Heavy rain came over the mountains, created power issues, caused much confusion, and led to the start of the 79th Monaco Grand Prix being delayed. Originally scheduled for 78 laps, the weather resulted in crew members sprinting to get the cars ready for the changing weather and starting process. Throughout the formation laps and the first stint of the race, drivers were fighting to maintain control of their squirming and sliding cars in wet track conditions.
Charles Leclerc started the race on pole position after a strong weekend, having to abandon his final flying lap of qualifying described as the best of his career, to that point. Leclerc had the Monaco Grand Prix under control until Ferrari completely failed Leclerc with a bad pit-stop strategy.
When everything was settled, the Monaco Grand Prix ended as a timed race. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez crossed the finish line first, followed by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in second and third, respectively. Leclerc finished his home race in a disappointing fourth, followed by Mercedes’ George Russell in fifth.
Eventually, all streaks come to an end
Before the start of the 79th Monaco Grand Prix, Ferrari’s Lercerc has never finished a race on his home track in Monaco in any category. Leclerc earned pole position at Monaco for a second straight year, making it to the actual start of the 2022 Grand Prix.
Leclerc finally finished a race through the streets of Monaco, ending his remarkable streak of did-not-finishes on his home track. If not for Ferrari’s strategy failure, Leclerc would have finished and won his first Monaco Grand Prix.
Going into the Monaco Grand Prix, Red Bull’s Verstappen had won every race he had finished during the 2022 Formula 1 season. Verstappen never truly seemed in contention to win as he was outpaced by Perez throughout the weekend. Verstappen’s “finish the race and win the race” streak came to an end in Monte Carlo, finishing third ahead of Leclerc.
With the Rain, Comes Chaos and Opportunity
Where do we start? Qualifying and pit stips can determine your finishing place on the grid. Rain creates slick conditions and chaos. The opening stint of the Grand Prix featured all the chaos you would expect from wet track conditions on a street track.
First, there was a long rain and power delay. Then, while behind the Safety Car, Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Willams’ Nicholas Latifi -both of F1’s Canadian drivers – lost control, slid into barriers, and needed to return to the pits for repairs before the race truly began.
Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly was the early star of the Monaco GP. Gasly was eliminated from qualifying 1, finishing 17th, qualifying well below his Alpha Tauri’s pace. A bad starting position and changing track conditions led Alpha Tauri to pit Gasly early for intermediate tires. Gasly capitalized on the chaos and proceeded to create overtaking opportunities where traditionally there hasn’t been much overtaking. Gasly finished 11th.
Much Like Daniel Ricciardo in practice, Haas’ Mick Schumacher lost control through the swimming pool section. Unlike Ricciardo, Schumacher destroyed his car, splitting it in two on lap 24. There was so much going on during the first stint of the Monaco Grand Prix that it wasn’t until Schumacher split his car in half that many noticed Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen had already retired from the race on lap 19.
How the Race Was Won
In reality, the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix was lost more than it was won. While the story of the race is about delays and
Ferrari’s pit strategy and communication completely failed Leclerc. Leclerc was in complete control of the Monaco Grand Prix. Red Bull’s Perez was the first of the frontrunners to pit for intermediate tires on lap 16. Ferrari did not respond immediately, bringing Leclerc in on lap 18. This triggered the undercut that ultimately won Perez the Monaco Grand Prix.
At the same time, Ferrari’s Sainz elected to not box for intermediate tires, choosing to go from full wets to slick when the time was right. When the time was right for Sainz to change tires, Ferrari failed Leclerc again.
The Ferrari pit wall sent Leclerc conflicting messages that led to Ferrari double-stacking their cars and having Leclerc boxing for new tires, returning to the track behind Sainz. Red Bull double-stacked their cars for their switch to slick, dry tires maintaining their advantage and securing the win for Perez and third for Verstappen.
How the Race was Lost for the Rest of the field (Hint: Fernando Alonso)
Despite having a good race pace, Lewis Hamilton’s race was lost due to both Alpine cars. Early in the race, Hamilton battled with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, colliding twice, and resulting in front wing damage and lost time.
In the second stint of the race, EVERYONE’S race was lost to the “Wiley-old-campaigner,” Fernando Alonso. Many Formula 1 fans know that the sport is significantly better with Alonso in an F1 cockpit. In all honesty, Alonso was the story of the second half of the Monaco Grand Prix.
After the red flag caused by Schumacher’s destruction of his Haas, Alonso and Alpine chose to finish the race on a new set of medium tires. To finish the entire 78 laps on this set of tires, Alonso needed to manage his race pace. Alonso’s pace certainly was slow, but the race never approached 78 laps, as the numerous delays led to a timed race.
In reality, Alonso’s pace set the pace for everyone behind him. If you were on the Monaco circuit, it did not matter the position you were in because Alonso’s pace affected your Monaco Grand Prix.
The thing is, for Alonso, this strategy worked. Alonso kept Hamilton behind him for the remainder of the Grand Prix to finish in 7th, despite the Mercedes clearly being the better race car.
Next Stop: Azerbaijan
Next up on the Formula 1 calendar are the streets of Baku and the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Baku is a street track with long straights and slow-speed corners. The return of proposing and straight-line speed advantage might be the story of the weekend.
Look for the Red Bulls to utilize their straight-line speed advantage over Ferrari in Baku, likely resulting in two podium positions.
Baku’s circuit characteristics don’t suit the Mercedes very well. However, they have made recent positive progress in performance. Trying to predict Mercedes’s performance is going to be difficult all season long. They might not be the fastest over one lap, but the Mercedes is the third fastest car on the grid in race trim. Look for another strong performance from George Russel.
Our dark horse picks to have strong weekends and finish high in the points: McLaren’s Lando Norris and Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly.
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