Aston Martin’s German driver Sebastian Vettel recovers after going off the track during the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Monaco street circuit in Monaco, on May 29, 2022. — AFP pic
Sunday, 29 May 2022 11:44 PM MYT
MONTE CARLO, May 29 — The Monaco Grand Prix finally got underway over an hour late and under a rolling start after heavy rain created scenes of chaos in the crowded confines of the narrow harbourside pit lane.
Rain had been forecast in advance, but few teams appeared to expect the notoriously capricious Monaco microclimate to obey instructions as warm sunshine continued until the final minutes before the scheduled 1300GMT start.
After three days of perfect Riviera weather, the anticipated rain clouds arrived and burst immediately after the national anthem, sending Race Control into safety overdrive and creating chaos on the grid.
The starting process was suspended before being officially delayed. This caused teams to switch to intermediate tyres and then full wets when it was confirmed the race would begin behind a Safety Car (SC).
Amid the frantic scrambling of soaked mechanics who were fitting tyres, adjusting car set-ups for wet settings and helping to change drivers’ helmets to those equipped with wet weather visors, seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton called for calm.
“Everyone, take some deep breaths,” he said on Mercedes team radio, knowing that a wet race would introduce an element of jeopardy that might help him in the race.
But no sooner had the cars gone out for a formation lap than more heavy rain fell, leaving a lot of water on the narrow stretches of asphalt on the barrier-lined street circuit.
This resulted in the race being red flagged and all the cars and drivers returned to a saturated pit lane.
The sport’s ruling body, the International Motoring Federation (FIA), issued a statement to explain their actions and decisions.
“Race control was monitoring a severe downpour that was rapidly approaching the circuit and, as it arrived during the start procedure, the safety car start and its associated procedures were implemented. This was done for safety reasons in consideration that there has been no wet running this weekend.” The race, which has yet to be confirmed for the future with a renewed contract, finally got underway at 1405GMT with pole sitter Charles Leclerc leading when the safety car pulled in. — AFP