After five tumultuous rounds, Formula 1 heads to Monaco for one of the highlights of the racing calendar. The 2012 season has seen five drivers from as many constructors win the first five races, and with the Lotus duo of Raikkonen and Grojean looking strong, will we see a sixth constructor secure a win this weekend?
2012 has been a season to expect the unexpected. Spanish Grand Prix winner Pastor Maldonado was a 501.00 odds outsider at the start of the race weekend. Even with his start from pole position on Sunday the Venezuelan was a 12.00 odds underdog to win. The result was heavily influenced by Hamilton’s grid penalty from 1st to 24th, but it just goes to show how unpredictable this season has been.
2012 Race Results
Below are the race winners for the 2012 season to date.
Australia (18/03/2012) – Jenson Button – McLaren
Malaysia (25/03/2012) – Fernando Alonso – Ferrari
China (15/04/2012) – Nico Rosberg – Mercedes
Bahrain (22/04/2012) – Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull
Spain (13/05/2012) – Pastor Maldonado – Williams
Driver and Constructor standings
As you would expect the driver and constructor standings are still very open. Vettel and Alonso top the driver standings with a long list of drivers within striking distance. It appears that consistency will be the key to winning this year’s title. Contrast these standings to this stage last year when Vettel led the Championship by 41 points over Hamilton.
1 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 61
2 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 61
3 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 53
4 Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus-Renault) 49
5 Mark Webber (Red Bull) 48
6 Jenson Button (McLaren) 45
7 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 41
8 Romain Grosjean (Lotus-Renault) 35
9 Pastor Maldonado (Williams) 29
10 Sergio Perez (Sauber) 22
In the constructor standings Red Bull hold a small lead over McLaren. Lotus are in the ascendancy over Ferrari, largely due to Massa’s poor start to the season. The Brazilian has picked up just 2 points to his teammate’s 61 so far this year.
1 Red Bull Racing-Renault 109
2 McLaren-Mercedes 98
3 Lotus-Renault 84
4 Ferrari 63
5 Mercedes 43
6 Williams-Renault 43
7 Sauber-Ferrari 41
8 Force India-Mercedes 18
9 STR-Ferrari 6
Monaco Circuit History
The Circuit de Monaco has hosted Grand Prix racing since 1929. It is a street circuit that features the streets of Monte Carlo and the harbour of the principality of Monaco. The track features numerous elevation changes, tight corners and a tunnel under the Fairmont Hotel. It is also very narrow which makes it one of the toughest tracks on the calendar. The circuit demands consistently high levels of concentration from the drivers. It is also known for being incredibly difficult to overtake on, so qualifying and pit strategies are of particular importance. The Monaco Grand Prix places more emphasis on driver skill relative to car performance, compared to other circuits.
Below are the most recent Monaco Grand Prix results:
– Pole position: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
– Winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
– Pole position: Mark Webber (Red Bull)
– Winner: Mark Webber (Red Bull)
– Pole position: Jenson Button (Brawn-Mercedes)
– Winner: Jenson Button (Brawn-Mercedes)
Vettel qualified on pole, 0.44 seconds ahead of Button. Webber qualified 3rd with Alonso 4th. On race day Vettel kept his lead into the first corner, while Alonso managed to overtake a slow starting Webber. Vettel built up a handy lead but lost time in the pits. He was also fitted with the wrong tyre compound due to a radio communication error. A safety car was brought out as a result of Massa crashing in the tunnel in an incident with Hamilton. At the same time Schumacher retired in the entrance to the pit lane. Vettel led the race after the safety car but was on old tyres and under pressure from Alonso and Button. There was then a crash involving Hamilton, Sutil, Alguersuari and Petrov on lap 72 of 78. This brought out the safety car again and the race was red flagged with the cars stopping on the grid. On the grid teams were permitted to change tyres and work on the cars, which benefited Vettel and Alonso who had heavily used tyres. It also assisted Hamilton who had sustained rear wing damage in the four-car crash. The cars restarted the race under the safety car, which went in at the end of lap 73. There was then another race incident involving Hamilton, this time with Maldonado, who had to retire from the race as a result. Vettel went on to win the race with Alonso taking 2nd and Button 3rd.
Hamilton was criticised by the press for his involvement in so many incidents, two of which had resulted in race penalties: a drive-through penalty for the incident with Massa, and a 20-second post-race penalty for the incident with Maldonado.
Impressions from the 2012 season thus far, plus other titbits
Seven of the twenty-four starters in this year’s race have won it before: Vettel (2011), Webber (2010), Button (2009), Hamilton (2008), Alonso (2006-07), Raikkonen (2005) and Schumacher (1994-95, 1997, 1999, 2001).
Ferrari are demanding improvement from Felipe Massa. He has scored just 2 points this season to his teammate’s 61 and rumours are circulating that he will be replaced sooner rather than later.
Despite blaming Bruno Senna for their crash in Spain, Michael Schumacher was deemed to be at fault by race stewards. He has received a five-place grid penalty for Monaco.
Williams will be ready for the race despite the disruption caused by the pit fire after the race in Spain. Williams chief engineer Mark Gillan said preparations had been “hampered”, but the fire’s impact has been “mitigated by a Herculean effort by the factory and suppliers to restock both the damaged equipment and car parts.”
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director, has said “Monaco is a highlight of the season and a place where our super-soft and soft tyres have provided plenty of entertainment in the past. With the wear rate being so low in Monaco, the drivers will be able to push at their hardest from start to finish.”
Monaco Grand Prix Preview
With five winners from the first five races it’s hard to make any firm predictions. Hamilton looked to be comfortably the fastest in Barcelona. His race was undone by the grid penalty for running out of fuel during qualifying but he still managed to finish 8th from 24th on the grid. He will be optimistic about his chances this weekend.
Lotus-Renault have been competitive for most of the season so pay close attention to Raikkonen and Grojean. Their race in Barcelona was undone by poor tyre strategy rather than race pace, so they too will fancy their chances.
Monaco Grand Prix Betting
Below are the latest race odds (subject to change):
As always, wait until the practice session results before wagering on qualifying. Even if you see an unlikely candidate top the timesheets in practice, don’t rule out his chances for qualifying and for the race. An astute punter would have made a small fortune by backing Maldonado in Barcelona.
I recommend you hold off from racing betting until you’ve seen the qualifying results. The Monaco Grand Prix will be heavily determined by grid position. Due to difficulties in overtaking there is a strong correlation between winning pole position and winning the race. In the last ten years the driver on pole position has gone on to win the race on seven occasions. In that time no driver has won the race from outside the top three on the grid. The pole winner has been on the final podium in nine of the ten races, with Montoya’s retirement due to an engine failure the only exception.
Keep an eye on Alonso if he qualifies in the top three. He has been a fast starter this season and could take the race lead into the first corner.