Michael Bailey: Monaco, Ayrton Senna and why bother with F1 qualifying?

It is fitting that only a matter of days after this season's Monaco Grand Prix will see the general release of a film immortalising the real king of Monte Carlo.

Friday, June 3 sees Senna hit the big screen – a work of biographical art that travels through Ayrton Senna's glittering, exhilarating and legendary career in Formula One.

One that included a record six wins around Monaco – and the film helps you understand exactly why.

There is the odd talking head, of course. But predominantly the film is driven by a wonderful collection of archive footage – a real coup for the film's writer, Manish Pandey, who managed to work his charm on F1 supremo and archive owner, Bernie Ecclestone.

No one needs reminding of Senna's tragic end, but stories like that of the three-times world champion and former Lotus man are why so many people love F1.


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• So how long do we think it will be before someone decides they are better off sitting in a garage than taking part in a qualifying session?

There has been fantastic racing and the odd strange side-effect from Pirelli's arrival in Formula One – but surely relegating the traditional Saturday shoot-out for pole to an inconvenience is the most frustrating.

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The first glimpse came from Mark Webber in China, who got qualifying all wrong – but benefited from saving the few extra tyres to take a podium from 18th on the grid.

From then, most cottoned on to the fact having limited running in qualifying meant you used fewer tyres – leaving you with a much healthier allocation of rubber come race day which is, after all, the day when points are won.

Nick Heidfeld enjoyed similar fun in Spain on Sunday. A fire in Saturday morning practice ruled his Renault out of qualifying all together – yet the German still pocketed eighth place at the chequered flag from last on the Barcelona grid.

And while Team Lotus quite rightly went for glory on Saturday by rocketing into Q2 and 15th with Heikki Kovalainen, Force India's decision to sacrifice qualifying performance for an extra set of new soft – in other words, quick – tyres saw both of their cars finish much higher up the field in the race.

Force India at least took to the track in Q2, on the hard but slower compound tyres. But how long before someone actually does not bother to go out at all?

It may well be an issue that can wait for at least one more race, given Monaco is next up – indeed, the quick turnaround sees free practice around Monte Carlo start tomorrow thanks to Friday's public holiday in the principality.

The iconic circuit is notoriously difficult for overtaking – and that is exactly why it deserves to be iconic. No amount of overtaking devices or Kers will mess with a race that sums up what Formula One has always been about.

'I love Monaco, it's a race I remember watching when I was a kid and it's a place that really showcases Formula One at its very best: racing flat out against around the toughest and greatest circuit in the world,' beamed Lewis Hamilton this week. Too true.

• It seems Formula One may ban another technical advance – at least that is what Hispania want to see.

The problem centres around hot-blown diffusers, believed to be used by all teams except Williams, Virgin and the Spanish strugglers.

Put simply, it means exhaust fumes are pumped through a car's rear wing and floor to help improve downforce – in turn improving performance.

The major issue has come with cars altering their engines so that, even if a driver has not got his foot on the accelerator pedal, the engine still burns extra fuel to ensure the benefit given by exhaust fumes continues.

For a sport trying to sell its relevant, green credentials, burning fuel for a purpose other than moving forwards sits a little uneasy.

Hispania argue the device breaks the rules – and therefore those teams without are both at a huge disadvantage and in the right.

Team principal Colin Kolles has vowed to protest at Monaco if there is no change, given the FIA's technical chief Charlie Whiting had suggested a ban would be put in place – only to postpone it until a meeting with team engineers on 16 June.

It seems unlikely Hispania carry enough weight to make a truly meaningful protest, but there will clearly be teams who will have to deal with a cut in their performance either during this season or next.

• We are five races into the season and by this stage you are either enjoying the new look Formula One or it is all passing you by.

That ties in nicely with last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. Clearly it was an improvement on past races around Catalunya, given we actually saw an overtake.

Fernando Alonso's lightning start, Jenson Button's impressive strategy and Nick Heidfeld's 'madman' rendition – his description, not mine – to take eighth from the back of the grid were fascinating viewing, while the Pirelli tyres, Kers power boost and moveable rear wing to help overtaking (DRS) continue to deliver entertaining races.

Yet there is a flip side. Plenty will note Red Bull slaughtering the opposition in qualifying and, no matter how much racing went on, Sebastian Vettel still made it four wins from the opening five races.

For those dipping their toe into the sport, it may still seem too predictable. And if the same results continue up to the likes of Spa, both championships could well be decided by then – no one wants that.

Thankfully it is a good bet the next two races, Monaco and Montreal, will shake things up given the nature of the tracks.

• The reason I think Twitter is so popular is it gives you what people really think. Take Heikki Kovalainen, inset, for example.

His quotes via Team Lotus after Sunday's disappointing DNF: 'The early pace wasn't there for the later stages…maybe we should have pitted earlier but we still learnt a lot.'

His post-race tweet?: 'Bad race today, poor call on the 1st stop, was left out for too long losing lot of time, had to push to limit the damage, went off...'

That's more like it Heikki – tell it as it is.

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