May 29, 2018

F1 Update!: Monaco 2018

Unlike the previous days of the race weekend, the skies above the world's second-smallest sovereign nation were kinda not great.  A small chance of rain proved to be naught but a tease... we were to be treated to a dry race.  Which should have been a good thing!  This was the first time we were to see Pirelli's new Hypersoft tires... imagine a fresh Krispy Kreme cake donut... which promised to be as close to a "qualifying tire" as we're likely to ever see.  For those unaware, back in the "old" days, qualifying used to be a one-car-one-lap affair, as opposed to the much superior knock-out qualifying we have today.  A qualifying tire was specifically designed to last one, maybe two hot laps, before completely failing.  But the grip!  They would hold the road with all the tenacity of a T-Rex locking onto the neck of a hamburgerosaurus.  Combine that with qualifying engines that would generate 1200hp or more, but would grenade themselves after only a couple of hotlaps, and qualifying was quite the spectacle.  But we digress.  The field today was led by Smiley Ricciardo, who had the 2016 Monaco grand prix victor stolen from him by a failed pit stop.  Would he cash in this time?  THIS is your F1U! for the 2018 Grand Prix of Monaco! 


*ZZZZZZZZZZZZ: Monaco is always a spectacle.  Fast cars whizzing down narrow city streets at ridiculous speeds while spectators hang out on patios drinking glamourous beverages, there's seriously nothing like it in the world.  Watching the Thundering Herd charging down to Ste Devote in one massive pack is one of the great moments in a Formula 1 season.  Unfortunately, it was probably the highlight of this year's race too.  Ricciardo kept the lead through the first turn, opened up a 1.2 second lead over Ferrari's Seb Vettel with the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton behind him.  It became apparent quite quickly that the Red Bull was the chassis of choice for the tight confines of Monaco, as once we reached the first pitstops there had been no challenge posed to him.

*ACTION!  DRAMA!  SUSPENSE!  TIRES!!!:  All of the top runners had qualified on the hypersoft tires.  When the pitstops were over, everybody save for Merc's Valterri Bottas had gone onto the ultrasoft.  Bottas went onto the supersoft rubber... which actually turned out to be the better choice for the day.  The ultrasofts turned out to be stupid-sensitive, graining at the drop of a hat, so the first four runners (Ricciardo, Vettel, Hamilton, and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen) went into tire management mode.  Gone were the thrilling high-speed dives and dashes and swerves around the narrow racetrack, replaced by what appeared to be elderly ladies terrified by the gas pedal.  The only drama now was to see who could keep their ultrasofts alive until the end of the race, or was Bottas going to win when the tires fell off the other four?

*ALMOST DRAMATIC:  Around one-third of the way through the race, Ricciardo reported a drop in power.  A few minutes later, the pit wall got back to him, saying in effect that they knew what the problem was.  "Is it going to get better" asked the driver.  "...no." came the response.  It turned out the MGU-K in his engine had failed... that's the part that harvests energy from braking and channels it into the batteries worth about 125hp.  In other words, he was going to be down about 1/4th his power for the rest of the race.  Sounds bad... and it would be at any other circuit but Monaco.  Here, though, it's already the slowest track and the most difficult to pass on.  If you're going to lose power, this is the place to do it.

*NOPE:  Vettel kept pressure on the Red Bull all day, but couldn't come anywhere near close enough to make a move.  And everybody's tires held together for the 60 laps since the pit stops... because nobody was pushing.  The result?  A dull processional that saw the top six qualifiers finish in exactly the same position they started.  Yeesh.  Even the devoted F1U! crew couldn't stay awake for the whole thing.

At least the next race should be a little more interesting as we head to Canada!  See ya then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 06:47 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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