Billy Monger was one of several drivers that caught out by the pre-race rain shower that hit the first Euroformula Open race in Pau.
As the cars headed to the grid, drizzle hit the circuit. Drivers were given reconnaissance laps as a result, and the organisers decided to classify the 27-lap encounter as a wet race.
All drivers had been sent to the grid on slicks, and the announcement prompted many to switch to the wet compound before the start. This ultimately proved to be the wrong choice, with the track too dry for the tyres within a lap, and prompting all whom had switched to then pit.
“It was a bit of a weird one, because the race was due to start and then it got postponed,” Monger told Formula Scout.
“It got classified as a wet one so we presumed everybody was putting wets on.? When my engineer went to put brand new wets on, I said: it’s too dry out there, if we’re putting wets on, we should put scrubbed wets on. By the time we’d sorted that out over the radio, they’d put the [new wet] tyres on, bolted them all up. And suddenly everyone was getting kicked off the grid, because it was quite a quick turnaround.”
“I didn’t know at the time everyone else wasn’t on wets, I didn’t even think to look. So I assumed everyone was.”
Despite being significantly disadvantaged by his tyre choice, Monger made a stellar start and rose from 10th to sixth by the second corner. He lost the position on the next lap, and then pitted a lap later, putting him a lap down.
“I overtook three people on the entry to Turn 2. But as soon as I got through the Turn 3 and 4 yellows [standard procedure on lap one of Pau race],? and started pushing in Turns 5/6 the tyres were just cooked,” explained Monger.
“At that point I thought everyone was on wets, so that’s why I decided to stay out a few laps. In hindsight I should’ve made the call quicker to switch to slicks. But if it had rained in the next couple of laps, we would’ve been in a good spot to win.”
Monger’s pace after pitting was enough to get him back in the points, and the mistakes of others meant he also made the rookie podium.
“Because I put slicks on several laps in, I had to push straight away [to get temperature] as it was a race. So I just took way too much life out of the rear tyres early on. That meant in the race’s second half I was struggling with a lot of oversteer.
“I ended up seven tenths off the leader’s fastest lap time, and I think a big chunk of that is that we didn’t have a proper tyre warming procedure. But considering we had to do a pitstop in a 30-minute race, getting points was not the end of the world.”