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Monaco GP: Jolyon Palmer column - Is it time to make changes?

[img]https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/480/cpsprodpb/56E1/production/_101114222_jolyonpalmer_edit_getty.jpg" srcset="https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/240/cpsprodpb/56E1/production/_101114222_jolyonpalmer_edit_getty.jpg 240w, https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/320/cpsprodpb/56E1/production/_101114222_jolyonpalmer_edit_getty.jpg 320w, https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/480/cpsprodpb/56E1/production/_101114222_jolyonpalmer_edit_getty.jpg 480w, https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/624/cpsprodpb/56E1/production/_101114222_jolyonpalmer_edit_getty.jpg 624w, https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/800/cpsprodpb/56E1/production/_101114222_jolyonpalmer_edit_getty.jpg 800w" sizes="(min-width: 900px) 50vw, (min-width: 600px) 70vw, 100vw" alt="Jolyon Palmer" class="">
F1 driver Jolyon Palmer, who left Renault at the end of 2017, joins the BBC team this season to offer insight and analysis from the point of view of the competitors.Saturday in Monaco showed the very best side of Formula 1's most famous race - but the race on Sunday showed it at its absolute worst.In this column, I am going to look at both sides of this year's Monaco Grand Prix, and ask both what went wrong, and whether something can be done to make the race more like it should be.
First, the good
[img]http://www.bbc.co.uk/data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP//yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7[/img]

Ricciardo is now third in the championship behind Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian VettelDaniel Ricciardo's pole position lap was breathtaking. The Australian had his Red Bull right up against the barriers, giving it maximum attack and getting maximum rewards, in the process setting the fastest ever time ever seen in Monte Carlo.That is exactly what Monaco is all about - drivers pushing themselves and their cars to the limit around a crazy, tight, twisty track that is a world apart from the usual permanent F1 circuits.On the same day, Ricciardo's team-mate Max Verstappen showed the other side of Monaco, getting the wrong side of the fine margin between success and failure. Topping final practice with around 10 minutes to go, Verstappen clipped the barrier in the Swimming Pool section and crashed his car so heavily into the barriers that Red Bull could not repair it in time for qualifying, despite their best efforts.Again, that's the beauty of Monaco as a circuit - pushing the limits but with so little margin for error that even the smallest of mistakes can have big consequences. Max could have been on pole. He surely would have started on the front row. But instead he was forced to start from the back.Saturday in Monaco showed exactly why F1 in Monaco can be so thrilling.
Now, the bad
[img]http://www.bbc.co.uk/data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP//yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7[/img]

Third-placed Lewis Hamilton was not impressed with the race, saying: "I will be shocked if anyone was awake at home while it was on, because I would have been asleep on the couch."At least Verstappen's impressive recovery drive, passing Sauber's Marcus Ericsson, Williams' Lance Stroll and then Carlos Sainz's Renault with an aggressive move around the outside of the Nouvelle Chicane, provided an iota of excitement among the tyre-saving madness of the race.But at the front, this was never a race at all, it was merely a procession of great drivers in fast cars, driving at a steady pace in a line around an amazing track. Everything was decided by the first corner. All positions were maintained after that, and by the time the front-runners had completed the pit-stop phase around lap 20, the race might as well have been called there and then.
What went wrong[/img]
[img]http://www.bbc.co.uk/data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP//yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7[/img]

The majority of drivers struggled with their tyres for most of the raceProcessional races are nothing new in Monaco. But at least usually spectators know that the drivers are being physically and mentally challenged for 78 laps. That is something worth watching, and it means mistakes are sometimes made. And mistakes mean safety cars and potential changes of position.This year, it was nothing like that. The drivers were lapping seconds off the pace they could have done if they were pushing hard. That meant everyone was driving so far within their comfort zone that mistakes weren't likely. It didn't look or seem impressive and many of the drivers didn't enjoy it at all. Ricciardo was told after the pit stops and before his car developed its engine problem on lap 28 that "Kimi (Raikkonen) is the only driver pushing". Hamilton afterwards described the race as "intensely boring" and admitted drivers were "literally cruising around from lap six". We don't even know who was quickest in the race, or really have any performance barometers at all.Was the quickest driver Force India's Esteban Ocon, who reeled in a 45-second gap to the leaders to finish on the tail of Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas? Was it Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly, who found even more to finish behind Ocon? At one stage, Gasly was 20 seconds behind Bottas and hadn't even made his pit stop. Or was it Stroll even, who at one point after pitting was setting a pace a full five seconds quicker than the front runners were going, in the slowest car in the field?as I wrote last week, I absolutely love the Monaco Grand Prix, and believe it has its place as the jewel in the crown on the calendar. But F1 must work hard to make sure a race like this doesn't happen again.Maybe with US giant Liberty Media now at the helm it's time to look at a way to make Monaco more interesting as a spectacle again. They could change the format of the race, or add in some unique element for this one event - perhaps allowing drivers to use the DRS overtaking aid everywhere, or a second mandatory pit stop, or even changing the track layout, as long as they don't rob Monaco of its special challenge and best corners.I'm sure they are looking at all the options after Sunday's race, but something must surely be done so we aren't all falling asleep in our armchairs on the afternoon of what should be the sport's greatest spectacle.
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