Monaco Grand Prix - day two


Price of a croissant in the trendier parts of Nice? About the same as a semi-detached in Wimbledon. Price of a croissant in the back streets of Monte Carlo? Actually very reasonable, if not quite a match for Tesco Value packs.

For many, the second day of the Monaco weekend is a time of relative rest. F1 teams have more time than usual to absorb the lessons of free practice and convert them into potentially advantageous Saturday set-ups. Me? I appreciate the leisurely start, an easy train ride from Nice to Monaco and a chance to sit at a quiet café, dunking a couple of croissants in black coffee.  It’s here that you notice the wide abundance of tobacco advertising – striking because this must be just about the last place in western Europe that permits such practice.

There weren’t too many people present to watch the limited track activities. Sean Edwards – son of former F1 racer Guy – bagged pole position for Sunday’s Porsche Supercup race, which was stopped early to allow a couple of mashed 911s to be swept away at Massenet. The major talking point is the newly instigated Formula Sébastien, a one-off curio that features world-class rally adversaries Loeb and Ogier. Thus far the younger party has the upper hand, Ogier qualifying 12th with a 1m 37.574s on his final lap before the red flag – two tenths and three positions clear of Loeb.

It was an impressive effort by the works VW driver, who has previously done only one car race – in a Ferrari F430 at Le Castellet, late in 2011. Loeb, in contrast, has rather more circuit experience and competed in the Supercup as recently as two weeks ago, in Barcelona. “My main objective is just to enjoy myself this weekend,” Ogier said. “I really like the car and so far things have gone quite well. Compared with what I’m used to, my initial impression was that Monaco feels quite wide…”

The post-Supercup barrier repairs delayed the start of the opening GP2 Series race, but the Porsche drivers’ efforts were a trifle compared with the destruction wrought by those in F1’s ante-chamber. Teenage Kiwi Mitch Evans made a fine start to beat Arden team-mate Johnny Cecotto Jr to Ste Dévote, but the Venezuelan – a chaos magnet at the best of times – then failed to make the corner and ploughed into the tyre wall, whereupon Fabio Leimer struck his car squarely. On the other side of the track, meanwhile, Jolyon Palmer was pushed into a spin and a chain-reaction shunt developed behind. By the time the dust had settled, 16 cars remained stationary – and a fair few of those still running had missing front or rear wings.

The race was red-flagged while the mess was cleared and restarted about 40 minutes later behind the safety car. Evans led initially, from Sam Bird – who always goes well in Monaco (he won the Formula Renault 3.5 race in 2012) but had to change his rear wing during the interruption. Evans subsequently lost time in traffic after his tyre stop and Bird went on to take his second win of the season, ahead of Kevin Ceccon (Trident) and Evans. Of the other Brits, James Calado (ART) was fifth, Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (MP) eighth and Jon Lancaster (Hilmer) 12th. Quaife-Hobbs started the first race from last on the grid but will now line up on pole for the second.

Only 17 drivers eventually took the restart and, ironically, given earlier events, all but one made the finish.

The track has now closed to the wilder world and is open to its wider counterpart.

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history  I was there when... 1996 Spanish GP

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