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So…who would have won the Monaco Grand Prix, had the final six laps been run under normal conditions rather than as a separate mini sprint race? It may not actually have been Sebastian Vettel. Having made his soft tyres last for more than 50 laps, the German was coming under considerable pressure from Fernando Alonso – who could practically hear the Spanish national anthem.
But looking at the in-car footage, it was clear that Alonso was struggling with the rear of his Ferrari: his tyres were about 15 laps younger than Vettel’s thanks to a two-stop strategy, but degradation rapidly increases when you are stuck behind a car so closely. The ‘hole in the air’ that the car in front generates means that there is not so much aerodynamic downforce working on your own car and so it slides more. This in turn means that the tyres are worked much harder and wear increases. One of the many good reasons why it’s always much better to be in front rather than behind.
King of Monaco?
When is a fastest time not quite a fastest time? Answer: when Kimi Raikkonen beats you to it. Today’s benchmark of 1m13.556s from Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was the fastest ever qualifying lap of Monaco, set using Pirelli’s new PZero Rosso supersoft tyres. But it was not the fastest-ever lap of Monaco. That accolade belongs to the “Iceman”, who did a time of 1m13.532s in Q2 back in 2006.
As Vettel pointed out at the press conference, Kimi is off racing trucks in America now so he probably doesn’t care much either way. Back in 2006, of course, cars used to tackle the all-important Q3 using the fuel with which they would start the race on board – meaning that they would often be significantly slower than they were in the preceding sessions. As Kimi found out.