31/05/2012

Monaco GP, Monte Carlo- 6 from 6, will there be 7?


Now we have 6 different winners from 6 races and this has gone down in the history books. When did it happen last time? NEVER. Such has been the season really but it’s all good, enough of one team/driver domination. The race in Monaco was not very exciting as we have seen in the previous 5 races but it was definitely a close one as top 6 drivers finished within 6 seconds. The winner this time was Mark Webber with Nico Rosberg at P2 and Fernando Alonso at P3.

The detailed review of the weekend is down here:


Practice Sessions, FP1:


Thursday start to this weekend as normally happens in Monaco. It was bright sunny morning in Monte Carlo for FP1 as teams took to the track to assess the supersoft & soft tyres around the track. It was the debut of SS tyres in the season but it was soft tyres used mostly in the morning session. Alonso ended at P1 at the end of the session with Gorsjean at P2 and Perez at P3. The SFI duo took the circuit in the soft tyres as usual, Hulkenberg ended at P12 & Di Resta at P16. Karthikeyan on the other hand surprised us all as he ended at P20 in that HRT which was looking better than what it had been in the previous races.


FP2:


Not many teams could do much run on the supersoft tyre as the sunny weather changed to a wet one soon after the practice session begun. There was limited dry running in this session but still teams did fairly good number of laps. Button ended at P1 as he set his time before the rain, Grosjean at P2 and Massa at P3, whose weekend was turning out to be a good one. The SFI duo finished at P12 (Paul) & P14 (Hulkenberg) as they couldn’t run much on the SS tyres. At the end of the day they were in good mood, both said they need to work on the rear but overall they were happy. So was Karthikeyan as he ended at P24 but that HRT was looking in a good shape in Monaco.


FP3:


After a gap of Friday, business resumed on Saturday morning in FP3 in a dry condition. Even though the season has been unpredictable, qualifying remained the top focus in a track like Monaco. And so this session became important for the teams finding out the one-lap performance. Rosberg popped up and finished at P1 at the end of the session with the somewhat resurgent Massa at P2 and Vettel at P3. Di Resta had a minor off as he clipped to the wall and damaged his front wing and perhaps missed out running on SS. Hulkenberg ended at P15 while Di Resta at P18. Karthikeyan continued the impressive run as he ended at P23.


Well, the pole battle was once again spread out but where we going to see a surprise from Massa or Grosjean? They were looking good for the pole battle but we couldn’t count out the rest of the top blokes. SFI weren’t looking the best in those sessions but I was hopeful of one driver in Q3 as the pace difference wasn’t much and it was evident that Karthikeyan would make it under 107% time without any hassle.


Qualifying, Q1:


This weekend’s qualifying was the most important of all the qualifying’s we have had in the season. All the teams were geared up for the challenge, more so Perez after last year’s big shunt. But perhaps his Monaco jinx continued as he brought out the red flag after just about 5 minutes. By the end of the session it was Hulkenberg at P1 with Kobayashi at P2 7 Grosjean at P3. The notable out goers were the usual suspects of Caterham, HRT & Marussia along with Perez this time. Both SFI made it through without much hassle. Karthikeyan was well under the 107% time and due to other penalties was to start at P22.


Q2:


The real battle for qualifying begun in Q2 as per the season. Getting into top 10 has become a lot harder for every team than what we have seen in previous seasons, the competition is such that no one is sure of booking it’s place in Top 10 until they have it in their bags. Rosberg ended at P1 with Webber at P2 & Schumacher at P3. Hulkenberg almost made it to top but was bumped to P11 on the last lap by Kimi but fortunately due to penalties, he was due to start at P10. Di Resta wasn’t happy with his lap as he ended at P15 (to start P14). Hulkenberg had the fastest time in the speed trap. Another close run for the drivers in Q2.


Q3:



There was rain prediction all day but there was no sign really as it was extreme dry situation there. The start to the final session was a bit slow but it was a fantastic end and for some an emotional end as well. Yes, the master Schumacher was back on pole as he ended at P1. But not for long as he had a grid penalty which meant Webber got the pole and was to start at P1 with Rosberg at P2 & Hamilton at P3. It was the return to the top for the master but unfortunately not for a long period of time, that’s how F1 is.

The journos and commentators were pitting Grosjean for pole but Schumacher had other ideas and it was great to see him up there, unfortunate with the penalty but I was happy for Webber as well. I was upbeat about SFI race chances as well and was seriously thinking about double point finish for them. Also, as Karthikeyan was looking great all weekend and so a strong finish was the best possible thing to sign off his weekend.




Raceday:



6 different winners from 6 races was on our way, everyone did predict but we all had to wait for the 78 laps to get over first. Another nervous situation was in had for the teams as it was cloudy and rain was predicted mid-race though it wasn’t 100% if it will be. So, we were all set for the race to begin and a first lap or first corner incident was really possible owing to the nature of the track. And it did happen as Grosjean was squeezed between Schumacher & Alonso as he lost control and spun, Kobayashi’s car suffered some damages as Maldonado & Rosa too hit each other to DNF. Ahead in the field Webber took a good lead as Rosberg was behind him. Both SFI’s had a good start as Hulkenberg was at P9 & Di Resta at P11. Even Karthikeyan had a good start as he rose to P19.


After the first round of pit stops, Vettel was leading the race as he opted for a different strategy than most of the front runners. He had hoped for rain to try and delay his pit stop but it didn’t rain and he had to come in but he had grid positions over Hamilton & Massa. Meanwhile, Hamilton had also lost a place to Alonso in the pit stops, the Britain just hasn’t been able to convert good positions into race wins yet. Behind the front field, Kimi was fending off Schumacher (until he retired), Hulkenberg, Senna Di Resta & rest as he too was hoping for some rain. In The back Button clearly couldn’t get in front of the Caterham of Heikki which was surprise even though track was tough to overtake.


The SFI duo were having some good time during the race, the pace was looking good. Hulkenberg suffered mostly due to Kimi as he was stuck behind him for most of the race while Di Resta initially struggled to keep up with the group of Kimi & ahead of Ricciardo but managed to stay ahead of the group with his pit stop strategy. He even overtook his team mate in the pit stops as both the drivers went on reverse strategies of each other. They had a fairly lonely ride as both stayed together for the latter part of the race. Karthikeyan on the other hand in the sole remaining HRT was doing all he could to match with top teams and only get lapped maybe twice or thrice. The car was looking decently well.


Towards the end it was 6 drivers fighting out for the top position, it was ironic indeed. 6 drivers fighting for becoming the 6th different winner of the season. Webber lead Rosberg, Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton & Massa. It came very close in the end laps as the top 6 were covered within just about 5 seconds. But Webber was calm and composed as he took the win thus becoming the 6th different winner this season, this win secured RBR’s second win of the season. Will this ensure the Constructor’s Championship? Di Resta finished a fine P7 behind the top 6 with Hulkenberg at P8 behind his team mate. Guess, they were enjoying within themselves in the end part. Hulkenberg posted the second fastest time of the race. Karthikeyan finished off at P15, only 2 laps behind the leaders which is a good finish considering the short track. SFI gathered a haul of 10 points in a race where their rivals gathered none, the gap is big but getting down and perhaps one podium position could change the scene soon.


The season has been tremendous really, I have enjoyed it like anything. Think you guys have as well? Next up we will have the Canadian GP which can be lottery for any team again owing to the unpredictable weather and use of DRS as it has got some long straights. Meet you guys after 2 weeks, till than cya!!

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