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Helmut Marko: Verstappen was “fantastic” in Monaco

Red Bull’s Helmut Marko has praised Max Verstappen’s performance in Monaco, and says that Romain Grosjean was also at fault in the collision that ended the Dutchman’s race.

Monaco rookie Verstappen was badly delayed by a long pit stop, but he was still able to show real savvy and aggression with some good passing moves before the controversial incident with Grosjean earned a grid penalty for Canada.

“Max was fantastic,” Marko told this writer. “Unfortunately he had this bad pit stop. It was good when he followed the Ferrari [of Sebastian Vettel] and overtook Bottas. You saw what potential is there.

“I would say the crash was a racing incident, and Grosjean was involved as well, he was moving over when he already saw that Max was there.”

Marko was also pleased to see RBR drivers Dany Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo finish fourth and fifth, especially after such a frustrating start to the season for the Russian.

“Both drivers did very well. It was a good co-operation for Kvyat to let Ricciardo past, and then he gave it back when he couldn’t get by. I think Ricciardo would have needed two more laps and there was a chance on Hamilton.

“It was the first weekend without any troubles for Kvyat, and there he showed what he can do.”

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Nico Rosberg: “I was sure that he would win it…”

Nico Rosberg says he believed that Lewis Hamilton would still win the Monaco GP even after his late pit stop dropped him to third.

Before the restart the German assumed that Hamilton’s fresher tyres would enable him to get by both Sebastian Vettel and himself over the closing laps of the race.

“At that time I still thought Lewis would win,” said Rosberg. “Because coming out with fresh supersofts, [while] we were on stone cold, 40 lap old or whatever hard tyres, which was going to be a massive mission not to hit the wall with after the restart, because it felt treacherous out there. So I still felt he was going to come through, and it was going to be a big battle I thought, and I was sure that he would win it. But f course I went for it, the temperature came back quick, and I could do some good lap times, so I was just pushing.”

Nico admitted that initially he didn’t realise what was going on when Hamilton pitted.

“For me stopping wasn’t really on my mind at all, because it was just a couple of laps to go, so I didn’t consider that at all. I was then very surprised to see the safety car and not see Lewis, it was a big surprise for me, I was like where the hell did he go?

“Then I saw wheelbanging [in my mirrors]. It seemed to be like wheelbanging under a safety car fighting for position behind me, between a Mercedes and a Ferrari. I’m like what the hell is going on there? Until I figured out what was going on.”

He admitted that he had mixed feeling about winning the race through a team mate’s misfortune.

“It’s mixed, it is the way it is. Lewis did a great job, he deserved to win. I’m very well aware of that. I feel for him also, because it’s a horrible way to lose a race like that. On the other side a win is a win, and I’ve learned that in sports it’s such a big factor is luck, and all these things play a role. I’ve learned t just take it, because winning Monaco is winning Monaco, and it’s just awesome.”

Asked about his gracious attitude to his team mate he added: “It’s just how I feel. I have a lot of space for empathy towards him, because I know how horrible the day is for him after such a strong weekend for him, and then to lose it right at the end like that, that really sucks. So I have a lot of capacity for that, so I do feel that.”

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FIA wants more notice of engine reliability upgrades

The FIA has moved to clarify the process by which manufacturers can modify their power units on reliability grounds.

Changes can be made on that basis without the use of tokens, and clearly the governing body has felt the need to make the process as open as possible – and at the same has tried to ensure that it has adequate time to deal with requests for changes, which at times been very last minute, by introducing a lead time of eight days.

A Technical Directive from Charlie Whiting said: “All requests for changes to the homologated power unit for the purpose of improving reliability should be made to me in writing with copies to the FIA F1 Engine distribution group. All such requests, with supporting data where necessary, should be made at least eight days before the modified power unit is first used at an Event and must include:

“1. A complete explanation of the failure, this should not only include clear photographic evidence but also when and where the failure(s) occurred.

“2. Part number references for both old and new parts.

“3. Full drawings of any new or modified components. Any pictorial or CAD views should be represented with the same zoom and angle.

“4. Test and investigation results supporting the request where applicable.

“5. Any relevant supporting information from external suppliers.”


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Pitlane start for Sainz after weight check penalty

Carlos Sainz Jr will have to start the Monaco GP from the pitlane after missing a weight check in qualifying.

The Toro Rosso driver had made Q3 and earned an encouraging eighth place on his first F1 appearance in Monaco.

He said that he didn’t see the red light at the entry to the pit lane. The FIA does have some leeway if the car is immediately pushed back to the weighbridge without the team working on it, but in this case that didn’t happen and STR carried on unaware that he had missed the check, so the harshest penalty was inevitable.

The penalty means that Pastor Maldonado, Max Verstappen and Jenson Button will start in eighth, ninth and 10th spots.

Romain Grosjean had earlier been given a five-place penalty for a gearbox change.

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Daniel Ricciardo: “I sound like I’m being miserable…”

A deeply frustrated Daniel Ricciardo says he should have qualified third and not fourth in Monaco after a miscommunication with the pit wall compromised his run.

The Red Bull driver didn’t switch to maximum power mode at the start of his lap in Q3, and just in the first sector he lost the 0.2s that cost him a chance to beat Sebastian Vettel to third.

“I sound like I’m being miserable,” he said. “But we should be third, and that’s legit. That’s not saying I locked up a brake or something. We started the lap without maximum power for qualifying. It was just a miscommunication with the pit wall, and I was two-tenths slower than before entering Turn One. That’s the two-tenths we needed to be third, and that’s free lap time we gave away.

“For that I’m disappointed because what’s a good result should have been a great result, but I’ll try and make a rocket start tomorrow, and make it count. It’s the last place where you want to give away free grid positions.”

Like other drivers Ricciardo had problems in the cooler weather today.

“That’s for me why I was struggling a lot in qualifying, and even Q3 I thought I had to drive out of my skin to get the tyres in. We were doing two warm-up laps and getting into it, but the tyres never felt like they were coming in and giving the right grip. It was tricky. I think if we could get them working we would be a lot more competitive, that seems to be a weakness for now.”

Despite his disappointment Ricciardo says he’s determined to beat Sebastian Vettel to third place on Sunday: “We’re in a nice position to just attack. We’ll take risks. Obviously points are nice, but I think if it’s a fourth or a podium, we’ll go for a podium. A fourth place isn’t anything to get too excited over. We’ll try to make it happen somehow. Strategy is always tricky with just one stop here, maybe a few rain drops or something will spice it up and I’ll make sure I’m there in the right place.”

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I haven’t given up on a top drive, says Hulkenberg

Confirmation that Lewis Hamilton is committed to Mercedes for another three years has put the focus back on the driver market – and the lack of potential openings in the top teams.

The likes of Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg have been on the cusp of moving up a rung in recent years, but neither has managed to do so, and it could argue that time may run out for them as younger drivers with momentum behind them move into the frame over the next few years.

Hulkenberg is adamant that he has not given up hope of making the move.

“I think a lot about it is timing, and the driver market, how it was the last few years,” he said in Monaco today. “There’s a lot of good drivers around that have taken up the good seats, and there are only obviously a small number available. I very much like to think that there’s still an opportunity for me. The future will tell.

“Of course it’s a bit of a disappointment that I’m not there yet, where I want to be. I’d love to be in a car that’s capable of winning, and fighting for the title. Of course there’s a bit of disappointment there. If you live in that thought obviously that’s not going to help, you’ve got to keep working and move forward.”

The German admitted that it’s become harder to make an impression this year, given that Force India’s competitiveness has dropped off: “It’s more difficult obviously if you don’t have the potential or the tools to do these kinds of things. It hurts. I think people know that it’s not necessarily the driver who’s not delivering, and we know that. It’s just what it is sometimes, it’s F1.”

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GPDA set to launch fan survey – but will it make a difference?

The Grand Prix Drivers Association is set to formally announce details of its Global Fan Survey in Monaco on Thursday afternoon.

As revealed here over the Spanish GP weekend, the organisation wants to interact with fans, and find out what they want from F1.

I think the fans are very important, their opinions,” said GPDA director Jenson Button today. “And that’s exactly why the GPDA has a global fan survey which will be announced tomorrow. I think it’s massively important because we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the fans. This is a sport that needs fans, we have millions of fans around the world and it’s always interesting to have their opinion.

To see where they think the sport it, where they think the sport can go. Obviously we all have our own ideas, which is great, and I think the sport is in a good place right now – but there’s always room for improvement – as there is in any sport, especially a sport that’s always changing like Formula One in terms of technology and what have you. So, I think it’s really important, it’s going to be interesting to see how it goes.”

Asked if he thought the results would have any impact he added: “I think our aim is just to put them in place and to see how it goes. I think that it’s very interesting to see which direction the supporters of this sport and the fans of this sport feel that the sport should go in.

It doesn’t mean that it’s going to change anything, it’s just interesting for us as drivers but I think for us collectively in Formula One, to get a better understanding. And I don’t think it’s been done for a while, so I just think it’s necessary to do and hopefully we’ll get some positive results.”

My earlier story on the GPDA’s plans can be found here:


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