After all the kerfuffle in Monaco over the weekend and all the manufactured talk over the track’s place in the calendar, it felt like fate itself was putting political pressure on the organiser’s to give the public a classic track. Sergio Perez’s win was certainly welcome among the community, but towards the rear of the pack there were more than a few stinkers on Sunday’s race that deserve our ire.
A year after being lapped by his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo earns Reject of the Race for another miserable performance in the principality.
Indeed, last year’s Monaco Grand Prix must go down as perhaps the worst in the Australian’s Formula 1 career. Ever since he moved to McLaren he has been inexplicably slow, with only the briefest of glimpses of pace to be near his young teammate Lando Norris. The most shameful moment, during a period of “building” within the McLaren team, was when Norris took a fantastic podium, lapping Daniel in the process with the otherwise dreadful TV direction showing us every angle of the event.
Since then, there have been moments for Daniel in getting the hang of his machinery. They have, however, been rare, such as the now truly outrageous weekend he had in Monza last year, where he contended for the sprint win and would probably have won even without the title contenders taking each other out.
On Friday, Ricciardo hit the barriers in FP2. Then in qualifying, he was on the cusp in Q1, and around 0.7 seconds behind his teammate in Q2 and thoroughly out. While Norris nearly stole one of the front rows before Q3’s red flag blunders, Ricciardo started the race in 14th and ended it 13th. His greatest highlights, if he was ever on screen, were being overtaken by Pierre Gasly in the latter’s spirited rise through the ranks.
A reader might ask, “but Jeremy, how does this alone make Daniel worthy of the ROTR award?” The reason is that, for the first time, those in charge of McLaren are finally and publicly discussing his “future” within the team, if indeed there is one remotely in sight. Although the team are all smiles in the public arena, this kind of talk by the likes of Zak Brown rightfully starts rumours about Daniel’s now surely inevitable exit from McLaren. What a fall from grace, indeed. For his absolute inability to make any progress within the team in a whole year, we therefore award Daniel Ricciardo Reject of the Race at Monaco.
There were many other candidates who attempted to steal the award from the Australian. Ferrari, in their best attempts to lose a race, turned a 1-3 to a 2-4, with the team leader Charles Leclerc in fourth rather than on the podium. While he was very publicly angry at what he saw as an incorrect pit strategy, he must be thanking his lucky stars that he has finally finished his home race! In truth, Ferrari were simply out-paced and out-strategised by Red Bull, and the pendulum has long since swung away from the Italians.
The other top candidate was the pet peeve of this very community: race control. Comparisons were rightly made to last year’s Belgian “Grand Prix” when the race was stop-started multiple times, with a total lack of communication and clear safe instructions being given to the teams to prepare for the changing conditions. Whether or not one agrees with their decisions, the criticism was directed at the lack of communication presented to the teams and drivers, and just how last-minute it all felt. It seems that Michael Masi was by far from the only root cause of race control’s problems.
Finally, last year’s backmarker duo Williams and Haas were more than keen to get themselves another honourable mention for this award. The former were appallingly slow, with Albon’s performances earlier this year quickly fading from memory. The British-Thai driver’s qualifying heroics notwithstanding, it was a race of anonymity at the rear yet again for a team that seemed they might have turned a corner, albeit a corner at the old Valencia street circuit. Nicholas Latifi, a driver gunning hard for the year-end awards, touched the barriers behind the safety car (as did Lance Stroll), and his only other on-screen appearance was in being the decisive factor in dropping the Ferrari a place in the order!
The exact opposite of anonymity was in the form of Mick Schumacher’s dramatic crash. Despite the rear of the Haas being severed from the rest of the car, Mick was in actuality perfectly safe and healthy, although whether one can say the same about Haas’s 2022 budget is another question. Schumacher has a horrible habit of destroying chassis and costing his team millions of dollars in repairs. While not rejectful in himself this weekend, Mick’s teammate Kevin Magnussen retired off-screen and was never seen again. Neither car finished the race, which in this day and age of ultrareliabiity, cannot go unmentioned for ROTR candidacy.
Nobody wins our Infinite Improbability Drive of the Race Award in Monaco!
Indeed, for what is Infinitely Improbable these days? Our community has voiced their opinion to have the award either nullified or changed. In truth, aside from some strong drives by Perez, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Gasly, what can one say that was absolutely unexpected or positively surprising in Monaco? Especially at a track whereby overtaking is so difficult and processional driving is inbuilt into the circuit.
Sergio Perez deserves a lot of praise for his drive to victory, especially under the amount of pressure he faced in the closing stages when Sainz and co caught up to him. He kept his cool and won when Verstappen was unable to: exactly what a good #2 should do. In fact, his efforts were so appreciated by Red Bull that he has just bagged a two-year contract extension with Milton Keynes. Sainz, who finished just behind the Mexican, for once finished ahead of his teammate Leclerc after some well-timed calls in the changing conditions.
A final mention for Gasly, who, while he didn’t score points, did at least provide one or two moments of on-track excitement with overtakes on Ricciardo and Zhou Guanyu. In a race with slim pickings, it was something positive to latch onto.
|REJECT OF THE RACE||INFINITE IMPROBABILITY DRIVE OF THE RACE|
|Daniel Ricciardo||10 (43%)||Nobody||13 (57%)|
|Race Control||8 (35%)||Sergio Perez||7 (30%)|
|Haas||5 (22%)||Pierre Gasly||3 (13%)|
|Number of votes: 23||Number of votes: 23|
Disclaimer: The ROTR and IIDOTR awards are purely for fun purposes.
The IIDOTR is a democratically-decided award, based on the assumption that, at any moment in time, there is a non-zero probability that even the slowest, most inexperienced and least reliable of underdogs might win the race. That under every rock, there might be a gold nugget. This is the award for that first podium that we all celebrate, for the overtake no-one was expecting, for the underdog’s first win. This is the award, in short, for the driver or team that makes you go “Woah! Where did THAT come from?!”.
The ROTR is a medal of dishonour that celebrates the most noteworthy failure of a Grand Prix weekend, based on expectations heading into the weekend and general performance. That one brainfade, the silliest mistake or the most patent nonsense going on, all that is what being the ROTR is all about.