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Alonso and Ferrari fastest in Monaco Grand Prix practice
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Alonso and Ferrari fastest in Monaco Grand Prix practice
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 May 2010   |  6:05 pm GMT  |  82 comments

Fernando Alonso topped the timesheets today in practice for Sunday’s Monaco Prix. The two times Monaco winner was the only driver to dip below the 1m 15s mark, setting a best time of 1m 14.904s – just a tenth of a second shy of the fastest lap in low fuel qualifying last year.


Alonso was having to contend with the back end stepping out quite a bit, but he always looked fast and believes that whereas Barcelona rewarded massive downforce, Monaco is about getting the car tuned in to the circuit,

“Here, having the right set up can make more of a difference than pure aerodynamic downforce and we already have a good baseline, given that last year Kimi almost took pole with a car that was far off the F10 in terms of potential,” he said.

Ferrari has not won the race for almost a decade, the 2001 race was the last victory, with Michael Schumacher. Although they have come close since then, victory has eluded them.

Alonso’s time was set just before a rain shower dampened the track. Interestingly many drivers stayed out to see how the slick tyres would handle the damp track and despite some slides and some flirtation with the barriers, no one went into them. It was a useful exercise as the indications are that there will be more rain over the weekend.

Nico Rosberg was second, after a difficult morning in which he spent a lot of time in the pit garage working on a pushrod problem in his suspension.

Robert Kubica looked very competitive in both sessions, setting a time of 1m15.192 in the afternoon session, having been third in the morning session. Kubica looks like he could be worth keeping an eye on this weekend. He has always excelled on tracks lined with barriers or walls and the Renault looks pliant and nimble in his hands around this track.

The Renault was also the fastest car through the speed trap today.

The McLaren drivers look poorly placed on the time sheets in 7th and 9th but their car looked hooked up too and are likely to contest the pole position on Saturday with the Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber, the Ferrari and the Mercedes. It’s likely to be tight – because it’s a short lap the margins are often in the hundredths of a second. Last year in Q2, in low fuel conditions similar to this year’s qualifying session, the top four cars from four different teams were separated by 7/100ths of a second.

Williams has always been a strong team at Monaco, even when the car hasn’t been performing well elsewhere. This has been a particularly tough start to the season for the team in terms of competitiveness so this weekend will be important to them. Today they were 13th and 14th.

In the morning session Alonso’s Ferrari just edged out the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel, with Kubica third. Kamui Kobayashi hit the barriers at the Swimming Pool.

Tomorrow is a rest day in Monaco, so the next track action will be on Saturday.

Be sure to follow the latest news, gossip and track action, including voices from the teams, drivers, media and insiders on the live Twitter feed at JA on F1 Tweets

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82 Comments
  1. monktonnik says:

    I watched some of the coverage on the BBC whilst at work.

    My thoughts:

    JB looked uncomfortable with oversteer, but beautifully smooth at times.
    MSC was looking quite agressive and racey
    Kubica looks sublime

    There was a bit of rain at the end of the second session and there was traffic at the end of the first. I am not sure that the Ferrari is the fastest.

    1. Racehound says:

      ha ha ha …incase you missed it….Alonso was only driver in the 1:14s……….comprende? #:)

      1. LT says:

        hahaha it’s only practice…….comprende?

      2. D. says:

        Guys, get serious. Monaco is a driver’s circuit. Car performance doesn’t count so much. Alonso is so far the fastest because he is the best driver. Notice that last year Kimi got 2nd in qualifying in that terrible Ferrari car. And because this is a track where you will not see mediocre drivers do well, don’t expect Button or Massa or Webber, etc to do anything good. It will be between Alonso, Lewis and Vettel … and maybe even Michael and Nico. Pole will go to whoever achieves a perfect lap. Time differentials will be minuscule.

      3. Rory says:

        Only the best driver win Monaco. Guess who won last year?

        Yes, that would be Mr. Button.

        That would defeat at least one or both of D.’s implications, since Button won last year, and in the fastest car at the time.

      4. neil m says:

        Racehound, you seem to have completely missed what he was saying, duh

      5. drums says:

        But there one thing called semantics. You quote by name JB, MSC and Kubica. And there “I’m not sure the Ferrari is the fastest”. So you have disclosed you bias.

  2. Boris Gnuni says:

    Good job Fernando !

    1. Racehound says:

      affirmative! #:)

  3. BonoBono says:

    Hmmm…I dont how to read the two practice sessions. I think Mclaren were running a different programme to Ferrari and RBR. I hope they have a lot more pace.
    James, off topic i know, but ive been asking myself this question for the past few races and i hope you can clarify this. Is it your voice we hear in the press conference after qualy and the race with the top three? If not the guy definitely sounds A LOT like you…

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes that is me. It’s a great job, very interesting to see the reactions of the drivers after the race in particular.

      1. Adam Tate says:

        That is awesome James. I am sure you have been asked this more times than you can count, but how did you land such a job?

      2. James Allen says:

        Been around a long time..

      3. Alias J says:

        oh really? thats great to know! wouldn’t have have known it otherwise. you’re a legend!

      4. Nick Pauro says:

        I wondered that too! What a job!

        I really like the Monaco GP banner at the top of the website… you can’t beat the retro look!

        Massa could have won here a while back, but I’m feeling an Alonso storm comin in this time! S.F. Sempre

      5. BonoBono says:

        Now get back to commentary please!

      6. Kedar says:

        Yes James please.
        We would love an audio stream feed with your live commentary on your site which is accessible from anywhere on the internet. When in Europe you do get to see the pictures but the commentary lets say is completely “biased”.
        I am sure a lot of us will be willing to pay for it

      7. James Allen says:

        You are not aloud to broadcast live from an event. That is controlled by Bernie Ecclestone’s FOM company and the rules are very strict.

  4. Bec says:

    I did notice Massa in the Ferrari block both the Lotus and Virgin cars, strange I thought as we were all assured by Martin Whitmarsh it would be the other way round :D

  5. Unload It says:

    James, first four cars in Q2 last year were not separated by 7/100ths. That was the margin from 2nd to 5th, but Kimi was actually 0.3s faster than anyone else. Yes, I know it was huge and I remember writing in my notebook something like: “Finally a classic super-quick Kimi-lap,” as, whilst being objective and fair, I have enormous respect for Kimi’s ability and was sometimes frustrated by his tyre problems at Ferrari. So I remember that particular session, which was one of his last great moments in F1.

    And I noticed your voice in TV unilaterals, too. Are you also doing the press conference, or is it still Bob?

    Besides, keep on the good work with arguably the best F1 blog!

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s Bob Constanduros

      1. m de p says:

        bob constanduros. He has been writting about f1 for at least three decades. I remember in the eary eighties reading his articles on grand prix international magazine.

    2. Enrico Fiore says:

      Kimi’s lap times were also superbly consistent, compared to evryone else’s. My favourite though is 2006, won by Alonso. Alonso and Kimi were glued together for something like 30 laps till Kimi’s Mac overheated after being held up at a traffic jam caused by one Mark Webber!

  6. irish conor says:

    james put ur money were your mouth is, call the pole and podium

    1. D. says:

      I don’t think that’s James’s job, or obligation, to do. He provides facts, data and insights. It is up to anyone to interpret this information as they wish.

      Especially in Monaco predictions are not much good, really, especially this year w/ 24 cars in Q1, several rookie drivers and the possibility of rain (to let alone the almost certain safety car periods).

      It will be between Alonso, Vettel and Lewis. Pole and race.

      1. James Allen says:

        I’m always happy to go with an instinct if I feel things are headed in a certain way. I need to see McLaren’s one lap pace on Saturday morning before being too sure, though. I do fancy Kubica for a strong result this weekend, though.

      2. Antoine says:

        Kubica for top steps of the podium :-)

      3. m de p says:

        don’t forgrt schumacher, he can be the surprise of the race.

  7. Mario says:

    So much activity during the practice, it is going to be very busy Saturday. Can’t wait. Common Robert, give us a show.

  8. mmertens says:

    I think that if Massa wants to keep the press quiet about his performance vs Alonso and to retain morale inside Ferrari, his Saturday Qualifying performance is crucial. And probably he knows that this race is going to be a major opportunity to get the pole, making less harder to get a much needed victory. But beating Alonso here would be extremely hard.

    So far he´s doing fine, only two tenths off Alonso’s pace.

    James, do you think he can make it? What are your impressions of his pace during both sessions?

    1. James Allen says:

      He’s never been at his best at Monaco, although he did a great job in 2008. I’d expect Alonso to have the edge this weekend.

      1. mmertens says:

        I have to agree with you, thank you for the reply, keep the good job mate!

      2. D. says:

        2 tenths slower at Monaco is a big gap. Q is decided by less than 1 tenth.

      3. Formula Zero says:

        Least talked about topic mate, Merc’s performance in these two practice sessions. Here is your answer to if Mercedes is favouring Schumacher over Rosberg, ‘NO WAY!!!’

      4. Rob H says:

        Two tenths behind Alonso is definitely not ideal, but much better than recent races. Apparently, Felipe does not like the harder compound tyres (the super-softs are being used this weekend, which explains why he is happier). Hopefully, he has a good race – it has been pretty painful viewing for this Massa fan since about Malaysia onwards. He doesn’t need to beat Alonso this weekend, just be a lot closer than he was in Barcelona.

  9. Eamonn says:

    James

    I know you won’t anwser this one but is there any talk of you coming to the BBC next year? The man in your job tries hard but just doesn’t have it.

    1. neil m says:

      seconded

    2. Tommo says:

      Agreed. Leggard is all voice no substance. It’s like he’s always reading from fact sheets.

    3. PaulL says:

      I think Leggard is doing a fine job. He consults well with Martin on Martin’s thoughts. For me he’s simple yet effective.

    4. itm says:

      Leggard sounds like a drill instructor… F1 is supposed to be entertainment, not torture…

    5. Steve Merc says:

      Totally in agreement.
      We need to start a petition to get James back.
      Better chemistry with Martin.
      No dis to Jonathan, he’s ok.
      But James is Enthusiastic! and that makes all the difference!

    6. Agreed. I find myself shouting at the TV when I have spotted something pretty important and Jonathan is still wittering on about some minor point which happened 30 seconds ago and Martin can’t get a word in edgeways.

      Radio 5 live are so much better in terms of commentary that it almost makes me switch over but I like Martin, Jake, DC and the rest of the team too much.

      If BBC offered you the job I really hope you are able to take it.

      No response required.
      Craig.

  10. Nihad Gluscic says:

    James, I had a thought, if Alonso was to win Monaco with Ferrari (he does have a fair chance), it would have been his third win here with as many different teams – wouldn’t that be the first time someone ever did that?

    Cheers

    Nihad

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes it would. Good spot.

      1. Thalasa says:

        Did I hear that it would be the same case with MSC? Is that right?

    2. Martin says:

      I guess this gives Michael something to chase too. I suspect both just want to win.

      1. Nihad Gluscic says:

        Geez Martin, I didn’t spot that one. Guess I wasn’t giving an old geezer so much of a chance to bag it, though I wouldn’t be surprised – in fact, his strongest chance might be here.

  11. Andrew says:

    Hi James, great website.

    Lewis Hamilton seems to be driving so well this year and incredibly quick in races. He just does not seem to be having any luck, do you think he will break his duck in Monaco ?

    1. James Allen says:

      Could do but the McLaren needs some more pace on the single lap to get him up the front of the grid.

  12. PaulL says:

    I find it striking how positive and confident Alonso is in his Ferrari environment.

    Of course, much was said about his comments about McLaren, but even at Renault where he was happy, he never seemed as confident and upbeat about the team prospects for the season as he does now at Ferrari.

    1. mike says:

      alonso will be the happiest you have ever seen him in 3 years bacause he’s been in a dog for 2 years (renault) and had an executive and half the pit garage against before that(maclaren) It is no surprise to me that he is killing it at ferrari. With the resources that massa has had at his disposal for last few years, its clear he is guilting himself now that alonso is showing peformance- and where massa should have been all along.

    2. m de p says:

      don’t forget that the past two seasons made him grow as a person, what made him even more lethal. He is a much more efficient winning machine.

      1. PaulL says:

        Amen. Exactly..

  13. Gravelrash says:

    James,
    I think you are doing a great job with the reports on OneHD here in Oz, and hence knew it was you in the interviews. Please keep the live reports coming as we missed you in the China race. But my question is what happened to your predecessor, Peter Windsor. Does he still attend each F1 round? USF1 is definately dead but has he given up his day job??

    1. James Allen says:

      Last I heard he was setting up a TV production company and helping to manage Alexander Rossi. He hasn’t been seen in an F1 Paddock since USF1 failed. But he was in Melbourne and Barcelona somewhere, I’m told.

  14. Nambo says:

    Very interesting first two sessions of practice. I think Bobby K can pull off a real surprise but am hoping it will be Webber who will be the victor.

    Great site James. I always looked forward to reading your thoughts on the ITV-F1 site and then recently discovered JA.F1. By far the most informative source of F1 news and quite a high standard of comments from all the Joe Q Publics.

    Keep up the good work.

  15. Fausto Cunha says:

    James, were the Red Bulls hidding their pace as button said? Did you see any indication of that?

    1. James Allen says:

      A really good car like that is bound to be faster at Monaco, as it was in Spain, but not by as much. It’s a lot about driver confidence. I do expect them to be on top in qualifying though, yes.

  16. johnpierre rivera says:

    james

    no point really. just want to say i (and most likely not the only one) really appreciate reading all of your reply’s. i know it must be very time consuming when you reply to us (your bloggers), so thanks. it really feels as though we are part of the great community that is formula 1. when ever i tell anyone about the 10-15 sites that i constantly check all the time, yours is the first one i name. as has already been mentioned, your insight coupled with the non-bias, measured, rational writings make for superb reading.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks, I really appreciate that. I’m very proud of the large community we have built here. It’s all about connecting the fans to the sport and helping you to get more out of it.

  17. Bluem says:

    Why do they take a rest on Fridays in Monaco?

    1. Manuel says:

      So that they can open roads for public.

    2. YellowNRedStriped says:

      Friday is the traditional market day in Monaco.

      1. James Allen says:

        Also to do with Ascension Day. That always sets the date for the race and the rest of the F1 calendar moves around it – so a Christian holiday is F1′s fulcrum, how about that??

      2. Bluem says:

        Thanks for all the answers.

      3. YellowNRedStriped says:

        Does that make the podium 3 steps to Heaven? :-)

  18. darren says:

    got a funny feeling we are going to see young Britney A.K.A Nico Rosberg win this weekend.

    1. m de p says:

      i hope you are right, but winning at monaco, it’s hard. If he wins his first one here, it would be from the front, or with some gifts from the competititon. What is the funny feeling telling you?

      1. YellowNRedStriped says:

        Am I the only one that finds that nickname offensive? Not one of Webber’s best comments.

  19. Ron says:

    I hope this time a Non-Redbull car takes pole. Would be interesting to see how they would catch up with the lead car considering it is damn hard to overtake!

  20. Thalasa says:

    I know it was only 1st day practice but, has Rosberg’s position ahead of MSC anything to do with the team using Bahrain car this weekend?

  21. Steve Merc says:

    Great info James as always. Thank you.

    1. Lewis
    2. Alonso
    3. Jenson
    4+. redbulls,MSC, Kubica

    We can but hope!
    Come on Jens!
    Have it!
    :)

  22. Faisal says:

    Alonso has been exceptional at Monaco. Since 2005, he always had a good showing. Even in 2008, before he hit Heidfeld which compromised both drivers’ race, he was doing great laps with that mediocre R28 and a pretty reasonable result in 2009 with a car that lacked traction.

    If nothing strange like traffic etc happens in qualifying, he should be on front row and hence take the win. However, rain is predicted so it can make things interesting.

    BTW James, excellent blog. Something different to read from normal F1 sites. Your insight is really great and I miss your commentary. Your blog is now among the list of my 4-5 sites which I open regularly no matter I’m home or in college. Keep up good work :)

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks very much for that. Got some very exciting things coming up here soon, so keep checking in!

      1. Tim Lamkin says:

        O-YOU must give us some hints…you bait us… :)

  23. Clive says:

    I do hope Hamilton does not take too much risks this weekend, since a dnf will surely make his title charge extremely diff, i think points grabbing might be the better option.

    what’s your view on that James?

    1. James Allen says:

      He needs a win and a solid run of podiums to get in the game, that’s for sure.

  24. Hi James,

    Slightly off topic and I’m sure you’ve been asked this (type of) question loads of times but if you were asked to put together an F1 team to represent planet earth in inter-planetary F1, what would be your choices of:

    1. Team Boss
    2. Chassis
    3. Engine
    4. Designer
    5. Driver 1
    6. Driver 2

    Great website by the way, I’m very interested to see what “exiting things” you are planning as per your post above.

    All the best,
    Craig.

    1. James Allen says:

      Great question, difficult to answer quickly. Alonso and Vettel as drivers, Merc engine at the moment, Red Bull chassis, Newey designing and probably Brawn or Horner as team boss

  25. Ed Knowles says:

    James, a quick question. Alonso pitted at the end of the first lap to change tires. Not sure if I am confusing with another series but I thought you had to complete a lap on each type of tire. Is is possible to go out on one set of tires and return immediately to the pit?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes it is and Ferrari always planned it that way

  26. Kevin says:

    Ha ha, you said Damon Hill was Michael Schumacher’s nemesis. Shome mishtake, shurely, ‘cos Schumacher was Hill’s nemesis, in actual fact, year after year, even though Hill usually had the faster car. I’m sure Hill is delighted to be in a position to exact revenge at last (you’ll remember that he swerved all over the track to baulk Schumacher in one of the last opportunities he had to do so on the track, and Michael’s response then was a mixture of puzzlement and embarrassment for Hill. I’m sure Schumacher will feel the same way again this week – “poor, pathetic Damon”).

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