8 things we learnt from the Monaco Grand Prix

Hamilton claimed his first win of the year at the Monaco Grand Prix, and here are seven other things we learnt from round six of the Formula One season, brought to you by Kyle Archer.

The rain lashed down on the Principality of Monaco come race day, hampering Red Bull’s strategic qualifying play of sending Ricciardo out on the supersofts in Q2. Come the race though, a pit stop error by the team cost Ricciardo the win as Hamilton snuck through to claim his first victory of the season. 

1) Red Bull ruin Ricciardo’s race

Ricciardo ran a superb qualifying session on Saturday, setting his best Q2 time on the supersofts and then going on to take his first pole position ever in Formula One.

Then come race day, the heavens opened and lashed rain down upon the Circuit de Monaco leading to a safety car start. But once that faded into the pit lane, Ricciardo rocketed away from Rosberg and Hamilton to create a sizeable lead for himself. It was not until Hamilton opted not to pit for inters that Ricciardo would slip behind Lewis, but it was the change for slick tyres that cost him the win.

When Ricciardo made the swap from wets to supersofts in the race, it was the team who made the call to bring him in. But when he arrived in the box, the tyres were not ready as Red Bull made a late decision to put a set of supersofts on the car, rather than the new ultrasofts. However the tyres they wanted to put on where at the back of the garage, with the team struggling to get them out in time.

In the end, the pit stop cost Ricciardo over 13-seconds, and meant when he left the pits he was right behind the reigning champ. Daniel attempted to overtake Lewis on multiple occasions once they were back up to racing speeds, with Ricciardo clearly faster than Hamilton. But with the track not presenting many overtaking opportunities, a move was not possible.

Once Hamilton and Ricciardo crossed the line in first and second, Daniel let his team know he was not pleased with their work as he radioed in: “Save it. Nothing you can say can make that any better.”

Before adding on the podium: “Two weekends in a row now I’ve been screwed”. This remark referring to the Spanish Grand Prix, where Verstappen won on a two-stop race whereas Ricciardo was forced by the team to pit an extra time.

Nico Rosberg in the 2015 US Grand Prix. Photo credit Dave Wilson

Nico Rosberg in the 2015 US Grand Prix. Photo credit: Dave Wilson

2) Rosberg plays the team game

For Hamilton to take his first win of the year and only his second victory on the streets of Monaco, he needed a bit of fortune with Ricciardo’s pit stop going wrong.

On top of that however, he needed Rosberg to play the team game in the early stages as Nico struggled for pace and was holding Lewis back as Ricciardo pulled away unchallenged.

Lewis claimed after the race he had been planning an overtake on Nico, as he knew he was faster, but the team requested Rosberg allowed Hamilton through anyway as they felt they had a shot at winning the race with him.

Thankfully for Lewis, Nico obliged and he was able to pull away from Rosberg in hunt of Ricciardo and ultimately win the race.

Monaco Grand Prix Podium. Copyright of Force India.

Monaco Grand Prix Podium. Copyright of Force India.

3) Hamilton’s back in the chase

On the back of Hamilton’s first win in 2016, and his first since claiming the 2015 title in America, Lewis has now cut Nico’s championship lead down to 24-points, one point less than a win.

Going into Monaco, Lewis was facing a mountain to climb if he is to retain his title again and become a four-time Formula One World Champion. Now though, with a win in the bag and Rosberg finishing the race down in seventh place, Hamilton’s deficit is far smaller and the chance of overturning it has increased.

Nico Rosberg - credit Renan Katayama

Nico Rosberg. Photo credit: Renan Katayama

4) Rosberg rues pit stop errors

Rosberg’s race was hampered from the off as, when the safety car left the track, Nico was falling back from Ricciardo rapidly with Hamilton and Vettel all over the rear of his Mercedes.

But it was not until the pit stop window when Rosberg was majorly hampered, as only Hamilton was able to get ahead in the early stages while Nico lacked confidence on the full wet tyres.

When Rosberg pitted however he lost three places in all, as Vettel and Alonso were able to get ahead in the pit lane while Nico sat in his box waiting for other cars to drive by.

Then as the chequered flag was waving Hulkenberg overtook Rosberg on the charge to the line, as the Force India’s soft tyres were able to keep the temperature more than the Mercedes’ ultrasofts when the rain returned.

Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09, leading Vettel in the Monaco Grand Prix. Copyright of Force India

Sergio Perez, leading Vettel in the Monaco Grand Prix. Copyright of Force India

5) Where was Ferrari?

On the back of the Spanish Grand Prix, Ferrari appeared to have slipped behind Red Bull in the race to be second best and challenge the Mercedes. This mainly came down to their issues in the final sector.

Then again in Monaco, Ferrari struggled once more. With Vettel qualifying in fourth while Raikkonen struggled to sixth place (11th on the grid after a gearbox change penalty).

Then come the race, Vettel was not able to challenge the cars around him and even the Force India of Sergio Perez proved too much of a challenge to the Prancing Horse as it limped home fourth – while Perez secured a podium finish.

Raikkonen on the other hand made a mistake going into the Lowe’s hairpin, which saw him break his front wing and ultimately retire.

Sahara Force India F1 celebrates Perez's third position in the Monaco Grand Prix. Copyright of Force India

Sahara Force India F1 celebrates Perez’s third position in the Monaco Grand Prix. Copyright of Force India

6) Feel the force of Force India

As mentioned, Rosberg felt the force of Hulkenberg’s Force India across the line as he watched his fellow German finish ahead of him. While Vettel too watched as a Force India finished ahead of him in their battle for third.

The result was a great showing by Force India with the team, rumoured to have financial difficulties, scoring strong points.

Perez’s run to third also came with perfectly timed pit stops allowing him to edge ahead of the cars around him, before ending the race only 13-seconds behind the winner.

Jenson Button, Japanese GP 2015 - Copyright Takayuki Suzuki

Jenson Button, 2015 Japanese Grand Prix. Photo credit: Takayuki Suzuki

7) Double points for McLaren, but Button remains downbeat

McLaren scored with both cars in Monaco, as the team nearly matched their entire 2015 tally after just six rounds.

But even with both cars in the points, Button remained downbeat following his ninth place finish as he vented his frustrations at a lack of communication between himself and the pit wall.

When Jenson made the initial switch for slicks, he was one of the earliest to do so. But when he returned to the racing, he found himself stuck behind the Manor’s who were yet to pit. Much to his annoyance.

“I am pretty good at making calls. I am not that good, but it seems everybody copied exactly what I did, so it make it a bit of a pain,” said Button.
“I also got stuck behind the Manors.
“I think in terms of communication between the team and myself it wasn’t good enough, really, because we should have been ahead of the Manors, which you can’t overtake around here.”

Alonso too was downbeat following the race, despite securing his best finish since last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix. Unlike Button, Alonso’s feelings were based on the performance of the car as he struggled with how his McLaren handled throughout the weekend.

Ericsson & Nasr - Copyright JaffaPix

Nasr and Ericsson (Sauber). Photo credit: JaffaPix

8) Sauber suffer inter-team shunt

For Sauber, the Monaco Grand Prix will be a race to forget after both drivers were involved in an incident that led to each car retiring.

At a time when Sauber really are struggling to afford to go racing, having both drivers involved in a crash with each other is something they could have done without. Especially considering the incident followed a direct team order for Nasr to allow Ericsson to go through.

Nasr though opted to remain ahead of his Swedish team-mate, leading the team to give Marcus permission to “go for it”. Ericsson though came to blows with Nasr when doing so at La Rascasse, giving both cars terminal damage.

Alex Rossi, Indy 500 winner 2016

Alex Rossi celebrating Indy500 victory

9) Rookie Rossi wins Indy500

Although Alexander Rossi is no longer currently competing in Formula One following his brief spell at the end of 2015 racing for Manor, he remains part of the Manor team as their reserve driver.

Rossi also balances his time with the Manor Formula One team by competing in America in the IndyCar series, racing for Andretti Autosport – the team he raced for in yesterday’s historic Indy500.

The 2016 Indianapolis 500 was historic as it was the 100th running of the race. But it also ended in historic fashion when Alex Rossi won the race despite running out of fuel following the chequered flag.

The win makes Rossi the first rookie to win the Indy500 since 2001, and goes to show his true talent behind the wheel.