Monaco separates the men from the boys
It is the one track in the world where you have to be on the limit every second of the lap as the cars drive barely inches from the wall.
We witnessed one of the most exciting Spanish GPs in recent times as the intense battle between championship favourite Sebastian Vettel and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton went right down to the wire. Hamilton tried everything possible to get past the Red Bull but Vettel defended brilliantly, even without use of his KERS at most time, to further extend his lead in the driver's championship.
Jenson Button finished third after having a disastrous first lap which dropped him back to 10th place while Webber failed to impress after starting on pole. The last 15 laps of the race were intense with Hamilton trying everything to get past Vettel but never got close enough to attempt an overtaking move due to the high downforce of the Red Bull.
While the Red Bull’s seem to be absolutely dominant in qualifying, their race pace does not seem to be superior at all. If McLaren can be more consistent with their race pace, there still might be a chance of beating Vettel.
Fernando Alonso had a lightning start and looked like he could take the fight to both Red Bull and McLaren but ended up finishing a lap down on the leaders. Ferrari never looked on the pace all weekend and the only reason they were in that position was because of Alonso’s brilliance.
Ferrari always seems to make the mistake of reacting to the strategy around them rather than sticking to their own.
Their desperation to cover Vettel cost them too much time as they had to finish almost half the race on the hard tyres, on which they were 3 seconds a la slower than the leaders.
In less than a week’s time we will have our sixth race of the season when we head to the streets of Monaco. Monaco separates the boys from men and the good from the great. Monaco is one track in the world where you have to be on the limit every second of the lap as the drivers drive barely inches from the wall. Almost all drivers will pick Monaco as one of their favourite tracks and it is every driver’s dream to win at the principality. This year’s racing might be spiced up with the new regulations but I only see the tyres making a big difference here.
Qualifying will be key to get track position and strategies will be crucial here as well so as not to get stuck behind slower cars, especially for the top teams. It is also possible that this might be the place where we have a different winner this year.
The DRS zone for this weekend has been identified as the start-finish straight but don’t think drivers will be close enough to take advantage of it. DRS had absolutely no or little impact in Sunday’s race as it was once again proved that tyres will be main game changer. DRS has been heavily debated for this race with most drivers pushing to ban DRS for this weekend.
However it is believed Michael Schumacher is a big supporter of the device as he believes it will benefit his Mercedes. FIA are also in the process of deciding whether to ban DRS in the tunnel due to safety requirements. With regard to the DRS, the drivers are worried that the wing setting is either fully open or fully closed which will result in a big step difference between downforce levels if they use the device.
The other area of interest has been around the ‘hot-cold blown diffuser’ that has been making rounds. FIA is trying to clamp down on the way the engines are used to generate exhaust gas pressure on the over-run, in other words when the driver lifts off the throttle. The system is used to increase downforce by using hot exhaust gases as part of the aerodynamic flow under the car, into the rear diffuser. As clarified by FIA’s Charlie Whiting it’s not blown diffusers that were being banned, just the over-run part of their function.
The FIA decided to ban it before the Spanish GP and then did an immediate U-turn as the teams complained that they needed more time to make the change. While Red Bull seems to have the best system -- all the top teams will also suffer if it is banned. However some teams including HRT and Virgin have said they would make a formal protest if teams do run with it this weekend. What do you know if that does happen and the teams get disqualified we could see HRT’s Narain Karthikeyan and the Virgin drivers on the podium.
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