Daily Archives: May 16, 2010

Monaco Grand Prix in pictures

Here is a selection of pictures frim today’s Monaco Grand Prix:

Schumacher given 20-second penalty, Mercedes to appeal

Michael Schumacher has been handed a 20-second penalty for his opportunistic move on Fernando Alonso at the end of the Monaco Grand Prix. On the last corner, when the safety car pitted, Schumacher dived down the inside of Fernando Alonso, believing that racing conditions had resumed.

However, the stewards brought Article 40.13 of the Sporting Regulations into the equation:

If the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed it will enter the
pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the
chequered flag as normal without overtaking.

However, this year, the FIA opted to bring in the “safety car line”. This is a white line that, if you pass it when the safety car pits, you may then drive under racing conditions, which means overtaking is allowed. When Schumacher dived past Alonso, he had already passed the safety car line, which meant that, under the specific rule of the safety car line, the move was legal. In case you’re looking for the safety car line in the replay I have provided, it it below the green electronic flag on the left of the screen.

But, Article 40.13 won the argument, and Damon Hill, the former F1 driver of the stewards in Monaco this weekend (this year, there is 1 F1 driver in the stewards panel every race), decided that a penalty was necessary, and handed Schumacher a 20-second penalty.

This means that Michael drops out of the points to 12th place. Fernando Alonso is elevated to 6th place, and Sebastien Buemi now enters the points. Mercedes have announced their intention to appeal, and a date will be set soon.

Personally, I think it was a stupid decicion. The safety car line was put in this year for a reason, and Schumacher made excellent use of it. It was very sneaky, but an inspired move at the end of a boring second half of the race. Fernando, as you can see in the replay, was still pushing hard, which caused the mistake, which meant that he beleived he was racing under normal conditions as well.

My main argument for this is that Michael only passed Fernando at the start of the Anthon Noghes corner, which is well beyond the safety car line.

What do you think? Is it the fault of Michael to try and bend the rules too much, or was it just very clever and within the regulations? I’ll put a poll up in a few minutes. For the while, have a look at the replay and have a look for yourself (it’s Dailymotion because there’s no chance of it being taken down 🙂 )

Webber takes Monaco Grand Prix win

Mark Webber took a well-deserved win at the Monaco Grand Prix today. It wasn’t handed to him on a plate though, as 4 safety car periods repeatedly ruined his leads.

At the start, all 23 cars (and Alonso) made it through the first corner without incident. However, in the tunnel, Nico Hulkenberg appeared to have a mechanical failure, and smashed into the left barrier, bringing out the safety car on Lap 1. This prompted Fernando Alonso, who started the race from the pit lane, to switch to the harder tyre for the rest of the race. This was to prove a decicive moment, as he could now try to complete the entire race on this set, without having to pit again.

Nico Hulkenberg crashes in the tunnel, causing the first safety car

Nico Hulkenberg crashes in the tunnel, causing the first safety car

Jenson Button retires due to an overheating engine

Jenson Button retires due to an overheating engine

On Lap 3, still under safety car conditions, Jenson Button pulled over with an overheating engine. After a while, it was revealed that McLaren had left a radiator cover on the left sidepod, which meant the engine couldn’t cool itself, and the car overheated, which is a pretty poor excuse for a retirement for an F1 team.

The safety car pitted on Lap 8, and the racing commenced. All eyes focused on Fernando Alonso, who had to work his way up from 20th position. He got cracking soon, and within a few laps, had got past Lucas di Grassi, Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock and Heikki Kovalainen. On Lap 18, Lewis Hamilton was the first of the frontrunners to pit, switching to the harder tyre. He emerged just in fron of Alonso in P15, leading many to believe that McLaren were trying to cover Alonso.

Within a few laps, the entire field reacted. Barrichello, Schumacher, Liuzzi, Buemi, Kubica, Petrov, Alguersuari, Sutil and de la Rosa all pitted. But, there was a problem with Pedro’s stop, as he was stationary for over a minute, before the team finally retired him. Judging by what I saw on the TV screens, it looked like de la Rosa repeatedly stalled the car.

Webber pitted from the lead on Lap 24, and retained his advantage ahead of Nico Rosberg, who had yet to stop. Timo Glock suffered suspension damage on track, and retired soon after. On Lap 28, Rosberg, Trulli, Kovalainen all pitted. Rosberg fel to 8th place behind team-mate Schumacher, but there was a disaster at Lotus. On both occasions, the back right wheel gun jammed, meaning both Trulli’s and Kovalainen’s stops were 26 and 12 seconds long respectively.

By Lap 31, everybody had made their first stop, but the safety car quickly put a stop to most strategies. Rubens Barrichello had suffered a back left tyre failure, and hit the barriers at Turn 3. In anger or panic (we don’t know which yet) he threw his steering wheel out of the car onto the track, which was run over by either a HRT or a McLaren. It is yet to be seen whether Rubens will get a penalty for that incident.

When the safety car peeled in on Lap 34, it became apparent that the order of the field was starting to be set. Fernando Alonso had made his way up to 6th position, still behind Hamilton, while Kubica was pressusising Vettel for 2nd. For the next few laps, gaps started to appear between the cars, until the third safety car ruined all of that.

This time, there was a loose drain cover at Turn 3. Within a lap, the stewards had decided that it was all right, and had secured it properly, and the racing recommenced. On Lap 61, both Heikki Kovalainen and Bruno Senna pitted, but neither made it out of the pit lane. Senna was retired instantly, while Kovalainen had a gearbox problem, which meant he couldn’t select a gear to exit his box after his stop.

From there until the end, most drivers decided to settle for their position, and conserve their cars, Everyone except Robert Kubica, who was doing a great job of sticking behind Sebastian Vettel in the battle for 2nd. Unfortunately, thanks to the tight and twisty nature of the Monaco track, Kubica was unable to make a move.

But, just when everyone thought it was over, Jarno Trulli and Karun Chandhok collided heavily at La Rascasse. Jarno tried to dive down the inside of the corner, a dangerous move, and his car launched itself over the HRT car, going extremely close to Chandhok’s head. With two wrecked cars and debris lying over the track, the safety car was forced to make its fourth appearance, and led the cars until the finish.

So, Webber crossed the line first, well ahead of Vettel in second, for another Red Bull 1-2. This meant that Webber and Vettel are now equal on top of the drivers’ championship, both on 78 points. Since Webber has taken 2 wins compared to Vettel’s one, it means that the Aussie leads his team-mate. Red Bull also took the lead in the constructors’ championship, to top off a great race for the Austrian team.

Interestingly enough, Michael Schumacher passed Fernando Alonso on the precise safety car line, the line that you must pass before you can overtake when the safety car pits. It was an extremely opportunistic move, but I’d say Schumacher will get away with it.

Another fantastic performance from Webber, which gives him a fulls deserved lead in the championship. In my opinion, it is now turning into a battle between Webber and Vettel for the title, unless Ferrari and McLaren can improve their cars in time. Robert Kubica did a great job for another podium finish, and Force India did well to get a double points finish.

The standings have been updated, you can view them here.