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F1 Race Review: Monaco GP 2008

What an action packed afternoon it was! From what could have otherwise been a usual processional walk in the park for Ferrari with their 1-2 on the grid, the rain gods had a different plan. Fortune favored the brave Lewis and Kubica, but alas, Adrian Sutil was robbed of what could have been his and Force India’s best ever result in Formula 1. Latter’s teammate Fisichella’s milestone start No.200 ended in a retirement.

Monaco is the most historic and fashionable of all races on the calendar, known for its glitterati pull, grand parties, fashion events, yachts. This year, three of the largest yachts belonged to the Mittals, Ruias and the King of Good Times, Mallya, all proudly Indian. Though, sadly, when it comes to race entertainment on TV, it is one of the most boring races of the year with a straight train of cars from pole position to finish.

For some numbers, races have been held at Monaco since 1929 and this 3.34km largely unchanged street track has hosted 54 Grands prix. Senna with six wins holds the record of having won here on most occasions. Schumi and yesteryear Graham Hill follow him with five. Changing gears 54 times a lap, drivers change gears more than 4000 times in a race. This track is also known to throw surprise winners, thus emphasizing on luck.

The race began on a slippery surface with everyone on Inters. Lewis moved over Kimi into second at Ste Devote but on Lap7 damaged his rear right tyre on a barrier and was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop dropping him to fifth. Kimi was awarded a drive through for changing tyres on the grid after the tree minute signal. Troubles were not over for Ferrari when Massa slipped out at Turn 1 giving away the lead to Kubica.

After the first pit stop, Massa gained back lead but Lewis played a longer stint and built a comfortable lead for himself; while Massa had to stop again after which he exited just after Kubica into third. Kimi meanwhile had to make an early stop for a front wing. Force India’s one stopper Sutil almost drove his best race to fourth, till fifth placed Kimi lost control under braking, rammed Sutil out of the race. Kimi dropped to ninth after pitting.

After having won at Monaco in Formula 3 and GP 2 in 2005 & 2006 and missing out a win last year due to McLaren strategy, Lewis made it up this year with an emphatic win, a first for a Brit after 1969. Ferrari seemed to extend their bad luck after not having won here after 2001 and never having won here from pole for 30 years. The only solace for Kimi was his fastest lap 1:16:689 on the penultimate lap of the two hour race.

Monaco has thrown the drivers championship battle wide open again. Lewis is back in the lead with 38 points, three ahead of Kimi, four ahead of Massa’s 34 and six ahead of Kubica’s 32. For the battle of the constructors, Ferrari still lead with 69 points as against 53 of McLaren and 52 of BMW. Oh well, to sum up, this was undoubtedly the most interesting Monaco GP that I ever remember to have watched! I love F1!
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