VR Safety Car Extravanganza – Monaco GP 2016

After the race started behind the safety car due to rain, there were plenty of run-ins, collisions and pit stop foul-ups. The Virtual Safety Car was deployed no less than four times for various reasons today. For the second race in a row, someone other than the championship leader won a race and thus there was luckily a little bit of excitement and shifts in the points race as well.

The Top-10:

  1. Lewis HamiltonHamilton managed to overtake Rosberg in the early parts of the race and after Red Bull’s pit-stop blunder, he remained in front of Ricciardo for the rest of the race. Hamilton has officially thrown his hat in to join the championship race against his team-mate and rose back to the number-2 spot in points.
  2. Daniel RicciardoThough he was understandably sour about being second today, Ricciardo has nothing to be ashamed of. Pole position, a clear get-away at the start, his falling behind Hamilton was solely the pit-crew’s fault. Ricciardo is also now a serious contender for the championship.
  3. Sergio PerezThe ever delightfully surprising Perez earned his sixth over-all and Force India’s third podium ever. Sergio may not be the most reliable driver from a points stand-point but whenever he gets a shot at a podium, he definitely takes it. Well done, Perez.

Sebastian Vettel chased down Perez but could not overtake him. His 4th place finish was some consilation after the failure of his team-mate.

McLaren are also showing clear signs of recovery with both drivers on points today. Fernando Alonso deserves huge props for keeping Rosberg at bay for several laps and not giving him any chance to overtake. He was 5th, repeating McLaren’s best result under its current engine manufacturer. Jenson Button also drove reasonably well to finish 9th.

With Nico Hülkenberg beating his countryman and name-sake on the very final laps and landing 6th, The Hülk turned this into a perfect result for Force India.

Nico Rosberg also suffered a slow pit-stop which dropped him behind Alonso, then he had to suffer the indignity of finishing 7th, adding a measly 6 points to his 100 gathered from his prior season opening victories. To be fair, Nico had some rotten luck today and the wet Monaco track wasn’t forgiving for overtake attempts (Nico’s only one on Alonso ending up with him exiting circuit limits and resulting in a forfeit) so there wasn’t a lot he could do.

Carlos Sainz alleviated Toro Rosso’s otherwise poor showing with an 8th place finish.

Williams crashed hard today, with Massa barely landing on points as 10th, just ahead of his team-mate.

Golden Pineapple Award: Esteban Gutierrez, Haas-F1

Gutierrez is finally the pine-apple leader, albeit thanks to stewards’ decision post-race for dropping Bottas to 12th. Gutierrez was in the Top-10 momentarily, but once again, it seems the wet circuit didn’t agree with Haas’s car, with his team-mate landing even further back.

Drop-out count: 7

The season record so far. The most anti-climactic and disappointing ones today coming from Renault’s Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen as well as Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen. Palmer crashed in the very first corner on the first lap after the safety car came off the track and caused the first VR safety car session. Magnussen survived a collision with Kvyat as well as leaving his front wing behind in a corner after a slip-up but his fate was sealed by a technical problem. Räikkönen suffered embarrassment by running wide in the hair-pin, having his front-wing fall off and jam underneath his car. He accidentally blocked Grosjean which understandably pissed the Frenchman off and after Räikkönen drove through the tunnel (dragging his wing beneath his wheels) he was finally forced to retire behind the swimming pool chicane.

Despite a podium for Red Bull and points for Toro Rosso, it was all around a very mixed day for the Energy Drink manufacturer. Max Verstappen who made history in the previous race, started from the pits, was making good progress up the field but then went wide and crashed on Lap 35, engaging the VR safety car for the second time. Daniil Kvyat had a hell of a time. On the warm-up lap, he was forced to come into the pits and change his steering wheel. He then totalled his car during a very optimistic over-take attempt on Kevin Magnussen.

Sauber’s day was also utter misery with their drivers apparently not being able to switch positions cleanly. Felipe Nasr was taken out when Marcus Ericsson tried to overtake him in the same corner where the Kvyat-Magnussen incident occurred and Nasr was left on the road side. This caused the VR safety car to activate for the third time, but luckily Nasr made it to the pits, so the incident was short-lived. Ericsson’s car took damage in the incident as well and he had to call it quits a few laps later.

The fourth and final VR safety car was engaged towards the race’s end when a tarp fell on the track on the main-straight.

Back of the Lot News:

As mentioned above, Bottas was dropped from 11th to 12th as punishment for causing a collision between other drivers. Bottas’s doom, much like many other drivers today, was a fouled up pit-stop. Haas had very little to celebrate about either with their drivers scoring no points. Romain Grosjean, who got blocked by Räikkönen, finished 13th.

Pascal Wehrlein also showed a lot of promise on the wet circuit, but as it dried the Manor car’s pace wasn’t enough to defend his position with Wehrlein landing 14th.

Dead Last: Rio HaryantoHaryanto really accomplished nothing today and has rightfully now claimed first place in the Dead Last Stat.