Motorsport

Motorsport Monday: Duncraig Dan in Monaco, Supercars at Winton and the Indianapolis 500

(Still: Formula One/FOM)

“Who passed away?”

“Niki Lauda.”

“NIKI WHO?”

“NIKI LAUDA!”

“NIKI WHO!”

The Monaco Grand Prix

The fabled streets of Monaco, where 30% of the population is worth at least seven figures, and there’s a street circuit that fails every modern safety standard.

Of course, Daniel was the defending winner of the Monaco Grand Prix, and this year was a special one, marking 60 years since Sir Jack Brabham won his maiden Grand Prix on the streets of Monte Carlo.

But none of that really mattered, because the sport lost a true legend this week, and someone who won twice at Monaco- Niki Lauda.

Every team carried their own tribute- From the red caps on the grid, to Mercedes painting their halo red, to Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel changing their helmet designs to match Lauda’s red helmet.

Niki Lauda- The Elderly Fan.

This is not fake.

Qualifying

As is tradition with Monaco, 95% of the finishing positions for the race are decided on Sunday, with 55/65 ‘modern’ winners of the race starting from the Top 3 on the grid.

So, with the Top 17 drivers separated by barely a second during Q1, Ferrari decided to show their mastery of strategy, by leaving Sebastian Vettel and hometown hero Charles LeClerc sitting in the garage when they were right on the bubble right until the end.

The end result- The hilarious situation where Vettel’s final lap knocked LeClerc out of Qualifying, and saw him start from 17th, effectively a death sentence for his chances of winning.

Prince Rainier wouldn’t have stood for a performance like that.

Duncraig Dan made it into Q3 for the second race in succession, and also beat Nico Hulkenberg in Qualifying for the fifth weekend running.

Ultimately, it was the “Same Old Crap, Different Week”, Bottas looked to have pole after posting a 1 minute 10, but he got blinded yet again by a ridiculous lap from Lewis Hamilton to beat him to the punch- 1.10.166, and edging ever closer to the first sub-70 second lap of Monaco.

Verstappen started 3rd, with Vettel starting from 4th, and after Gasly was penalised for impeding Grosjean, Dan was promoted to P6- His best starting position for Renault!

How I feel watching Hawthorn

The Race

I also didn’t mention this prior to now, but this was Kimi Raikkonen’s 300th entry in Formula One, joining Barrichello, Alonso, Button and Michael Schuamcher in the exclusive club.

He didn’t do much in the end- Finishing a lap down in 17th.

With the threat of rain around, and was pretty much an orderly line- Hamilton led from Bottas, Verstappen and Vettel, while Dan jumped Kevin Magnussen on the run to Beau Rivage, and held position.

Within 6 laps, Dan had fallen 12 seconds behind Vettel in 4th, and he’d formed what was once known as a ‘Trulli Train’ behind him, and he was losing pace at a rate of 2 seconds per lap in an effort to manage the tyres.

At any other track besides Monaco, and he’d have been dropped like a stone.

Despite never running in the points, Charles LeClerc did what few drivers did- Make the race interesting.

He fired up the inside of Grosjean at La Rascasse on Lap 8, and then a lap later, fired up the inside of Nico Hulkenberg, hit the barrier, which caused a right-rear puncture, which badly damaged the floor, and brought out the Safety Car.

This is when things got hugely exciting- Hamilton stopped, which meant Bottas was double stack victim, and Verstappen was released into the path of Bottas, and did grab 2nd place, but it left the stewards with an easy decision- A slap on the wrist 5 second time penalty, allowing him to still have a major say in the outcome of the race.

Still: FOM

Mercedes then pitted Bottas on the next lap to switch him onto the hard tyres and wipe out any puncture concerns, and he rejoined in 4th, since the leaders were all an age ahead, thanks to Dan.

In the meantime, Ricciardo and Magnussen both pitted, and dropped down to 13th and 14th behind those who didn’t pit, and yep, giving up track position during a Monaco Grand Prix has always worked out well.

Ricciardo ended up being stuck behind Norris, Stroll & Raikkonen for an eternity, as drivers he was comfortably ahead of (Like Sainz, Kvyatt and Albon) pitted and rejoined ahead of the Renault.

An awful set a strategists to compliment an awful car.

Raikkonen finally pitted on Lap 48, promoting Ricciardo to 11th and 20 seconds behind Lando Norris in the McLaren, who then pitted, emerged behind, promoting Ricciardo to 10th, and leaving him pissing himself laughing, as Norris now found himself stuck behind a slower car.

Out in front, Hamilton was now having a cry about his front left tyre being absolutely destroyed, and how he wouldn’t make it to the end, which carried on a good 4 or 5 times over the next 20 laps.

‘Bono’ (Peter Bonnington) his engineer should’ve simply pointed out that it was Monaco, and if a driver can’t pass someone missing their turbo unit (Dan last year), they sure as heck won’t pass someone on a 68-Lap-old tyre set.

But, give credit to Max, he did try to pass Hamilton on Lap 76, but ended up banging wheels, sending Hamilton straight ahead, and keeping the status quo.

Further back, Grosjean got a 5 second penalty for crossing over the pit line as he re-emerged, which ended up proving crucial, as Dan was quickly reeling in the 30+ second gap he was up against with 20 laps to go.

Ultimately, Hamilton and Mercedes won it for Niki, Vettel and Bottas got bumped up to the podium places, and Verstappen ultimately sacrificed himself to end the Mercedes 1-2 streak.

But good news for us, because Dan managed to finish 4.8 seconds behind Grosjean, bumping him up to 9th and giving him a lazy 2 points.

Twitter: Formula One

It was only fitting that someone in Yellow & Black finished in 9th.


Supercars: Winton Supersprint

Saturday

Chas Mostert became one of the few drivers to beat the Shell Mustangs in qualifying, starting on pole from Fabian Coulthard and the Erebus of David Reynolds, with Scott McLaughlin in 5th.

The start of the race was thrown into chaos, as McLaughlin had a blinder, and was up fighting for the lead alongside Coulthard, but they would stun everyone and break the golden rule of motorsport at Turn 5- Don’t make contact with your teammate.

Coulthard sent McLaughlin spearing into the infield, a situation that Scotty took complete advantage of, using the wet grass to cut a quarter of the circuit, re-entering in the lead, although he backed off to allow Dave Reynolds and James Courtney through.

Coulthard copped a 15 second penalty for the incident, but Scotty managed to avoid punishment for one of the more blatant cases of gaining an advantage, something that pricked a few ears in the paddock.

The reason being is that the Stewards instructed drivers that if they go off at Turn 5, to re-join before the Turn 9 flag-post.

Twitter: Scott McLaughlin

Based on that video, Scotty did re-join at Turn 8, which is why it was ‘fair game’.

Reynolds would later cop his own 5-second punishment for sending Courtney wide to grab the lead, and that was pretty much the rest of the race- People spearing each other wide, and Craig Baird slapping out punishments willy-nilly.

Nevertheless, McLaughlin beat home Mostert to record his 9th win in 2019- The exact same as he managed last season to win the title, and it also extended his championship lead to 232 points.

Roger Penske was watching the race back in the US and A, and sent a gentle email reminding the Kiwis not to hit each other, which thankfully didn’t end in a deportation threat.

Sunday

After the chaos of Saturday, Sunday was back to a much more comforting kind of normal- McLaughlin on pole with a lap record and a whopper half-second margin, with Coulthard alongside him, and daylight back in 3rd.

Minus Coulthard & McLaughlin making contact, it was pretty much the same as yesterday- The major highlights being cars getting tapped off.

A Safety Car with 9 laps to go, caused by Will Davison parking it at Turn 5, wiped out McLaughlin’s 8 second lead to Coulthard, but on the restart, it was still the same as usual, McLaughlin winning from Coulthard, with Jamie Whincup sliding back into the podium.

But, as the events some 14 hours later would prove, sweeping yet another round of the Supercars Championship wasn’t Roger Penske’s biggest achievement this weekend.

The Indianapolis 500

The fabled Brickyard, where Team Penske’s Queensland native Will Power capped off one of the best days in the history of Australian motorsport last year- Daniel Ricciardo brought home the Monaco Grand Prix, and then Will became the first Australian to win the storied race and smash down that milk.

Qualifying for the race was last weekend, and Power started from 6th, and Lap 68, while running in 2nd, Power came into the pits, and he drove over an air gun hose and car brushed one of his fueling crew.

The stop was reviewed by the officials, who came down hard and sent Power to the rear on lap 79, for violating a rule about “Contact with personnel or hitting equipment and causing it to contact personnel”.

Ultimately, he spent the next 100 laps mowing down the entire field, and from the wreck, he finished in 5th, increasing the drought of repeat Indy winners to 17 years- The last driver to win back-to-back Indy 500s is the Brazilian HΓ©lio Castroneves in 2001-02.

The race was ultimately won from Pole by Power’s Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud, the first Frenchman to win the race since Rene Thomas in 1914, and he beat home Alex Rossi in a thrilling finish, after being passed by Rossi with 3 laps to go.

It also went completely unreported that there was another Australian in the field- James Davison, the cousin of Will & Alex Davison, and also a grandson of Lex Davison.

He finished in 12th, his best effort in 5 appearances at the Brickyard.

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