The event was overshadowed by Schumacher’s ludicrous parking manoeuvre in qualifying. This completely blew any chance Alonso had of getting pole. He was 0.2 of a second up on Schumacher’s fastest time in the first sector alone but the yellow flags at the penultimate corner threw that out the window. Amazingly he only a few hundredths off Schumacher’s time.

The cynic in me thought straight away that Schumacher had done it on purpose and it turns out I wasn’t the only one who thought that! The stewards thought he’d deliberately caused yellow flags and calm was restored by scratching Schumacher’s time, sending him to the back of grid. This meant Alonso took pole, but not as he would have liked. James Allen has some interesting comments on the incident.

Given Monaco’s street circuit layout, which is notoriously difficult to overtake on (but not impossible), it essentially gifted Alonso the race. The only pressure he had was from Kimi, which amounted to nothing since McLaren’s winning reliability showed itself again, as Ted Kravitz notes:

…this time when the heat shield that slots between the engine and the rear bodywork caught fire.

This is embarrassing on two counts: Firstly because exactly the same thing happened in Thursday practice, and secondly, because IT’S A HEAT SHIELD! You’d think that perhaps it would be made from non-flammable material.

There were some nice overtaking manoeuvres, particularly by Fisichella on Coulthard, which at first glance looked like disaster, but he made it stick. Schumacher fought his way back to finish fifth, getting ahead of Fisichella (who slipped back due to pit stop problems), and he would have destroyed Alonso and the rest of the field had he started at that position or higher.

Montoya crept up to snag second and Coulthard took an impressive third for Red Bull. He looked a prize tw*t wearing a red cape on the podium, but we can thank their Superman (film) sponsors! I can’t see Red Bull being on the podium again this year though.

Next up is Silverstone, on the 11th June. Hopefully, it’ll be good weather and it should be a corker since Renault were good there last year, but then again, so were McLaren.

By Paul

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