F3 Belgium: Armstrong untouchable in Spa sprint race

Prema Racing’s Marcus Armstrong took his second Formula 3 victory of 2019 at the sprint race in Belgium, as a fierce battle for the podium positions behind allowed him to cruise away in the lead.

Armstrong made a good start from reverse grid pole to cover off a challenge from Hitech’s Leo Pulcini, who started second on the grid. Pulcini then found himself sandwiched between Red Bull juniors Yuki Tsunoda and Juri Vips going into the La Source hairpin, where he made contact with Tsunoda trying to defend second. This forced Pulcini wide, where he in turn banged wheels with Vips on the outside of the corner and sent the Estonian driver onto the run off.

With Pulcini and Vips dropping back, Tsunoda assumed second place and ART’s Christian Lundgaard took third ahead of championship leader Robert Shwartzman. Pulcini initially filtered back into fifth between Shwartzman and Jehan Daruvala, but was passed by the final Prema into Les Combes on lap 3.

Meanwhile, Vips dropped back to eighth and immediately had to defend from Max Fewtrell’s ART. Fewtrell got the move done into the bus stop chicane at the end of lap 2, demoting Vips out of the sprint race points. Behind them, Logan Sargent got involved in his second incident of the weekend by spinning around MP Motorsport’s Liam Lawson.

Gareth Harford, LAT Images / FIA F3 Championship

On lap 4, the safety car was deployed after Simo Laaksonen lost control of his car at Blanchimont while fighting Alex Peroni and ended up deep in the barriers. The medical car was deployed to bring him to the medical centre for treatment, although initial reports are that Laaksonen is not badly injured.

The race resumed on lap 9 of 17, and the restart brought incidents throughout the field. Vips ran into the back of Fewtrell trying to retake eighth and broke off his front wing in the process, which left the Red Bull junior vulnerable to Fewtrell’s ART teammate David Beckmann. Vips shortly dropped to the back of the field, where he was joined by Jake Hughes and Devlin DeFrancesco, who collided going into Les Combes.

At the front, Armstrong opened up a lead of 1.4 seconds over Tsunoda at the restart. Tsunoda seemed to struggle during this second phase of the race, and within a few laps was under pressure from Lundgaard. The Dane closed up to within half a second, then on lap 14 dove down the inside of Tsunoda and took second place.

Gareth Harford, LAT Images / FIA F3 Championship

However, Tsunoda kept with Lundgaard and on the following lap tried to retake the position around the outside of Les Combes. Although that move was unsuccessful, Tsunoda managed to beat Lundgaard on the inside there on the following lap, after Lundgaard ran into his rev limiter defending down the Kemmel Straight.

Losing second to Tsunoda dropped Lundgaard back into the clutches of Shwartzman, who was only three tenths behind the ART. On the final lap and again at Les Combes, Shwartzman moved up the inside and took his seventh podium of the year, and second of the Spa weekend.

At the end of lap 17 Armstrong crossed the line with four seconds in hand over Tsunoda and Shwartzman. Lundgaard held on to fourth ahead of Daruvala, Saturday’s feature race winner Pedro Piquet took sixth place from Pulcini, and the final point went to Carlin’s Teppei Natori after Fewtrell retired from eighth with a puncture.

After the Spa weekend, Shwartzman’s championship lead has been extended to 23 points over Daruvala, who has moved up to second at the expense of Vips. Armstrong consolidated his fourth place over Lundgaard and is now only three points behind Vips.

Joe Portlock, LAT Images / FIA F3 Championship

MotoGP: Dovizioso Defies Marquez in Austrian Thriller – Part two

The laps Fabio Quartararo did immediately after he lost the lead were critical to his third place, pulling him away from Rossi behind who proved later in the race to be extremely tough to pass, at least for a rider without a straight-line speed advantage. Losing out to Rossi in the middle of the race would have given Quartararo the battle he has been waiting before between himself and The Doctor, but it may well have cost him the trophy he picked up as a result of his superior pace.

Rossi pointed to his rear tyre choice being the reason he missed out to Quartararo. The Italian had not been comfortable with the soft tyre throughout the weekend, neither over longer runs nor in a time attack, so his choice was a straightforward one to make. However, as Marquez, the Italian suffered with grip, and this was especially evident in his loss of time to teammate Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) behind in the final ten laps. Rossi was able to hold off his Spanish rivals, though, and in the end it was a positive race for the Italian and Yamaha, who notably improved in Spielberg compared to twelve months ago.

Valentino Rossi at the 2019 MotoGP race at the Rd Bull Ring. Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

Whilst Vinales was unable to pass Rossi in the final part of the race, Alex Rins was equally unable to pass Vinales. Once again, though, it had been the first part of the race that had cost Vinales a shot at the podium; losing out to Rossi on lap two meant he had to come up against that particular road block later in the race, and it proved one he could not overcome, finishing fifth in front of Rins – the #42 unable to do anything about either of the factory M1s despite Suzuki’s power gains over the winter.

Nearly eight seconds back of Rins was Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing), who took his best result in MotoGP with seventh place courtesy of, partly, the Ducati’s strength in Austria and, partly, of improvements made by the #63 and his team at the Brno test.

Just behind Bagnaia was Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), the pair coming across the line in a similar fashion to last year’s Moto2 race, where they duelled for the win. The Portuguese saved the face of KTM, after Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) retired on lap two with a mechanical problem. Espargaro was looking good for a top ten, and Oliveira took over when his machinery let him down – important in KTM’s home race and especially with the announcement of Johann Zarco’s departure from Red Bull KTM Factory Racing at the end of this season.

Danilo Petrucci ahead of Franco Morbidelli in the 2019 Red Bull Ring MotoGP Race. Image courtesy of Ducati

Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) finished a disappointing ninth. Since the summer break the Italian’s form has been disappointing, and Austria was no different; beaten in Ducati’s strongest circuit by three rookies on satellite bikes, one being a KTM and another a Yamaha, as well as the sole factory Suzuki and the factory Yamaha pairing. Fortunately for Petrucci, his contract is already signed for 2020.

Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) completed a difficult weekend aboard his satellite Yamaha with a top ten, rounding it out ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU) who probably did not help his chances of a 2020 RC213V for next year with an eleventh. Johann Zarco was twelfth, although that was not enough for him to decide to continue with KTM next year, whilst Stefan Bradl scored points once more for Repsol Honda Team in place of Jorge Lorenzo, who should be back in Silverstone. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was fourteenth ahead of Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing) who completed the points.

Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was the final classified rider, one lap down in sixteenth after a mistake on lap twenty-five when he was nine seconds off his own pace of mid-1’25s, before two laps over twenty-five seconds off the pace when he went a lap down.

When Pol Espargaro’s bike expired on the second lap in the middle of the slowest corner on the track, turn three, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL) was the unfortunate victim. The Brit had nowhere to go but into the back of the Spaniard who was unable to get off the line in time, and the #35’s race was over pretty much before it began.

Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) went down the lap after, and had to be hospitalized. There was concussion for the Malaysian, but he is expected to be okay for Silverstone.

Jack Miller Crashed out of fourth on lap seven. His fastest lap remained as the third-fastest of the race until the flag, a sign of the Australian’s potential. With the rumours circling around Miller’s future over the weekend, it was perhaps not ideal timing for the #43 to drop out of a race, but he was okay and his Pramac contract for 2020 is now signed.

The final retirement was Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing), who dropped out with eight to go.

Featured Image courtesy of Gareth Harford/Yamah Racing

British F3 – Chaimongkol take memorable first BRDC British F3 victory

Sassakorn Chaimongkol took a memorable first ever BRDC British F3 victory in the first of three races this weekend at Silverstone.

The Fortec driver squeezed past polesitter Kiern Jewiss at the start of the race and despite intense pressure for twenty minutes, never looked likely to crack under intense pressure from Jewiss and Johnathan Hoggard.

Ayrton Simmons recovered to fourth after a poor start dropped him from third to sixth, despite finishing behind Neil Verhagen on track. Verhagen dropped to tenth after being penalised for a jump start.

Ulysse De Pauw came home fifth to continue his recent strong form ahead of Kaylen Frederick in sixth.

Championship leader Clement Novalak could only manage seventh on a disappointing Saturday for the Carlin driver, who risks seeing his lead at the top erode this weekend with Hoggard towards the front of the grid.

Lucas Petersson put in one of his strongest showings of the season to take eighth ahead of fellow Swede Hampus Ericsson, who recovered well after a slow start dropped him to twelfth.

Last year’s Silverstone Race Two winner Josh Mason was eleventh on Saturday afternoon after to gain two places over the course of the race, with Pavan Ravishankar a solid twelfth.

Nico Varrone bested Kris Wright for thirteenth with Nazim Azman last of the main pack on his eighteenth birthday, with Benjamin Pedersen retiring and Manuel Maldonado lapped after losing his front wing.

British F3 – Last-gasp Jewiss snatches Silverstone double-pole

Douglas Motorsport’s Kiern Jewiss backed up his impressive Brands Hatch form with a double-pole position on Saturday morning at Silverstone.

In a hotly contested qualifying session that saw Jewiss, Sassakorn Chaimongkol and Ayrton Simmons take turns at the top of the timesheets, the 17-year-old nicked pole from Chaimongkol with his last lap of the session when it looked like the Thai driver was destined to take his first ever British F3 pole position.

Jewiss, who at one point was 0.007s off the pace in third, took Race One pole by just over a tenth of a second, and will also line up pole for Race Three after setting the fastest second-best lap.

Johnathan Hoggard will start from fourth and hope to kick-start his championship challenge for Fortect ahead of a rejuvenated Ulysse De Pauw.

Double R Racing’s Neil Verhagen beat fellow American Kaylen Frederick to seventh ahead of an improved performance from Benjamin Pedersen.

Championship leader Clement Novalak, who could win the series this weekend, will start from ninth with work to do after struggling with the balance of his Carlin machine. He heads Double R Racing’s Hampus Ericsson.

Lucas Petersson will start from 11th ahead of last year’s Race Two Silverstone winner Josh Mason, while Manuel Maldonado will be disappointed to start thirteenth.

Pavan Ravishankar will be looking for an improvement to a weekend from hell at Brands Hatch from 14th on the grid ahead of the returning Nicolas Varrone.

On his 18th birthday, Nazim Azman will be looking for happier returns than 16th on the grid in Race One ahead of Kris Wright, who brings up the rear in 17th.

British F3 – Hoggard flies to pole position at Brands Hatch

Fortec Motorsport’s Johnathan Hoggard took a commanding British F3 pole position as he bettered the opposition by over three tenths of a second at Brands Hatch.

The Lincolnshire man led Douglas Motorsport’s Kiern Jewiss by 0.326s, while championship leader Clement Novalak of Carlin Motorsports starts Race One from third on the grid having lost out to Jewiss by 0.035s.

Thailand’s Sassakorn Chaimongkol put in a strong performance for Fortec to take fourth on the grid to back up his improving mid-season form, just 0.008s ahead of Carlin’s US charge Kaylen Frederick.

Belgium’s Ulysse De Pauw completes Row Three, one third of a tenth behind Frederick.

Manuel Maldonado will start from seventh after a solid session saw the consistent Venezuelan head Row Four, while Neil Verhagen leads Double R Racing’s charge, albeit from eighth position.

In a fifth row sure to confuse many an observer Lucas leads Benjamin as Sweden’s Petersson took ninth position on the grid ahead of the US-Dane Benjamin in his Douglas Motorsport entry.

Ayrton Simmons, the third man in the championship battle along with Hoggard and Novalak, could only manage 11th for Chris Dittman Racing as positions 2-11 on the grid were covered by just half-a-second.

Donington Race Two winner Josh Mason completes Row Six, Pavan Ravishankar and Nazim Azman make up the seventh row on the grid and Kris Wright outpaced Hampus Ericsson, whose off midway through the session not only saw him bring out a red flag, but also relegated him to last on the grid.

 

IMAGE: Jakob Ebrey

RACE CONTROL: RULEBOOK REPORT TO THE STEWARDS OFFICE…

Making tough judicial decisions is never easy on a Judge. You will always have on aggrieved party who disagrees with you, will take you on appeal and have their group of family and friends dislike you too. The same can be said for F1 stewards recently.

While the law, certainly here in South Africa, have a defined group of Judges for a period, F1 stewards change from race to race.

The Canadian Grand Prix and the incident between reigning  and 5 time World Champion Lewis Hamilton and 4 time Champion Sebastian Vettel brought the role of the stewards into sharp focus with numerous and current drivers bemoaning the lack of consistency in decision-making and the impact it has on the ability of racers to do what they – and we –  love most, race.

Sebastian Vettel at the Austrian GP 2019.
Source: Ferrari Media

Stewards were hauled over the coals on social media by fans who felt that the decision to award Vettel a 5-second time penalty was incorrect and cost him what was a needed win. However, the same stewards were praised for being courageous in applying the rules by fans who felt that they got it right. It is almost a no-win situation for the decision makers.

 

Having a permanent panel of stewards for the season may aid consistency, but it is not inconceivable that this may present a different set of problems. For one it is a massive ask of any person to do, following the paddock around all season. This is especially important when you consider that former drivers often make up the panel. The second problem deals with the members of the panel. If we are honest, given the backlash on social media, it is possible that permanent stewards could be accused of bias (based on their previous stints in F1/comments they may have made in media) if a decision does not go the way of a particular team/driver.

Yes, this is a hypothesis, but if the events of Canada and the penalty given to Daniel Riccardo after the French Grand Prix are anything to go by, the decisions of the stewards will always be called into question.

And let us not forget the pass seen around the world at the Austrian Grand Prix. ICYMI – the clash between race winner Max Verstappen and pole sitter Charles Leclerc was investigated with no penalty being handed out. Racing won according to many fans while many a Ferrari fan felt aggrieved for the 2nd time in 3 races. Essentially it was the same rule that saw Vettel receive a penalty, however this was a different incident. A wait of 3 hours saw this one decided, whereas Vettel’s was done while the race was in progress.

Max Verstappen at FIA Formula One World Championship 2019 Stop 9 – Spielberg, Austria
Photographer Credit: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

On the face of it and in the mind of the F1 circle, there appears to be inconsistency in these decisions. Perhaps the problem does not lay with the decision makers, but rather on what informs the decisions?

Stick to the facts

The rule book. The FIA rule book is the veritable guide to the do’s and don’ts of F1. Among the rules is that a driver is prohibited from any manoeuvre liable to hinder other drivers or driving the car in an erratic manner, among other restrictions. Herein lies the problem – the rule book does not offer any explanatory notes on what would be considered erratic or just normal racing.

In law we have a Commentary to a legislation, which provides for an explanation of the regulations and rules. It provides clarity on the nuanced areas of law that may not appear fully in the hard and fast rule. Perhaps F1 could use something similar to assist the stewards in making decisions that take into account the practicalities of racing? In the event that this seems too cumbersome a task the solution could then lay in amending the rules to allow for the stewards to account for the practical elements of racing and take into account aspects such as what is “hard racing” vs “dangerous racing”.

Certain tracks allow for drivers to give each other a little more room, but some such as Baku, Canada  and Monaco do not, which makes it difficult for the stewards to apply a general rule regarding driving in an erratic manner. An amendment to allow discretion based on these practical elements could go a long way in fixing the problem in F1 right now. – Rhea Morar (Deputy F1 Editor)

2019 French Grand Prix Preview

The French theme is still very potent in the motorsport world. A fascinating Le Mans race is done and dusted, but this coming weekend sees the motorsport euphoria continue as we travel 931 kilometres south of Le Mans.

For the fifteenth time in World Championship history, Formula One arrives at the Circuit Paul Ricard for the French Grand Prix, which made its return to the calendar last year.

The 5.8-kilometre circuit did not exactly go down well with fans last year, with grandstands a fair distance away from the track, and extensive run-offs that allow mistakes to go almost totally unpunished. It’s safe to say that the track has some way to go to re-establish any respectable reputation in the sport.

Last year did, however, see drama on the first lap. Home heroes Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon crashed into each other, while early contact between Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas saw the pair pit as a result of the damage inflicted and come back up through the field with a couple of smart moves. Lewis Hamilton won the race but, apart from the odd moment, it was a race that generally left a lot to be desired. Having said that, we said the same thing about Baku in 2016 and we got an absolute stunner of a race a year later, so fingers crossed!

2018 French Grand Prix – Wolfgang Wilhelm

Following the Canada controversy, which is still not over as Ferrari have officially lodged a right to review of Sebastian Vettel’s penalty, the Prancing Horses will again fancy their chances of springing an upset to the rampant Mercedes party by finally winning a race this year.

A fast circuit with long straights and few slow corners is fairly well suited to the Ferrari car, but Hamilton and Bottas will look to maximise some of the impressively fast corners around the track to continue their stunning start to what has turned out to be a historic season in terms of dominance.

This battle, after an impressive Ferrari showing in Canada, may make for a more interesting spectacle around the Paul Ricard track, but this won’t necessarily change the general consensus of the quality of the track.

Pierre Gasly, who has had to endure a tough start to the year alongside his extremely quick team-mate Max Verstappen knows he needs to put on a distinctively better performance than he has managed so far, and to make his mark on the Red Bull team. The pressure is building as a result of some very handy performances in Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso, so his home race provides the perfect setting for Gasly to make such a statement.

Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

The other French driver on the grid, Romain Grosjean, will be looking for an uninterrupted qualifying this time around, as will team mate Kevin Magnussen after his crash at the end of Q2 in Canada. The Dane should hopefully have a better time in France after what he described as ‘the worst experience [he has] ever had in a racing car’ in Montreal, as Haas target a double points finish.

As for Williams, the positive is that it is reasonably difficult for the car to end up in the wall at Paul Ricard, so they shouldn’t have to worry too much about spare parts this weekend. The car, however, is not likely to fare any better at Paul Ricard than it has done so far in 2019.

After some superb drama in Le Mans last weekend in the WEC, will we see the same at the French Grand Prix this weekend? Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes will be hoping the answer to that one is a very firm no.

 

[Featured image – Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool]

British F3: Race Three – Simmons wins to complete a solid weekend

Chris Dittmann Racing’s Ayrton Simmons took his and his team’s first ever British F3 victory to crown a solid weekend at the office.

Simmons took the win to back up earlier finishes of third and fifth in the reverse-grid Race Two, while Johnathan Hoggard took second ahead of Kaylen Frederick and Kiern Jewiss in fourth.

It was Neil Verhagen and Clement Novalak that took the chequered flag in the top two on the road, but the pair were given five second time penalties

Hillspeed’s Sasakorn Chaimongkol was seventh ahead of Manuel Maldonado in eighth for Fortec. with Hampus Ericsson was ninth ahead of Race Two winner Benjamin Pedersen.

For Verhagen and Novalak, it was a case of trying to extend the gap to Simmons and Hoggard behind, it was always going to be an uphill task with the top five very evenly matched, Kaylen Frederick in particular keeping his counsel to maintain third.

Post race a 10 second penalty was issued by the Clerk of the Course to Nazim Azman for making contact with Lucas Petersson at Stowe, forcing Petersson to spin. Azman receives three penalty points.

British GT – Iain Loggie and Callum MacLeod triumph against the odds after battle with Jonny Adam and Graham Davidson

Ram Racing’s Iain Loggie and Callum Macleod took an emotional victory in British GT’s blue riband event at Silverstone on Sunday.

Macleod and Jonny Adam in the Aston Martin were battling hard for the lead right up until the penultimate lap when the two GT3 cars caught GT4 Multimatic driver Chad McCumbee, who was unco-operative through Becketts and Maggots and the two collided as the Aston and Mercedes rushed to pass.

That took Adam out of the race and allowed Nicki Thiim/Mark Farmer and Seb Morris/Rick Parfitt to take overall podium finishes.

The flagship three-hour race was a tale of three GT3 cars early on as Loggie, TF Sport’s Aston Martin racer Graham Davidson and Shaun Balfe battled it out early on.

Sam De Haan and Adam Balon in the two Barwell Motorsport Lamborghinis came to blows on lap one at the loop, and it was a sign of how both of their races were to go as Barwell failed to re-discover their Snetterton sparkle to finish eighth and ninth.

Dennis Lind was fourth in the Lamborghini alongside Michael Igoe ahead of Bradley Ellis and Ollie Wilkinson in the Optimum Aston Martin. Ryan Ratcliffe and Glynn Geddie completed the overall top six ahead of Andrew Howard and Marco Sorensen.

Meanwhile, in GT4 TF Sport once again suffered heartbreak as the seemingly imperious duo of Patrick Kibble suffered two pit-lane timing dramas.

The two stop/go penalties issued for short pit-stops ensured they didn’t convert GT4 pole into what in all probability looked like GT4 victory.

That should have opened the door for Tolman Motorsport duo Josh Smith and James Dorlin, the #4 McLaren was at one point 15s clear in the lead of GT4.

But, mere laps after their final stop, Dorlin was forced to retire the car with an as yet unknown issue from what would have been certain victory.

Scott Malvern and Nick Jones were the eventual overall GT4 winners and took double honours, also walking away with the GT4 Pro/Am trophy to cap a memorable weekend for the Team Parker Racing #66 Mercedes.

They were followed home by Maxime Buhk and Peter Belshaw in the ERC Sport Mercedes ahead of the other Multimatic Mustang of Seb Priaulx and Scott Maxwell, while Martin Plowman and Kelvin Fletcher were fourth overall and took a valuable second in the Pro/Am category.

Tom Canning and Ashley Hand completed the top five for TF Sport Aston Martin.

Is Monaco’s glamour wearing thin in a 21st century F1?

Ariel view of Moanco. Image courtesy of Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

‘To tell you the truth, I hate Monaco. It’s like trying to ride a bicycle around your living room’ – Nelson Piquet.

Nelson Piquet was always a conscious stream of stinging quotes, but this one is arguably his most famous. At the time, it was at complete odds with the narrative of Monte Carlo’s diamond event – one of towering importance, energising luxury and an insatiable desire that this, this be the one race every driver must win, in order to be remembered as a great.

Yet in 2019, Piquet’s summary feels very poignant and true. And as each year goes on, that feeling only grows. But why is it so? What factors are at play, bubbling over the surface to damage the armoured love for a Formula One mainstay? There are many; the lack of on-track overtakes, a heavy reliance on strategy, and an emphasis on what happens off the track rather than on it. And it’s the latter that I want to dissect.

The Cote d’Azur embodies wealth. The glitz and glamour of the event began as a fantastical shot in the arm for all involved. A setting drizzled in history, playing host to casinos, hotels and restaurants galore, Monaco provided the unique backdrop of up to 30+ of the finest racing cars of the time zooming round an opulent city, a final ingredient for an extravagant souffle. It was magical, and a gleaming beacon of hope for those who wanted to be there, be a part of it.

The super yachts of Monaco. Image courtesy of Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

But times, since those heady days of the ‘50s and ‘60s, have changed. We now live in a world where the excessive is held in disdain, and the necessary is king. Formula One has changed, too: no longer a gentleman’s European tour, but a worldwide hand reaching out to new fans who would never have so much as heard tyres wince within their own country. If there’s anything that sums up the change F1 has gone through (and had to, unless it loses all relevance) is the old ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone’s resistance.

‘I’m not interested in tweeting, Facebook, and whatever this nonsense is’.

Ecclestone said of the growing social media juggernaut, a key player in modernity. He’d go on to disregard the young racing demographic entirely, saying ‘I’d rather get to the 70-year-old guy who’s got plenty of cash. There’s no point trying to reach these kids because they won’t buy any of the products here and if marketers are aiming at this audience, then maybe they should advertise with Disney.’

Ecclestone’s Formula One peak came in the ‘70s and ‘80s, when sponsorship was rising to a position of potency in the series and appeasing those funnelling money into both drivers, teams and sport was of high importance. Why speak against those who are allowing the sport to grow like it never had before? More so, why do anything but bend all efforts towards getting sponsor’s services in the rich elite’s lives, and products in their possessions? Ecclestone was never able to shift from the ideology of ‘jobs for the boys’ – and by that I mean catering his circus for the rich men he was intertwined with – and that’s a major player as to why he’s no longer at the helm.

He valued Monaco as an important string in his bow, with the elite eager to turn up and flaunt their most extravagant yachts, take in the wonders of casino life and be exposed in turn to the sport’s sponsor involvement. And Monaco, to this day, is still the same event; a racing-comes-second honey trap. The issue is, while the bees may still be arriving like before, the onlooking fans aren’t salivating at the thought of this race in particular. The year on year procession, where ever-widening cars are threading a needle which hamstrings their true power, and in turn making the races heavily reliant on outside variables, is becoming more and more apparent.

The fan-base that the new owners of Formula One, Liberty Media, have tried at length to get back on side, be it with much increased social media presence (they’ve even finally embraced Snapchat), expansive content and greater scope of reach, are beginning to look past the glamour of Monaco, and are finding at the bare bones an event that quite simply isn’t up to standard.

The season generally reaches a nadir at this circuit – to the point where the weekend is written off as a bore-fest before it even starts. There’s arguably no track on the calendar so dependent on weather variables for a good race, and if Piquet thought his Brabhams were no joy in the Principality, I spare a thought for the class of 2019, with wider, longer and faster cars.

Max Verstappen ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo. Image courtesy of Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

The glamour of Monaco is fading away. It can’t mask the unsuitability of the event any longer. It’s never been so irrelevant in the eyes of the people who make Formula One what it is, the fans. With Liberty’s aid (somewhat) the gentleman’s aura of past is starting to diminish, in favour of the new guard. A new guard who are realising, when you strip away the off-track splendour, that this mainstay of the calendar is at odds with the direction we are going in. It’s a bastion of the Ecclestone era, a rotten tooth among renovation plans. And if this trajectory continues, Monaco could well lose its relevance in the 21st century world.