The 7th round of the 2022 season went underway in a very wet principality of Monaco, with Perez pulling off his 3rd career win in spectacular fashion. Ferrari looked set for the Monaco GP victory when their own strategy misjudgment snatched away from what seemed like Charles Leclerc’s first win at his home race.
DNFs: Alex Albon, Kevin Magnussen, Mick Schumacher
Amid tumultuous rain that marred the race start, the Monaco GP even had a few red flags. Initial weather conditions brought out the first read flag while a dreary Schumacher crash brought out the second.
As it happened:
Sergio Perez took a glitzy Monaco GP victory, a week on from Spain where he was asked by his team to make way for Max Verstappen’s victory. Carlos Sainz took the chequered at second, his second time doing so in Monaco. The defending champion Verstappen came home third after having a mediocre performance in qualifying on Saturday, while fellow championship contender Charles Leclerc crossed the line fourth, having started on pole, after yet another instance of Ferrari team strategy costing their driver a win.
The rest of the grid were distant from the top four, with George Russell taking another top six finish at P5, being the only driver this season to do so in every single race. Lando Norris had another consistent race at P6 as McLaren recover their pace. Fernando Alonso “easily defended” against Lewis Hamilton, finishing P7 and P8 respectively. Valtteri Bottas had yet another points finish, in a weekend where Alfa Romeo was poised to excel. Sebastian Vettel rounded up the top 10 with his first points finish of the season.
Being Monaco, on-track battles weren’t many. Down the midfield could we see some moves being made by the likes of Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon and Zhou Guanyu. Dry-wet conditions created an absolute madhouse of strategy calls with some teams taking the gamble for slick tyres while the leaders were still on intermediates on a rapidly drying up track. The field had also been reset after a scary Schumacher crash brought out a red flag. Mick was largely unharmed and was out of the car all okay.
The top four cars of Red Bull and Ferrari were in a league of their own, where the pecking order was totally determined by overcuts in pit stops. Charles Leclerc was set for his maiden home grand prix victory after not being able to finish any of the Formula series races in Monaco, a bizarre instance.
Ferrari chose to undercut the Bulls with a double stack for dry hards, while the latter pit right after, triggering an overcut. The ill timing and botched strategy of the scarlet team’s stop meant Perez came right in front of Sainz. Similarly, Verstappen bested Leclerc and emerged out in front of the Monegasque. Having lead until that point, the no. 16 driver was evidently angry, which he violently reiterated in his team radio message.
By the end of the race, Sainz had in fact come tantalisingly close to Perez’s gearbox, but owing to track characteristics, an overtake was absolutely not possible. The top four were in a battle for first position of the race as they were all separated by a margin of about only a second. Yet it was the Mexican who got the better out of them all.
Post-race analysis of the Monaco GP:
The Monaco GP race weekend is not something most look forward to in terms of racing. But this season had created an exception with rain coming among the variables. Unfortunately, even that could not bring about improved racing. With the new cars being able to follow much closer than before, they did live up to that promise as was the case for the top 4. But even a complete re-engineering of the cars this year could not make Monaco a track where one could expect high stakes battles for the lead.
Granted, the race lead changed, but that was due to strategy mishaps and pit stops only. There needs to be more and more conversation over the credibility of Monaco’s existence as a race track, especially when Formula 1 is pushing for greater on-track opportunities for racing rather than pushing for more strategy miracles by teams.
As for the winners of the Monaco GP:
- Red Bull: The defending driver’s champion’s team definitely comes up again as ones with the most positives. Saturday didn’t look too good for the team but capitalising on Sunday is what matters since that’s where the points are. Spot on strategy and a flawless drive by its drivers only gave them the result they deserved from the weekend.
- Mercedes: This is a hit and miss of sorts, but one of their drivers in the top 5 with the other in P8 is surely a result to look back at. Especially when you consider the Mercedes porpoising problems haven’t been solved yet, this was again a weekend to salvage out of for the Brackley based team. The team doesn’t yet find itself in the championship fight, but seems to be on the right track to recovery.
- McLaren: Or rather, only Lando Norris. The Briton scraped out a good qualifying after being diagnosed with tonsillitis last weekend, and had pulled off a consistent and flawless race all throughout Sunday. Nine points won’t seem like much but good enough in McLaren’s recovery process amidst recent woes.
- Ferrari: The biggest L takers for the weekend. Having messed up their strategy call for Leclerc in an extravagant fashion, Leclerc was snatched off his potential victory. The Monegasque had an otherwise flawless weekend, only for his team to botch it all up. Ferrari need to get back to their drawing board if they want to be in championship contention.
- Haas: The team with the least number of upgrades as of date, Haas could have had a considerable weekend owing to their minor car improvements. But on the other hand, both their cars DNF’d with an engine failure on Magnussen’s part and what appears to be another expensive crash by Schumacher.
- Alfa Romeo: Talks were afire this last week as to how Alfa Romeo are the fastest cars in the slow speed corners; Monaco having a ton of them. Come the weekend, they were nowhere to be found, with only Bottas finishing in the 2nd last points spot and Zhou well out of points contention.
- Monaco’s race direction: Absolutely atrocious is what can only be called of Monaco’s race direction. The race start was delayed for weather reasons, yet at the start time, it was an almost bone dry track. In anticipation of more rain, the race directors refrained from green flagging the race, and instead wasted about 30 minutes over a dry (or at least semi-dry) track.
We may not have been served top tier racing action, but still had a fair magnitude of on and off-track mind games. But fret not, Formula 1 returns to Baku, Azerbaijan in just 2 weeks’ time, and we all know how exciting it becomes every year!