Monaco – The Old Yeller Of F1 Circuits
For a long time, Formula 1 had a big problem: The lack of race overtaking. First, KERS was introduced to handle the problem, but when that proved not-so-effective along came DRS. Both worked, to some degree; the number of overtakes per race has increased after KERS and DRS were added to the mix. From 2011 onwards, the Italian manufacturer Pirelli has been the sole tire supplier and the new Pirelli tires also have a lot of influence on a race. When they wear out you fall completely off the cliff and the car gets quite hard to control at high speeds. The drivers are still struggling to crack the tire code; how to drive as close to the limit as possible without falling off the cliff before the race ends.
KERS, DRS and the Pirelli tires - in addition to the few technical regulation changes from last season, which enabled the teams to concentrate on creating better versions of last year’s cars instead of completely new ones - make up a mix that has made the first five races of the 2012 season very entertaining. But it doesn’t matter what kind of overtaking tools you have at your disposal when the track you are running on doesn’t allow you to use any of them. Last weekend’s race in Monaco certainly proved that.
Monaco is one of those classic races that will probably be part of the Formula 1 calendar for ever. But it doesn’t fit in with moderns F1 racing. The atmosphere is unique and the backdrop is breathtaking, I’ll give you that, but that doesn’t matter when it all ends in a two hour farce of a Formula 1 race with a train of cars driving head-to-tail around the track. The fans are getting used to a lot of overtakes now but it’s just too risky for the drivers to overtake in Monaco. As the sixth race, it’s still very early in the season and none of the drivers are desperate enough to try anything stupid. That’s the reason why four drivers (even five if we give Ferrari driver Felipe Massa the benefit of the doubt) that could have potentially won the race trailed happily behind race winner Mark Webber’s Red Bull for thirty (30) laps without even trying to get past each other.
McLaren driver Jenson Button’s frustration very accurately describes Monaco’s problem:
After my stop, I got caught behind Heikki [Kovalainen, Caterham] - we weren’t really fighting, but if you position your car in the right place around here then it’s impossible to overtake. That’s quite frustrating when you’re so much quicker than the guy in front. Finally, I had a look up the inside of Turn 15, we touched, and I had a puncture. Game over.
I say it’s time we take Old Yeller behind the shed. Anyway, here are some shots from Monaco:
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