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A rare win for McLaren?   
31 May 2002 Volume 4 - Issue 15   

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David won the Monaco Grand Prix by qualifying on the front of the grid and getting ahead at the start. His start from second place on the grid was nothing short of incredible - certainly good enough to get to the first corner well ahead of Montoya who started on pole.

After that the show was over.

Today overtaking is difficult on any circuit. At Monaco it is pretty much impossible without the cooperation of the driver in the lead. When lapping back markers they are compelled to cooperate and even that is difficult on this circuit. A driver in the lead that has no intention of making it easy to overtake (not that I suggest that he should) will stay in the lead unless he makes a mistake.

Coulthard made no mistakes. He seemed comfortably faster than Montoya in second place (who was definitely holding Michael Schumacher up) and managed to build quite a lead until Montoya's car failed. Coulthard was in the pits immediately after and managed to stay in the lead until the end of the race with Michael Schumacher never more than a couple of metres behind him.

Having watched the pace that he commanded right from the start, I was surprised that Michael Schumacher failed to qualify better. Michael is normally very good at reading the traffic during qualifying but this time he never had a single clear run and it showed. Starting in third must have been frustrating as he was patently the fastest on the track.

It certainly was not Barrichello's day. In fact it was not his weekend, and this time it is hard to accept that it was all bad luck.

Qualifying in fifth was already bad but losing two positions at the start was in my opinion worse. From there it would have been difficult to get back into the points, let alone the podium.

His only chance was to drive a perfect race and hope that attrition would move him up in the ranks. If he could make up a place or two in the pits he could even finish well.

Trying too hard to overtake Raikkonen when the opportunity did not present itself was his first mistake and then to incur a penalty while stopping for his first penalty was criminal. Three unscheduled stops (a new nose cone and two penalties) totally destroyed his race.

It is easy to criticise when we are not there in the heat of the moment, but Ferrari could expect a little more sense and control from Barrichello who is, after all, no longer a rookie.

Ralf was disappointing too. He did not seem to have any problems with his car but he was well off Montoya's pace in the other Williams.

Trulli, Fisichella and Frentzen did very well to finish in the points. All three drivers like their cars set up to be very pointy (with little understeer), which works well in Monaco as it helps to keep the cars away from the walls and barriers.

I was surprised to see Irvine finish two laps down. He normally does well in Monaco and this is one of very few circuits where power and aerodynamics are not crucial.

Mark Webber performed very well again. In a faster car he will be worth watching, and it was good to see both Arrows finish.

I was a little disappointed in McNish and Salo putting their Toyotas into the barrier. It would have been good to see how the Toyota stacks up in tight and slow conditions.

Villeneuve broke his car again, the first of two cars that failed (Montoya's Williams being the other). I would have liked to see Villeneuve last a little longer as I felt that the power disadvantage the BAR suffered so far this season would be less apparent in Monaco.

It was an uneventful race, the outcome was decided in qualifying. Even if the three leading drivers held formation at the start Coulthard would have won and Michael would have been second after Montoya retired. Attrition was lower than previous years but even then the race was just as processional.

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