Barcelona saw Force India deliver a new aerodynamic package for the VJM09, with the team having struggled in the opening races. Sergio Perez finished seventh while Nico Hulkenberg had also been running competitively before retiring. Monaco saw an even bigger step forward, with Perez finishing third and Hulkenberg sixth.
Asked if the result in Monaco was thanks to the upgrade, chief operating officer Szafnauer told F1i: “I think so.
“The upgrade was all about low speed corner downforce and grip and that’s what you need around Monaco. That’s what we had to fix on the car, high speed stuff is good anyway, so we’ve got a decent car under us that wherever we go we should be competitive.”
And Szafnauer is confident the upgrade has not detracted from the stronger aspects of the Force India.
“Yeah but we’re always good [in Canada]. We didn’t improve the low speed at the expense of high speed, we just added to the high speed strength.
“The next four or five races should be good for us.”
With deputy team principal Bob Fernley saying Force India failed to maximise its potential in the race in Monaco, Szanfauer agreed there was more on the table.
“I think there was a third and fourth in us had we played it right and probably Nico should have been third because he was ahead on track and he also had the choice of strategy. I think we just made the wrong call with Nico which opened the door for Checo.”
Lewis Hamilton finally won a Grand Prix after a long drought that lasted close to eight months. He was cheered on by his new friend Justin Bieber – musical collaboration, ‘just good friends’ or a full-blown bromance? Sorry Niki Lauda, Hamilton seems to have moved on quickly.
The one Bieber song that Red Bull Racing must dedicate to Daniel Ricciardo is ‘Is It Too Late To Say Sorry’ after the “screwed” pitstop which cost the Australian a race win.
To top it off, Red Bull Racing came up with the most ridiculous justification for their error. Should Ricciardo move on or stay put and hope for the best? Is the ‘Baby Webber’ to the ‘Baby Vettel’? And we’re convinced that Max Verstappen’s only possible weakness is the Monaco Grand Prix.
Did Red Bull Racing gift the race to Mercedes to settle their debt from Spain? If Pirelli’s ultra softs can last 47 laps, does that mean that the hards would last two race distances? If so, that’s longer than what the Honda engine lasts!
What the hell happened to Nico Rosberg, does he deserve to be world champion after a drive like this? And a BIG cheer for Force India and Sergio Perez after their podium finish!
We also tell you why Fernando Alonso should play football before every race, how Sauber are learning from the best, and why McLaren-Honda will finally win races in 2022.
Tune in to Episode 18 below!
Nico Rosberg appeared to be on the back foot at the Monaco Grand Prix as soon as the Safety Car released the field after seven low-speed laps. On lap 16 the German driver let team mate Hamilton past on the run up the hill to Casino Square.
Five laps later, the Mercedes driver pitted for a set of intermediate tyres but was still left chasing performance as leaders Ricciardo and Hamilton disappeared into the distance. As he changed rubber again on lap 32 to take on the ultra-soft tyres, a lengthy stop enabled Vettel”s Ferrari to undercut the Mercedes.
“I’m definitely baffled by that lack of pace initially,” Rosberg admitted from the outset.
“There was just no confidence in the car on the intermediates. And after that, it didn’t go my way during the pitstops. We had an issue which delayed the stop, and then we got traffic, cars went by and that was it.”
Given his relative underperformance early, Rosberg was asked by Mercedes’ Paddy Low to give way to Hamilton in order to allow the defending world champion a shot at racing leader Ricciardo. The championship leader complied with the order but obviously took no joy in doing so.
“It was pretty simple, I was far off the pace and Lewis still had a chance to win the race. So it was quite straightforward from the team to give the other guy a chance to win.
“It’s always been like that. It was painful, but a simple decision at the time.”
To add insult to injury, Rosberg’s afternoon of racing ended with another disappointment when Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg out-dragged the Mercedes on the run-up to the checkered flag, which pushed Rosberg down another spot to seventh overall.
“He had soft tyres on and a lot more rubber left. I was on the ultra-softs and when it started drizzling the temperatures went back down. He just had more grip.”
Rosberg’s championship lead over Hamilton has now dwindled down to 24 points, or one race win, but the German was rather frustrated with his immediate performance rather than with the current points gap with his rival.