Well… our time in Monaco could be termed “a weekend to forget”. Let’s face it, two major crashes (Michael in the first practice session on Thursday and Nico in the third practice session on Saturday), a DNF for Michael in the race and a disappointing 11th place finish for Nico… that’s not what we wanted when we arrived from Barcelona on Monday last week.
However we won’t forget the weekend for two reasons. First of all, it might sound like a cliché but it’s a golden rule in Formula One: the team will go through tons of data to understand what went wrong. To make sure it doesn’t happen again, and to figure out exactly where our weekend started to go downhill after a truly promising start.
And also because in the chaos of the race weekend, with the medical car having to intervene twice during the weekend which is something no-one wishes to see, we saw some true magic.
After Nico’s crash on Saturday morning, the car only made it back to the garage thirty minutes after the session has ended and just ninety minutes before qualifying started. Very few people would have betted on Nico being able to take part. But our boys in the garage were up for the challenge.
What happened during those ninety minutes, when the Monaco pit lane was packed with fans and guests watching on in fascination, was a real testimony to what team work really means. Nico’s mechanics, and many of Michael’s mechanics too, worked in a non-stop ballet of tweaks, building and re-building… most of it was silent, intense and delivered under the utmost pressure. When the nose reappeared on the car, even fans wearing competitors’ caps or t-shirts began to clap, and there were high-fives in the garage. And Nico made it all the way to Q3.
But the true tale of our weekend was played out on Sunday in a tough race for the Silver Arrows. Here’s our analysis of what happened…
Whilst Nico had a pretty good start, jumping from eighth to fifth at the end of the first lap, Michael’s start proved more challenging when his anti-stall system suddenly kicked in. A small rendezvous with Lewis Hamilton at the first then meant that Michael had to come back to the pits to change his damaged front wing, leaving him well down the field. His race was brought to an early conclusion on lap 33 with an airbox fire.
But the core issue for the team came from our inability to make the first set of tyres last more than ten or twelve laps. The super softs felt away from us and grained very early and dictated our race, leaving the drivers unable to defend their positions. Both Michael and Nico had to come in for their first stop earlier than planned, and that severely compromised their afternoon on a track where overtaking and making up positions is notoriously difficult. The team will now look into the tyre concerns closely as this was surprising after the good pace we had during the practice sessions.
After the madness and high intensity of those two back-to-back race weeks, we will now have to bounce back at the next race in Montreal, and everyone is up for the challenge.