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Formula 1 Monaco GP

The simple rule change that could make the Monaco GP exciting again

Another processional Monaco Grand Prix has inevitably triggered debate about what Formula 1 needs to do to spice up excitement around the principality.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL38, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15, the rest of the field at the start

As F1 machinery has grown ever bigger and heavier, it is clear the cars have outgrown the famous streets in terms of being able to offer thrilling wheel-to-wheel action.

On occasions there have been calls that it is the layout that needs to be changed to try to open up a proper overtaking opportunity somewhere.

Ideas have varied from potentially tweaking the Nouvelle chicane (could it be made wider and sharper, so it became a passing place?) to actually creating some fresh corners.

One idea that has often been talked about is for cars to turn left at Portier, run down the roads along the beach there for a bit before heading back for a much longer straight (and DRS zone) into the chicane.

Asked about there being potential for a track revision, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: “Monaco keep reclaiming land, so I think it's something we collectively and Formula 1 should look at because it's such a great place.

A view of the circuit and surrounding buildings

A view of the circuit and surrounding buildings

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“There's so much history here but everything evolves. I think the cars are so big now. If you compare them to cars of 10 years ago, they're almost twice the size, so it's something that we need to collectively – as a sport with the promoter – look at: how do we just introduce an overtaking opportunity?”

However, making a drastic change as creating extra corners would not only be hugely expensive but would also not guarantee the racing would be any better.

Overtaking is hard in modern F1 and there are plenty of venues – just look at Imola the week before – where passing places are very limited.

This year’s Monaco GP was especially processional because of the circumstances surrounding the lap-one red flag.

It effectively turned the race into a supreme tyre management no-stopper, where the name of the game was as going as slow as possible to avoid the need for a change of rubber.

As George Russell admitted, who lapped well off the pace, there was nothing to gain by driving any quicker because all that risked was trouble later in the race.

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Monaco is not alone in having tyre strategy circumstance derailing the potential for thrills. F1 has been blighted many times in the recent past when an early safety car forces the first stop well before teams would ideally like, and the race then turns into extreme management so everyone can make it to the end – which is not very exciting.

As F1 has come well to understand, the key to delivering a good race and overtaking is ensuring a performance differential between the cars at various stages of the grand prix – and the best way to do that is tyre strategy.

Monaco has almost always guaranteed itself to be a one-stopper because the low energy demands of the circuit mean the current tyres can last the entire race and the undercut is pretty ineffective.

That means there are very limited strategy offset possibilities, and a definite lack of the kind of jeopardy you get at other venues where the cars are burning through their rubber.

Lewis Hamilton was quick to point out after the race that the crunch of the problem boiled down to tyres.

“Ultimately, I think our tyres can do a whole race,” he said. “So too hard a tyre compound here. You’ve got to find ways to spice it up, maybe mandatory three stops or something to spice it up a bit more.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W15

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W15

Photo by: Erik Junius

Forcing drivers to make multiple stops may be viewed as a bit too artificial though, and could potentially make the race too much of a lottery considering the work that goes into securing those grid slots right at the front.

But it is Hamilton's team-mate Russell who has perhaps come up with the more straightforward and logical solution to ensuring Monaco never has a repeat of the kind of race we witnessed last weekend.

“I think if we only brought soft tyres,” he said. “A soft tyre wouldn't last the whole race. And you may even need to do two stops. Somebody might try a one-stop. I think just having the whole weekend on softs would solve a lot of problems.”

He is totally correct. Having the soft only would be a challenge to manage and would prompt a host of different strategies up and down the field – from those who choose to go flat out in the belief that extra stints on fresh rubber are better than 'slow and steady' and not needing that extra stop. Tyre performance offsets could even open the door to some passing, and the undercut would be very powerful.

There would be more opportunity for teams to roll the dice and be aggressive with their stops, and it would ensure that there is no way for drivers to bolt on tyres at the start of the race and expect to get to the end without stopping.

For a change to happen also wouldn’t require millions to be spent on construction of new corners, nor complex simulations and FIA homologation.

Instead, it could be done with a simple vote at the Sporting Advisory Committee and then the F1 Commission to push forward a rule change into the regulations that counts for this one race only.

F1’s Sporting Regulations already have a Monaco clause that allows the race to run to 260km rather than the 305km that it is everywhere else, so why not also a specific rule that says, for this one race only, F1 moves away from bringing the mandatory three compounds that are taken everywhere else and will run softs exclusively?

Few would be resistant to such an idea, especially because it could hardly make things any less exciting than what was on show last weekend.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-24, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

As Max Verstappen said about being open to trying something different: “Overall the weekend is really cool, just the Sunday is a little bit boring unfortunately.

“But the scenery is still great. If we can find a way to race a bit better, why not? That would be my preferred solution.”

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