In recent years the one race on the calendar that cannot be accused of being a let down is Monaco. The narrow streets and lack of run off areas make for less overtaking than other tracks but with the lavish surroundings and history of the track it all combines to make the spectacle much more enjoyable as a fan.
However this year the race was drab and frankly hard to watch. After Hamilton established a lead out in front and Rosberg and Vettel seemed happy to accept 2nd and 3rd respectively the rest of the race looked set to fade into nothing more than a formality to complete for the leading pack.
Further back down the grid the race was slightly more lively but was still far short of ever-living long in the memory of the spectators and even the drivers themselves.
At least that’s how it seemed until one act of sheer stupidity from Mercedes’ race control and another act of youthful inspiration from the Toro Rosso wonderkid Max Verstappen who, at just 17 year old showed just how much fun modern F1 can be to watch.
What Happened At Mercedes?
Well obviously there was a mis-calculation of epic proportions for the number-crucnchers on the Mercedes pit-wall. However when looking in more detail its hard to work out who exactly you should be pointing the finger of blame at.
Toto Wolff called it a “team decision” while even Hamilton seemed to take some of the responsibility himself. After the are Wolff explained the decision to pit Hamilton explaining the they felt Hamilton would be a sitting duck for Vettel if the Ferrari pitted for new tyres and Hamilton was still on his race worn tyres. Despite the fact Vettel would also have had the added difficulty of passing his fellow German but Championship rival Nico Rosberg.
Wolff went onto claim that all the numbers supported the idea that they would have had plenty of time to come in and get out of the pits well ahead of Vettel. The Mercedes team principal was keen to tell the associated press that Mercedes also had limited monitoring in order to make the call due to the fact the GPS the teams use to track the position of the all cars on the track is unavailable at Monaco.
This however leads to an unavoidable question for the Mercedes’ bosses which is if you don’t have all of the information you need, why bother taking such a risk?
Ultimately though the risk was taken and it went on not only to deny Lewis Hamilton the race win but also denied Mercedes the chance of a 1-2 finish at the end of the prestigious weekend.
Max Verstappen, Ultimate Boy Racer
After a botched pit stop early on in the race when his pit crew struggled to get the rear left tyre on quickly, the young Dutchman’s race seemed over before it had even began. However this only served to give him the opportunity to show driving skill that wouldn’t have been expected from the best drivers on the grid never mind a 17 year old in just his first season of Formula 1.
He proceeded to carve his way through the track by shadowing Vettel. As cars Vettel was lapping made an effort to get out of the way of the Ferrari front man, Verstappen merely slipped behind Vettel and made use of the open racing line. Critics of the youngster may say it was simply luck that he managed to simply fall into place behind Vettel.
I don’t however buy into that theory, to me this was a drive that exemplified the sheer bundles of talent this teenager has and showed just how likely is that this lad won’t remain a rookie for long and will be soon be in a competitive team with a competitive car and picking up podium finishes and championship points left,right and centre.
This tactic worked flawlessly for the entire race until he encountered the only driver that had become wise to it, the Frenchman, Romain Grosjean in the black and gold Lotus.
The Toro Rosso driver didn’t however let Grosjean try and curb his driving exuberance and instead what followed was 8 laps of constant and brave attempts by Verstappen to get past and it also has to be said it was 8 laps of a near perfect display of defensive driving by Grosjean.
However, lap 64 and everything goes wrong for the Dutchman. In his sheer desperation to get past he failed to notice that Grosjean’s Lotus in front had started to brake earlier than usual going into Sainte Devote.
The lack of concentration from Verstappen meant he careered into the back of Grosjean at speed. He lost the front right wheel of his Toro Rosso and went straight on, head first into the barriers.
Everyone involved in F1 showed a sense of great relief when Verstappen was seen getting out his abandoned car with just his pride and ,due to the resulting five place grid penalty, chances of a point finish in Canada hurt.