The Grand Prix in Monte Carlo was a feast for strategists. Compared to 2016, when we started with severe weather tires and then everyone was faced with the question: Should we switch to slicks right away or should we throw a bunch of middlemen in between? Six years ago, the tactic triumphed: straight from one end to the other.
At the time, Lewis Hamilton was waiting for his rain tires until the track was dry enough to splash. His opponent, Daniel Ricciardo, would occasionally turn to the psychics. Another hole stop and another chance to make a mistake. Then Red Bull made a mistake. The tires were found too late for Ricciardo.
Ferrari called up this race in its pre-start strategy meeting. I fell into exactly the same trap. The command center did everything right with Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard played the number Hamilton. But the guy who was supposed to win that grand prix paused one more time. He lost the race as Ricardo once did.
Two tours outside the galaxy
Ferrari responded to Sergio Perez with Charles Leclerc. If anything, they would have done better with Sainz. This was exactly Red Bull’s plan, in fact, Perez was just a decoy for Ferrari. Nobody could guess that the Mexican always drove to the pits at exactly the right time. Early enough for brokers, late as possible for spots. Either way, evoke an extragalactic tour on the track. From the point of view of Mercedes strategists, the key to victory.
Rounds 16 and 22 were perfect timing, and there was also a bit of luck. Lando Norris turned to the pits when Perez ran McLaren on intermediate media. That Sainz missed a half-lap behind Nicholas Latifi on his lap outside the pits. At the time, neither Red Bull nor Ferrari had any idea that their decisions had given the male watchers a gift and laid the egg for the first driver.
Max Verstappen’s strategy was far from ideal. Like Leclerc, he was late in the lap of the media. The world champion only got one place on Ferrari because Ferrari unnecessarily called Leclerc to dig with Sainz three laps later. That cost 3.5 seconds of waiting time in the pits and more time lost because the feedstock was better than the solid tire on the first lap.
Looking back, Leclerc had two options. Ferrari missed both. If the fastest in qualifying had pitted one lap after Perez, he would have held onto his lead. If he had waited until lap 21 like Sainz and then went straight to the spots, the same would have been true. The two extra laps on the rain tires cost him 12 seconds compared to Perez. One lap early changes from intermediate tires to hard tires by five seconds to Verstappen.
Leclerc’s time wasted on psychics
However, the race could have ended better for the top candidate had it not been for the three revolutions on the mediums that raise questions. Leclerc was very slow on the mixed tyres compared to Red Bull. Also because in one lap Alexander Albon was on the way. Here is the comparison.
GP Monaco 2022: comparison of Leclerc, Verstappen, Perez
|out of the round||1: 50.848 minutes||1.49.118 minutes||1.48.107 minutes|
|round 1||1: 30.149 minutes||1:28.667 minutes||1: 32,141 minutes|
|Round 2||1: 28.156 minutes||1:24.805 minutes||1:25.215 minutes|
|Round 3||can||1:27.259 minutes||1:26.699 minutes|
Later, Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto spoke of miscalculation and errors. “We either had to get Charles to cuddle up early on the middlemen or wait until we turned straight into the spots. But when you’re in the lead, you’re always hesitant to give up your position.”
This was one. Then there was the fear that if you didn’t react, Perez would have run over the Ferraris on his intermediaries. The intermediate vehicles were four seconds faster per lap than the old rain tires. Ferrari had to keep their nerve here, because Perez had to dig again to switch to solid tyres. And with two cars in front, you could manage the gap for a double stop at any time.
missed the super final
The positions behind the top three were similar to the training results. George Russell only passed Lando Norris because McLaren went to a broker with the Englishman in the meantime. The stops were timed almost perfectly on laps 17 and 22. Russell’s strategy was still better. Norris made another pit stop in the second part of the race as well. And with that, he almost won this week’s jackpot.
Norris, on the new medium tires, gained 30.9secs over Russell in the last 13 laps. “One more lap could have ended and Lando. You can’t defend yourself against someone four seconds faster per lap. You deserve when you brake in Chicane Harbor at the latest because the front tires hardly have any grip,” Mercedes said.
Poker with Norris raises the question of how this race would have gone if others had followed suit. According to Mercedes, we were denied a better final. “If we had stopped, Leclerc would have had the window for an extra stop and then Verstappen as well. He might have thought about it because he might have been undermined by Leclerc. The end of the race was definitely crazy there would have been three drivers with much better tires on Perez and Sainz. And maybe Verstappen.”
So why did Mercedes leave Russell behind? “We assumed there could be a collision in the battle for the lead. We didn’t imagine Perez’s tires would hold up. We didn’t want to miss the opportunity. In the past, there was a mistake. We had to stop.”
Hamilton shock was called Ocon
With Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes pursued a different strategy. The three-time winner in Monaco got stuck in traffic. Fernando Alonso was five seconds ahead. This justified the risk of an early switch to the Intermediates on lap 15. In principle, just like the movement made by Pierre Gasly and Sebastian Vettel, who already pulled the plug on laps 2 and 6.
All three were much faster than the rest of the players, but all three had the same problem. They were stuck in traffic and couldn’t use their speed. Gasly and Vettel got stuck in the same traffic jam behind Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas. Hamilton bit his teeth on Esteban Ocon. “If Luis had passed Esteban, he would have closed the gap to the group in front of him,” the engineers are sure.
Ocon’s nipple was followed in Part 2 of the race. When Hamilton noticed Alonso was playing with him and suddenly got back up after 20 laps of cruising so he couldn’t follow the Alps, Hamilton only slowed Ocon so he was still losing places by five seconds. Penalty. Bottas and Vettel threw the Frenchman from the points.
Medium or hard when restarting?
Before restarting after the massive meltdown of Mick Schumacher, strategists faced another tough question: medium or hard? Red Bull, Mercedes and Alpine chose the mid-rangers, Ferrari, Alfa Sauber, Aston Martin and McLaren with difficulty. Alpha Tauri split tactics with Yuki Tsunoda averaging and Pierre Gasly on hard tyres.
Mercedes justifies its choice as follows: “We assumed 35 laps left. If I had two tires that could make it to the end, I would deal with the kind with more grip. If the race was longer than three to four races, it was difficult instead of Selected Medium. In the end, the medium rubber got rid of more problems than expected. The front tires started to feel bad, which almost cost Perez a win.
You can already see on Friday that the tires are peeling rubber from the tread. Since then, however, mainly on soft tires. That’s why you keep your hands out of the way in the race. “The hard tire was the best tire, but it also had grain. That’s why Norris fell six seconds behind Russell and Sainz too at the start against Perez. Going back, the hard tire was better because it had less grain.”