The 2023 edition of the Monaco Grand Prix will live longer in the memory than most. Formula 1‘s showpiece event on the calendar may be full of glitz and glam, but action on track is usually notable only for its absence on the streets of Monte Carlo.
Heading into the weekend, the big talking point was the upgrade package Mercedes were set to debut in a bid to improve the misfiring W14. And all was looking positive for the Brackley-based outfit following the first two practice sessions, during which Lewis Hamilton looked particularly comfortable behind the wheel.
That was, until he crashed into the barrier at the entry of Mirabeau in FP3, allowing teams the perfect chance to inspect Mercedes‘ new floor design. The sidepods may have garnered most of the attention, but in this era of ground-effect aerodynamics, the floor is all important.
Toto Wolff admitted it was “sub-optimal” that snappers were on hand as Hamilton’s car was lifted by crane back to the garage, but they were on the receiving end come qualifying when Sergio Perez crashed out of Q1 with less than seven minutes on the clock.
The Mexican dumped his RB19 into the wall at Turn 1, exposing the underside of F1 2023’s standout performer for the world to see.
After Hamilton and George Russell finished fourth and fifth respectively in a dramatic dry-wet race, Mercedes chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin admitted Red Bull would likely be more affected by events and that all teams would be perusing Adrian Newey‘s latest design.
“I suspect they are probably more upset that their car was exposed in this way than we are,” Shovlin said.
“Years ago, when the weight distribution could be between 43 and 48 percent, you paid a little more attention to that. You could try to play with the centre of gravity. Nowadays, the window to work in is pretty narrow anyway because of the regulations.
“But I’m sure the photos of the underside of the floor… to be honest, with these regulations it’s the most important part that you don’t normally get to see, so teams will look to these types of crash photos. Monaco is a good opportunity to have shots like that.”
Horner: It’s rude to look up people’s skirts
Speaking to Rosanna Tennant, host of the Chequered Flag podcast, Hamilton joked that he had saved images of the stricken Red Bull suspended in mid-air.
And when put to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, he was also able to see the funny side.
“It’s very rude to look up people’s skirts,” Horner said. “It’s been a bit of a show and tell for all the teams this weekend.
“Everybody’s been up in the air at some point, so it’s the same for everyone.”