#28 - F1 2018 GRAND PRIX DE MONACO
Benvegnüu (welcome in monegasque) to the MonacoGP 2018 edition. It is a favourite among drivers and spectators, during the day you watch the fastest drivers of the world driving with precision around the narrow streets and at night you party on the race track until 5 am (when they close the track to the public and clean it up). It is a necessary right of passage for any F1 fan to come down and experience the glamour that glows throughout Monaco at least once in their lifetime. Enough touristy talk, let us get on what has been happing in the F1 community.d.
Firstly, we shall begin discussing the situation update on the F1 TV, that I tested out last time out. Well, how do I say it..... it was a complete disaster. To put it into perspective and for scientific purpose, before launching the F1 TV service I checked that my internet speed was good (99mbps is the speed tested on), tested it on my laptop, ipad and phone, and most importantly in a stress-free environment.
At first P1 & P2 were working fine every 10 mins, if you would refresh the browser. Talking about the browser, after 4 months of working on this new laptop I finally opened Microsoft Edge as F1 TV stopped working on Google Chrome. Patience was the key word, as it was buffering all the time, when it finally decided to play something the quality was poor, sometimes you had audio but not video. The audio for the english version was the commentary of the SKY F1 team which in my opinion is the best one of them all. Come Race time, well the picture will summarize it perfectly:
Good thing I anticipated this horror by splitting the screen (thank you ORF and Zattoo for being there) as I was able to not miss the race. If I would have not down that then I would have completely missed it. For 10 euros/month, this should not happen even if it is the first time you are testing it. F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, it has to offer a product that is near perfect in whatever they service or product they bring forth to the public. Launching something with that many errors is a scandal.
Two days later, we received an email apologizing and reimboursing us 5 euros for the incovenience (I received the money already). If it doesn't work for Monaco, we will probably get a month free subscription. Will keep you updated.
Coming to F1 Fantasy, I am honestly still trying to understand it, I do not know what happened with the previous selection I made for the Spanish GP nor do I know how many points I scored. It is very flawed and need to investigate with the F1 community if it's just me or is that the general consensus.
Talking about F1 community; a new platform was introduced by Liberty Media, called F1 Fan Voice. It is basically a fan-website, where us fan have a common platform to express our opinions about the sport. You can answer surveys, contribute to online discussions and connect with F1 fans around the world. I signed up and will explore it over the weekend. In my opinion, this is a nice touch as we fans have finally an official platform to exchange positive and negative advices on the sport. A further incentives to join, is that you can win prizes (such as a paddock pass to one of the GP). There is a good chance that I will talk to some of you F1 fans on the F1 Fan Voice page.
Now onto some paddock news and rumours:
Grosjean future in F1 has been put into question. I am not surprised to hear such news in the paddock, especially when you look at the performance of the car and of Kevin Magnussen (his team-mate) scoring all of the points so far this season. Due to numerous driver errors, Grosjean hasn't scored any points, the worst part is that he had a real chance of finishing on the podium in Baku, had he not crashed behind the safety car (a first for me in 20 years of watching F1). This is his worst season start ever and it seems that Grosjean has a very cyclical performance with highs and very lows, as a Team Boss I would be scared of such drivers. I remember listening to Grosjean saying that he joined Haas F1 team as a stepping stone towards Ferrari. As Ferrari have access to the Haas data as they provide them with Ferrari engine, gear-box, etc. Such Data allows a team like Ferrari to see how a driver input in the performance of the car. But with his current performance, Ferrari are looking elsewhere (Ricciardo or keeping Raikonnen) are the two options right now for 2019. The real immediate question on our mind is whether Grosjean's has the confidence to drive a good race in Monaco? As confidence is vital to have a clean race in Monaco.
The last bit of news comes from the Scuderia. Ferrari have once again modified their side mirrors for Monaco (right mirror on the picture at the bottom). The FIA banned them after the Spanish GP (left mirror on picture at the bottom), for technical infrignment which we are best not going to discuss. I just have the impression that innovating during the Season is a crime for the FIA and prefer that the teams remain complacent with what they have. Ferrari did not perform well, even going backwards in terms of pace in Barcelona. Are the mirrors the cause? Ferrari does not think so as they have brought a revised rocket-launcher mirror looking for this weekend.
Using this short news as a smooth transition, it is time to discuss the race weekend that everyone is looking forward to, its the Monaco Grand Prix.
The Grand Prix Weekend
High downforce track, low-speed corners, a new asphalt surface, hypersoft tyres will be introduced, sheer bravery, technical excellence, weather forecast with blue sky throughout the weekend, oh and grid girls are back for this weekend. What more do you want for a build up to the Monaco GP 2018?
If there is one circuit where the setup of the car is crucial, it is here. When driving on this track, you are centimeters (sometimes millimeters) away from the wall, the margin of error is almost non-extistent, this is precision driving a its finest. A driver with no confidence in his car (in other words the Williams drivers) has no chance of performing well on this track and increases the chances of crashing. If I had to put my money on who will most likely crash this weekend, then it would be on Stroll and/or Sirotkin. Confidence is king and the Williams driver do not have it at the moment in their car.
In terms of laps, this is the longest race of the season (78 laps in total until the chequered flag). But with an average lap time of 1min15 to 20 seconds, going round a lap is almost done in a blick of an eye.
Especially with the Hypersoft compound (pink marked tyre) making their debut. This is the fastest tyre Pirelli has produced (it is estimated to be one second a lap faster than the second quickest tyre: the ultrasoft violet marked). It is a guarantee that we will have a new lap time record, especially on a newly resurfaced track. The key question, is how long will this tyre last on Sunday?
One thing is for sure, the track in Monaco is not very demanding on the tyres, so we will see longer tyre life than on other circuits. This is why we can expect a one-stop strategy come race time. Bear in mind that overtaking is next to impossible in Monaco.
Another question that is on my mind coming to this weekend: Will Mercedes struggle as they did last year? Longer wheel based (longest car of all 10 teams ) and aerodynamic overall package not suited for this track, are the factors that make us think 2017 might happen again on the narrow streets of Monaco. Personally, eventhough Mercedes say that they are not confident of a victory in Monaco, I still think Mercedes have a chance to have a great performance in Monaco. Does that mean, they are favourite? I wouldn't say that, but with a driver like Hamilton were the driver can make the real difference on a circuit as this one, then anything is possible.
Ferrari need to maximize on the possible poor performance of Mercedes and score as many points as possible. Last year, they were the one with pole (Kimi) and ended up winning the race with Vettel. The car will perform well, they went back to the suspension setting that made their strength in the first three races and the Barcleona test last week allowed them to correct the mistakes.
But do not under-estimate the Austrian team Red Bull. There is a very strong chance that Red Bull are the favourite for pole and the race. They showed that they were the fastest in Sector 3 in Barcelona, a clear indication of how they will perform in Monaco. Another reason why this weekend would be the perfect time for Red Bull to win is because it is their 250th Grand Prix. Their driver Daniel Ricciardo has a revenge to take on this circuit, two years ago he was so close to winning the Grand Prix, unfortunately his team literrally f*** it up. How sweet would this victory be for him and perhaps make him want to stay with Red Bull (rumours are saying he is headed to Ferrari in 2019).
There is only one thing for me to say and that is to brace yourself. As in the midst of the glitz and glamour that is Monte-Carlo, all this facade can lead to some of the most dramatic turn around that you could imagine. One thing that is certain, Monaco will never cease to surprise us.
Prophecy for the #MonacoGP
1. Red Bull win, would be perfect to celebrate their 250th GP milestone. I would put my money on Daniel Ricciardo as he enjoys racing on such circuits and it can be seen on his previous performances in the principality. On the contraty to his team-mate, statistically speaking Max Verstappen has never performed well on this track (crashed in 2015 & 2016) and finished 5th last year.
2. One stop, strategy with numerous undercut allowing to gain places if played well.
3. Three key moments of the race; start, pit-stop and safety car (99.99% certainty that it will come out).
4. Qualfying is crucial, as the pole-sitter has 84% chances of winning the race come Sunday. Another reason why I am betting Red Bull - Ricciardo for the pole and win.
Joker of the weekend: Charles Leclerc home-race, expect a very good performance with the home-crowd cheering him and point finish as the cherry on the cake.