead Webber has yet again eked out over Vettel and makes him start all over.
A particularly striking comment by the not so dearly missed Legard when talking about the Bridgestones and whether Alonso was going to suffer from his early pitstop was that the engineers told him ‘These tires could run all day’. So Webber runs away from the pack again, only to get reeled back in by a loose drain cover prompting safety car number 3. I battle falling asleep but manage to watch through the final stages of the race when Trulli decided he’s going to quite literally leapfrog Chandhok and does not exactly make it stick with 3 laps to go in the race.
Then the biggest controversy comes right at the end of the race. It is announced that the safety car will be in on the final lap, effectively leaving the final corner back open for real racing. Effectively, that’s how Mercedes understood it as Schumacher makes a brilliant opportunistic move to nab 6th from Alonso. Images clearly show the green flag is out at the moment Schuacher overtakes Alonso, so I found the penalty recieved by Schumacher was absolutely retarded. I’m not a Schumi fan, but this was complete bollocks. Safety car in, green flags out everywhere = you are cleared to race! If the stewards had indeed decided there was to be no racing in the final corner, then the safety car should have just led the pack over the finsish line. Pull the SC in, then the cars are allowed to overtake as soon as they cross the SC line, which is exactly with Schumacher did. Perhaps it’s just karma that FIA (Ferrari International Assistance) finally worked against Schumi for once. I’m no fan of Schumi, but this injustice really had me fuming last year, and it still annoys the crap out of me one year later.
To conclude: Webber absolutely dominated the Grand Prix weekend to take the lead in the WDC (and look where he is at now!), Vettel makes it a Red Bull one-two, Kubica gets on the podium, safety cars gave us some measure of excitement, the Bridgestones could last an entire race without losing any grip, Schumacher got royally screwed over by retarded stewards. Oh boy how much I’m looking forward to Monaco this weekend with the Pirelli tires. The more 2010 races I look back on the more I fall in love with F1 2011 and look at F1 2010 as an ugly ex girlfriend that has me wonder what I ever saw in her.