The Monaco Grand Prix faced a growing barrage of criticism on Monday after Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton described it as “probably the most boring race ever”. Daniel Ricciardo’s winning performance on Sunday in his power-reduced Red Bull may have boosted his value in the drivers’ market and given him an outside tilt at the title, but the dull procession behind him was widely condemned as a spectacle. Two-time world champion Alonso, twice a winner on the narrow street circuit in the Mediterranean principality, was not the first or only driver to complain after a contest lacking incident and excitement.
It was the first Monaco race without the deployment of a safety car since 2009. That Ricciardo could win from pole position in a car that had had its power reduced by 25 percent confirmed both his maturing talent and the enforced tedious mediocrity of the racing. Alonso, of McLaren, was only echoing what championship leader and defending champion Hamilton had said after finishing third behind Ricciardo and fellow four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.
“Extremely boring. I mean, this is probably the most boring race ever,” said Alonso. “Without a safety car, without yellow flags, I think the sport needs to think a little bit about the show because this is very disappointing. So I think we probably need to give something to the fans at the end of the race just to pay the ticket back a little. I think it is Monaco -– the way it is. It think it is quite boring. We just start in our qualifying position and we run to the flag in that position.”
Finn Kimi Raikkonen, in the second Ferrari, started and finished fourth. “Qualifying decides everthing here,” he said. “Not a lot happens. Everyone drives around behind each other and whoever is in front dictates the speed.” Hamilton had set the tone among the senior drivers when he said: “The tyres were not great, but we were all driving so slow… it was not an attacking race — we were just cruising. It was not racing. I will be shocked if anyone was awake at home while it was on, because I would have been asleep on the couch.” The predictability of the Monaco race is normally forgiven if there is some incident to enliven the glamorised choreography of what is a largely corporate festival, but this year’s contest plumbed new depths of mediocrity.
It has presented F1’s new American owners Liberty Media with a major problem as they grapple with the task of brightening up the show without losing its traditional values. Hamilton suggested looking over the Atlantic for inspiration to create a closer race: “You look at NASCAR, they put in a bunch of safety cars for no reason at all to bunch the pack up. There’s like 100 yellow flags in the race to bring them all together.”
The main problem, this time, appeared to be the new “hyper-soft” Pirelli tyres.They produced stunning one lap speed, but lacked durability and, as a result, in a one-stop race on a tight street track where overtaking is virtually impossible, drivers were instructed to be conservative and make their alternative “ultra-soft” tyres last the distance: “We must decide what we want… If they want to push, we must produce more consistent tyres, less sensitive to over-heating,” Pirelli racing chief Mario Isola said – “But if we go softer, it is the other way and there is overheating and then they have to cruise.”