Since the introduction of the V6-Hybrid-Turbo regulations in 2014; the podium at the Monaco Grand Prix has always included a positive winner, a disappointed loser, and a driver who’s just happy to be there.
In four races over four years, the surprisingly coincidental pattern has always provided a comical podium interview with two passionate drivers whilst the disappointed loser unsuccessfully tries to hide their disappointment.
2017’s race certainly failed to break the pattern with the controversial finishing positions of the two Ferrari drivers – Kimi Raikkonen had taken pole position of Saturday afternoon, only to lose the race to team mate Sebastian Vettel during the pit stops on Sunday.
Raikkonen was eager to hide his disappointment at the result when he conducted Nico Rosberg’s podium interview, notably answering questions with his sunglasses on. “Obviously it’s still second place, but it doesn’t feel awful good,” he told last year’s World Champion.
So, what’s this so-called ‘curse’? – if that’s what we can call it, because admittedly this is purely superstition. Well, comments almost identical to Raikkonen’s were made by Daniel Ricciardo after his similarly devastating finish to the 2016 iteration of the Monaco Grand Prix.
The Australian had lost first place to Lewis Hamilton after Red Bull’s self-inflicted pitstop blunder, infamously known now as “Where’s the tires?” This abnormally long pit stop allowed Lewis Hamilton to swiftly take the lead and storm away with his first race win of 2016, much to Ricciardo’s bitterness.
It’s actually hard to believe the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix wasn’t the most bitter in recent history, as the 2015 edition provided an unforgettable late race twist. Lewis Hamilton, who had dominated the majority of the race weekend and outclassed team mate Nico Rosberg, was, like Ricciardo, severely compromised by a pit stop error.
After a safety car with 14 laps to go, Lewis Hamilton was pitted by Mercedes as a precaution for his tires. The team strategists, unfortunately, made a critical mistake with their calculations and Hamilton unexpectedly emerged not in the lead, but in third. With only minimal laps left, the positions at the front didn’t swap and Hamilton’s deserved win was ripped from his firm grip and handed to his smug team mate Rosberg.
The fact is, in Lewis’s eyes, this failure to cross the line first in 2015 eerily echoed memories of the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix. In that race, Hamilton was eager to jump Nico Rosberg after losing pole position in controversial circumstances on Saturday. Come Sunday, by lap 25 Adrian Sutil came to grief and Hamilton – in P2 at the time – felt a safety car on the horizon.
He immediately was on the team radio requesting to be stopped. Mercedes, however, wouldn’t just allow Hamilton to pit from second and then gain a massive advantage. Instead the team waited for when the safety car was actually deployed a lap later, choosing then to stack their drivers in a conservative manner. This meant there would be no doubt that two Mercedes would continue to lead the Grand Prix.
Hamilton had just lost his prime chance to beat Rosberg. He was furious.
On the podium, like he would a year later, Hamilton simply accepted his trophy and immediately left whilst his Rosberg celebrated happily with the team.
Overall, in four years of racing, the man who’s finished second, with the exception of 2015 when Hamilton finished third, has found themselves upset and visually looks as if they’d rather be anywhere else than the stunning Monaco Grand Prix podium.
Coincidentally, all four drivers would’ve been angry with their team, as in all cases is was factors outside of their control that ultimately compromised their certain race wins.
Although this could be easily referred as an unintentional ‘curse’ (as it probably is!) – the podiums over the four years have also been strikingly similar for another reason. The other driver who finished on the podium, but wasn’t the race winner, has found themselves on that step rather surprisingly…
Take Daniel Ricciardo for example; he finished third in both 2017 and 2014. This year, he was ecstatic to find himself on the podium after starting the race from a lowly 5th. He told media post-race it was “cool” to have pace during the race, especially considering the lack of from from Red Bull so far this season.
2014 marked Ricciardo’s first ever finish at Monaco in his third attempt. It was his second time on the podium, which left the typically smiley Australian all-the-more cheerful.
The 2016 Monaco Grand Prix was the scene of Sergio Perez’s first podium of the season for Force India. After crucial pit calls and strategies, which Perez himself described as “tremendous,” he conceded to Martin Brundle on the podium that he was “extremely happy” on an “amazing day.”
And, who else would be happy just to be on the podium? In 2015, Mr Sebastian Vettel was promoted to 2nd after Hamilton’s pit blunder. Vettel admitted on the subsequent podium that P2 was a “great result” and “It’s good to be always there.”
The last piece of evidence for a crazy bit of superstition? The four previous winners of the Monaco Grand Prix have been (from 2014 to 2017), Nico Rosberg, Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. Suspiciously, the first three drivers have gone on to lose the championship in that respective year.
It’s part of the curse Sebastian Vettel will be undeniably trying to break now that he has a comfortable 25 point lead over main rival, Lewis Hamilton.