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Formula 1 will go into round six of the 2023 World Championship at Monaco. However, the forecast for this weekend suggests that it might be a repeat of last year’s Monaco Grand Prix.
Monaco will see another year with Formula 1 as it will return to the Principality this weekend. Many feared that last year would have been the last Monaco Grand Prix. However, Formula 1 struck a deal, making Monaco stay on the calendar until 2025.
The Monaco Grand Prix has been on the calendar since the very start of Formula 1 back in 1950. It is regarded as one of the ‘iconic’ tracks, alongside Silverstone, Monza and Spa-Francorchamps.
What happened last year?
Last year’s Monaco Grand Prix was round seven of the 2022 world championship. The race would take place during a fierce start to the season between home hero Charles Leclerc and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen.
The weekend would see all of Friday and Saturday as dry. However, Sunday would see the weather turn for the worse.
After having constant bad luck at every home race, Leclerc was hoping to finally lift the ‘curse’ and win in his home country. The Monegasque would go into the race on Sunday on pole position – his second consecutive pole position in Monaco.
However, as we got to race day, the conditions were severe as heavy rain would flood the streets of Monte Carlo. The drivers would go out on their formation lap. However, the rain would get heavier, forcing the drivers to go back into the pits under red flag conditions.
It would take 45 minutes for the drivers to go back out on track. The conditions improved a bit, but were still adverse. This was shown when Canadian duo Nicholas Latifi and Lance Stroll hit the barriers on the formation lap.
Despite the two scares, the race would start following the formation lap under a rolling start. All drivers were obliged to start on the wet compound tyre due to the red flag rules.
As the restart happened, drivers started to realise how bad the wet compound tyres were performance wise. This led to some drivers at the back of the field to pit early on to the intermediate tyre. However, this would come at a risk with all of the standing water out on track.
Pierre Gasly was the first driver to pit for the intermediate tyre. The Frenchman had a few close calls with the wall before finding his groove and closed significantly into the wet tyre runners at a quick pace. However, Monaco is a track that struggles for overtakes, but Gasly was able to pull off some fine moves on wet tyre runners with his grip advantage.
The issue with wet weather races
The poor performance from the wet compound tyre led to drivers pleading for a change in the design. Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen were the most vocal about the issue. Vettel would have known about the difference in the wet tyres over the years, especially after his maiden Formula 1 victory at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix, which was heavy rain throughout. The German also won the 2009 Chinese Grand Prix in adverse weather conditions.
Therefore, it has been shown that with the correct tyres, drivers can race in heavy rain conditions. However, another issue faced with the latest cars is the amount of spray produced, limiting drivers’ visibility. Enclosed wheel covers are to be trialled for the 2024 Formula 1 season to help reduce spray from the cars.
The rain would hold off, drying the track, allowing for drivers such as Carlos Sainz to switch straight from the wet tyre to the hard tyre. His teammate Charles Leclerc lost the lead of the race after the pitstops to come back out in fourth place.
Sergio Perez would go on to win the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix, with Leclerc furious at his team for the strategy that continued his horrible luck at his home grand prix.
What is expected for this year?
After last weekend’s race in Imola was cancelled due to severe floods, Formula 1 fans will be hoping for a less complicated weekend in Monaco. However, the weather forecast suggests differently. Rain is predicted to fall on all three days, making all the sessions in wet conditions, which could cause many red flags.
If the rain is constant throughout the weekend, it could lead to the race being cancelled. If that was to happen, it would be the second race week in a row to get cancelled. Last year saw the race start after 45 minutes due to the weather eventually improving.
Last year only saw Sunday have rain, making all the other sessions dry and straightforward. However, this year could make the whole weekend more complicated.
With the issues with wet tyres being “too hard and slow”, making drivers risk on the intermediates, do you think the Monaco Grand Prix will be similar to last year’s?
Feature Image Credit: Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images