It was a classic Formula One race in Monaco, which was already decided in qualifying. But then the thing was with the tires.
It was not even a tenth that put Lewis Hamilton in pole position. 0.086 seconds ahead of Bottas at the end of qualifying. As usual in Monaco, the Pole is the half victory, but it was not that easy for Hamilton. The reason for that was the decision of his team to put him on the medium at a rather early stop on lap 11 during a SC phase. That was a small surprise, as Bottas had been given the toughest mix in the same round. He lost his second place to Verstappen, who Red Bull had sent out of the box too early and therefore received a five-second penalty. The touch in the box caused a creeping flat foot at Bottas, who had to come again and fell behind Vettel.
So while Hamilton was traveling on the medium, all the other drivers behind him had brought up the harder mixture. It developed a classic in Monaco. Hamilton under pressure from Verstappen who stuck permanently in the transmission of the Mercedes. Behind him Vettel, who waited. But as is the case in Monaco – you can keep your opponents at bay even with worn out tires if you have enough distance at the decisive points. In addition, Hamilton found that only the front tires were degraded, but the rear tires were not. This helped the Briton keep checking the distance to Verstappen.
Verstappen did not have a real chance. Neither on the brake, nor in terms of top speed. The Dutchman tried a few laps to go with a very optimistic maneuver exit of the tunnel. But he was too far back and touched Hamilton easily. But that did not mean any consequences, even if the race director was investigating the matter for a long time. But it was a normal touch in the race. It was a pity for Verstappen that he did not even finish on the podium because of the 5-second penalty, as the top four were within 4 seconds.
For Vettel and Ferrari it was once again a race to forget. Although Vettel came to P2, because Bottas and Verstappen collided in the box. Under other circumstances, it would have remained at P4. Ferrari had at no time at the weekend a car with which one could have driven for the victory. Not at all on my own. Things got worse for Charles Leclerc.
Ferrari had messed up his qualifying because he was not sent out in Q1 despite a bad lap time. Incredible, but this mistake is typical of Ferrari's season. Permanent one makes superfluous and easily avoidable mistakes. That one hangs behind Mercedes in terms of chassis is forgivable, but not that one constantly makes such mistakes. Leclerc started only from P16, then took high risks and finally ended up in a collision with Hulkenberg in Rascass. This resulted in a puncture, which in turn damaged the underbody so much that Leclerc had to give up the race. He was actually the faster of the two Ferrari drivers at the weekend.
Ferrari can actually write off the season. 118 points are left in the Team World Championship and Vettel misses 53 points on Hamilton and 32 points on Bottas in the Driver's World Championship. You can catch up on the paper, but a lot would have to happen. Maybe it's good for Ferrari that you're so far back so early in the season. Because Ferrari can reduce the pressure and focus fully on the development for this year and especially for 2020.
Behind the top four was Pierre Gasly. Although he drove the fastest lap of the race, he did not have anything to do with the decision at the top this weekend. Although you can certainly feel an upward trend in Gasly, but he is still far from Max Verstappen. The next races should run better for Gasly, so that the internal pressure is not too big.
The midfield race was basically decided by Kimi Raikkonen. The Alfa were not really good at the weekend. It was decided to let Alfa Kimi out in the SC phase because of rain. But he never came and Kimi turned 46 laps on the soft. Thus, the Finn was ahead of the entire midfield that had stopped early.
Particularly affected was Daniel Ricciardo, who was after a good start on P5. Due to the early stop Ricciardo was then behind the Alfa, but also did not pass. He lost about 25 seconds and thus his chance for a good placement. In the end, he landed on P9, but only because Grosjean a 5-second penalty conceded because of a touch with Perez. That could have done better for Renault. The bad luck of Ricciardo must also not be fooled by the fact that the French should actually be on the level of Red Bull. It is very far from that.
Noteworthy was the performance of the two Toro Rosso, who came to P7 and P8 finish. You would not have expected that before the weekend. Both Albon and Kvyat delivered a flawless race, were super fast and remained without any contact with the crash barriers. This also shows how good the Honda engine is now.
Best of the rest, however, was a bit surprising, the McLaren with Carlos Sainz. Started by P9, McLaren decided against a stop in the early SC phase but left the Spaniard out. He came in lap 30, took the medium and benefited mainly from the fact that Raikkonen could keep the early stops behind. After that he drove a clean and inconspicuous race and was never really under pressure.
Bad luck had Haas. Magnussen had reached P5 in qualifying, which was a phenomenal result. The race did not go so well. At the start he was cashed by Ricciardo, then stopped in the SC phase and stuck in a traffic jam behind Räikkönen. As Ricciardo he lost too much time, but also came to the usual Haas problems with the tire temperature. With Grosjean, who did not make it to Q3, things went better because Haas let him out for a long time. He was able to settle in the top ten and reached at least one point.
The next race in 14 days will be in Canada. The track should play the Ferrari in the hands. At least the Italians should manage to increase the pressure on Mercedes.
Pictures: Daimler AG, Ferrari, Racing Point, McLaren F1, Alfa, Renault Sport, HaasF1, Williams F1