Two topics of conversation dominated the #AskCrofty tweets following the Monaco Grand Prix.
- Was Kimi robbed of the win or just too slow?
- Is it time for Formula 1 to say goodbye to Monte Carlo?
On the first point, it could be a little of both. Certainly at the time it looked to both Martin Brundle and myself that Sebastian Vettel had been given the preferential strategy on his way to victory. But you could argue too that Kimi’s pace in the lead up to the pit stops wasn’t fast enough. After he pitted, the fact that he was caught up in traffic slowed him down sufficiently for Sebastian to leap frog him at the stop and take the lead.
Seb had put in a series of strong laps and you can’t take anything away from his performance. But on a day when it was widely predicted that the ‘overcut’ would be the best way to go on strategy it was interesting, to say the least, that Ferrari played that strategy out to the extent that one team mate took the win from the other.
They could, for instance, have brought Sebastian in a lap earlier than they did, which would have kept Kimi in front, and then let them scrap it out for the win. Surely, that would have been fairer given that Kimi had taken pole and led the early stages, normally the prerequisite for the optimum strategy between team mate.
There’s also a suspicion that Kimi was required to turn his engine down for whatever reason following the pit stops. Not confirmed by Ferrari of course, but certainly one explanation as to why, when running in 2nd place, he was lapping a second a lap slower.
There’s nothing like a good conspiracy theory in F1 and it should be noted that even if there were team orders, Ferrari did nothing wrong in executing them. To many, Sebastian winning the race is what Ferrari should have been aiming for, given that he is ahead in the Championship and consistent enough for the Scuderia to be backing that particular prancing horse for the title. To others Kimi was entitled to a little bit more support from his team, after all he was the man who had won pole on the Saturday and it was only the 6th race of the season after all.
Personally, I don’t like team orders, never have, especially when they alter the winner of a race. But they happen and sometimes for good reason. Formula 1 is a team sport after all and the interests of the team should come first. But in this case, Kimi’s pace wasn’t putting the Ferrari win in jeopardy, and to our knowledge he wasn’t asked to comply with a win for his team mate. His reaction on the podium suggested that whatever had been agreed pre-race, had played out to a different tune during the 78 laps. If Kimi was robbed, he wasn’t an accessory to it and how that affects him during the rest of the season will be fascinating to watch.