Monaco GP: Did traffic cost Kimi Raikkonen victory or did Sebastian Vettel's speed win it?
The tale of the timesheets from Sunday's controversial race
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 29/05/17 1:18pm
Examining whether traffic for Kimi Raikkonen after his pit-stop or Sebastian Vettel's fast laps before his stop was decisive...
What do the lap charts show us?
We pick up the story just before the one and only round of pit stops when both Raikkonen and Vettel were running in the low 1:17s.
The charts confirm there was no discernible drop-off in Raikkonen's pace to necessitate a stop - his time on Lap 33 was the best he had set for half-a-dozen laps - as he maintained a 1.2-second advantage over his team-mate.
The critical laps around Ferrari's pit-stops
Raikkonen would later confirm after the race he hadn't requested to stop. "I was called in and that's about it," he told reporters.
Nor was there any meaningful threat of Raikkonen being 'undercut'. Valtteri Bottas, the only car in the top five at that stage in the race to have previously pitted, was over 25 seconds behind - around six seconds more than is required at Monaco for a car to pit and emerge ahead.
Moreover, the Mercedes was running slowly after switching from ultrasofts to supersofts: Bottas' first full lap on the slower of the two Pirelli compounds was a 1:17.783 - almost eight tenths of a second shy of Raikkonen's final lap on ultrasofts.
But the call to pit had gone out.
Raikkonen's stop wasn't quick but it wasn't slow either. Stationary for 3.4 seconds, he only lost three tenths relative to his team-mate.
Yet despite the absence of any delay, the Ferrari emerged from the pits directly behind the lapped McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne and Pascal Wehrlein's Sauber.
And it was surely here that, from Raikkonen's perspective, the race was decisively lost.
While Vandoorne moved aside at Portier and Wehrlein would be caught on the start-finish line, critical damage had already been done to Raikkonen.
The Finn, losing out behind the backmarkers and struggling to generate heat into his tyres in the process, lost over three seconds to his team-mate on Lap 35.
To critical effect, Vettel's lap of 1:16.446 - not outstanding by any means - played a 1:19.518 from Raikkonen.
A pit-stop at Monaco is recognised as taking around 19 seconds. At the end of Lap 35, Vettel already had that amount of time in hand.
Where the race was won and lost?
|Lap 35||Lap 36||Lap 37||Lap 38|
|Raikkonen||+ 3.072||- 0.150||+ 0.546||+ 0.368|
Asked later where he felt the race had been decided, Vettel replied: "Not in the pits, no. I wouldn't say that. But on the track with the old tyres."
In fact, Raikkonen was actually quicker on the supersofts than Vettel was with his old ultrasofts on Lap 36.
But even by then, it was probably too late. Because of the time Raikkonen had lost to traffic on his out-lap, Vettel was already effectively the race leader as early as Lap 35 and, with a fast in-lap and pit-stop, would have re-emerged ahead - although it would have been mighty close.
Gaps between Vettel and Raikkonen
|Lap 35||19.381 secs|
|Lap 36||19.231 secs|
|Lap 37||19.777 secs|
|Lap 38||20.145 secs|
How important were Vettel's fast laps?
As above, Raikkonen was fractionally quicker on Lap 36 than Vettel - a 1:16.14 versus a 1:16.264.
It was only on Laps 37 and 38 that Vettel, now in clean air after the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson pitted, finally found his groove: a 1:15.587 followed by a 1:15.238, his fastest lap of the race.
But Raikkonen, his tyres now fully warmed up and with traffic behind him, wasn't hanging around either, setting times of 1:15.506 and a 1:15.527 on Laps 38 and 39.
To no avail, however.
Vettel's speed on Laps 37 and 38 had gained him almost a second over his team-mate. And his in-lap on Lap 39 was mighty fast: a 1:32.673 compared to the 1:34.039 Raikkonen had set five laps previously when he stopped. A quick stop sealed the deal and Vettel emerged comfortably in front. At the first timing marker, the German was recorded as 1.5 seconds ahead.
Raikkonen's slow out-lap in traffic had already lost the race as much as Vettel's speed had won it.
Don't miss the F1 Report: Monaco GP review as Oliver Rowland and Will Buxton join James Galloway to dissect the iconic race. Watch on Sky Sports F1 on Wednesday at 8:30pm.
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