Interesting to hear Mark Webber, newly in contention for the championship, announcing that only wins will secure the title this year. Easy for him to say that, soaked in champagne and pool water. What would he have done had he been in the middle or even the back of the snake of cars that followed him home yesterday? We’d like to think his stated flightiness would have meant he’d have attempted a move, but we’re not so sure.
In the warm light of Monday, yesterday does seem rather like a procession; old-school F1 where nobody passes anyone even when first-through-sixth are running nose to tail.
Is this the flipside of this year’s bizarrely unpredictable F1 season? Have drivers already decided to leave their results in the hands of fate – where ‘fate’ largely means ‘tyres’? Remember Kimi Raikkonen in China and that precipitous fall from podium to P-nowhere once his tyres were down to the canvas. Is that what’s at the back of driver’s minds this year? Well, partly. But we think there might be something else going on.
It’s all very well blaming Monaco and the paradox of holding a ‘race’ on tarmac so narrow one car struggles to find a berth next to another, however fleetingly. Fact is, when a driver is in the zone, there is a way. Many a proper hero has won his Sunday Afternoon Spurs this way, especially when that rare resource, traction, is in short supply as it was in the closing laps yesterday. Why didn’t Rosberg have a go at Webber, or Alonso at Rosberg? And, why, with so much to play for, did Vettel, Hamilton and Massa opt to stick, when Casino Square was begging them to twist?
Like we say, they might have been waiting for someone else’s rubber to go funny. But they might also have become wary of what feels to us like trigger-happy stewarding. Sergio Perez was the only driver out to earn Hero Status yesterday and looked what happened to him: told once to give the place back and a second time to cool off with a nice slow cruise along the length of the pit lane. Shame that, as he was the fastest guy on the circuit.
Let it also not be forgotten that we were robbed of the most fantastic story yesterday. The Mercedes was the quickest car in Monte Carlo and Michael Schumacher was beyond motivated... Sure his race was ruined by more bad luck, but it could have been a win, not a seventh place he lost.
We’re not condoning his lumpy move on Bruno Senna in Spain (the reason he lost his well-earned pole position), just beginning to wonder whether it’s time the Stewards took more of a back seat, concentrated more on punishing dangerous driving, and less on ‘racing accidents’. If drivers start to believe — as tennis players and cricketers once did — that you’ll come out on top as often as you lose then maybe, just maybe, they might push their luck a little more.