Drivers say F1’s Monaco GP ‘wasn’t very fun.’ Are changes due at the iconic race?

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MONACO — It was pure euphoria across the Principality of Monaco on Sunday as fans cheered and yachts blared their horns when hometown hero Charles Leclerc won his first Monaco Grand Prix.

But as the celebrations ensued and the fourth different winner of the season ascended the podium’s top step, Formula One faced a harsh reality. The Monaco GP, the jewel in F1’s crown, was rather dull, to put it nicely — and several drivers agreed.

“Any other driver would say differently apart from Charles, maybe,” Alex Albon said. “Yeah, it was interesting. It wasn’t very fun.”

Max Verstappen said over the radio, at one point, “F— me, this is boring. Should have brought my pillow.”

Sure, chaos unfolded on the opening lap when the race was red-flagged because of the massive collision between Kevin Magnussen, Sergio Pérez and Nico Hülkenberg. However, since the rules allow teams to change tires during a red flag period, most of the grid took the opportunity to swap. Drivers are required to drive two different tire compounds during a grand prix, and the red flag changes counted as the mandatory switch. So, a vast majority of the grid didn’t pit again after the restart, and even if some did (like Verstappen), there wasn’t much movement in the race order. Only a handful of on-track overtakes happened on Sunday.

Some overtakes took place at the back of the grid with the likes of Valtteri Bottas, Logan Sargeant and Lance Stroll. Sargeant said about his overtake, “I just (used) the blue flags to my advantage. But yeah, nothing special.”

But none of those position swaps were for points. As for the top 10, it was a procession after the red flag. For the first time in F1’s history, the top 10 remained unchanged from the starting grid order. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said, “The red flag effectively killed the race.”

It became a tire management game.

The laps were slower than the drivers were capable of, as we saw in practice and qualifying, with everyone being several seconds off the ideal pace. At one point, Leclerc was 12 seconds off of his pole position time. At another, he was four seconds slower than 16th place Bottas. Horner said about race: “It’s something that we should collectively have a look at. It’s not racing as such when you’re just driving around three or four seconds off the pace because the other car hasn’t got any chance of overtaking.”


Competitive racing was almost nonexistent this year at Monaco. (Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Overtaking at Monaco is incredibly rare because of the street circuit’s tight confines and the heavy and large modern cars. Given the slow speed to make their tires last, the drivers stuck behind ‘slower’ cars grew frustrated.

When a reporter suggested Albon is now an expert in what the rear of the RB looks like, the Williams driver agreed. He got stuck behind Yuki Tsunoda, and even with putting him under pressure, Albon couldn’t make a move around him.

“It’s annoying because he had pace. He has too much pace – he was just telling us,” Albon said. “I was like, we can all manage. I’m happy to manage, but we don’t need to manage this much.

“It’s actually hard to stay focused when you’re going that slowly because you’re just not even near anything. You’re not near any limits. I mean, he absolutely cleared off at the end of the race. And I was like, you could have done this the whole time, but he decided not to do it.”

It begs the question: Does F1 need to make a rule change? Albon acknowledged that how the Monaco GP played out went in his favor as he secured his first points finish of the season, but he did say it is something they should look at, suggesting the idea of having a mandatory pit stop after a red flag.

Or does something need to be done with the track, such as changing or removing a few corners altogether? Many would argue that qualifying is the best part of the Monaco GP weekend unless perhaps it is a wet race like last year. It’s been an ongoing debate within the F1 world: adjust Monaco because of the on-track product or maintain it because of the historical element. As Horner noted Sunday, “Monaco, keep reclaiming land [to make space]! It’s such a great place, so much history here, but everything evolves. The cars are so big now – if you compare them to cars of ten years ago, they’re almost twice the size.”

Stroll said, “Monaco is just – they really need to do something with the track.” The Aston Martin driver acknowledged that “qualifying is fun,” and many would arguably agree with this sentiment. But race day? Not as much. It’s a debate that arises every year. Monaco’s contract is through 2025, and with the calendar continuing to expand, the race risks becoming outdated despite the widespread love for the Monaco GP.

“These races here are just horrendous,” Stroll said, “and the cars are only getting bigger and wider.”

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Monaco GP track breakdown: The twists, history and challenge

Top photo: ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images





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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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