The post Monaco headlines roared of the miscalculated Mercedes stop under safety car that cost Lewis Hamilton what looked certain to be a dominant victory.
The stats showed Nico Rosberg matching Graham Hill, Alain Prost & Ayrton Senna as the only drivers to win at the Principality three years in a row.
But below the surface, Monaco showcased a new generation of talent that’s bursting into life.
Felipe Nasr brought the unfancied Sauber C34 home in 9th place and so far this season has proven himself to be more than just a pay driver. Lost among the noise of court cases and usurped drivers it seems Sauber have unearthed a gem in Nasr.
Fresh from out qualifying their senior team rivals in Spain, the Toro Rosso pairing of Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen continued to be mightily impressive, for very different reasons. Sainz, starting from pit lane having failed to stop at the weighbridge in qualifying, drove a mature race to bring home his machine in the points.
Max? Well…. Max attacked.
Contact with the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado certainly caught the attention, and cost the Toro Rosso driver his front endplate, but it was his recovery after losing twenty seven seconds to a right rear problem during his pitstop which brightened up what was threatening to be an otherwise dull race.
Running in 8th until the stop, Max re-emerged out behind his team mate, but quickly despatched Sainz thanks to the much quicker Super Softs. He then set about using the cover of being lapped by Vettel to attack those ahead. The unsuspecting Bottas was outmuscled as he attempted to let Vettel through, but then Verstappen made his biggest mistake (No not the massive shunt) he informed his team over the radio of his plan to tuck in behind Vettel. Great information for the viewers. Even better for Lotus, and when Vettel arrived at Grosjean the Frenchman made sure that the Toro Rosso didn’t follow the Ferrari through.
Undeterred the Dutch youngster continued to put Grosjean under pressure but when the Lotus man went defensive at St Devote the rapidly approaching Toro Rosso took a short flight to the barriers. Both blamed each other and the resulting safety car turned Hamilton’s dream race into an utter nightmare. Either way. Max was out.
Another driver who was quick but erratic in his debut season was Felipe Massa. He didn’t recommend Verstappen take next season off to test, which certainly helped Massa, and in parts he sounds like he’s using the occasion to remind everyone that, amid the influx of young drivers, experienced drivers (Just like Felipe strangely enough) still have something to over.
“What happened was very dangerous, it shows that maybe experience counts in F1. “
“And I think to teach this type of accident they need to control it better, because it was very dangerous. It was lucky that he was not hurt because he could have been very hurt with what happened.”
“To be honest, he was not in the position to overtake, he was not even near to go inside. He was behind, so to be honest, it was too much what happened.”
Ok Felipe, baby. We get it. You still have something to offer Formula 1, but let’s not pretend that for 60 odd laps of the Monaco GP that Max Verstappen wasn’t the star of the show. Formula 1 runs the risk of attempting to stamp out the fire in young drivers sometimes. Bad enough that he retired from the race Max has received a 5 place grid penalty and points on his super-licence.
Thankfully, if his Instagram update (left) was anything to go by, he’s still raring to go. We should only encourage this. At a time when Bernie seems intent on telling everyone bar Lewis Hamilton that there are “Bad for Business” here’s a kid that genuinely gets people excited about watching the sport. Want young people interested in the sport? Put a 17 year old taking it to the established drivers on show. If Superstars are what the sport needs they may very well have found some this season, and Max Verstappen and his attacking style at Monaco is something the sport needs more of.
until the next time.