Win or bust for Ferrari in Monaco

2019-05-22 06:01

FORMULA 1 cars have raced through the sun-kissed streets of Monte Carlo every year since 1950.

Decade after decade, the Monaco Grand Prix stood proud as the jewel in F1’s crown.

All the legends have won here from Juan-Manuel Fangio to Sir Jackie Stewart to Ayrton Senna to the great Michael Schumacher. And it is unquestionably the Grand Prix victory that drivers want in their CV.

More recently it hasn’t done must to endear itself to modern-day F1 fans. And it isn’t because these fans are a lot of whingers either. It isn’t even that in an oversaturated world that they are easily bored, as some would have you believe.

Most, if not all, of these fans appreciate and laud the sport’s venerated history and speak in awe of decades gone by.

The utter precision and bravery that it demands to fling these marvels of design and engineering through the barrier-lined streets is a feat so outrageous it shouldn’t be possible. But it is.

And year after year, Formula 1 shows up and proves it possible. As gloriously insane a spectacle as that is, it simply isn’t conducive anymore to what modern F1 fans yearn for. There is a great hunger for wheel-to-wheel racing, for overtaking, for edge-of-the-seat racing that leave you, simultaneously, stunned and exhilarated. And this is not something that the Monaco Grand Prix can deliver anymore.

Several decades ago the story was different but with modern F1 cars it just isn’t feasible. The width of the cars alone makes overtaking in Monaco, already at a premium, nearly impossible. This means that Saturday’s qualifying dictates Sunday’s race, barring unreliability.

In 2016, leader Nico Rosberg drove deliberately slowly and still no one was able to overtake the then Mercedes driver.

Off the track, it is the place to be seen.

Here you can rub shoulders with the rich and famous provided you have the right invite or the ability to cough up an exorbitant amount of money to make it into the paddock or onto one of the luxury yachts.

The reality is, though, that most F1 fans save for months, even years, to make it to a racetrack somewhere in the world and hardly entertain the thought of being able to attend a Grand Prix on the French Riviera. It seems nearly unthinkable to imagine an F1 calendar without the Monaco Grand Prix. But what is even more inconceivable is that those who tend to the sport do not take into account what the fans want and can afford.

For the foreseeable future there is a Monaco Grand Prix and this weekend someone will again lift the famous first place trophy into the air as the winner. In recent years Mercedes have struggled with equal tyre warm-up across both axles of their car. However, recent form in Singapore, also a street-track, suggests that they have begun to get on top of the issue.

Valtteri Bottas will be interesting to watch here, as Monaco has never been a strong circuit for the Finn. It’s a good place then to show that new-for-2019 Bottas is not only a force to be reckoned with but also a bonafide championship contender.

Red Bull won here in 2018 with Daniel Ricciardo, despite a loss of power. It could well be Max Verstappen’s chance to shine on the famous streets, provided he can keep his Red Bull out of the barriers – a feat he didn’t accomplish in 2018.

For Ferrari, as in Spain, it’s win or bust. Anything other than the top step of the podium will be devastating to their championship aspirations that are already hanging by a catastrophically thin thread.

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