Not even the rain stops Verstappen. Everything happens between the tight curves, and the descents and ascents of Monte Carlo, with the cars coming and going from the pits, wallowing in splashes of water. On lap 50, the first drops of a sudden storm, at first only in some stretches, especially in turn 3, and then gradually along the entire route, they upset a race that seemed already marked behind his leader of Red Bull. In truth, the brief storm does not upset the order of positions so much (apart from Sainz, who loses two, finishing long, but gives a quarter of an hour of great confusion, in which it seems anything could happen, with the cars skidding and skid, slipping dangerously on the water.In the end, however, everything comes together again, respecting the logic set by the day before.
First Verstappen, fourth victory out of six races and shoulder to the world championshipsecond Alonso – 41 years, 9 months and 21 days: congratulations to the old man of F1 – and third Ocon, as per the starting order. The Ferraris behind everyoneRed Bull, Aston Martin, Mercedes and this time even an Alpine, sunk in their irremediable mediocrity. Sixth Leclerc and eighth Sainz. And Perez was also missing, otherwise they would be relegated by one place. They hold up for a ride, then all the flaws and limitations of a wrong car that they’re incapable of changing, come out.
The questionable choices of the garage are added to the smallness of the single-seater, who calls the Monegasque 5 minutes before the rain arrives, and infuriates Sainz for a call that he says is incorrect: “I could have overtaken Ocon, why did you stop me?”. “We were afraid Hamilton would attack you.” “I don’t give a damn about Hamilton!!”. As if nothing had happened, however, we have to put up with Vasseur’s rather surreal and incomprehensible explanations: “I think the pace was good, then when the rain came we decided to take a risk”. The good step? I don’t know. Leclerc was much more sincere: “We struggled, there’s a lot of work to do, tire management remains a big problem for us”.
Tradition has it that the most important day in Monte Carlo is the day before. The most fascinating qualifying of the world championship and the most boring Grand Prix of the season. Always if it doesn’t rain, as happened today, reversing the slow progress of a race already consigned to its destiny. There are no long straights here to launch the engines’ power and overtaking is nearly impossible. So many times the Saturday of the weekend already roughly establishes the order of arrival of Sunday. And this year’s qualifying fully confirmed expectations, with four lions – Max, Alonso, Leclerc and Ocon – who bettered each other’s times and Verstappen who even challenged the walls to earn those thousandths that made him taken to pole position in front of everyone.
In the great circus on Christmas Evethe Ferrari wall made the usual big mistake which penalized Charles, not warning him that he had to give space to Norris coming up behind him, but by now we have gotten so used to certain logics of amateurs in jeopardy that we are no longer surprised by anything. The prince had to start from sixth place instead of third, caged in the fray of the group.
Maranello: all talk and distinctive
In retrospect we know that without that penalty he could have even fought to defend the podium, although we strongly doubt it, considering the obvious driving difficulties he had to face. But beyond this, the judgment on the performance of the Red does not differ much, because it turns and turns, the tracks change and the protagonists alternate and what never changes is the modus operandi of Maranello, all talk and distinctive to make believe that something can improve. In reality, as the former pilot Matteo Bobbi maintains, the game is probably played on the mechanics rather than on the imaginary aerodynamic updates which perhaps will give you more downforce points or less drag, while the difference is made by the suspension based on how it reacts to different vehicle loads. The now fairly established impression is that this Sf-23 is a single-seater with more defects than merits, inferior to last year’s F1-75.
Here in Montecarlo, already during free practice, it proved to be a car that is very sensitive to the various heights from the ground, who struggles to give feeling to the little prince: his third place in qualifying, then nullified by the late communication from the garage on the “impeding” maneuver, was all just flour from his sack, the result more of Charles’ ability to find a balance over madness, rather than outright balance. In Maranello they should get busy bringing home top-level technicians, as they did at Mercedes and Aston Martin, instead of looking for some second-row engineers and betting everything on the almost retired Lewis Hamilton in place of Leclerc, in a an operation that is so reminiscent of Ronaldo’s at Juventus, hoping at least that it doesn’t end up like that.
Now we start again from next weekend, in Barcelona. Ferrari will bring the new updates, much praised in Maranello: “We will bring some changes that we hope will give us something”. The riders say that at least the sensations are good. But they always say it every time. The truth is that we should surrender to the evidence, that the project is certainly lower than last year’s, and improving from sixth to fifth place is not going to change the course of another disappointing season much.
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