Monaco certainly caught everyone’s attention this year, from a bizarre occurrence during Saturday’s qualifying, to a race that kept one glued to the screen right to the chequered flag.
A solid victory for Lewis Hamilton after having set that blistering lap record to give him pole position, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel second and Valtteri Bottas third. Max Verstappen’s unfortunate penalty for an unsafe release in the pit lane cost him five seconds and a sure podium place.
To add insult to injury Verstappen received a two-point penalty on his licence. I am not sure how that was justified as the driver relies on his pit crew to release him and the decision to go does not come from the cockpit.
The unbelievable situation within the Ferrari camp during the first session of qualifying makes one wonder whether they have any strategists at all. The fate of Charles Leclerc is inexplicable: how can a team of highly “skilled” personnel sit watching the timing screens as opposition drivers were out on track improving their lap times while Leclerc sat in his car in the garage?
Team principal Mattia Binotto confirmed the team’s foul up in an interview, saying: “Charles asked, from his cockpit, ‘should I go out, I think it’s a bit too marginal, we may be at risk’. “We replied ‘no. we’ve got the data’, and we believed it was good enough. It was not.”
It leaves one speechless that a team at this level could make such an error, particularly as their main opposition is disappearing up the road in the chase for the Constructors’ championship.
On current form, Mercedes’ main rival could be Red Bull as the Scuderia fade into the sunset of the 2019 F1 season.