The bad fairy at Sleeping Beauty’s christening could have been kept fully occupied if in an F1 role. In that sport, even the heart-warming stories tend to come with a note of cynicism. And so it was in the latest Monaco Grand Prix weekend.
Scarcely was there a dry eye in the house as the ‘other Ferrari’ of Kimi Raikkonen took his first pole position in almost nine years. He led from the off of the race too, here at a circuit where overtaking is strictly off the agenda.
And yet – there was indeed a shriek of cynicism echoing throughout. Related to his team mate Sebastian Vettel, who was next up both in qualifying and the race’s early part. For this year’s title chances, Seb is realistically Ferrari’s man. Almost from the moment that Kimi got the pole folk were speculating on if – or when -the Italian team would effect a switch to give Vettel the win.
Vettel Vanquishes For Victory
There was a switch – Seb indeed won with Kimi second. And there was fuss. But really it was much ado about nothing. Or, at most, not very much. Ferrari didn’t offer Vettel an on-a-plate triumph, only an opportunity. In which Seb needed to lap at astonishing pace to make work. Which he did.
Given the mentioned overtaking (non) factor pit stop strategy is the place to make positions in a Monaco race. Kimi made his sole stop first – usually the better option (and therefore offered to a team’s lead car habitually). However the ‘overcut’ – where you pass a car ahead by lapping quicker after they pit but before you do – is more doable at Monaco than at most tracks. Seb in clear air set stunning lap times, and retained his lead after pitting himself, five tours after his team mate. There he stayed
And pace is the bottom line. Seb simply had more of it all weekend pretty much, and only him not maxing his final qualifying laps muddied the waters. He was a worthy winner.
As for Ferrari’s chief foe Mercedes, its machine remains as its team boss Toto Wolff had it, a “diva” – hard to set-up and therefore inconsistent. It seems too in such situations that Lewis Hamilton struggles more even than his team mate Valtteri Bottas. And sure enough for the second round in three Lewis was off it.
Qualifying was a nightmare, and he started 13th. His race looked little better initially, though he was another to make places by running long before pitting, and in the end his seventh place was more than he’d hoped for after quali. Even so his points deficit to Seb at the championship table top goes from a tight six to a towering 25. A whole race win, in other words.
And that the Ferrari in contrast to the Merc looks strong and on all types of track (indeed Seb hasn’t finished outside of the top two this year), and doesn’t look likely to leave the stage any time soon, is our big take-out from this one. It’s something that there should be much ado about.
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