Analysis: Things we learned from the Monaco Grand Prix

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Spain, Circuit de Catalunyaes

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen continued his march towards his third title on Sunday when he beat Fernando Alonso in Monaco to further extend his F1 championship lead. F1Technical’s Balázs Szabó highlights the key lessons we learned from the Monaco Grand Prix.

Another controlled victory – Double world champion Max Verstappen collected his 39th victory at yesterday’s Monaco Grand Prix which made him the most successful Red Bull Racing driver in terms of race wins. The Dutchman has not failed to finish lower than second this season after having taken four victories and two second-placed finishes so far in 2023.

After 169 F1 race starts, this weekend saw the reigning world champion secure his 83rd podium, collect a total of 2155.5 points, snatch his 23rd pole position and led his 2,000th lap of his F1 career.

103rd podium – The two-time world champion Fernando Alonso scored his 103rd F1 podium at the Monaco Grand Prix which means that he stood on the rostrum in five of the opening six races in 2023. Despite his incredible records in different racing categories across his illustrious career, Alonso endured a drought after he left the Scuderia Ferrari at the end of the 2014 F1 season as he only scored a single podium finish with Alpine at the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix. However, the Spaniard seems to have made the right call when he decided to leave the French outfit to join Aston Martin for 2023.

Asked whether a win would have been possible without the unnecessary stop for new slick tyres, Alonso said:: “I’m really happy with this result. The race was not easy – and the rain made it difficult for everybody, and very risky strategically. I don’t think the extra stop [first Mediums, then Intermediates] affected the result.

“It’s always hard to read the race fully from the cockpit, but on the lap I stopped, the track was completely dry apart from Turns Seven and Eight – so why fit Inters, especially when it felt like a small shower and we had plenty of margin behind us.”

Third podium – Despite not expecting an eye-catching performance from his car at Monaco, Esteban Ocon secured his third career podium on Sunday, withstanding the pressure from Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton. The 26-year-old scored his first podium finish at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix before emerging victorious at the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix. As for this year, he scored points only two times in the first five races before snatching an unexpected podium finish in Monte Carlo.

Landmark – The 69th Monaco Grand Prix was an important milestone for both the Haas and Alpine outfit. The American squad started their 150th Formula One race after joining the pinnacle of motorsport back in 2016. However, the Monaco round saw the Ferrari-powered team only score a 17th and 19th finish with Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg and thus failing to add to their tally of eight points.

By contrast, Alpine has completed their best race weekend so far in 2023 by securing a third and seventh-placed finish and scoring 21 championship points. The Enstone-based squad find themselves in fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship thanks to their tally of 35 points.

Five compounds in action – It is a real rarity that Pirelli’s all five tyres make appearance in a race. That was the case in Monaco which has become to first round in 2023 to feature all three dry weather tyres and the two wet weather tyres.

On the C3 Hard tyres, it was Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, who completed the longest stint with 56 laps while the fastest lap on that compounds belonged to Lewis Hamilton. On the yellow-sided mediums, Max Verstappen completed his longest run, but Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc set the fastest lap with a 1m15.773s. Although Zhou Guanyu started on the red-walled soft compound, he switched to hards at the end of the first lap, leaving Williams driver Logan Sargeant to complete more than a racing lap. The Florida-born driver racked up 29 consecutive laps on the softest compound in Pirelli’s range with his best lap being a 1m17.302s.

Intermediate was the tyre to mount on when a late rain shower arrived in Monaco. Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas was to first to pit for the green-walled tyre, completing a 25-lap stint. Enjoying the best conditions with his early switch to wet weather tyres, he set the fastest lap on that compound with a 1m24.637s. Haas racer Nico Hulkenberg registered the longest stint on the full wet weather tyres, getting 16 laps under his belt on the blue-banded tyres and posting the fastest lap on that compound with a 1m32.994s.

The most colorful – In terms of number of different compounds, it was Logan Sargeant and Sergio Perez to complete the most colorful races with both of them using four different compound across the Monaco Grand Prix. The American driver used all three dry weather compound, starting the race on the mediums before switching to the hards and the softs and ending the 78-lap race on the intermediates.

The Mexican racer started the race on the yellow-banded medium before switching to the hards at the end of the opening lap. He then switched to intermediates before opting for the full wet weather tyres, but he ended the races on the green-sided intermediates.

Scrubbed sets – While drivers used brand new tyres for their various stint throughout the Monaco round, the two Aston Martin drivers Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll started their race on a scrubbed set of hard compound with this procedure usually pursued to help drivers to be able to switch on the tyres on the opening lap.

Deleted laps – The governing body was forced to delete a total of 31 laps throughout the Monaco Grand Prix with drivers having failed to follow the track limits at Turn 1, 10, 11 and 16.

Williams driver Alexander Albon failed to adhere to the track limits with exceeding the limits on five occasions. However, Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly, Nico Hulkenberg, Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz, Logan Sargeant, Nyck de Vries, Kevin Magnussen, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, George Russell and Zhou Guanyu had all lap times deleted during the 78-lap race.

The unwanted title – There are only two drivers who are yet to score any points this season. AlphaTauri’s Nyck de Vries scored a point on his debut at last year’s Italian Grand Prix in Monza when he stepped in for Alexander Albon, but he has not scored any points yet for the Faenza-based outfit in his first full F1 season. The Monaco Grand Prix was a success though as he displayed promising speed across the weekend and secured his best race finish with a P12.

Commenting on his weekend, de Vries said: "Overall, I am satisfied with my weekend, no major mistakes in tricky conditions. It was encouraging to see that we were so close to the top 10, and we worked well as a team throughout the weekend to put the cars where they were on the grid, so we’ll take those positives to Barcelona.”

Fellow rookie driver Logan Sargeant is also yet to add points to his name after finishing down in P18 in Monaco. The late tricky weather conditions tested the American’s skills as he has hardly got any running on wet track in the current F1 cars in 2023.

Fastest pit stop – Red Bull were not only the fastest when it came to outright pace around Monaco, but the Milton Keynes-based outfit was the fastest in the pit lane as well. The Austrian-Anglo squad needed only 2.15s to service Sergio Perez during one of his stops. However, Ferrari were only a tiny bit slower with the Scuderia mounting new tyres on Charles Leclerc’s car within 2.24s. The third fastest team in the pit lane was Aston Martin courtesy of a pit stop for Fernando Alonso which lasted 2.47s.

Unsafe rejoin - In the late rain weather chaos, Mercedes driver George Russell spun into the runoff at Turn 5, then rejoined the track in an unsafe manner directly in front of Sergio Perez with the incident causing a collision. The FIA stewards handed out a five-second time penalty and two penalty points on his license which sees Russell increase his penalty units to six points in the 12-month period.

However, the time penalty did not have an effect on Russell’s race result as Charles Leclerc, who was the next driver behind, was over ten seconds adrift of the Mercedes driver. The more serious problem for Russell was that he could have benefitted from a late call to intermediate tyre for Carlos Sainz and a slow stop for Esteban Ocon with the Briton throwing away a possible podium finish with his mistake.

The fastest lap - Although it was not a lap record, Lewis Hamilton was happy to score an additional championship point with his fastest lap at the Monaco Grand Prix. The Briton set a lap time of 1m15.650s to record the fastest race lap, but it was still almost three seconds off the best race lap ever around Monte Carlos which also belongs to the seven-time world champion.

Speeding in the pit lane - Nowadays, it is quite rare that a driver gets over the speed limit in the pit lane during a race. However, it happened to Ferrari's Carlos Sainz in Miami two weeks ago, and now it was Logan Sargeant who failed to stay below 60kph in the tight Monaco pit lane. The American exceeded the limit by 0.7kph which saw him earn a five-second time penalty.

Interestingly, his teammate Alexander Albon was also caught with the same infringement, albeit the Thai driver failed to adhere to the speed limit during the reconnaissance laps. In fact, he only exceeded the limit by 0.1kph, but it was enough for him to earn a fine of €100.

Huge blow - After arriving neck and neck in Monaco in the fight for the championship title , Sergio Perez endured a huge blow to his championship aspiration due to his mistake in the qualifying session. The Mexican said that "it was the worst weekend I can remember in a while; everything went wrong and today we paid the price for a poor mistake from myself in qualifying. I am really sad about the performance, not just today but the whole weekend. I knew yesterday would be extremely costly and ultimately it was 25 points."

In fact, Perez's mistake enabled his teammate Max Verstappen to escape in the Drivers' Championship with the Dutchman now sitting atop with 144 points, enjoying a comfortable margin of 39 points ahead of the Mexican.

Courtesy of his brilliant start to the season, Fernando Alonso occupies third place in the standings, followed by the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell while the Ferrari pair of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc sit in P6 and P7 in the championship. Lance Stroll, Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly and Lando Norris are the only other drivers with a two-digit point tally.