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GP Week : Issue 155
If you turned on the TV an hour into the Monaco Grand Prix you would be forgiven for thinking the race had just started. For the final quarter, the leading cars were nose to tail, but Monaco being Monaco there wasn’t much they could do about it. Some described the race as a procession. I disagree. The anticipation of an overtaking move is often even more exciting than the overtaking itself, at least when it’s for a podium. It’s out-and-out titillation – not so much strip tease as street tease. At yesterday’s Indy 500 there were a record 35 changes of the lead. But when it’s that easy to pass, who cares. It only counts on the last lap – so well done Takuma Sato for spicing that one up. You’ve got to have a go. No one remembers who came second. Incidentally, I was at Indianapolis but I was also in Monaco for the build-up. I didn’t go to bed on Thursday in the Principality, instead I employed a long-term strategy at Vijay Mallya’s nautical disco and, when the sun came up, stepped off the gangplank and into a cab to the airport. Sixteen hours and a couple of plane changes later, I was in Indiana. Come race day, I was in the media centre at the crack of dawn to stream Monaco online, and I thought the show was riveting. You could not have two more different races on the same weekend. European and US oval racing are like tennis and squash – the racquets look similar, but the court is totally different. I’m still not sure I ‘get’ oval racing. Whereas the skill shown by drivers through Monaco always leaves me gobsmacked. What’s more, this was the closest top four finish to a Monaco GP ever. Just 1.343 seconds separated winner Mark Webber from P4 man Sebastian Vettel. Webber may have looked unflappable, but it wasn’t in the bag until he crossed the line. The weekend was full of drama. Michael Schumacher, black-marked for his coming together with Bruno Senna and subsequently revealed as having purposefully impeded Lewis Hamilton in Barcelona, finally re-discovered his form in Monaco qualifying and nailed a phenomenal pole position, which he then had to hand to Mark Webber. What might have been had he behaved himself in Spain and started P1 yesterday? His first win, since China 2006, would have been huge news. Instead, his weekend turned sour with a limp DNF. Another driver who went from hero to zero was Pastor Maldonado, something I predicted might happen. The Venezuelan proved his searing raw pace with that wonderful, fully deserved win in Catalunya but showed in Monaco that he is far from the complete package. When he sees red, he will use his car as a weapon and the clout he gave Sergio Perez in practice was very ugly. It’s not the first time this has happened. Think back to Spa last year with Hamilton. It’s a psychological trait I doubt he’s able to overcome, and unfortunately it’s what will keep this talented young man from ever fulfilling his potential. Sunday, having started at the back due to his penalty, he didn’t even bother to brake for the first corner. He slammed into an unsuspecting HRT probably because he’d had enough. Fernando Alonso is who Pastor should try to emulate. They both have animal speed, but while Alonso’s blood often boils when faced with frustration or attacks from other drivers, his brain keeps cool and he delivers optimum performance, most clearly illustrated by bagfuls of points. He now leads this world championship, not because he has the best car – not by about nine grid slots – but because he is the most consistent driver, and he gets the maximum from his tools. STREET TEASE OPINION ADAM HAY-NICHOLLS F1 Editor OPINION 17 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: