Must confess to being livid at Button’s stupidity. Last year’s tip by Mr. Sandpit on No Safety Car was very good, and it should’ve come off this year but for a returning veteran forgetting how the laws of physics work. Wehrlein was fine, but the bet was not. A clear case of bad luck rather than ill-judgement (on the bet), and these things happen, but I’m not best pleased about it.
Before that, the race had been largely a procession. It was pretty much formation flying off the line. Raikkonen was looking quick and the two Ferraris were cruising away from the field. Then came the pit stops. Verstappen and Bottas ended up in traffic, and the Dutchman’s attempt to undercut the Finn failed. Worse still, clear air enabled Ricciardo to make up time and he emerged ahead of the pair of them.
There’s an interesting discussion to have about Ferrari’s timing. Raikkonen was boxed before Vettel (and Ricciardo) and emerged in traffic. This helped Vettel to make up the small gap and the German claimed position on the track after the pit stop.
Misfortune, or Ferrari ‘accidentally’ pitting Raikkonen into traffic so their title contender could get the full 25 points?
The Finn was well off the pace on the supersoft tyres of his second stint. Psychological disinterest, or struggling with the new rubber?
Anyway, whilst not thrilling, the race was looking nice and green until Button stupidly, unnecessarily and not even for points tried a pass always destined to fail on Wehrlein. The German’s car was pushed onto its side just before the tunnel (he was ok, thankfully) and the safety car emerged.
Verstappen and Perez pitted for fresh ultrasofts, the Dutchman in particular keen to have another crack at Bottas. Worth noting that upon the restart cold tyres meant that the times were miles off the real pace, and the Ferraris recovered best. The following Red Bulls and Bottas were not quick.
Perez made a similarly stupid overtaking attempt on Kvyat, which put the Russian out of the race and (thanks to a pit stop) the Mexican out of the points.
There were, at least, some close contests near the end of the race but precious little overtaking. Said it before, but Monaco is a dog of a track. Slow, and hard to overtake.
Not very happy about the safety car, but these sorts of things do happen. Just a shame when a driver does something stupid that both affects the race and ruins a bet.
Vettel claimed the win, Raikkonen got 2nd. A great day for Ferrari, but I do wonder how Raikkonen’s feeling. Ricciardo had a great drive for 3rd, and was followed by Bottas and Verstappen, both of whose races were compromised by traffic after pitting.
Sainz might be driver of the day. Performed very well in his Toro Rosso and kept Hamilton behind him for many laps (ok, Monaco is the easiest place to do it, but a single mistake and he would’ve lost the place).
Hamilton’s 7th is a pretty good recovery but Vettel still took a chunk of points out of him that could prove critical in the title battle. As the Briton said over the radio, the battle’s not over.
Haas got their first double points finish, with Grosjean 8th and Magnussen 10th. Nice day for the new team, who are performing pretty well in their second season. Massa grabbed 9th for Williams. Not bad given they tend to really struggle in Monaco.
Retirements also include Ericsson, who introduced his Sauber to the barrier whilst trying to overtake the safety car.
Vettel is exactly one race win ahead of Hamilton. However, the Ferrari is a little less reliable and some parts have been changed. Later in the season this will likely see them suffer some penalties whilst the Mercedes stays at the front. Given how close it is, I’d say Vettel remains favourite.
I said, elsewhere, pre-race that Ferrari at 2.7 was worth a look. They’re down (on Betfair) to 2.36, but given the dominance at a tight circuit that seems still a little generous [if you've yet to dip your toe into the market, I've put a tiny sum on them at 4.5]. Also, importantly, Red Bull were able to get ahead of Hamilton. If that’s repeated at Baku and Singapore it’ll lose him (together with Ferrari being fast) perhaps 20-40 points.
This is the last Grand Prix before the General Election. The next race is in a fortnight, at Canada. It’s one of my favourite circuits and will, I think, be quite interesting. The twisty bits will help Ferrari but the Mercedes will be a beast on the straights. The race weekend begins the day after polling day.
In other news, the second episode in my new serial, Wandering Phoenix and Roaming Tiger, has come out. If you haven’t checked out the first (which is free) please do so as every download helps, and if you like it you can get the rest. The series’ page is here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0725XSTK7
Secondly, I was thinking that guest blogs might be a good idea. These could be on a range of sporting matters, or non-sporting events. The only proviso I’d have is that they aren’t political, as that’s better suited for politicalbetting.com. If anyone wanted to write on F1, that would be entirely ok (although I should stress I’m still going to be writing my race weekend articles). So, if you’re interested, give me a bell via Vanilla and we’ll work something out.