Some unfinished business
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Jenson Button sets the pace on frustrating first day in Monaco
McLaren Mercedes
Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 May 2012   |  3:24 pm GMT  |  84 comments

Jenson Button set the fastest time in the second free practice session ahead of Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, but much of the afternoon was lost to rain showers, which also threaten the qualifying session on Saturday. Romain Grosjean was second with the two Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso next up.

The first session in the morning had shown that the Lotus and the Ferrari look competitive this weekend, with Alonso edging out Grosjean at the top of the time sheets. Grosjean’s Lotus team mate Kimi Raikkonen spent most of the morning in the garage, changing the steering geometry on his car and was playing catch up in the afternoon, so found the lack of dry running frustrating.

Button said after the session that he feels that once again the Lotus cars are the ones to beat, as was the feeling after the first day of running in Spain.

“The cars that look very fast to me are the Lotuses,” he said. “If you look at the runs, when they’re out, they’re very competitive, so I would say the Lotus is probably the car to beat this weekend.”

Heikki Kovalainen suffered an engine failure at the end of practice 1, on a Renault unit that had done two complete Grands Prix as well as several practice sessions. This left a trail of oil in the tunnel and brought a premature end to the session.


In the afternoon, the only dry running took place in the first 20 minutes, with Button managing to get in a run on the supersoft tyres. Of the top five only Maldonado had the chance to use the faster tyre as well. The pre-race estimates are that the supersoft will be around 0.6s per lap faster than the soft over a single lap in qualifying.

Many drivers took the opportunity to run on intermediate tyres when the track was wet to learn where the grip levels are in case Saturday does turn out wet as forecast. The track was very slippery, particularly in the braking zone for Mirabeau corner with both Williams, Massa and Kovalainen taking to the escape road. Kovalainen had to stop as he was unable to engage reverse gear to get back out.

Lewis Hamilton, many people’s favourite for the race victory, had a low key day, not troubling the top of the time sheets, but it’s clear that Lotus and Ferrari will contest the victory with McLaren and that Spanish GP winner Pastor Maldonado and the Red Bulls will be not far behind.

“I think the car is suiting the track pretty well and I love Monaco,” said Grosjean. “The car was looking good this morning and this afternoon – we are working in a good direction. Unfortunately it was a bit wet this afternoon and we couldn’t do all the programme we wanted to achieve but as we have a good baseline it shouldn’t be such a big deal. Let’s see what the weather will be like tomorrow and what we can achieve. I think that we are looking good in both conditions.”

Qualifying will be key, as always at Monaco. Apart from 2008 this race has been won from pole for most of the last decade. Rain would make that qualifying session a lottery, someone could luck out, someone else could lose out and Sunday is expected to be dry and warm, so a fairly normal race is in prospect.

But with a 71% chance of a safety car at Monaco, “normal’ is a relative term.

MONACO GRAND PRIX, Free Practice 2
1. Jenson Button McLaren 1m15.746 14 Laps
2. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m16.138s + 0.392 17
3. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m16.602s + 0.856 19
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m16.661s + 0.915 21
5. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m16.820s + 1.074 18
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m17.021s + 1.275 13
7. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m17.148s + 1.402 21
8. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m17.153s + 1.407 20
9. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m17.293s + 1.547 9
10. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m17.303s + 1.557 19
11. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m17.375s + 1.629 17
12. Paul di Resta Force India 1m17.395s + 1.649 19
13. Bruno Senna Williams 1m17.655s + 1.909 18
14. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m17.800s + 2.054 23
15. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m18.251s + 2.505 22
16. Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1m18.440s + 2.694 23
17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m18.522s + 2.776 20
18. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m18.808s + 3.062 24
19. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m19.267s + 3.521 23
20. Timo Glock Marussia 1m19.309s + 3.563 27
21. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m20.029s + 4.283 13
22. Charles Pic Marussia 1m20.240s + 4.494 19
23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1m20.631s + 4.885 12
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1m20.886s + 5.140 10

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84 Comments
  1. Alex Bishop says:

    Is there anywhere that sells the first picture (harbor picture)

    1. James Allen says:

      It’s a Darren Heath image.

    2. IJW says:

      Is it me, or doesn’t that harbour picture look like a minute model set?

      1. IJW says:

        Sorry, I meant “miniature” model set.

      2. James Allen says:

        Cool effect isn’t it?

      3. Boulay says:

        It’s called “tilt shift” effect and there are programs on the web to download so you can apply your pictures the same way.

      4. Krishna says:

        It’s quite easy to do in one of two ways. Purchase a “tilt-shift” lens which can be quite cost prohibitive, or use this Photoshop trick: 1. Import your image to Photoshop, then press Q to enter Quickmask mode. 2. Select the Gradient tool and set it to Reflected Gradient. Click on the area you want to be in focus and drag the cursor in the direction you want the image to blur. 3. Press Q again to complete the mask. 4. Apply a blur filter from the Filters menu. 5. Marvel at your masterpiece.

      5. Dean S. says:

        This miniature effect is achieved with a tilt-shift lens.

      6. James Alias says:

        Its a ‘shift-focus’ image. Either taken with a shift-focus lens, or else photoshopped with a shift-focus effect. (Quite old school, actually).

      7. Reinder says:

        That would be the ’tilt-shift’ effect, you can do it with your own pics too: http://tiltshiftmaker.com/

      8. Nigel says:

        Done using a tilt shift lens.

        Here’s a description of the effect:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheimpflug_principle

      9. JF says:

        Sure does. Had to take a second glance to see if Thomas the Tank Engine was in there somewhere.

      10. Nick says:

        I thought it was a model as well!

      11. stoikee says:

        It’s called the miniature faking using tilt-shift lenses.

      12. Tom says:

        Yeah it’s called tilt-shift, officially it’s a lens trick but it’s now routinely applied via Photoshop (or whatever your chosen image editor is).
        First time I came across it was the inaugural Singapore GP — since then it’s spread like wild-fire, at least in my consciousness.

      13. Scott B says:

        I seem to remember Speed-TV (USA) doing a 20-second full-motion intro with this effect at Monaco last year. Does this ring a bell with anyone? It was very cool – I thought it was a miniature as well (or perhaps I play with legos too much).

        Thanks Krishna – already tried this on ps – works great.

      14. Krishna says:

        You’re welcome Scott. It’s pretty neat to use the PS version and a whole lot cheaper!
        What part of the states are you from? I’m out in California.

      15. Justin says:

        Just wanted everyone to know that the effect being used in the first photo is called “tilt-shift”.

      16. patrciikkk says:

        Or it is an instagram photo with a tilt & shift, ah ha.

        However, it would be refreshing if it were shot on film, with an 4×5″ view camera. That for me, makes it more art and more worthy. Whereas digital is all a bit general public photography supermarket level etc.

      17. kfzmeister says:

        Hmmm, i’m wondering if anybody has figured out that it’s called tilt-shift yet????

      18. CartRider says:

        Actually Camera+ photo app for iPhone can do the same effect – so no need for photoshop or other expensive tools. I am sure there alternatives for Android, too.

      19. Kay says:

        That’s a “tilt shift effect” =)
        iPhone has various apps that can do it too.

    3. Gene says:

      Tilt-shift photography like this always makes me smile! :) A surprise result is always a potential outcome at Monaco, but the way things are going this year… my money’s on a Caterham in the points!

    4. Enzo says:

      I’m not sure, but i think it’s called “tilt-shift” ;)

    5. James Clayton says:

      I have to say, while I like most of DHs images, I feel that the blurring of the yachts past the cars feels rather pointless, and actually detracts from this picture. I kind of felt like it’s been done for the purposed of some kind of DH signature, rather than to improve the final result.

  2. JR says:

    All looks set for a thrilling battle for the first row on Saturday with a lot of contenders, can’t wait for it!

  3. S2K says:

    Pleased to see Ferrari so quick. Hopefully they will continue on the same note!

  4. Jesper says:

    Did the special GP2 qualifying system come up during the F1 drivers’ information meeting? In other words, is anyone worried about chaotic traffic conditions during Q1?

  5. goferet says:

    Rain also expected during qualifying ~ 2012 keeps giving and giving. Thank you, I hope the clouds don’t disappoint, though to be honest, I would rather prefer a wet race to a wet qualifying = In qualifying drivers runs ruined by other people’s issues.

    As for today, yes the showers managed to spoil the day which had begun on a positive note in the morning but anyway, looks good so far for a close race with many teams up there.

    Now concerning Saturday’s qualifying, I guess I will have to change my predictions thanks to the wet forecast and with Sauber & Ferrari having the fastest cars in the wet (at least having tyres that work better), they’re now my new favourites for pole.

    As for the safety car hmm… Maldonado & Grosjean are my favourite to bring out that road car (you know what they say about Leopards & their spots)

    Alright, my Qualifying grid

    Alonso
    Kobayashi
    Hammy
    Vettel
    Jenson
    Perez
    Kimi
    Maldonado
    Grosjean
    Webber

    P.s.

    Yes Lewis is everybody’s favourite to shake his landlord’s hand (i.e. The Prince of Monaco) for not only has our Hammy been running around the race track almost everyday learning every inch of tarmac by heart like Aryton used to do

    But also if Lewis wins, he would be the sixth different driver to bag a trophy (which would be a record BTW) + the 5th different Monaco winner in 5 years —> Yes these are the kind of conditions tailor made for our Lewis!

    1. James Clayton says:

      Lewis won in 2008. So while I would love a Hmailton victory, he’ll need to rely on more than your stats to see him through on this occasion! :)

    2. mattnz says:

      Even better would be Kimi to win. Then 6 different drivers AND six different teams.

    3. RodgerT says:

      I don’t look at who the author of posts are before reading them, but I can always tell when I’m reading a goferet post.

      At first that wasn’t a good thing (I felt you to be a bit too fan-ish). Whether your style changed, or I just started reading and understanding you better I don’t know, but I enjoy your posts now.

      Now back on topic. Aside from Australia, I haven’t had a clue who is going to have a good weekend at any race this year so far, and this race is no different. I’m do look to see a good showing from both Alonso, and Kimi.

      1. goferet says:

        @ RodgerT

        Cheers mate.

        Yes I gave my writing style a bit of a change.

  6. Ram says:

    HRT for victory …now that would make the season a lot more exicting :-)

  7. AlexD says:

    I think Alonso might get another good results-I would love him to win!

    F.Alonso: “I would say the first impressions are quite positive: everything seems to respond as we would expect,” said Alonso. “We only made a few small modifications to the set-up, trying to improve it, but it’s obviously too early to draw any conclusions. Let’s say the weekend has got off on the right foot for us: now we must try and keep going down this path.”

  8. Nigel says:

    “Qualifying will be key, as always at Monaco. Apart from 2008 this race has been won from pole for most of the last decade”

    Indeed.

    For someone stuck on the second or third row, a one-stop strategy might just make a decent gamble.

      1. Nigel says:

        I see you’ve updated the baseline for the race strategy calculator.

        Looking again at the one stop option (assuming no traffic & identical race pace), the super soft would get you about 20 sec ahead of the two stopper after their second stop; the soft only about 10 seconds ahead. You’d the have to stay ahead for 10 – 15 laps in a car up to two seconds slower.

        In the real world, it would be pretty difficult to avoid getting messed up by traffic, so it’s not a great option unless you’ve got a car which is both slightly slow on race pace, and also very easy on its tyres (maybe Vettel’s Red Bull ?).

        It does also give a chance of getting lucky with the safety car.

      2. James Allen says:

        The last line is the key one. 71% chance of a safety car. That would help a lot. One stop certainly worth thinking about from P4/5 downwards on the grid

  9. Methusalem says:

    Talking about pace…

    MONACO 2011 – Number of Laps: 78

    1st Practice > Sebastian Vettel Renault 1:16.619
    2nd Practice > Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:15.123
    3rd Practice > Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:14.433

    QUALIFYING > Sebastian Vettel:

    Q1 > 1:15.606
    Q2 > 1:14.277
    Q3 > 1:13.556

    Lap Record: 1:14.439 – M Schumacher (2004)

    In 2011 Alonso’s time was faster in P3 than Schumacher’s of 2004. Why was this not recognized officially?

    Many of the race lap records took place in 2004. I don’t know why it was necessary to keep limiting F1 car speeds since then.

    1. Tommy K. says:

      The lap Record is actually the Race Lap Record. Qualifying times don’t count in this category. It’s a different stat…

    2. Max Nalborczyk says:

      Lap record is under race conditions, I believe.

    3. Justin says:

      I believe that it is the “racing lap” record, not practice or quali laps.

      2004 was the peak of F1 expenditure. Cost saving measures implemented there about: V10 to V8s, rev limits, engine/gear box limit for season etc….

    4. Dan says:

      As you said, many of the RACE lap records were set in 2004. Schumacher’s lap has been eclipsed in practice and qualifying since that time, but remains the fastest race lap turned on this configuration of the circuit, and will remain the fastest for a very long time so long as races are run with one tank of fuel. Personally, I think that lap records should include any session that is being sanctioned officially by the FIA, be it qualifying, practice, whatever. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter because we know the times and we can make our own comparisons.

    5. Spark says:

      Lap records are set during races. So free practice times or qualifying times do not count for lap records

    6. hero_was_senna says:

      Lap Records only count from the actual race.

      The other thing to consider from 2004, apart from aero regulations allowing more efficient downforce on the cars, the engines were also 3 litre and V10.

    7. Michael says:

      lap records can only be made during the race proper And in 2004 the quali times were made with race fuel. Speeds were considered too dangerous from 2004 onwards and engine development costs unsustainable. Shame, though probably a good decision with regards to the longevity of the sport but it would be nice to see the big v10′s back.
      Imagine seeing a (development unrestricted)1100bhp renault v10 in the back of a blown double diffuser 2010 redbull. surely lap times under 70secs could have been possible and would’nt the world turn up to see that ??????

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        Micheal, I don’t know about the Blown double diffuser, and people turning up to see 1 dominant car wiping the floor, we had with MSC in 2000 to 2004, but I like the idea of all V10 engines with 1100bhp. Why?
        Because before they froze the designs at 2.4l and V8′s, they used to rev to 20,000/ 21,000 rpm, they used to scream and they occasionally exploded in shards all over the track.

        It used to be something to scream at the TV about when your team was 3 laps from the end and the enemy went up in flames. Or vice versa.

        Listening to Mercedes or Renault describing a particularly severe engine explosion that melted tarmac under the car as ” a hydraulics failure ” was pure gold.
        “Loss of oil” that would be through the piston sized hole in the sump… Magic times

    8. Kay says:

      Just to add to the big pile: only race laps are taken for records.

      LOL!

  10. franklin says:

    Saturday wet qualy + sunday dry race = Schumi podium

    1. Horno says:

      Even if he quali’s on pole he will still start 6..
      So it will be difficult to win here for Schumi,
      Nevertheless i hope he will be fighting in the front and
      score some good points!

  11. FQ says:

    Hi James, do you have an idea of who was fastest on the wet today?

    Thanks

    1. spyke says:

      great web site for lap timeshttp://www.fia.com/en-GB/mediacentre/f1_media/Pages/timing.aspx

    2. SP says:

      I’d like to know that too. From what I managed to catch on live reports (not much anyway), was that the Red Bulls looked strong, Alonso too and the Mclarens not far off. I may be wrong though, as I was also trying to focus on other tasks at the time.

  12. blackmamba says:

    Its the Lotus to beat this weekend, they are clearly the fastest car.Ferrari are at the sharp end and I feel MacLaren are the 3rd fastest car at Monaco behind these two.
    Button was only 3 tenths faster on the super-softs than Grosjean on the softs suggesting the MacLaren is not going to beat them on pure pace, which tranlates to qualifying!

  13. [MISTER] says:

    The first photo is fantastic. Darren Heath is such an artist. Love his photos.

    Is it me, or that Ferrari is getting faster and faster?

    1. Kay says:

      Neither you nor Ferrari, it’s Alonso.

  14. Andrew Barker says:

    It’s going to be an interesting Saturday once again were not sure who is going to be on top. James i noticed some mechanics with fireproof overalls on is this a new saftey measure after the Williams pit fire?

    Kind Regards

    Andrew Barker

  15. Irish con says:

    Looks like Ferrari making improvements all the time. Everyone thought they had poor traction yet today it seems to be good. Alonso has the magnets on. It’s looking like a fernando v romain v Lewis fight for pole to me.

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      Be great to see who buckles under the pressure.

      As an aside, I was watching FP on the red button today, and the BBC was showing a Classic Monaco from 1981.
      A brilliant race, remember watching that in Italy at the time.

      I was saddened watching this, and on the BBC F1 site, the 1992 final laps with Senna and Mansell, pure brilliance.

      The Monaco track has changed so much. The barriers at St. Devote, the entry and exit of the swimming pool complex, the entry into Rascasse.

      It used to be special talent that dominated at Monaco, maybe 1 offs for individual races, but these guys were threading the eye of the needle, or as you mentioned in commentary James, Piquets famous quote of riding a pushbike round your lounge.

      They used to skim the concrete barriers into the swimming pool and even correct a slide, I still have a poster in my garage of Senna in his Mclaren touching the barrier with the sidewall.

      Safety brings about change to everything, but this track has been emasculated.

      1. James Clayton says:

        Yea, it’s dead easy to driver these days…

      2. Kay says:

        Nice sharing =)

  16. Wu says:

    “I think it was a good Friday. But it was very difficult to say, especially in Monaco on Friday it is difficult, even for us it is not clear what the situation will be in qualifying,”

    Umm Massa? It’s Thursday today mate!

  17. Ahmed says:

    Hi James;

    I heard part of your commentary on FP2 this afternoon – great job as always.

    I heard that Button felt the car improved from FP1 to FP2. I wanted to suggest perhaps a BBC feature or an article here that follows a driver throughout the weekend and gives the reader an understanding of how they modify the cars and how they determine the ‘setup direction’… i don’t know if teams are a bit cagey but you don’t hear many of the geeky details which i think might interest some viewers and readers :)

    Thanks

    1. James Allen says:

      Good idea. I’ll pass that on to Gary Anderson

    2. Kay says:

      1st to support that suggestion.

    3. 6 Wheeled Tyrrell says:

      I second the motion!

  18. smellyden says:

    James,

    Why is at Monaco that they have the first practice day on Thursday rather than Friday is this because of the support races or because more F1 deals get done on the Friday?

    1. Gord says:

      The Automobile Club de Monaco, who organize the event, have practice on Thursdays so the streets can be open to the public on Friday a few hours earlier. Normally (during the race weekend) the streets are open at 7:00 local time, but on Friday they open at 2:00 I think.

      What I want to know is why the race distance is 260km and not the standard 305km.

      1. James Clayton says:

        Because of the low speed. A 305km race would never fit into 2 hours. And, let’s face it, of all the tracks in the world, you couldn’t really put Monnaco on the list of races you’d like to see last LONGER! :)

      2. Tom says:

        I guess the race distance is less due to the lower average speed of this unique track. It will be difficult to finish the race within the two-hour limit if they run for 300+ km.

      3. Kay says:

        Monaco don’t have enough roads :D heh

      4. Kay says:

        On a serious note, just search up “Monaco” on Wiki and you’ll really see Monaco really don’t have a lot of land and road to use for Grand Prix racing. It’s not a big place, probably smaller than your home town.

  19. Are there frustrating days in Monaco? Is there such a thing at all? Especially when modern drivers wear helmets from James Hunt and Jean Alesi! Was it Suzuka 2001 when Kim aka Hunt the Shunt collided with @the_real_Alesi and not Vergne-Alesi? Can’t rememba.

    de la Rosa – my driver of the race, for sure, you know. di Resta – cool as always, surprise result maybe.

  20. Iiro says:

    Lotus the car to beat when they have been beat in every race so far?

    Sounds like beating a dead horse to me!

  21. SK Anand says:

    James,

    Is there a tradition, that FP at Monaco is on Thurs, unlike the other races? And if so, why?

    Sincerely,

    SK Anand

    1. Hendo says:

      I always had in mind that Friday was a bye for some religious festival in Monaco – but I can’t remember where I got that from.

  22. JohnO says:

    I fancy Schumacher this weekend to pull something special out, he has shown some pace since the season start and inside will be kicking himself for the mistake in Spain. If Merc get their setup right I think he’ll be up there regardless of the 5 place penalty.

  23. Kay says:

    I’ve been reading a lot of articles and stuff lately, and usually all you hear from drivers and teams are:

    “Oh Ferrari will be fast, Lotus will be up there, so will Mercedes and Sauber.”

    For example, in 2010 and 2011, everyone KNEW Merc GP were slow, yet people keep saying they’ll be fast like they are lying and everybody knew it. So why say like that? :D o_O

    It’s like you’d almost expect everyone to start saying “Oh HRT will do good here and have a good chance to win”.

    Funny stuff people say these days.

    1. SK Anand says:

      this is looking like a mclaren vs lotus shoot out, with alonso in the thick of things too

  24. Charalampos says:

    With Paul Hembery saying that the super softs should last 35 laps and the sorts 50 I can easily see most cars doing 1 stop only. Especially the leaders and probably at the very beginning of the 1 stop window to prevent the undercut. If most cars follow suit then probably a second pitstop even under a safety car would not make sense as the cars who do not pit for second time would maintain track position.

    That is at least the way I personally understand the Maths.

  25. Jeremiah says:

    The race itself is great but Montecarlo as a city looks like a tacky dump.
    Besides, it is facing the East, wich brings melancholy as the day ends.
    No big deal. Much rather live in Liverpool.

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