There was plenty of excitement among the F1 fans before the start of the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix. The reason for that being the five classic, totally unpredictable and action-packed races that we had at the start of the 2012 Formula 1 season. There was no runaway leader in the championship standings and we had five different winners from five different constructors indicating that there wasn’t much separating the top 5 or 6 teams in terms of speed and performance. Then came Monaco. It is true that we got the sixth different winner in the form of the ‘Aussie Grit’ Mark Webber. But the 78 laps long race was not in the same league as that of the first 5 races of this season. It was a dull and boring race which was almost a procession after the first round of pit-stops. Here are 5 reasons to support that argument:
Monaco is not a circuit with a lengthy straight. It is riddled with plenty of hard braking corners. So, as expected, the not-so-long DRS zone in the pit straight, failed to aid overtaking. DRS was a disappointment at Monaco.
The fact that drivers weren’t able to carry much speed from the slow last corner into the short straight was also a factor behind the limitations of DRS at Monaco.
Drivers did not take any sort of risks trying to overtake between the daunting walls on both sides of the track. Perez did a few adventurous moves on the back of the grid near the swimming pool. Other than him, not many tried to get pass the car ahead of them. McLaren’s Jenson Button was caught up behind the Caterham of Heikki Kovaleinen throughout the race. Button did not pull off even a single successful pass over the former McLaren driver. There is a notion that dry races at Monaco turn out to be a procession of cars over 78 laps. It is exactly what happened this year. Webber and Rosberg were able to hold on to their starting position throughout the race while Alonso and Vettel made the jump over Hamilton who started 3rd and ended 5th.
Monaco is no strange-place to major incidents. Safety cars and red flags are a norm here, considering the narrow lanes and limited run-off areas. In Sunday’s race too, the safety car was out. But it came on too early at the start of the race and did not boost or hamper the chances of anyone. Last year’s race had it all. There were red flags and multiple crashes. There were no major crashes or incidents at Monaco this year, and the race ultimately turned out to be a damp squib. Except the Grosjean’s unfortunate bump into Schumacher at the start, there was no major contact between two drivers, for which the drivers have to be lauded immensely.
In 2011, Sebastian Vettel pulled a rabbit out of the hat by running on the soft tyres for nearly 50 laps! A few mid-field drivers like Kobayashi & Sutil demonstrated that the super-softs could be used for nearly 30 laps. This invaluable data allowed several teams to devise a one-stop strategy for a dry race. Just 4 out of 24 drivers stopped twice, including the bizarre switch to intermediates by Jean-Eric Vergne of Toro Rosso. With drivers making just one pit stop and not a lot of overtaking, the whole race was dull and boring. Moreover, the drivers were too cautious about their tyres throughout the race (except a few rare occasions when they were under pressure). This did not help the case of the fans who wanted to see plenty of wheel to wheel action.
It makes for great viewing when the teams and drivers are forced to think on their feet when rain comes pelting down in the middle of a race. Rain was forecast for Sunday’s race but it failed to show up. There were only a few specks of rain which did not have any impact on the strategies of the drivers except a certain Jean-Eric Vergne. The local boy judged the conditions wrong and went out in the intermediates, only to be lapping 20 seconds slower than the rest of the drivers on track and thereby missing out on crucial world championship points. If it had rained – which is something common at Monaco, it would’ve made life difficult for drivers and might have paved way for an exciting race. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
Next up is the Canadian GP which gave us a truly memorable 4-hour long race with an epic climax, last year. Let’s hope it delivers this time too.