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Monaco GP: Does F1’s Jewel in the Crown need to make changes to improve racing

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For the first time in F1 history, the top 10 drivers at the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday started where they finished.

A dramatic first lap saw Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen tangle at high speed, collecting the other Haas of Nico Hulkenberg as debris scattered the track and caused a red flag.

During the race suspension, everyone changed tyres, so there was no need to pit again as two tyre compounds had been used by the drivers.

Carlos Sainz was restored to his starting position for the race restart after suffering a puncture on the original start when making contact with Oscar Piastri, an accident which dropped him to the back.

And there were no overtakes in the top 10 for the entire 77 laps of the Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc won his home race from Piastri, Sainz and Lando Norris, with George Russell holding off Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton to complete the top seven.

Verstappen and Hamilton did pit in the final 30 laps for fresh tyres but neither driver was able to gain a position.

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Max Verstappen says Red Bull’s strategy got ruined after the red flag and turned into a ‘boring’ Monaco GP.

“We just finished where we started. The strategy got ruined in the red flag,” Verstappen told Sky Sports F1.

“From Lap One on the restart it was driving four seconds off the pace and chill. No workout whatsoever. Just really, really boring.”

Have F1’s cars outgrown Monaco?

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Highlights of the Monaco Grand Prix.

There are very few spots to make an overtake in an F1 car at Monaco, and even then you need to get your elbows out, or hope the driver you are racing sees you coming.

Since 2017, F1 cars have been two metres wide and around 5.5 metres long, so driving one at high speeds on a narrow track is hard enough when you are driving by yourself, never mind trying to make an overtake.

“I think it’s something we should collectively have a look at. It’s not racing as such when you’re just driving around three or four seconds off the pace because the other car hasn’t got any chance of overtaking,” said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.

“Monaco is such a great place to come racing but the cars are so big now, we just need to look at whether we can do something that introduces an overtaking area or at least the potential of an overtake.

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A look back on several near-misses in the tunnel of the Monaco Grand Prix.

“I think it’s something collectively that F1 should look at because it’s such a great place, there’s so much history here, but everything evolves and I think the cars are so big now if you compare them to cars of 10 years ago, they are almost twice the size. So it’s something, collectively as a sport with the promoter, [for us to ] look at how do we just introduce an overtaking opportunity.”

In the last 30 years, the highest number of overtakes at the Monaco Grand Prix was 23 in 1997, but that was a wet race. The most overtakes in a dry race was 17 in 2006, with 16 overtakes at the 2011 and 2013 races.

In 2003 and 2021, there were zero on-track overtakes, so it’s not a new issue for F1, even when cars were slightly smaller in the past.

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Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz reflects on all the big talking points from the Monaco Grand Prix.

“I think Monaco as an event is spectacular but the racing has been a bit boring forever, whether the cars were small or big,” said Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

“I’ve said it before, maybe there’s something on the layout we can do. But it needs the rain or massive strategy offsets. We want to come here still. Everything around it makes it so special.”

Hamilton suggests special Monaco tyres

Even without the red flag, Monaco is always a guaranteed one-stop race due to the relatively low tyre degradation and difficulty of overtaking, even with fresh rubber.

When Pirelli returned to F1 in 2011, the Monaco race that year featured different strategy options with the top three drivers on one, two and three-stop strategies due to the high tyre wear.

Over the last decade though, the simple strategy has been to make just one pit stop, which is another reason for the lack of action.

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Lewis Hamilton says that there are encouraging signs for Mercedes as upgrades keep coming after a positive result in Monaco.

“Monaco continues to be… it’s Monaco, it’s not really changed much. The cars are getting bigger, you can’t really overtake without a huge risk of colliding,” said Hamilton.

“I wish we had more bigger roads and the track could be wider but I don’t think that’s ever going to be the case in Monaco because it’s just a small place and the race continues to be pretty much the same.

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Lance Stroll is on the charge after switching to the softs, passing Zhou Guanyu
in the tunnel and then going up the inside of Logan Sargeant on the exit of Turn One.

“I would say maybe having special tyres for this race, so you have more pit stops, would create more variability. Whether or not we have Sprint weekends, they can definitely come out with a specific weekend.

“This particular weekend, I think they should come up with some new formula for it rather than just do the same. That’s just my opinion.”

Sainz: Nothing beats Monaco

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Ferrari continue their celebrations by jumping in the harbour after their victory in the Monaco Grand Prix.

Monaco is one of only four tracks which were on the original 1950 F1 World Championship calendar – Silverstone, Monza and Spa-Francorchamps being the others – and, apart from the cancelled 2020 race, it has featured on the schedule every year since 1955.

Ferrari’s Sainz has been on the podium in three of the last four Monaco Grands Prix and defended the event, but did concede track organisers should look into changing the layout to create a better overtaking spot.

“I’m sorry for the other ones but no one I think beats Monaco and no one ever will. The only thing that they beat in Monaco is the show on race day, which in Monaco is a bit boring sometimes,” said Sainz.

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Valtteri Bottas finds the gap and overtakes Logan Sargeant in Monaco.

“If there’s an opportunity to create an overtaking spot around Monaco, have a look at the city, have a look at the layout, and make an effort to make that happen, because it would make Monaco an even better track.

“It would leave us all still waiting for Sunday. Knowing that Monaco is the best and will always be the best in terms of the glamour side of things, I wouldn’t underestimate changes that Imola, Monaco, these kind of circuits can do for the future.”

Formula 1 leaves Europe for the final time before the summer break as the championship moves on to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix. Watch every session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve from June 7-9 live on Sky Sports F1, with Sunday’s race at 7pm. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime