Formula One Open Wheel

What We Learned from the Monaco Grand Prix 2017

The Big Picture: To say Monaco is an iconic race is perhaps to understate the case. The contest draws billionaires in their yachts and casual fans to the Principality’s bars and restaurants all to watch a Grand Prix that has been run with some regularity since 1929.

The Event:  It’s one of the few auto races appearing on the Social Calendar. Oh, and there is a race too? The circuit on the streets of Monaco is a little over three miles for 78 laps. Everyone pits just once to do the mandatory change of tire compounds.

In Our Last Episode: Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton powered past then race leader Sebastian Vettel to take the win at Barcelona.

Qualifying:  Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen won his first pole position in 129 races, followed by his teammate Vettel and Mercedes’ Valterri Bottas. Usual frontrunner Hamilton had trouble qualifying due to a yellow being thrown while he was on a flyer and failed to make it into Q3, forcing the Briton to start in P13.

Start: Clean except for the dust-up between Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz which would help end the Force India cars end their streak of 17 consecutive finishes.

Race:  This edition came down to achieving a good starting position in qualifying, making clean pit stops without losing a place and completing the race. There is no actual passing on track in Monaco, so the contest went like this. Kimi Raikkonen won the pole, so he started and ran much of the event in P1. He was called to the pits first by his team, as is customary, which allowed Vettel to run some very fast laps which ended up giving him the lead after his pit stop. Bottas lost third due to clever pit strategies by Red Bull, giving the final podium position to Daniel Ricciardo. Both Haas cars finished in the points, the first time this year.

Best Team:  Scuderia Ferrari emerged from Monaco with its first win since 2001 and its first one-two finish since 2010. In this running, Mercedes was totally eclipsed in a way it had not been for years.

What We Will Remember:  This will likely be McLaren’s Jenson Button’s final F1 race. We got to see what the driver called “The Ice Man” looks like when he’s truly angry, as Raikkonen was after not winning the race.

Quote of the Weekend:

“It’s an incredible day. In the laps before my pit-stop I was surprised by my own pace because earlier on Kimi and I were both struggling with the rear tires. Those laps I did today were comparatively better than the ones I did in qualifying yesterday. It was impossible for me to predict how fast I could go today. At one point I thought a second, maybe half a second, but then it turned out it was more than that, which was obviously crucial to grant me first place out of the box. It was fantastic to be in the lead and win the race. There was a lot of adrenaline during those laps but in general I could control the race. It sure helps to be the leading car, without any traffic, so that you get better into the rhythm. Once I had new tires, again I was able to control the position. We had the chance this weekend to finish first and second and that’s what the team did. It’s great to see what we were able to do. Today the team gained a lot of points. It’s been a while since Ferrari won here so it’s a great day. I really enjoyed driving for the team. It is great to work together, we try to push each other and the best thing is to see that the team keeps growing.” Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel

Runner-up Quote of the Weekend

“It’s disappointing to come away from here with no points. Our race was compromised on the first lap, when I made contact with Sainz and damaged my front wing. We had to stop early and ended up in traffic, and it was always going to be difficult to recover to the points. We had a lot of pace in the car, but overtaking is always a challenge, even when you are much faster than the cars in front. After the Safety Car, with the field bunched up, I was on fresh tyres and all the cars ahead were struggling. I had a big opportunity to make up a few positions, but in Monaco there is no way to overtake without taking risks. I wasn’t any more aggressive than when I passed Palmer, Vandoorne or Stroll earlier in the race, but with Daniil [Kvyat] he didn’t give me enough space and we touched. It wasn’t a big hit but it was enough to ruin both our races. Even though I missed out on points, I am proud of my race because I gave everything I could. I feel really sorry for my team because we deserved more from this weekend and our string of good results is over, but we can take a lot of positives from today and build on them for the rest of the season.” Force India driver Sergio Perez

Schedule:  In two weeks the series comes to Canada to race the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in historic Montreal on Sunday June 11th.

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By Lisa Davidson

Lisa Davidson is a graduate of the University of Arizona and spent her corporate career as a Controller. She is a lifelong writer who has been covering open wheel racing since 2000 and is the author of historical articles and co-author of one book She and her husband, photographer Jeff Davidson, have two daughters and make their home in Murrieta, CA.