x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Drivers will always want to race in Monte Carlo

We saw a number of big accidents at the Monaco Grand Prix and it was fortunate no one was seriously injured. But despite that the race should definitely stay on the schedule for years to come.

Sergio Perez’s badly damaged Sauber is retrieved by marshals after his crash in qualifying.
Sergio Perez’s badly damaged Sauber is retrieved by marshals after his crash in qualifying.

We saw a number of big accidents at the Monaco Grand Prix and it was fortunate no one was seriously injured. But despite that the race should definitely stay on the schedule for years to come.

It is part of Formula One and is a track that every driver in F1 wants to do well on and win at.

I think what the weekend showed was how far F1 has moved forward in terms of safety that Sergio Perez did not suffer serious injury following his crash in qualifying, which saw him lose control while under braking for the chicane after the tunnel and crashing into the barriers at high speed.

I was racing in 1994 when Karl Wendlinger went off at the same place as Perez and as a result of the incident he was in a coma for a short while, before making a full recovery.

That is the nature of Monaco. The organisers have done a lot of work over the years to improve safety, but given the close proximity of the barriers to the track when someone does go off there is usually a sizeable impact.

I think that is what we saw with Vitaly Petrov's accident that caused the red flag late in the race. It wasn't a big crash by any means, but I think he just knocked his ankle in the impact with the barriers and that made it difficult for him to get out of the car.

I did not have too many incidents in Monaco. I think I had an off one year at Tabac and one at Rascasse, but not big ones by any means.

My biggest accident in Monte Carlo was in 1997 in the wet. There was so much water on the track that I aquaplaned going down the start-finish straight and went off at the first corner, Ste Devote. I went down the escape road and hit the barriers hard, but I was able to get out unhurt.

It is a difficult circuit and is always a challenge, but that is why the drivers want to go racing there: it is one of the biggest tests of a driver's skill and concentration. One mistake and you are out of the race.

Looking at Monaco now is very different now to when I raced there. The organisers, as said, have done a lot of work to improve the track. It all used to be off-camber, but they have flattened the road a lot to make it less bumpy for the drivers.

The Swimming Pool section is now a lot wider and Rascasse is much straighter than it was in my day.

The only problem they appear to have is the bump at the end of the tunnel that Perez lost control going over, and also led to Nico Rosberg crashing heavily in his Mercedes GP during practice.

I don't know why the bump is causing such a problem, perhaps the change in the car design and possible low ride heights could be causing the issue, but I am sure the FIA and the track bosses will be looking at it and maybe getting it flattened in time for next year's race.

The drivers do love racing in Monaco and you only had to look at the smile on Sebastian Vettel's face to see what winning Sunday's race meant to the German as he continues to dominate.

That is why F1 still comes to Monaco. It is a one-off from anything else they will race on during the season, and it would be a great loss to the sport if racing in Monte Carlo was ever lost from the calendar.

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Lewis Hamilton's outburst post-race was very bizarre, but his behaviour on the track in Monaco was very poor in my eyes.

He was involved in collisions with both Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado, both caused by him sending late lunges up the inside of corners in his McLaren-Mercedes. Both were down to him and were very ambitious moves. I was disappointed to hear him blame the other drivers for the incidents, claiming that Maldonado had turned in on him.

Maldonado had every right to turn in for the corner, as he was ahead, and Hamilton needs to calm down and realise that people don't have to get out of the way just because he is Lewis Hamilton.

I was surprised he did not get a bigger penalty from the stewards for that collision as he drove into Maldonado, putting the Williams driver out of the race and yet only got a post-race 20-second penalty added to his time, which did not even lose him a position

I think his behaviour was the culmination of a bad weekend in which bad luck saw him start ninth, and he let that frustration show in the race as he saw his title hopes take a big dent as Vettel won the race to go 58 points clear of him.

Johnny Herbert is a former F1 driver with three career victories. His column is written with the assistance of staff writer Graham Caygill

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