Formula 1 pundit Peter Windsor has delivered his assessment of three of the most dramatic incidents in the recent history of the Monaco Grand Prix involving Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg and Sergio Perez.
With the tight and twisty nature of the circuit making overtaking difficult, the Monte Carlo venue places an unusually large emphasis on a high grid position with the likes of Schumacher and Rosberg going to extreme lengths to secure pole position over the last two decades.
In 2006, Schumacher effectively parked his car at the exit of the tight Rascasse corner in order to bring out the yellow flags and prevent Renault’s Fernando Alonso, his title rival, from completing his final quick lap.
Schumacher was later stripped of his qualifying times and sent to the back of the grid, recovering to fifth from a pit lane start, with Keke Rosberg – father of Nico and the 1982 World Champion – describing the Ferrari driver’s act as the “cheapest, dirtiest thing” he had ever seen by in F1.
In 2014, meanwhile, Rosberg secured pole position in Monaco despite running wide at the Mirabeau turn in the dying moments of qualifying, the caution flags stopping Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton challenging for pole.
The German kept pole and went on to take the second of three consecutive Monaco GP victories the following day.
Another controversial Monaco qualifying moment occurred in 2022, when Sergio Perez spun and hit the wall at Portier during the final runs of Q3, blocking the track.
Starting third, Perez won a rain-affected race, but was widely accused of crashing intentionally in qualifying after Verstappen drew attention to his unhappiness with an unspecified incident following a Red Bull team orders spat in Brazil.
Speaking via a recent YouTube stream, Windsor believes Rosberg executed his ‘mistake’ in a smarter way than Schumacher, who telegraphed his intentions in a Ferrari pre-qualifying meeting in 2006.
Asked by a viewer to explain how Rosberg got away with it whereas Schumacher didn’t, he replied: “I think it was because Nico did it in a much more efficient way.
“He didn’t just crash into a guardrail and block the track. He went off and semi-blocked it and [any guilt was] dependent on Mercedes’ telemetry.
“And the telemetry didn’t actually show that he did anything suspicious, other than the fact that he did it.
“So, in other words, Nico Rosberg did that as well as he did a lot of things in Formula 1. He did it absolutely perfectly. In my view, he definitely did that intentionally.
“That’s how [Rosberg] got away with it. Michael didn’t because he was just a bit obtuse about it.
“There’s quite a funny story about how, in the briefing before qualifying on Saturday morning in the Ferrari garage, there’s Ross Brawn, Felipe Massa, Michael and some others – Chris Dyer – and they’re talking about qualifying and what’s going to happen.
“And Michael says: ‘What we need is a yellow [flag] just after I get the pole, don’t we? Or a red.’
“They all just laughed and that was it. And the next thing Ross Brawn knew was that Michael had done that! Incredible.”
With Red Bull once again expected to be the class of the field in Monaco, having won all of the first five races of 2023, the dynamic between Verstappen and Perez – separated by 14 points in the Drivers’ standings – is likely to be a major talking point against the backdrop of the 2022 controversy.
Windsor remains unconvinced that Perez crashed intentionally in qualifying last year, suggesting his loyalty to Red Bull – who rescued his F1 career when he seemed set to be left without a seat in late 2020 – would likely dissuade him from committing such an act of selfishness.
He said: “It’ll be interesting to see what happens this year at Monaco, with Perez and Max.
“The jury’s still out as to whether or not that is the issue [between the Red Bull drivers], but most people seem to think Perez deliberately crashed his car last year.
“I still find that hard to believe, that a guy at that stage of his career – lucky enough to be in a Adrian Newey Red Bull RB18 – would do that deliberately to one of Adrian’s cars, but we’ll see what happens.”