The Roar
The Roar

Michael Lamonato

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Joined July 2012

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Michael is a presenter/producer of ABC Grandstand's national F1 programme Box of Neutrals, but his most significant claim to fame came during the 2013 Australian Grand Prix when he angered the French contingent of the paddock by accidentally opening an umbrella indoors. He's also done some other things, none of which are particularly interesting. You can find him every Friday at 10:30AM (AET) on ABC Grandstand, or talking largely to himself at any time on Twitter: @MichaelLamonato.

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Yeah, I’m not sure there’s much you can do about the circuit, and I’m not sure it’d be worth making wholesale changes to generate maybe an extra overtaking opportunity that might not pay off anyway. The history counts for something, and that combined with the mental challenge makes it worthwhile. I’m all for filling the calendar with circuits that promote lots of wheel-to-wheel racing, but there’s got to be room for classics, even if in a convention sense they lack action.

Why Monaco is still magic

Good point about the lack of overtaking opportunities elsewhere. It’s probably not such a stretch to say most other tracks are similarly hard to pass at but for the fact that run-off means more attempts are made given the cost of bailing out tends to be low. But that’s exactly what makes Monaco so brilliant — every action counts.

Why Monaco is still magic

Zandvoort will be absolutely nuts once it’s packed with Dutch fans. Hopefully the circuit delivers — though I have some serious doubts about that.

As for Verstappen, he’s really only got Singapore and Mexico, as you said, as potential win locations, unless RBR and Honda can find some extra time, which they keep hinting they will — but then so will Mercedes, so I can’t see the RB15 getting too much closer to the front. I think second ahead of Ferrari is likely the maximum.

And what a disappointment Ferrari has been indeed! The podium will give the team a bit of a buzz, but everyone at Maranello understands the real picture. Canada might be interesting, though, given it favours engine power.

The reinvention of Max Verstappen

Yep, they’re both drivers who you know will have a go and both have a great feel for a car on the brakes — I suspect Ricciardo’s relative lack of bit this season has been rediscovering the braking limit in his new car, as Azerbaijan suggested.

I don’t doubt there was some gamesmanship when it came to the radio, but visually his tyres were pretty cooked, especially post-race. I think the Hollywood element Palmer’s referring to is Hamilton saying he wouldn’t be able to win the race despite the circuit layout heavily stacking the duel in his favour.

The reinvention of Max Verstappen

Hi mate — I think it’s too early to say. His move was never about being in victory contention this season or even in 2020 so much as it was about being in a position to lead a championship-contending team in 2021. That said, absolutely the dramatic difference between the team’s preseason goal and its current competitiveness would be causing concern. A strong recovery this year will help steady the nerves.

The F1 quarter-term report

Hi Simoc, to be clear, this is in the context of their approaches to the 2019 aero regulations and their relative development potential. Ferrari has taken a distinctly different approach to how it deals with its front wing and the subsequent directing of airflow compared to Mercedes and Red Bull Racing.

The F1 quarter-term report

There’s merit in your Hamilton assessment. I think Mercedes, including Hamilton, has been very much focussed on external threats so far this season. Once attention turns to the teammates beating each other, they’ll both be required to step up a gear. The question then is how high Valtteri can go to match him, especially considering Hamilton tends to have slow starts to seasons before he really becomes comfortable in the car. Should be interesting.

Is the championship already over?

True! We’ve got to stay positive if this really is the whole season. Even if Bottas doesn’t get over the line, I’ll be interested to see how he approaches it. Hamilton might be one of the best, but he isn’t unbreakable.

Is the championship already over?

Yep, I think it might be up to Bottas to salvage this season. He definitely has a different attitude about him, but Hamilton always tends to find another gear halfway through the season after a slow start, so Valtteri will need to up his game again if he’s to see it through.

Red Bull Racing might have a crack at a couple of their traditionally successful races, but already the signs for Monaco are grim, and if the team can’t win there, it mightn’t be possible anywhere without a major slice of luck.

Is the championship already over?

Accusing Mercedes of tanking must be your wackiest claim yet.

Is the championship already over?

I agree things must be scrutinised closely, which is why I think it’s too difficult to decide these things during a career — it’s really for post-retirement.

Similar goes for Bottas. He mightn’t have impressed you thus far, and fair enough, but drivers improve over time, some more slowly than others. This doesn’t mean they have to be in greatest-ever territory, but better not to write these things off ahead of time.

As for last season, even if Mercedes’s car was comprehensively the quickest out there (it wasn’t bar perhaps a quarter of the races), it wasn’t dominant to the degree of his hold over the field. You do not have to believe he’s the greatest of all time to admit he was in superb form last year.

Can Valtteri Bottas save the 2019 F1 season?

I think it will be a very interesting discussion once he’s retired. Sure, he was beaten by Button (world champion) on points over several seasons and Rosberg (world champion) in a single year, but he also matched Fernando Alonso on debut and wiped the floor with the entire competition last season, when he was performing at an incredibly high level.

I think he’s certainly in the discussion — the number of poles, titles and wins alone mandate it — but it’s so hard to declare it, especially when a driver is still competing.

Can Valtteri Bottas save the 2019 F1 season?

You may be right, which would be a disappointing anticlimax to what was supposed to be a big Ferrari year. Spain will be the real test, though. If Ferrari can look as good in Barcelona as they did at the same track in preseason testing, then there’s hope at least the team might learn how to unlock that pace consistently for the rest of the season to launch a fightback.

Either way, I can’t wait to watch Leclerc vs Vettel unfold.

Can Valtteri Bottas save the 2019 F1 season?

Bottas was pretty much on Hamilton’s pace this weekend and obviously got pole. Hamilton is probably the best driver out there, but I think Bottas can push him, he’s definitely stepped up for the start of the year.

As for Vettel, it’s hard to say. Had he been in the dominant Mercedes of 2014–16, you’d probably say he’d have beaten Rosberg, but then his mistakes under pressure in the last two years have been disappointing — who’s to say he Rosberg wouldn’t have cracked him in what were seasons-long one-on-one battles? I think this is an important year for Vettel’s reputation in that regard; he still has things to prove.

Ferrari team orders looked bad, but they hide a bigger problem

Yep, it definitely cost both cars time and gave Verstappen a sniff. It’s understandable given it looked like Vettel was quicker, but there’s no denying the cost.

Verstappen getting fourth was more a function of everything that happened after the first pit stop, though. Leclerc could’ve recovered the position had he been given a regular strategy rather than used exclusively to cover Vettel.

Ferrari team orders looked bad, but they hide a bigger problem

Hey mate, let me reproduce a key part of the article you clearly didn’t bother reading:
The first call in Vettel’s favour was understandable. It’s not uncommon for teams to switch drivers when the following car appears faster, and Ferrari’s hand was subsequently forced when Red Bull Racing smelt weakness and exploited it.

I don’t see how this constitutes Leclerc fanaticism, but I’m happy you’re excited anyway.

Ferrari team orders looked bad, but they hide a bigger problem

That’s a great comparison, I reckon. Vettel has loads of ability, but he seems to be missing one or two percent compared to the likes of Hamilton when it comes to landing the knockout blow.

The dynamic inside Ferrari will be fascinating this season.

Leclerc the hero Ferrari deserves and needs after Bahrain near miss

That wouldn’t explain the qualifying gap, though, and it also wouldn’t explain why Charles Leclerc was able to lap much quicker than Sebastian Vettel towards the end of the race with newer tyres. It still might be principally power unit-related, but I don’t think it was just fuel usage.

Why you'd better hope Ferrari bounces back in Bahrain

I’m loving this all-new Bottas! It feels like he’s developed a real killer instinct that has perhaps been missing in recent years. Is it the threat of Esteban Ocon in his garage that’s activated him? It’s hard to say, but I very much hope we see him contending all season long. It won’t be so easy in future races, though — Hamilton had some car damage that will have accounted for some of that difference, so the next challenge is to withstand what will be a mighty fightback from the reigning champion.

Ferrari is a real mystery. I was a bit disappointed Leclerc didn’t have a crack at Vettel before asking permission, but I suppose he’s playing the political long game and keeping everyone onside until he’s fully comfortable. It’d be good if the team can get its act together soon enough to give him a shot at the title.

The midfield looks fantastically close — way too close to call right now! Haas looks like it’s having a quick start, similar to last year. The rest of the teams left a bit on the table through error and strategy, so we’ll see how it shakes out in the next few weekends.

Defying expectations: What we learnt from the Australian Grand Prix

There’s definitely still a long way to go, but it’s far from the start Renault needs. The team is aiming to be a step beyond the midfield and close enough to the top three to pick off an occasional podium this season; buried in the grid after qualifying and finishing behind Haas means they’ve essentially made no progress.

That said, Haas has always been competitive at Albert Park, which itself is a bit of a weird circuit. I think a fair few teams and drivers will have felt they didn’t execute a perfect weekend, so we’ll wait and see what the field looks like once the European season rolls around.

As for Ricciardo, this is absolutely a risk. Hopefully it comes good for him, or good enough that his stock remains high if he has to abandon ship somewhere down the line. Assuming he beats Hulkenberg, of course!

Defying expectations: What we learnt from the Australian Grand Prix

For sure there are lots of different ways to cut the data. Absolutely Red Bull Racing’s time is not representative — I think I said as much — but if you correct RBR’s best lap for tyres, you’d have to do the same for everyone else. Gary Anderson did something like this during the week, albeit with his own tyre data, and ended up with similar gaps anyway.

Rendering power unit mileage on a per-car basis has its merits, but I’ve left the data raw so you can make of it what you will. An averaged value would give you a better indication of general reliability — although you’d have to reflect William’s late start — but running the numbers as they are gives you an indication of how much data the respective engine manufacturers collected during the preseason, so it’s not an entirely useless number.

But that’s preseason in a nutshell, I guess — there are no definitive answers!

Who's hot and who's not after the F1 preseason?

The midfield looks great, and the prospect of them being slightly closer to the front might make any mistakes from the top three slightly more costly — though I won’t hold my breath! The quality of the drivers fighting for minor glory is too high not to provide some good action among themselves though.

Who's hot and who's not after the F1 preseason?

Absolutely right — Vettel’s lost points could’ve won both him and Ferrari the title last year, not including the points lost when Ferrari took that bad development turn between Singapore and the USA. The Leclerc vs Vettel fight should be epic.

Who's hot and who's not after the F1 preseason?

Yeah, I reckon you’re right. The most Renault can hope for is to sit in that empty space between the top three and the midfield and pick off some opportunistic podiums. Maybe by the end of the year that outlook will improve a little, but I suspect that’s what we’ll see.

Who's hot and who's not after the F1 preseason?

I reckon you might get a call from Williams asking after your bike with lap times like that!

Who's hot and who's not after the F1 preseason?