Thursday in Monaco: The adventure

Thursday in Monaco: The adventure


Deliberate chaos and controversy

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has suggested some teams want the qualifying sessions and the race to turn into 'chaos and controversy'. He said that after Lotus team owner Malaysian Tony Fernandes had vetoed the two-tier qualification proposal during a FOTA meeting. After the meeting Fernandes explained why he opposed the split qualifying; "We want the race to be exciting, we want it to be unpredictable so let qualifying be the same [as the race] as well." Which prompted Whitmarsh to jump to this remarkable conclusion: "There are those, and I'm not one of them, who feel that controversy and stewards' hearings after the event are entertaining. I don't share that view."

Who says only slower cars can cause havoc...
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Remarkable, because that is not what Fernandes had in mind. Fernandes simply wants equal opportunities for all teams He wants action on the streets of Monaco, and not a parade of slower drivers who were banned from Q1, and have to move out of the way for the big guns, and will play no role whatsoever during qualification or the race. The FIA and FOTA wanted fresh blood in Formula One, now that they have fresh blood they treat them like 'GP3' teams. One could of course also argue those teams don't care about the new teams, are not willing to help them, and are only interested in creating opportunities that favor the top teams.

There should be equal opportunities for all teams during all races this season. Drivers like Fernando Alonso and Arian Sutil understand that and have no problems with the slower cars. Alonso: "It will definitely not be easy, but it's the same for everyone." And indeed, that's what it is, it is the same for everyone, including the slower teams. We will soon find out if the new teams will to turn the qualification and race into 'chaos and controversy'. It could of course be that the top drivers cause havoc and will turn the race into chaos.

Monaco History

The "Principaut? de Monaco" is the official name of the mini state which is located in Southern France. Monaco is a constitutional monarchy, the head of the state is Prince Albert II. It has a surface of just under 2 km2, and a population of 33,000. Monaco is famous as a tax-paradise, known as the Las Vegas of Europe, and is the home of famous film and rock stars, and also the home of many Formula One drivers.

The race on Sunday will be the 57th Grand Prix of Monaco, the most glamorous and prestigious race on the calendar, a few facts will make it clear why. A number of drivers won this race multiple times, the "Kings of Monaco": Ayrton Senna won the race six times (1987, 1989 - 1993), Graham Hill five times (1963-1965, 1968, 1969), Michael Schumacher five times (1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001), Alain Prost four times (1984-1986, 1988), Stirling Moss three times (1956, 1960, 1961) and Jackie Stewart also won the race three times (1966, 1971, 1973).

The first race in 1929 was organized by Anthony Nogh?s under the auspices of the "Automobile Club de Monaco", and was won by William Grover-Williams driving a Bugatti. From 1950 onwards the race was part of the official Formula One championship, the race in 1950 was won by Juan Manuel Fangio in Alfa Romeo, it took him 3 hours, 13 minutes and 18 seconds to complete the distance, the last race in 2009 was won by Jenson Button in the Brawn GP car in 1 hour, 40 minutes and 44 seconds.

The most hectic Grand Prix was in 1982 when it started to rain during the closing stages of the race. Prost was leading but crashed, then Riccardo Patrese led but spun at Loews. Didier Pironi took over the lead but ran out of fuel in the tunnel, Andrea de Cesaris was next to lead the race but also ran out of fuel. Derek Daly took over the lead the race (without a front and rear wing which he lost a lap earlier when he had spun), but had to give up with a faulty gearbox, and finally Riccardo Patrese won the race after he had managed to restart his car by rolling down the hill. It took the FIA stewards almost 20 minutes before they figured out that Patrese had won the race. So, in that respect, the Monaco Grand Prix can sometimes be a lottery.

Schumacher maintains silence

Also part of history is the race in 2006, when Michael Schumacher parked his Ferrari in Rascasse during qualifying to prevent Fernando Alonso from putting a faster time on the clock. He was penalized and had to start the race from 22nd and last place on the grid. Alonso won the race and Schumacher worked his way up through the field an finished in 5th position. His actions are still haunting him and he again had to answer a lot of nasty questions, especially the British news papers keep reminding him of the 'parking jibe'.

Schumacher being pushed back to Parc Ferme after he parked his car in Rascasse.
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A few headlines: "Four years on and Michael Schumacher still can't say sorry", "Cheat Schu still won't say sorry", "Schumacher shrugs of parking jibes" and "Schumacher remains unrepentant". Schumacher has sofar refused to apologize for the incident and said that reporters who were still asking about the incident were 'boring'. "Ask as much as you want, but I'm moving on" the seven-times world champion said.

He got another few nasty questions, like: "Do you have any regrets about that incident?" And Schumacher answered: "I had great fun in the race, I came through the field from last and I think I finished fifth. That was good fun." Fernando Alonso told the media he had already forgotten about it, and said was just a small incident. The father of Schumacher's team mate Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, Keke Rosberg, said at the time: "It was the worst thing I've ever seen in F1. I thought he had grown up. He is a cheap cheat. He should leave F1 to honest people".

Chaos free Practice sessions

After the first two official Free Practice sessions today, it seems the worries drivers had about the slower new teams, were unfounded. At times all 24 cars were on the track and it didn't really prevent drivers from putting in a fast lap. There were no real incidents between slower and faster cars, but it must be said that during the first free practice session Karun Chandhok and Kamui Kobayashi had a closer look at the walls surrounding the circuit.

When it started to rain during the second session, Jaime Alguersuari had a big moment when he locked his rear wheels while braking before the chicane, but didn't hit anything and continued his practice. Felipe Massa had to use the escape road at Saint Devote when it became even more slippery, but he also was able to continue his run. There was one incident when Massa slowed down to get a clear lap, catching Heikki Kovalainen, who was on a fast lap, by surprise. So the practice sessions in a nutshell: Accidents? No. Dangerous? No. Chaos? Again no. Incidents? Yes, a few, but nothing serious.

See also: Alonso sails to the top in Monaco practice

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Series General , Formula 1