Duo break the ranks in Monte Carlo
You could be forgiven for finding Lewis Hamilton’s assertion that he “doesn’t remember too much about” his fallout with Nico Rosberg in Monaco last year a little hard to believe. Plenty has gone on since then. Hamilton is a double world champion driving better than ever.
But not remembering fully the row which changed the relationship between these two, perhaps permanently? Unlikely. Their ding-dong in qualifying in 2014 — when Hamilton accused Rosberg of employing dirty tricks to scupper his lap — was one of the moments of the season.
From then on, it has never quite been the same. Both have gradually done away with the pretence that two team-mates fighting for the world championship can never be friends. Even if the Mercedes pair play it down, it will inevitably be a major subject for discussion. How could it not be?
■After a 24-hour delay, Formula One’s Strategy Group managed to cobble together a press release. For a sport all about speed the sense of irony was obvious.
The return of refuelling was perhaps the biggest surprise, but elsewhere there were statements about making the cars five to six seconds faster, changing the aerodynamics, and making the engines louder.
Does this amount to a revolution? Making the cars as fast as they were 10 years ago is not exactly radical.
For the last 10 years at least, the F1 story has been how to reduce downforce to make the cars less predictable to drive and increase overtaking. So if this change makes overtaking harder, no one — including the drivers — will be happy.
■Jenson Button was uncharacteristically rash after his nightmare Spanish GP, warning McLaren might not score points all season. It would not be a surprise for the 35-year-old to revise this statement in Monaco, particularly as this presents their best chance to get into the top 10.
On the twisty, narrow streets, engine power is less of an issue (finally, McLaren must be thinking). If they don’t make it into the points, then we really do need to believe Button.
■It seems an unfortunate time for F1 to roll into Monaco, with wealth so obvious it hits you in the face at every turn. On the eve of last week’s Strategy Group, Autosport showed just how skewed F1’s prize structure is.
Force India received $NZ79.5 million for finishing sixth last year, an astonishing $NZ50 million less than McLaren who were one place higher. The gap to Ferrari in fourth was even wider.
The Italian team received $NZ217 million, much more than Mercedes payment of $NZ166.8 million, the championship-winning team no less.
But however much the smaller teams shout about the revenue distribution, it will not change. The contracts are tied in until 2020 and however much Bernie Ecclestone wants to tear them up, the big teams will never sanction their own financial penalty.