In the Driver's Seat: Big question not how Leclerc lost in Monaco, but if GP survives

The sudden arrival of heavy rain prompted a delay to the start, then created the usual headaches of tyre choice. PHOTO: AFP
New: Gift this subscriber-only story to your friends and family

One of the biggest questions in Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix was how on earth Ferrari managed to lose? On a track where overtaking is almost impossible and the last 20 races won 12 times from pole position, how did they finish only second and fourth as the Red Bulls they dominated in qualifying finished first and third? How, yet again, did they let down their local hero Charles Leclerc, the fastest man round Prince Albert's streets?

The answers lay in the sudden arrival of heavy rain which prompted a delay to the start, then created the usual headaches of tyre choice. It transpired that those who pitted early to switch from full wet Pirelli tyres to intermediates lost out to those who stayed out longer and gained precious track position thanks to the super-fast rate at which conditions improved. Thus Ferrari (and Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton) pitted Leclerc too soon, whereas Red Bull got it just right, switching Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen to intermediates too, but then quickly bringing them in for hard-compound slicks. Ferrari nearly corrected themselves with Leclerc, and so nearly got it right with Carlos Sainz. They kept the Spaniard out on wets, but as they deteriorated he lost time getting back to the pits, compromising Ferrari's plan to double stack their men as Leclerc was delayed behind him while they both received slicks and was passed by Verstappen. Then Sainz was crucially delayed during his out lap by backmarker Nicholas Latifi, and that combination of factors put Perez into the lead from Sainz, Verstappen and Leclerc.

Already a subscriber? 

Read the full story and more at $9.90/month

Get exclusive reports and insights with more than 500 subscriber-only articles every month

Unlock these benefits

  • All subscriber-only content on ST app and

  • Easy access any time via ST app on 1 mobile device

  • E-paper with 2-week archive so you won't miss out on content that matters to you

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.