Alonso’s mammoth stint and McLaren’s smart move

2010 Monaco Grand Prix analysis

Alonso made short work of the tail-enders

Alonso made short work of the tail-enders

The Monaco Grand Prix was shaped by two important developments: the speed with which Fernando Alonso passed the slower cars, and McLaren reacting to it by pitting Lewis Hamilton.

That set in motion the chain of events that shaped the race.

The start

Position change on lap 1

Position change on lap 1 (click to enlarge)

Just like last year, the driver who started second on the grid found himself powerless to defend from the third-placed man.

Last year Kimi Raikkonen lost his place to Rubens Barrichello, this year Robert Kubica was passed by Sebastian Vettel on the way to the first corner.

Barrichello gained again this year, jumping past both the Mercedes drivers, who swapped places themselves.

Jenson Button made a slow getaway, falling from eighth to 11th, possibly due to the same engine trouble that put him out shortly afterwards.

Pit stops

Pit stops

Pit stops (click to enlarge)

Fernando Alonso remarkably completed 77 laps on the same set of tyres after getting his mandatory pit stop out of the way on lap one.

The safety car at the start of the race was a gift for the Ferrari driver after starting from the pit lane.

He was still running a reasonable pace at the end of the race given than just two cars behind him was Nico Rosberg, who covered 27 fewer laps on his set of medium tyres. It’s further evidence of how good the F10 – and Alonso – is at preserving tyres.

Race interactive chart

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View race lap times interactive chart full screen

What at first looked like a risky decision for Lewis Hamilton to pit so early in fact made perfect sense as Alonso gained ground on the leaders after passing the slower cars.

Had Timo Glock or Jarno Trulli put up the kind of fight Lucas di Grassi had, we could have seen the race unfold very differently.

The same goes for Kamui Kobayashi’s retirement, without which Rosberg could have hung on without pitting for longer, trying to get enough of a gap to jump ahead of Alonso, Hamilton and Massa. Had Kobayashi kept going a couple of laps more, Rosberg could have had fourth place.

Race lap chart

Lap chart

Lap chart (click to enlarge)

The race lap chart shows on-track positions irrespective of time penalties, which is why you can see Michael Schumacher’s controversial pass on Alonso on the final lap.

2010 Monaco Grand Prix

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62 comments on Alonso’s mammoth stint and McLaren’s smart move

  1. Electrolite said on 17th May 2010, 0:02

    is it just me, or is coverage of race starts generally poor? In terms of the angle the camera is at, you cannot see what is going on whatsoever, until the commentator tells you. At Catalunya the camera was shaking about as well.

    • Sideshow bob said on 17th May 2010, 0:22

      Spain was worse than usual. It seemed like they were using an extreme telephoto lens (maybe shooting from way down the straight) and so the picture was shaking way more than normal. Plus with the telephoto you couldn’t see the cars move off the line at all.

    • qwerty_uk said on 17th May 2010, 9:07

      What we need is the rolling cameras-on-rails like they have alongside the athletics tracks and various other sporting events (but set a bit higher up). I bet they could make one that would be capable of keeping in front of the cars all the way to the first corner.

      • Platine said on 17th May 2010, 10:10

        Yeah, that would rock!!

        Or on a crane on rails, so it looks down on the leaders and tracks them down straight.

      • AlonsoWDC said on 18th May 2010, 22:26

        This has been used by FOM in the past, I recall it being used at IMS for the USGP in 2007.

      • CD said on 19th May 2010, 9:19

        I believe they are using that already in one of the exit of hairpins. I think that was in Canada.

  2. David BR said on 17th May 2010, 0:24

    After heavy remonstrations from Don Fernando at the wheel and presumably by radio, di Grassi, quickly followed by Trulli and Glock, basically let Alonso past. Why exactly? Apart from that, this race was further proof that he’s a great driver.

    • George said on 17th May 2010, 1:11

      I dont think Glock let him through, if he did it certainly wasn’t obvious.

    • Umar Farooq Khawaja said on 17th May 2010, 10:22

      Yeah, di Grassi also didn’t let Alonso through. He was fighting for position, which was fair I thought since they were on the same lap and racing for position.

      Very good recovery driver from Alonso.

      • David BR said on 17th May 2010, 18:43

        Have to see it again, but my impression was di Grassi pulled way to the side to let Alonso room to pass ‘if he was faster.’ That’s basically letting him past. His position was defendable. Same applies to Glock.

        • sasbus said on 18th May 2010, 17:42

          I guess it would all be different had it been Hamilton. Then you would be talking about bravado!

  3. Harv's said on 17th May 2010, 0:26

    why was alonso so angry when trying to pass di grassi? waving his had around like a fool. did he expect di grassi to just move over?

    i was disapointed by trulli, just let alonso through, didnt put up much of a fight, saw alonso beside him and decided to brake way before the braking zone

    • David A said on 17th May 2010, 0:33

      And then Trulli crashed into Chandhok.

    • epi said on 17th May 2010, 0:36

      With a driver that much faster than you behind you it is inevitable that he will either get past you or crash into you trying. With this in mind, it’s clever to let him past so he doesn’t hit you and so you don’t slow your own race by constantly blocking him.

      • rok said on 17th May 2010, 1:19

        Exacto… if you have ever even raced simulation game (RFactor, Race On, etc.) with others much faster behind you, you notice that they are actually ruining your run, because you have to defend your position insted of laping constant times, wich puts you in a bad position for the rest of the race.

      • Platine said on 17th May 2010, 10:01

        Couldnt disgaree more, if alonso is so good an his car so much better then go past the back markers, they were racing for position, why let him past? If you dont want to be P24 then try not to trash car before quali. In the end he did fly pas them and it was quite impressive, but he’s a dirty littl echeat anyway so why be courteous to him. Being part of a dangerous conspiarcy to fix races is OK, but racing for track position is not? get real.

        Where there’s smoke, there’s Trulli. Has he had the most race incidents per lap driven or what?!

        • Bob said on 17th May 2010, 10:56

          Why shouldn’t Glock let Alonso by? He rolled out the red carpet for Hamilton in Brazil 2008 =P

        • rok said on 17th May 2010, 16:28

          Obviously you dont get the point… In the end if you are objective, its better to let past much faster cars then hold them, risk collision, degred tires more, risk youre own mistake,… should i go on?!??!?

          • That’s all true, but Virgin got lots of TV coverage for that, meaning more money. And that’s more important than not losing few seconds in 20th place.

          • adam23 said on 18th May 2010, 0:56

            On the other hand, di Grassi has to impress the powers of F1 somehow. He hasnt got the car to deliver results or even finish races so not being intimidated by Alonso’s Ferrari and defending quite admirably in my opinion, are about the only way the guy can impress and secure a future in the sport with this car.

      • chris said on 19th May 2010, 0:43

        it just goes to show how hard it is to pass even if a car is 4 seconds a lap slower in f1 now. once lapped cars should move over but not before. if thats the case why even race if the faster car is allowed through the f1 championship might as well be decided in testing at the start of the year.
        I do think the cars or circuits need to be changed to make overtaking more possible as the race seams to be decided on saturday Q3

    • George said on 17th May 2010, 1:13

      Maybe he was practicing for when he gets the F-duct back?

      I think at the time he was complaining because he got squeezed out, but that was a really stupid place to try and pass anyway.

    • Remengo said on 17th May 2010, 12:30

      More or less like Lewis with Fisichella in Bahrein 2008….

  4. epi said on 17th May 2010, 0:40

    As much as Alonso doing 77 laps on one set of tyres is impressive, it’s a shame it’s possible. Pitstops are fun to watch and add to the entertainment of the race. I’d really like to see 3 stop strategies again, people putting on a set of tyres and then blasting round on them for 17 laps until they’re dead, not nursing them for 77.

    • rok said on 17th May 2010, 1:23

      Well, he was right there at the top as far as lap times goes. So i don’t think that there’s a problem. The problem is that he doesnt take that advantage in normaln conditions and pushes more on a normal stint.

    • bernification said on 17th May 2010, 3:45

      Absolutely epi.

      As much as low fuel qualifying shows us who has the fastest car, it’s a shame (really) that we no longer see that in the race.

      Next year, to spice up the racing, drivers should get out of the car and cahnge a belt and bag on a vacuum cleaner.
      That will add a spectacle, and spice up the positions too

      • bernification said on 17th May 2010, 3:49

        Ah, but the vacuum cleaners will be of the normally aspirated technology, non of this bagless technology. i can see where this is going.
        Keith, can you provide the FIA with a working group from your contributors?

        • Force-inducted vacuum cleaners is where it’s at. Build a mofo twin-turbo vacuum cleaner running boost levels of 5-6 bar. The competition will be to see which vacuum cleaner can pull the stewards from their hideouts and turn them into edible pulp. The winner strangely gets disqualified at the next race for harming the environment or some bs like that.

      • Geenie said on 17th May 2010, 22:18

        Na just make them change thier own tyres and the pit crew may only hand them the tools. They can bring down the costs and use cheap labour…

    • 77 laps in a race on the same tyres – that will remain the season record.

      As far as I know next year there will be tyres that won’t last so long – which would bring us 2 – 3 pit stops a race.

  5. sato113 said on 17th May 2010, 2:04

    ‘Had Kobayashi kept going a couple of laps more, Rosberg could have had fourth place.’

    sorry but I still don’t understand. Surely KOB was holding up ROS???

    • Chua said on 17th May 2010, 2:31

      No, Kobayashi was holding up the pack of Massa, Hamilton, Alonso and Schumacher.

      Rosberg was at the front of the field having not made his pit stop. He was also a little unfortunate that Webber exited the pits AHEAD of him, slowing his lap times down for a few laps (He was setting FLAPS when he had a clear track.)

      So like Keith said, if Kobayashi had continued at his pace for a few more laps, Rosberg would have comfortably jumped them all. As it turned out, he just missed out on jumping even his teammate.

  6. Harry said on 17th May 2010, 2:23

    Speaking of tyre wear…..

    Alonso running nearly the entire race on 1 set of tyres goes to show 1) how good these tyres are and 2) that the next tyre manufacturer has big shoes to fill.

    That leaves me to think…..are these tyres too good?

    You could argue that being able to do an entire race on one set of tyres could lead to processional racing. Yes Alonso passed several cars but you cant really compair Alonso and the F10 to Virgin, HRT, Lotus, et al. Once the field pitted for tyres and he got behind Hamilton, he wasnt able to come close to challenging for the position.

    Would it lead to better racing if the tyres started going off a bit quicker so you can see passing due to tyre wear, like Shumi’s last corner pass on ALonso was clearly because he had better grip. Wouldnt it be better to see these battles on track because the tryes dont last as long plus some drivers are harder on their tyres than others.

    There are some that would say that would only lead to pit stop passing, but I argue that if tyres wernt as good as they are, we might see more strategy and certainly more on track passing. If you’ve already pitted to make your manditory tyre change and the tyres start to go off with less than 5 laps, assuming your in the top 5, you almost would have to stay out if you were being chased down by a faster car.

    I think its fair to say that if we do in fact get a new tyre supplier next year, the tyres wont be as good, and I think that could add to better on track battles.

    • Guelph35 said on 17th May 2010, 4:13

      The tires are absolutely too good, as 1-stop is now the strategy at every single dry track on the calendar. The performance between tires is also too close.

      They should try bringing only the Super Soft and hard compounds to some races to see if differing strategies emerge.

      • plushpile said on 17th May 2010, 7:27

        I really can’t see the super soft/hard combination being any better than the SS/medium combination.
        They’ll still all qualify on the SS and pit 15 laps in and change to the hard for the rest of the race.

        • Robert McKay said on 17th May 2010, 12:39

          They’d be much better dropping the “must-use both compounds rule”. Then you’d either try to qualify on the softer option and run two stints, both on softs, or qualify on the harder option and not stop at all.

          Or, depending on degradation variation, you’d have some doing 2 stops (three short stints on the soft) versus some doing 1 stop (1 short-to-medium stint on softs and 1 longer stint on hards).

          But either way I think dropping that rule allows more permutations with the same tyre compounds.

          • Andrew said on 17th May 2010, 14:38

            It seems to me like the hard/medium compounds are way to good for that kind of strategy to work. Everybody would stay on the hard tires and just run the whole race as the softs don’t seem to be fast enough to gain that much track position.

    • BasCB said on 17th May 2010, 7:30

      I also think it is a shame the tyres last this good. Even though Monaco is not really hard on tyres, it would be more interesting if the difference in speed between fresh ssofts and worn mediums would get up to several seconds, having somebody try an extra set to get in front.
      But it would not happen here, to much risk of losing position, especially with all SC today.

      As far as the pass is concerned, it was a great move by Schumi, but surely Alonso being informed they would not overtake until the flag had as much to do with him being passed as his tyres had.

      • Bleu said on 17th May 2010, 10:20

        Regarding positions, I think STR should have pitted at least one of their cars during drain cover SC for supersofts. About 30 laps to go which was manageable and there was nothing to lose since they were last cars in the queue.

  7. LAK said on 17th May 2010, 2:25

    I’m a bit disappointed that there’s not much detailed info about what exactly happened to Button.. Something (“a bung”) was left in the left hand side of the car, I’m assuming it’s a stopper of some sort that was supposed to be removed so that the car can get more cool air. What a horrible and an unfortunate mistake by the team! :(

    The interesting part is that JB said [“We knew of the problem after the lap to the grid, but we thought everything was going to be okay,” he admitted](taken from ITV article)

    What I don’t understand is why did they think it would be ok to leave it.. He said: [“It looked like it was all fine. I think it would have been fine if we didn’t have the safety car, but I think that’s what did it really because you are going such slow speed you can’t get any air into the [car] to cool anything down.”](ITV article)

    Why would they think that it would be fine, it’s Monaco and the chances of a SC being deployed is very high.. Mistakes do happen unfortunately and they do cost a lot, in this case JB’s championship lead..

    Another funny thing is that there’s no detailed info on Kobayashi’s retirement, he must have stopped with no real drama..

    • KNF said on 17th May 2010, 3:44

      It would have made more sense if they sent Button in to pit during the SC, change to primes and removed the cover while they were at it.

      I wonder how the post-race review in the McLaren went, some of Button’s crew might be watching the next race from Woking instead…

      • Scalextric said on 17th May 2010, 3:57

        I agree. Big mistake. Only excuse is if they thought the engine was alright. But their telemetry was already indicating a problem. I wonder if that was a fresh engine or if it had done a couple of races. Is there anyway to find out? Speed debated whether that was the first mercedes engine failure this year.

      • bernification said on 17th May 2010, 4:08

        The bung was left in only on the lap to the grid.
        It had been removed before the start of the race, but the engine temperatures probably rose quite high whilst it was there.
        JB is postulating that had the sc not happened straight away, the engine would have been able to recover.

    • BasCB said on 17th May 2010, 7:32

      I think Ted Kravitz or Brundel said, that he informed them of it after Jenson drove off. I am pretty sure they would have taken it out if they would have known of it on the grid.

    • Mark Hitchcock said on 17th May 2010, 10:59

      Kobayashi had a gear-shift problem.
      http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/83672

      Not very dramatic but it would have been nice for the director to show us!

  8. LAK said on 17th May 2010, 2:28

    Footage of Button retiring:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hy_Gp7Mvchk

  9. mclarenfan219 said on 17th May 2010, 5:17

    on lap 29 karun has got a 5 sec lead over trulli n on lap 70 the lead is around 0.5 secs…can sumbody explain to me why a car which is around a sec a lap slower than the lotus could hold on for so long..was it an example of karun’s driving skills or was it sumthing else??

  10. Nice charts mayte!
    And well I don’t know how come Hamilton, and McLaren in particular have languished so far off the pace.
    Great weekend for Lotus though :)

    • McLaren’s car isn’t particularly good in qualifying, and in dry conditions in general it’s slower than Red Bull and Ferrari. In Australia and China they flattered to deceive as their car is excellent in the wet.

      • DaveW said on 17th May 2010, 14:51

        Like in Barcelona, when Hamilton was faster than everyone bar Webber and took the fastest race lap by half a second? If/when McLaren solve their qualifying issues they will be the biggest threat to RB.

  11. Nixon said on 17th May 2010, 14:19

    Thanks Kieth for the info, now i know why Alonso wasn’t pushing to get to Hamilton.

    • Todfod said on 17th May 2010, 19:32

      Coz he had to make his tyres last the entire race. He didnt want to push too hard and be forced into another pitstop for new tyres

  12. DaveW said on 17th May 2010, 14:44

    If the tires remain this durable I expect someone in the midfield to attempt to qualify on the harder tire and then go without stopping. Force India usually occupies the last Q3 slot or so, so I think they should go for it.

    Regarding Button, I think the team made two mistakes. The intern who left the bung is is the goat of the day, but if they understand their engines, they should have brought Button in directly during the first period and given him some fans and dry ice. As it turned out, once that SC came on on lap one, going to the back of the line and changing tires was the best strategy for him.

    • Patrickl said on 17th May 2010, 16:35

      There is a mandatory pitstop (when it’s dry).

      • DaveW said on 17th May 2010, 17:49

        Oh, right. There is that.

        But hold on.
        Sporting regs 25.4(e)–Unless he has used intermediate or wet-weather tyres during the race, each driver must use at least one set of each specification of dry-weather tyres during the race.

        How about if you run until the last lap, stop, and then roll across the line on your new tires? I know this is not a novel issue, but it is at least as textually accurate as Brawn’s 40.13 reinterpretation.

        • macahan said on 17th May 2010, 21:01

          can you pass the finish line while in the pits? If so that is an interesting interpretation you have there for any team whoms pit box is before the finish line.
          Lap count and lap time is based on when they pass the pit exit line? No? So would that be the finish line if your entering the pits on the last lap? Is that even legal to enter the pit on the last lap and consider finished since no matter what if you can make it to your box you can make it past the line.

        • Schumacher served a stop’n’go in the last lap once :)

  13. P. Rippon said on 17th May 2010, 23:05

    I wonder how much the long wheelbase of the Mclaren affected the Monaco times, it looked like a truck around the hairpin compared with the Renault!
    I only get to see GP’s via speedvision & Bob Varsa really gets on your nerves still harping on about Hamilton being hard on the tyres & then about his radio conversation as an “argument”! I think any of the drivers would have questioned what was wrong if they were told to watch the brakes before half distance!
    Kubica really drove a blinder though & Ferrari must surely be waving the cheque book!

  14. manatcna said on 17th May 2010, 23:54

    Why not have a tyre capable of running the whole race, plus tyres for wet periods – fewer pit stops for all the purists.

  15. I have been looking for content such as this for my research assignment I’m working on. Thanks very much.

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