Monaco Grand Prix starts after hour rain delay


MONTE CARLO -- The Monaco Grand Prix was delayed for over an hour when the FIA delayed the start and then red-flagged before a racing lap had been completed due to a heavy rainstorm.

The rain started 10 minutes before the scheduled start and intensified but instead of starting the race as planned, the FIA twice delayed the formation lap before throwing a red flag to suspend the race.

After a delay of nearly 70 minutes, the race finally got underway via a rolling start, with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc comfortably holding the lead through Turn 1.

The rain began 10 minutes before the scheduled race start, just after the drivers had observed the Monaco national anthem on the front of the grid and started to return to their cars.

Mechanics on the grid frantically rushed to change dry tyres to the intermediate wet in time for the 15:00 local time start, but the FIA delayed the formation lap to 15:09 and then 15:16.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton was seen shaking his head in the cockpit after being told of the delay, while reigning world champion Max Verstappen asked: "What are we waiting for? A dry track?"

The FIA mandated the formation lap would have to start under full wets.

The formation lap went ahead at 15:16, but the rain had intensified even more.

Leclerc led the pack around for two laps behind the safety car before the race was red flagged at 15:20.

At one point, Leclerc said: "It's raining like crazy now."

The delay likely meant F1 missed an opportunity to start the race in the lighter rain and allow the cars to form a drier racing line on circuit.

An FIA statement said: "Race control was monitoring a severe downpour that was rapidly approaching the circuit, and as it arrived during the start procedure, the safety car start and its associated procedures were implemented. This was done for safety reasons in consideration that there has been no wet running this weekend."

At last year's Belgian Grand Prix, the FIA delayed the start of the race for three hours as they waited for a lull in a heavy rainstorm which never arrived. That race eventually finished without a single racing lap being completed, with half points being awarded, prompting a change in rules around points for similar scenarios going forward.

After the debacle in Belgium, F1 mandated that a minimum of two racing laps must now be completed by the race leader for half points to be awarded going forward.