• INSIGHT: The Stories You May Have Missed in Monaco

From the nuances of Monaco's barriers to pumping up the volume, here are a few hidden gems you may not have spotted amidst the sparkling Monte Carlo backdrop...

The Fine Line between Triumph and Disaster...

Nowhere is the margin between triumph and disaster quite so narrow as in Monte Carlo. With 10 minutes to go in FP3, Max Verstappen clipped the inside barrier at Turn 15 exiting the Swimming Pool section, launching himself over the exit kerb and into the barrier on the opposite side of the road.

Despite the best efforts of the Red Bull crew, the Dutchman would eventually miss qualifying and start from the back of the grid, his victory chances gone. Valtteri had some interesting observations about that difficult section of track that had caught out Verstappen.

"You've actually seen on TV that the inside barrier in Turn 15 flexes a little bit, so you can touch it a bit and there are no issues. But, at some point, it stops flexing, becomes like a rock and breaks your suspension. It's a question of how much you want to risk."

Backing up Valtteri's words was ex-F1 driver Jolyon Palmer, on duty for BBC Five Live in Monte Carlo: "If you're more than an inch from that barrier, you're not trying hard enough..."

And you thought Monte Carlo's barriers had to be totally avoided!

Mika's Monaco Miracle: Twenty Years On

Valtteri Bottas' Monaco crash helmet design was in honour of fellow Finn, 1998 race winner and world champion Mika Häkkinen.

While Mercedes won races in Monaco during the 1930s with Luigi Fagioli, Rudolf Carraciola and Manfred von Brauchitsch, it was Häkkinen who gave the three-pointed star its first Formula One success in that '98 race.

To mark the milestone, Häkkinen, who turns 50 in September, had his winning McLaren-Mercedes MP4/13 craned onto the top deck of a 40m yacht in the Monaco harbour, where he reminisced on Friday, Monaco's 'free day.' On the surface it had been a simple win: pole, fastest lap, led all the way. The reality though, was a bit different.

"Monaco is always tough and needs total concentration," Häkkinen said. "My team mate was David Coulthard and he also started from the front row. We were close until he broke down. Later on, I was leading comfortably and so I slowed down, and of course you lose tyre temperature and pressure. Then the team told me that Fisichella was catching me and so I tried to speed up again. With about five laps to go I turned in a bit early at Rascasse and the right rear tyre hit the barrier really hard.

"I will never forget it. I was 100% sure the race was over, but it didn't break. McLaren had flown out stronger suspension wishbones after qualifying (this was before F1's parc fermé rules had come into existence). It was a good thing that they had. Without that, I wouldn't have won."

What Does the Future Hold?

Formula One team principals had more meetings with owners Liberty Media in Monte Carlo, to discuss the future direction of the sport when the current governance agreements end in 2020.

Among Liberty's stated aims are a simplification of the engine regulations, with the dropping of the MGU-H, and the introduction of a cost-cap aimed at levelling the playing field between F1's richer and poorer teams. 

"The meeting was a further step ahead," Toto said. "I see some common sense on the table and it was a productive discussion. The date (for publishing the 2021 engine regulations) was set for the end of June, or within the next two months.

"We have accepted to lose the MGU-H. We think the technology is a step backwards - but in terms of achieving compromise for the benefit of the spectacle, the H is going, the revs are going up and the fuel limitation is going.

"I think we will have a louder engine and we will not be so limited by fuel. It's not the most sustainable message we are sending out but we can understand from a spectacle standpoint that it is something you need to consider and accept.

"There is a discussion around dyno limitations - we don't want to continue to out-grow each other with more infrastructure. So, on the engine regulations, we are pretty close to being able to tick the box.

"The only major thing we need to solve is that we are still spending a lot on engine development and we need to avoid double-spending over the next years - continuing to develop the current engine and also doing the new one."

Toto was also satisfied with a more flexible approach to the cost-cap, initially presented at a level of $150m excluding driver salaries, marketing and an organisation's most highly-paid employee.

"Liberty recognised that a cost cap cannot be an event but needs to be a process. It needs to go over several years and it needs to consider the various (team) structures that have been put in place. We have all expressed that to them."

Hyper Active or Ultra Sound?

For the first time in 2018, Pirelli brought its new pink-walled HyperSoft tyre - the softest in its range - to Monaco, along with the UltraSoft and SuperSoft compounds.

When Thursday practice showed that the new HyperSoft was roughly a second per lap quicker than the UltraSoft but suffered significant graining (the gradual wearing away of the tyre surface across its width, reducing grip), team strategists felt that if it was possible to clear Q2 (which dictates your race-starting tyre) on the UltraSoft, that might reap tactical reward on Sunday. The Mercedes drivers, in fact, were the only ones to start Q2 on the UltraSoft.

"It would have been nice to start with the Ultra while the others started with the Hyper, because we could do a much longer stint and that could create opportunities - especially if we weren't starting from the front row," Valtteri said.

It was the recognition that the W09 was unlikely to out-qualify Red Bull and Ferrari that prompted the plan and, if both Lewis and Valtteri had managed to get into Q3 on the Ultra, they may well have been able to lead the race and then play with the pace to open up a pit stop window.

It was a big ask: in Q1 the entire field was covered by just 1.38s, so the gamble was that they would end up outside the top 10 in Q2, risking their race chances. There was also the option to switch back onto the HyperSoft for the second Q2 run if the pace wasn't there, which is what happened in the final analysis.

Still, it was risky. This was Monaco, incidents are the norm, and yellow flags or a technical problem affecting the second Q2 runs could have left the team with egg on its face. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained.   

"We didn't have quite enough pace in the car and I think, in the end, from our calculations, we were one tenth away from making it work," Valtteri explained. Lewis therefore started third and Valtteri fifth, on the same HyperSofts as the rest of the top 10, and knowing that, at Monaco, only divine intervention could help!