Are Mercedes back in the fight? Five talking points for the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix

2022 Monaco Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

The Spanish Grand Prix was undoubtedly the strongest showing of the season so far from Mercedes.

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton came in third and fifth respectively at the Circuit de Catalunya. Can they get involved in the fight between Red Bull and Ferrari again in Monaco – a track where passing is notoriously difficult?

Are Mercedes truly back in the fight?

When Russell joined seven-time world champion Hamilton at Mercedes, few would have predicted that Russell would finish ahead of Hamilton in five consecutive races from their first six starts together. But with an impressive drive to third last weekend, that is exactly what Russell has achieved – albeit with some fortunate Safety Car interventions along the way.

Russell’s battle against the Red Bulls and ability to out-qualify and out-race the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz Jnr may have been promising enough for Mercedes’ heavily upgraded W13 in Barcelona, but Hamilton’s race pace during his recovery from 19th at the end of the opening lap will have done wonders for morale back in Brackley. Only a late water leak stopped Hamilton from crossing the line one place behind his team mate in fourth.

While Mercedes’ gains may not be enough to immediately propel them back into contention for race victories just yet, they may mark an important first step towards them playing a much larger part in the action at the front of the field. If Russell and Hamilton can be in the mix with Ferrari and Red Bull this weekend, then Mercedes may have truly turned a corner with their new upgrade package.

Is Perez purely now a number two driver?

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, 2022
Transcript: “Why won’t you let me by?” Team orders and DRS dramas on Red Bull’s radio in Spain
Max Verstappen winning the Spanish Grand Prix was not too much of a surprise, given that he had already claimed three victories earlier in the season. But what was noteworthy was the nature in which he had achieved it.

Despite Verstappen having shown he had the pace to win, Red Bull’s decision to tell his team mate Sergio Perez to let Verstappen through into the lead only six rounds into the season seemed like a clear indication of Perez’s perceived status within his team.

When Perez joined Red Bull last year and struggled to get to grips with the RB17 and match his team mate’s world championship contending form, he was willing to accept a support role to Verstappen in the belief he would naturally compete far closer to him when the new technical regulations for the 2022 season came into effect.

So far this year, Perez has proven to be more of a match for Verstappen in the RB18, with one pole position and three second places to put him on 85 points compared to his team mate’s 110 from the first six rounds. However, the team orders in the Spanish Grand Prix went a long way to suggesting that Perez does not enjoy equal favour in the Red Bull garage.

Beyond Perez being instructed to move aside and allow Verstappen through not once but twice in Barcelona, Red Bull’s unfulfilled pledge to return the first favour was a clear indication of the privileged position Verstappen holds.

While none of this can be overly surprising, given that Verstappen is the reigning world champion and has claimed four victories from six races in 2022, it does beg the question of whether Perez will have the opportunity to ever fight against his team mate should the pair both end up in contention for a race win this year.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Can Leclerc finally crack his home race curse?

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monaco, 2021
Leclerc crashed – and bagged pole – in Monaco last year
Over the first five rounds of the season, Leclerc had not wanted for good fortune. Not that he had not earned his two wins and multiple pole positions on the track – far from it – but he had benefited from total reliability from his Ferrari on Sundays while Verstappen had twice failed to reach the chequered flag due to fuel system problems.

That changed last weekend when Leclerc’s power unit suddenly let him down half way through what was looking like a comfortable drive to victory in the Spanish Grand Prix, ending his race on the spot and ultimately costing him the lead in the drivers’ championship.

Leclerc will therefore be hoping that this stroke of bad luck will mean he will finally be able to enjoy his home grand prix without something going disastrously wrong during the race weekend. From three previous races in his native Monte Carlo in Formula 1, Leclerc has failed to finish on every occasion – not even able to start from the pole position he had claimed last season.

What should give Ferrari confidence is how strong they looked through the tight, twisty final sector in Barcelona compared to their rivals. As there are no circuits on the calendar close to being as tight and twisty as Monaco, perhaps this could the venue where Ferrari breaks Verstappen’s current streak of victories.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Bring on the bumps

As the most famous street circuit in motorsport, Monaco has everything that makes a street circuit so challenging. Tight corners, low grip, close barriers and a bumpy, uneven track surface.

With the introduction of new ground effect cars for 2022 meaning that teams want to run ride heights as low as possible to maximise the downforce they generate, many drivers, such as McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, expect to be in for an uncomfortable 78 laps around Monte Carlo.

“I think Monaco is going to really test this era of cars and it might expose some things with them,” said Ricciardo.

“It’s not like they’re going to be undriveable or anything – I don’t predict anything like that. But whether it’s visibility or just kind of the low ride heights, the stiffness over kerbing, bumps, just maybe simply like a more uncomfortable lap. I think it’ll be a challenge.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Traffic troubles

Nikita Mazepin, Haas, Monaco, 2021
Cramped Monaco creates traffic headaches
The problem of drivers getting in each other’s way during practice and qualifying session has got worse in recent years. In Barcelona abnormally high temperatures caused the soft tyres to overheat to such an extent that drivers complained that they were losing grip in the middle of their qualifying push laps. Circumstances like this mean it’s more advantageous than ever to tiptoe slowly around an out-lap, leading to plenty of traffic headaches for teams to somehow contend with.

One solution imposed by the FIA has been to introduce maximum out-lap time limits in an attempt to force drivers to not go too slowly before their push laps and avoid the kind of final sector traffic jams that caught out Fernando Alonso in Q1 last weekend. However, even with the time limit, the Spanish Grand Prix stewards recorded 55 instances of the maximum lap time being breached by 18 of the 20 drivers in the field.

While they did not choose to penalise any of the drivers in breach of the rules in Spain, the stewards did warn teams that “further violations may incur increased penalties – not only for these drivers but for any competitor committing a similar breach in the future.”

But it is one thing to say that the rules are going to be applied more stringently in future and quite another thing to act on that – especially when the panel of stewards rotates with every grand prix. With Monaco being the biggest blackspot on the calendar for traffic due to its naturally claustrophobic layout and minimal space to clear a path for those coming up behind, there’s a real risk that multiple drivers could end up falling foul of the new emphasis on punishing those who are deemed to be driving “unnecessarily slowly” during the most important qualifying hour of the season.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Are you going to the Monaco Grand Prix?

If you’re heading to Monaco for this weekend’s race, we want to hear from you:

Who do you think will be the team to beat in the Monaco Grand Prix? Have your say below.

And don’t forget to enter your predictions for this weekend’s race. You can edit your predictions until the start of qualifying:

2022 Monaco Grand Prix

    Browse all 2022 Monaco Grand Prix articles

    Author information

    Will Wood
    Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

    Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

    64 comments on “Are Mercedes back in the fight? Five talking points for the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix”

    1. A Leclerc crash seems statistically likely, the cars certainly haven’t become easier to drive so, definitely wouldn’t bet on him finishing the race first.

      Mercedes have traditionally not gone all that great in Monaco compared to Red Bull. But we have entered a new era with vastly different cars, so I would definitely expect a fight between those two teams at this race. Wouldn’t mind a first pole and win for George.

      1. It’s too soon for Mercedes to put it on pole, I think they’ll comfortably line up on the 3rd row of the grid though, with a slim chance of either Russell or Hamilton putting it on the 2nd row. There’s just no way that it will be anyone either than Charles or Max on the front row this weekend.

        Even with all of Mercedes’ setbacks, I still believe they will eventually start fighting for race wins. If they can get their act together by the mid point of the season, I don’t see why they cant be in the championship race. Red Bull and Ferrari are capable of throwing a lot of points away with reliability issues. Mercedes does seem bullet proof on that end.

        As much as people dislike Mercedes here, we have to admit they’ve achieved GOAT status after their 2014 to 2021 run. That ability to dominate for so many years does not disappear overnight (unless you’re Ferrari in the unlimited testing era)

      2. When a stupid driver drivers for a stupid team one of the two will always deliver.

      3. I don’t think we’ll see Merc shine at Monaco, it’s not there best track (I think they have the longest chassis?) and they’re still playing catch up but I do think they are on there way soon to battling for podiums more than they have been, I think they collected a lot of good data in Spain.
        Ferrari really needs some good races and Monaco will be an important one for both Ferrari drivers to do well. I still think this is Verstappen’s race to lose and the favorite. Monaco suits the car and driver. I see it being a RB weekend.

        It should be a good race on Saturday, oh I mean quali.
        Sunday perhaps will just be another Ring Around the Rosie with these large chassis on the small Monaco roads going round and round in a row.

      4. I think leclerc is done crashing at monaco, if he gets it on pole, which is possible, depending on how strong each car proves, I expect him to win.

        1. @esploratore1

          I think leclerc is done crashing at monaco

          I hope you’re right. Both Leclerc and Ferrari need this in more ways than one. Saturday will be the big day, they have to win quali while getting the set up right for optimal strategy to play out on Sunday and just cover. Easy Peasy

    2. In free air, Leclerc and Verstappen were at least 7 tens quicker than the Mercedes. I don’t understand all this hype

      1. It does fill comment sections though.

      2. I don’t get it either. Someone was even on here arguing that Lewis was as quick as Charles and Max in the last race. Max went off track then was stuck behind George with car issues which meant Charles didn’t have to push as hard when that happened. When Max had to push on the softs there was nobody close to his pace since Charles had retired. Merc are doing a good job to recover and did well in Spain but the jury is out.

      3. Monaco is a different beast. We saw it in years past, any team near the top has a shot at the win, I wouldn’t even discount Bottas in this fight.

        1. True, bottas is a good qualifier and at monaco you can keep behind anyone, just need to avoid overcuts.

        2. Bottas 4.52 time!

      4. F1 is the UK, get used to it.
        I do think they are favourites for both titles. merc have not been competitive at monaco for a long while but who knows. Merc has been by far the most active team in regards of updates and we knew they had a very heavy car, and they can get away with stuff like, “we have a water leak” so normal service has resumed.

      5. Its still better than 1.2 seconds a lap faster.

    3. Is Perez purely now a number two driver?

      Yes. After years of missing out on wins and championships by the tiniest margins he was finally picked up by Red Bull because they were really in need of someone who could bring home the goods. All of this changed, after Checo’s reputation as ‘the big promise’ was shattered at the Spanish Grand Prix.

      Joking aside: where or when did we lose sight of Red Bull’s team hierarchy that we’re asking ourselves this question?

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        25th May 2022, 8:54

        Perez has so rarely been ahead of Verstappen that it’s not been an issue before.

      2. Honestly, Perez’s 2021 season was quite rubbish. He was failing miserably at the #2 driver job for a vast majority of the season. I think this year he’s surprised a lot of people with his performances. He could have taken a race win on merit (Imola), arguably two, already. In Red Bull’s head he wasnt really capable of challenging Max, so I guess they’re faced with a situation they don’t know how to handle. I think they should have just let Perez and Max race on Barcelona. I still Max would have beaten him, but at least they wouldn’t have upset Perez.

        1. @todfod they’re faced with a situation they don’t know how to handle

          But they do. “Let Max pass”. I don’t think many people see Pérez as a driver in Max’s level, and I’m sure everyone at RBR is very aware that they won last year’s WDC by a tiny margin and due to what can be considered, at best, a lucky turn of events during the last laps of the last race. I’m sure many of them still remember almost missing out on the 2010 WDC, even when both their drivers were in the fight up until the last race. So why bother risking that situation again? The team still got a 1-2, and the driver that was ahead in the WDC got more points and now leads the championship. From a team perspective it makes total sense, even if Checo is undestandably upset and we (as fans) got “robbed” of a potentially nice fight on track.

          1. @warheart

            I know it makes sense. They got the 1-2 and the more reliable driver in front. I just don’t think they anticipated this situation given Perezs performance deficit last year. The way I see it, they don’t want to demotivate a driver early on in the season. Last year, Perez helped Max win in the last few races because he wanted to prove his worth. He might not do the same if he feels his team is working against him.

            1. He’ll be replaced before the years’ end if he doesn’t do as he’s told. He’s not going to be picked up by Mercedes or Ferrari. Redbull doesn’t need Slim’s money, so Perez is stuck really.

            2. @todfod gotcha, and you’re probably quite right in that sense: it was just the sixth race, with not even one third of the calendar covered. But strategy engineers cover basically everything that can happen (within reason) during a race, and I’m sure this situation was covered in their pre race strategies. Now it’s time for the season long strategists, a.k.a. Horner and Marko, to reassure Pérez of his position in the team and probably instruct the engineers to let them race (or maybe even let Pérez win) if it’s relatively safe points wise and they consider it will boost Checo’s confidence and performance.

              Like it or not -well, I don’t think anyone likes it- these things are handled as a corporation would.

            3. @warheart the “it’s only the sixth race” argument never made any sense. Perez is not and won’t be a WDC contender. Points in the sixth race are worth the exact same amount in the tally as the points in the 22nd. And as John rightfully said, every point matters, always.

              Perez either accepts his role as second driver, or finds another job, it is what it is and he probably knows what he signed up for, so, it’s all kind of moot.

            4. @sjaakfoo I’ve noticed that nobody seems to be claiming that Checo has a lesser car, one not built for him but for Max. So with that in mind there is another option to your two of accepting his role or finding another job. He could also outqualify and outrace Max. Surely SP knows this and isn’t expecting to win races and WDCs by any other way.

            5. @sjaakfoo of course it makes sense. With 16 races to go there are 416 points for grabs, disregarding sprint race points. If Checo had won in Barcelona, he’d only be 11 points behind Max, who, for all we know, could break a leg while going down some stairs and miss a few races.

              Schumacher’s accident in 1999 comes to mind. Was Irvine, Michael’s teammate in 1999, at Schumacher’s level? Not by a long stretch. And yet he missed on that year’s WDC by two points.

              Are we forgetting about the “let Michael pass for the championship” disaster in Austria 2002? It was the… sixth race of the season, out of 17, and that triggered the (official) end of team orders.

            6. @warheart @todfod I think RBR expected SP to do relatively much better this season having put his ‘rookie’ year on the team behind him, and having a car very new to both drivers. I think their ideal would be 1-2’s every race, and yes it is quite obvious from their careers so far that it will likely be Max that prevails over Checo, but that doesn’t mean they don’t support both drivers equally.

              I think Checo is well past this (Spain) and was never all that upset, especially once he was able to see the bigger picture of why strategies played out as they did. There is no malicious attempt here on the team to do harm to SP psychologically. Ultimately Checo knows full well he has not been the team leader this season and it is up to him to try to reverse that by outperforming Max. Tall order of course, but it is not for lack of car or opportunity. Yes of course it is easy to claim he won’t be given the opportunity because he’ll just be ordered out of said opportunity, but I don’t believe that for a second, if he is leading a race after having gotten pole.

              So I don’t for a second buy into the concept that from here on in Checo is the number two because of Spain. It’s one race at a time and each race presents different circumstances and the odds of Spain ‘22 repeating itself is slim. Checo will have every physical and psychological support any driver could ask for towards achieving pole and a win in Monaco. He ‘just’ has to do what all drivers have to do…prove it by actually doing it.

              Btw I think the same for DR when he was there. If we are going to claim RBR is a one-rooster team, well then Max walked into DR’s team and eventually after a few seasons was dominating in times outqualifying DR, leading laps in races, leading in finishing ahead when both finish etc. But DR was wining races too while that was going on. Nothing was preventing DR from being right up there neck and neck with Max, until we then have to examine talent levels.

              I think DR became a natural number two simply because Max outdrove him, particularly once he calmed down and started making far fewer mistakes, and I think for the majority of the remaining races this season SP will be the natural number two, behind Max on average, and no orders will be needed.

            7. petebaldwin (@)
              25th May 2022, 15:57

              @warheart – Verstappen could break a leg and in which case, they’ll be sorry that Checo wasn’t given the win. Conversely, he could not break a leg and the title race could be as close as it was last year (with the drivers going into the final race equal on points). In that case, they’d be extremely sorry if they hadn’t swapped the positions….

              The alternative view is that Max had fresher tyres and would have likely passed Checo anyway. Instead of both being careful and managing their cars in extremely hot temperatures, they’d be racing at full speed and battling on track. They could have easily both retired…. For me a decision had to be made – either tell Max to back off, tell Checo to hand over the position or risk both cars failing to finish and all things considered, I think they went with the better of the 3 options.

            8. @robbie

              yes it is quite obvious from their careers so far that it will likely be Max that prevails over Checo, but that doesn’t mean they don’t support both drivers equally.

              To be honest mate.. I don’t know how you could make that statement after watching Sunday’s race. You need to ask yourself the simple question of whether Red bull would ask Max to move over twice within a race to let Perez through.. And then let Perez stay in front even if Max was on fresher tyres just behind.

              There’s just no way that would happen. Not in a million years.

              So I don’t for a second buy into the concept that from here on in Checo is the number two because of Spain

              To be fair, he was the number two driver since he first stepped in to a Red bull car last season. Spain was just the first time he was ahead of Max on merit. (not including Imola as luck didn’t go checos way)

              I think DR became a natural number two simply because Max outdrove him,

              Agree completely. How many times did Dan move over for Max to let him by at the cost of his own finishing result? Red bull didn’t dare pull that with a driver who was their goto guy from 2014 to 2017

            9. @todfod Spain aside I was speaking in generalities about their careers so far and why it is likely Max will prevail, but that doesn’t mean they don’t support Checo too. Sure in Spain they didn’t support him in the way he would have liked, but then he started off by qualifying 5th. And Max was experiencing his wing issue that they perhaps were trying to make up for.

              It’s not a simple question to ask as to if Max would be asked to move over twice, because we can’t undo the knowledge and experience of what Max has done in his career so far and how the standings are right now, with it appearing to be a MV/CL season. I think given Max’s talent, he would have to have a car issue for them to ask him to move over twice, as we have seen no evidence that on pace alone SP can put himself in that situation. But that is not to say he doesn’t have the same car and opportunity as Max, to start his weekend off by putting his car on pole and leading the race for the win, thus removing himself from any concerns of being ordered back behind Max. Was Checo really ahead of Max on merit? Or was Max’s car issue the issue. And as well, with CL out, RBR had to look beyond just Spain and rather at considering the WDC fight which as we have seen appears to be between Max and Charles.

              Doesn’t your last paragraph pretty much answer your ‘simple’ question as to whether RBR would ask Max to pull over twice? He’s their go to guy, so would they dare? But my main point is, nothing prevented Checo (read:DR) from making himself the go-to guy from the start of the season and from the starts of race weekends by ‘simply’ out qualifying and out racing Max. He is not in Max’s designer car. He is in a car that obviously suits him quite well, and I think it would be safe to say SP is in for his best season ever, finally now in a top car for a second season and one that he is much happier in than last year. SP is sure showing how much of a difference having the car under you makes. Yet…Max is overwhelmingly outdoing him on Saturdays and Sundays, even with his two dnfs.

              So I don’t think there is anything malicious or unfair going on here. The opposite. RBR hired SP and SP is on a top team and to do his level best and they of course are giving him every opportunity to do just that. SP is in the best position he (and so many racers) could have ever hoped for. Now he has to produce and that starts with not qualifying 5th. Surely he knows that is not the recipe to winning…hoping on a wing (pardon the pun) and a prayer that he can do that and still not be ordered to let Max go on the rare occasion Max finds himself behind him. That’s the point. It is a rare occasion and SP ‘simply’ has to reverse that.

            10. @robbie

              I’ve noticed that nobody seems to be claiming that Checo has a lesser car, one not built for him but for Max.

              That’s because Perez would have been shouting it from mountain tops if that was the case. He never misses an opportunity to justify why he’s behind his teammate.

            11. @robbie

              Spain aside I was speaking in generalities about their careers so far and why it is likely Max will prevail, but that doesn’t mean they don’t support Checo too. Sure in Spain they didn’t support him in the way he would have liked, but then he started off by qualifying 5th. And Max was experiencing his wing issue that they perhaps were trying to make up for.

              Man… I really don’t understand the point in all your comments. No one who watches F1 would say that Perez is as good as Max. If we let survival of the fittest prevail in the Red Bull garage, it’s obvious that Checo would trail Max. No one is disagreeing with you on this one. If Max qualified 43rd and found himself ahead of Checo in the race, there is still no way they would ask Max to move over would they? That’s exactly what I’m trying to say… that Red Bull is not letting performances decide #1 and #2 drivers, it’s a fixed agenda to use Perez only as a support driver to Max.

              I’m saying that Red Bull is not giving Perez equal treatment. He’s being treated like a #2 driver who has to move aside for Max whenever he’s around. That’s really obvious from just race 6 of this 22 race calendar.

            12. @todfod When Max is faster, which usually means he is not behind Checo, but in the one race when Max was behind but faster yes Checo had to let him go.

              All I’m saying is that the team is not preventing SP from outqualifying and outracing Max. You’re saying it has taken race 6 for them to favour Max over Checo, so that means to me he had 5 races and a 6th quali to do something about it. If he hasn’t or can’t that is not on RBR for lack of trying to help him. So, much of why they let Max go is because Max has already earned it so far this season. Not Checo, but not for lack of opportunity and car ahead of Spain’s race that still saw Checo quali behind Max.

            13. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
              25th May 2022, 20:29

              @todfod you ain’t going to win :-)

            14. @freelittlebirds

              Just making sense of the argument is a win for me

            15. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
              25th May 2022, 21:09

              @todfod your arguments are sound. Here’s another scenario:

              Max needs to win the final race to win the championship. Checo has finished behind Max in every race. For whatever reason, Checo outdrives Max in the final race.

              Would Red Bull allow Checo to win his only race of the season or swap to allow Max to win the race and championship?

              There’s really no hesitation in answering this – of course, Checo will be asked to give up the victory and also asked to try to slow down the other driver by 10 seconds using up the tyres, engine, and everything he has at his disposal to assist Max in winning the race and championship. That’s the only reason Helmut Marko gave him the keys to the car.

            16. Michael, as for your scenario about perez only outperforming verstappen on the last race, which verstappen needs to win for the championship, I hope you realise that if the situation was the opposite, they would also ask verstappen to let perez past for the championship, it’s just not realistic that perez outperforms verstappen every race a whole season, just like I wouldn’t expect sainz to do that to leclerc.

            17. @freelittlebirds

              Ask Perez to move over for a WDC win for Max?? That’s a no brainer.. of course they would.

              If Max has already sealed the WDC and they’re just racing for the race win, they would let both drivers race. There is no way they would ask Max to stay behind Checo and not challenge for a race win. It’s just not in Max’s DNA to accept that.

              Sad and harsh on Checo. He isn’t going to beat Max anyways… but on the rare occasion that he can, Red Bull isnt going to make his life easy either.

      3. Joking aside: where or when did we lose sight of Red Bull’s team hierarchy that we’re asking ourselves this question?

        It was just wishful thinking among everyone to think that (me as well) and the RB team would sure like to have everyone think that as well but yes, the reality it’s always has been and always will be Verstappen’s team (until his time is up). Perez is definitely #2 driver and was hired to be just that with high hopes of him being able to keep up in a car & team designed around Verstappen.

        1. I’m afraid it was. From pretty much every perspective, apart from entertainment (oh hi, Liberty media!) and Checo’s fans it makes sens to give Verstappen the #1 position within the team and act accordingly in races.
          Last year there was a lot of talk about whether Perez was good enough to support Verstappen’s title bid. Now Checo is feeling more at home in the car and playing the role everyone had envisioned him to have last year and all of a sudden it’s deemed not fair.

          1. Perez is too inconsistent so far to be taking points off Max. It’s a no brainer even though I’d like to see Perez win some races too.

            1. Let’s not forget that verstappen lost more points than perez due to unreliability and yet was significantly ahead in points before race 6.

      4. The Red Bull hierarchy was shaped all the way back when Ric was still there, they had decided then the Max was their #1 man and have stuck by that. All leading teams do this. Merc did it all along with Ham – Might change now as they need to focus on the next long term. Ferrari will do it with Leclerc and so on.
        Not so prevalent amongst the middle to back of the field as they are just trying to get a few points, they are not going to get either championship.

    4. I really don’t think anyone should be surprised with Red Bull having a clear favourite, it has been how they operate since they had a race winning car. And Perez still is without doubt the slower of the two, even if he is now at a level where they can be satisfied with him as the backup.

      The same is probably true for Ferrari, they really never have shown that they were able to get both cars on a strategy that would work for each of them in recent years. And again, Leclerc does seem to be far more in touch with the car to make it easier.

      Mercedes aren’t in a position to even think about it right now, but we saw clearly that they also had a well defined look at who their favourite was in the last few years where there advantage over the rest of the field was not as large as it had mostly been until 2017. If they get in a position to fight for the championship this year we will probably see it again, but with Russel being as consistent as a 1980s world champion had to be, it might be a tough choice there.

      1. Surprised about the 1980 world champion consistency argument, had no idea it took more consistency back then than now.

    5. PlumbobSquarepants
      25th May 2022, 10:12

      I love everything about the Monaco GP…except Sundays races which are a single file parade littered with crashes.

    6. the maximum lap time being breached by 18 of the 20 drivers in the field

      That is almost everybody. They just ask the remaining two to join in breaching and the penalties (increased or not) cancel each other.

    7. Are Mercedes truly back in the fight?

      No of course not but they have made progress and if they can keep in touch who knows with 22 races it’s possible.

      Is Perez purely now a number two driver?

      Is the Pope a Catholic? 🤣

      1. Electroball76
        25th May 2022, 20:36

        And like the Pope, Perez can be praying for a miracle on Sunday

    8. Are Mercedes truly back in the fight? – No.
      Is Perez purely now a number two driver? – Yes.
      Can Leclerc finally crack his home race curse? – Hopefully.
      Driving in Monaco could be uncomfortable with the new-generation cars, not to mention a big struggle through the slow-speed stuff, especially the hairpin & Rascasse.
      Traffic is always an issue on such a tight circuit.
      However, the maximum time rule has existed for a while, already quite long before the 2019 season, when slow-driving & getting in others’ way first properly started to become an issue, so unconnected with these things.

    9. Perez is not a number 2 because he has never been good enough to be a number 2, what happened in spain highlighted that, perez was never going to be able to keep max behind. A number 2 is a driver that has to sacrifice himself for the team, in this case Perez was always going to end 2nd, therefore no sacrifice.

      1. Well, tbh I would say he was worse than a number 2 driver last year, but improved this year and is now a number 2, he looks like bottas last year.

    10. Neil (@neilosjames)
      25th May 2022, 13:42

      Is Perez purely now a number two driver?

      Not so much ‘now’… he’s been a No. 2 driver since he picked up a pen and signed the Red Bull contract. He was signed to play a supporting role and there was nothing in his career history to suggest he’d be anywhere near the performance level of Verstappen.

      1. @neilosjames True. But could Red Bull have signed a better driver if they had wanted? Were there any faster drivers available to them?

        1. Indeed, this is something many people are overlooking, is everyone forgetting red bull had 2 terrible drivers in a row, or who at least performed terribly in that car, during 2019 and 2020, before finally signing perez? Easy for people to say, red bull can just fire perez if he doesn’t obey, and then maybe get a driver who can’t beat any of the ferrari or the mercedes as replacement!

    11. Are Mercedes truly back in the fight?
      – I’m not fully convinced just yet. Mercedes might’ve benefited from the very high track temperatures (>50°C) at Barcelona. Usually the Mercedes has problems with getting enough heat into the tyres this season and that may cause them some troubles at street circuits and under cooler conditions (track temperatures below 30°C).

      Is Perez purely now a number two driver?
      – I guess Checo didn’t read the small letters in his contract ;)

      Can Leclerc finally crack his home race curse?
      – I hope so. It would be cruel for him to crash again at his home GP or having some sort of technical failure, especially given that he lost his engine last time around at Barcelona. Hopefullly, Charles can bounce back strong and win his home race!

      Bring on the bumps
      – It might not be as bad here in Monaco, because the porpoising is more severe at higher speeds and the drivers only hit over 270 kph out of the tunnel and at the end of the start/finish straight. It will still be an uncomfortable ride, but I doubt the bumps at Monaco are going to cause any major damage to the drivers or cars.

      Traffic troubles
      – These new tyres are less sensitive to overheating, so the drivers shouldn’t have to be creeping on out- and cool-down-laps. I hope Eduardo Freitas enforces the max. time for outlaps more strictly this time and penalizes everyone who exceeds the allowed time in qualifying.

    12. petebaldwin (@)
      25th May 2022, 16:02

      One talking point that hasn’t really been mentioned yet is that the weather forecast for Sunday/Monday is pretty grim. It’s still too early to say it will rain but that’s what all of the weather forecasts are currently suggesting.

      1. Well, rain would be very interesting to spice up a monaco gp!

    13. What about the rumour that Alonso was shown the door after his “performance” this year? He will not drive for Alpine in 2023.

      1. The Dolphins
        26th May 2022, 1:16

        I’d pay to see an Alonso-Perez seat swap for 2023.

    14. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      25th May 2022, 20:37

      I don’t think Mercedes are there. Reliability aside, Ferrari and Red Bull are evidently quicker. A driver in each team is struggling but it takes a bit of luck for Mercedes to beat either one.

      I’ve no idea how much the new cars have affected each driver, but I believe they’ve affected some drivers more than others.

      Mercedes definitely needs to find a way to become competitive because if the previous era is an indication, the top teams stay at the top so they need to reach the top asap. While it’s fine to say we are not competitive for 1 season, 1 season can turn into 8 seasons very quickly.

      1. @freelittlebirds Mercedes had taken off downforce and raised the car height to avoid purpoising – plus the drivers, perhaps especially Lewis, have been wary of the car suddenly turning nasty, not ideal for driving on the limit. So if they’ve found a potential solution to the purpoising, then the probability is that they’ll be wanting to gradually lower that ride height and add more downforce over the coming races (maybe with Monaco not much use in determining where they are) while the two drivers will feel freer to push the car and get the setup more how they want it. In other words, they could well be up to speed soon in terms of the car design/setup. Maybe the bigger question then will be the engine power and whether Merc engines have gone backwards relative to Ferrari and Honda/Red Bull? Or are they being cautious over reliability?

    15. The Dolphins
      26th May 2022, 1:20

      Mercedes will need some combination of luck involving: setup, weather forecast, and Charles or Max meeting the wall at the exit of the swimming pool again in order to be in the fight at Monte Carlo.

    16. They were 6 tenths off in qualifying in Spain. They are not in the title fight.

    17. Previous years dominant Mercedes was playing underdog card, this year the miserable Mercedes was playing overhyped card with 3rd and 5th place finishing…

    Comments are closed.