Monaco gripes and grumps

Monaco gripes and grumps

The fans had an entertaining race to watch at Monaco but the various on track incidents left more than a couple of drivers griping and grumping at each other. From crashes to backmarkers ignoring blue flags, in the wake of Monte Carlo there sure...

The fans had an entertaining race to watch at Monaco but the various on track incidents left more than a couple of drivers griping and grumping at each other. From crashes to backmarkers ignoring blue flags, in the wake of Monte Carlo there sure was a lot of complaining going on.

Fernando Alonso's wrecked car.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.

Fernando Alonso and Ralf Schumacher had already clashed on track prior to Monaco and Alonso was absolutely furious after their race incident in the Monte Carlo tunnel. The Spaniard claimed Ralf's Williams slowed then sped up again when the Renault was along side. The result was Alonso hitting the wall and crashing out.

So angry was Fernando that he was giving Ralf an irate hand gesture even as the Renault came to rest in the barrier. "Ralf was in front of me and moved to the right in the tunnel, and when we were side by side he went on the throttle again and put me outside into the barrier," said Alonso. "It was an accident caused directly by Ralf like pretty much most of the accidents he is involved in."

Ralf was none too impressed to be awarded the blame and responded with a fair amount of anger of his own. "He was going pretty fast and was pretty far to the outside, so I don't know what he's complaining about," the German was quoted as saying. "He should just calm down. If he took more care then he wouldn't end up in the barrier. It's not my fucking fault!"

Calm down ladies…David Coulthard, who was already grumping about his own abrupt departure from the race, gave his view: "For me its clear Ralf should have let Alonso pass him before, or after the tunnel, and for me what he did in the middle of the tunnel was crazy," said the Scot.

Coulthard was hit by the Sauber of Giancarlo Fisichella in the smoke cloud of Takuma Sato's Honda engine exploding. Both were unharmed and it was BAR that drew Coulthard's irritation. "We could see even on the parade lap that Takuma's engine was on its way from the smoke," he said. "I know it's not a policy really to retire a car until there's something definitely terminal, but you've got to say that it was obvious Takuma's engine was about to go."

McLaren withdrew Kimi Raikkonen from the race as the data showed his engine was going to fail and Coulthard thinks BAR should have done the same with Sato. However, BAR technical director Geoff Willis claimed they didn't know something was wrong with Takuma's engine, descibing the blow up as "an unexpected failure with little warning".

Unexpected only for BAR, perhaps -- Rubens Barrichello also thought Sato should have been stopped. "To be very honest with you, I thought that they should have put a flag out for him before because there were already three laps when he was already pushing out too much smoke out of the engine or out of the gearbox," said the Brazilian. "Something was happening there, it was obvious."

Not to let the Schumacher side down, big brother Michael was also none too pleased after his untimely end to the race. Of course, it just had to be Juan Pablo Montoya that was involved in Michael's crash -- it almost seems mandatory for those two to be at loggerheads.

Michael Schumacher drives his wrecked car back to the pit.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.

Warming his brakes in the tunnel, Michael slowed and Montoya took evasive action to try and avoid him. There's not a whole lot of places you can go in a tunnel and the Williams and Ferrari had contact. Michael bounced off the wall and the front of his car was damaged, forcing him to retire.

The consequent stewards investigation decided neither was to blame. Montoya was almost, but not quite, apologetic while Michael was peeved. "Michael braked very hard as he was warming up his brakes and I moved to the right side of the track to avoid him but the gap narrowed and we touched," was Juan Pablo's side of the story.

"I am sure there was no deliberate intention on his part and I accept the stewards' decision," Michael conceded with his usual diplomacy, then added: "But it was silly. As you say in English, shit happens and it did today."

Backmarkers are pretty much guaranteed to be a problem at Monaco and even race winner Jarno Trulli paused in his elation to have a gripe. "The other factor which really penalised me throughout the race were the backmarkers, they were really bad," said the Italian. "I lost several seconds per lap sometimes because they were just ignoring us."

Jenson Button also had a few words to say about backmarkers: "It was very frustrating, because I was really struggling with traffic. I was sat behind (Cristiano) Da Matta for three and a half laps," said the BAR man. "I've never seen anything like it, I really haven't. They took a lap to get their blue flags out but he had blue flags for two and a half laps. So no, I'll be having a word with him afterwards because it's just not on. It was pathetic."

Cristiano da Matta.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.

Da Matta was given a drive through penalty and he was miffed. "I really think that the situation with blue flags has to be looked into because our race was compromised a lot with the mistake that was made today," he said. "Basically, we had a fourth place in our hands today and came away with a sixth." Da Matta was actually fifth when he was given the penalty, so where he thought he was going to get fourth is a mystery.

Toyota technical director Mike Gascoyne joined in with a grump of his own. "I have to say that the inconsistency in blue flags is appalling. Cristiano got a blue flag and moved over at the next corner, and was then given a penalty. Ralf Schumacher in front of us was a lap behind in front of us for two or three laps, nothing was done and this has cost us points. There seems to be one rule for those at the front and one rule for the rest of us. This is something that really needs to be addressed by the race director at the FIA."

While all the grumping and griping from drivers and teams goes on, Jaguar sponsor Steinmetz perhaps has reason to be annoyed as well. Christian Klien hit the barrier at Lowes on the first lap, which put him out of the race. The nose cone was lost, along with the ?145,000 diamond that was embedded in it. The mystery is, who thought it would be a good idea to put such a valuable jewel on the nose cone -- a part that's virtually guaranteed to suffer in a crash.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams