I’ve been following the F1 races as usual this year, but haven’t mentioned it because Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher have won the five first Grand Prix hence leading the World Championship with 50 points. The Monaco Grand Prix is something entirely different, though. This is a race where the qualification rounds (usually one day before the GP) and start-positions are vitally important, as is the strategy around pit-stops. In addition, all celebrities wants to catch this race, being the crown jewel in F1 sports, and among royalties we could also see stars as Naomi Campbell, following the drivers closely.
The Jaguar team wanted to increase the promotion value of this year’s Monaco GP, and installed diamonds worth $300,000 USD on the nose of the cars, which made the Norwegian comentators hypothesize expensive crashes for the Jaguar team. The Monaco race should really be abolished from the Championship, since it doesn’t follow the safety guidelines being a in-city-race (Monte Carlo), but they’ve kept it as an oddity and promotor of F1 sports. This year’s race was sunny, despite of anticipated rain.
The main changes of this year’s Grand Prix down in Monte Carlo, was the new, broader pit on the opposite side of where it has been the previous years, and a new tribune by the sea.
Renault’s driver Trulli had pollposition, while Championship leader Michael "Schumie" Schumacher started as number 5 or 6. I was carefully installed in the couch with coffe and cigarettes when the race was about to begin, but after the warm-up lap they had to re-do the start, because of a malfunction in Honda’s car driven by British Jenson Button.
Then it all began.
During the 6th or 7th of the 77 laps, Takuma Sato driving for Honda had done a really nice job, but primarily of the hot weather it blew the engine and covered the entire stretch by the harbor with engine smoke, resulting in several crashes including Fisichella who climbed the back of another car and landed upside down. Immediately the Safety Car was dispatched, and allthough the crash looked lethal, Fisichella climbed up and left the car all by himself.
In Schumacher’s 25th lap he went into the first pit-stop and thanks to a brilliant strategy he climbed 2 positions, placing him on a firm third.
At around lap 35 Renault’s Alonso on 2nd tried to pass Ralph Schumacher (Schumie’s younger brother) who was one lap behind on the inner curve in the tunel where the cars can reach velocities as high as 300 km/h. It resulted in an ugly crash where the entire left side of Alonso’s car was smashed into the wall, and just before Ralph Schu. passed undamaged, one could clearly see Alonso rising a finger in his direction. Alonso, allthough crashing at 289 km/h, was fine. Ralph Schumacher went out of the race with only three laps to go due to technical problems.
Alonso’s crash resulted in another Safety Car, and most drivers exploited this oppurtunity to do a pit-stop, since they wouldn’t loose that much time, but surprisingly Michael Schumacher didn’t, and climbed to leader’s position. It was exciting to think about how he was going to keep this position, since he was slowly running out of gas while the other drivers had just filled their cars.
This expectation was abruptly interrupted by a total surprise! During Safety Car, in the tunel mentioned, it seemed (on studying the replays) as if he locked his wheels, was pushed by McLaren Mercedes’ Juan Pablo Montoya (last years Monaco winner) into the walls and broke his entire left-front tyre. He didn’t seem too happy about it, and at the time of writing it is difficult to say wether he’ll blame himself or his rival Montoya for this incident.
In the 48th lap (29 to go) there were 9 cars out from the race, while the positions looked like this:
Renault’s Jarno Trulli on first (picture), BAR Honda’s Jenson Button on second and Ferrari’s Barrichello on third. Despite alot of tension during the last laps that became the final result for these three, and Trulli driving his 117th race won for the first time, and that in Monte Carlo! We congratulate!
This is without a doubt the most entertaining F1 race I’ve seen this year, not only because of the crashes (which everyone survived, thank you) but also the fight between Button and Trulli towards the end. Thanks to traffic by Heidfeld and other cars several laps behind, Button closed in on him from 4.3 seconds to 0.6. Congratulations to them both!
Due to all the overtime, considering the re-start and all the Safety Car incidents, TV2 didn’t have time to send the press conference which are held immediately after the awarding, so I can’t wait until they broadcast it later tonight. I’d really like to learn what Schumacher had to say about the race, especially his "accident", and how it made him feel breaking the hypothetic 6-in-a-row victory in this year’s Championship.