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GP Week : Issue 118
Red flag procedures robbed F1 fans of a grandstand finish to Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, after a race-long battle for the win between Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button was cut short when they were all allowed to fit new tyres for the final six-lap dash to the flag. Racing resumed for the final five laps of the race after a five-lap safety car period, in which the action was suspended for 20 minutes by the red flag. Under red flag rules, teams are allowed to work on their cars without restriction, including repairing accident damage and changing tyres. Vettel had been hounded and hassled by Alonso for over 10 laps prior to the red flag, having been on tyres that were 18 laps older, but after fitting a new set during the red flag period, he was able to comfortably keep the lead until the chequered flag fell. Crucial to Vettel’s victory was the eroneous fiting of soft tyres at his first pitstop, but team principal Christian Horner revealed after the race that it had not been their plan to go with the softs for the second stint. It turns out that a radio communication problem in the pits caused mechanics to fit the softs instead of the super-softs. “ The plan was to box both the drivers on that lap, but unfortunately the radio got jammed so the guys in the garage did not get the call. They didn’t know what tyres they were supposed to be putting on the car,” said Horner. “In the end, a set of primes went onto Seb’s car and that wasn’t the plan. We were on the hard tyre and it was a question of looking at what the options were to get us back into contention. “Jenson made our life slightly easier by going on options and options again, and then it was a question of what to do. It was a risky strategy but Sebastian made it work. He knew what the situation was and he drove accordingly to protect the tyres.” Red flag tyre changes sterilise Monaco finale 26