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The Strategy play that could decide the Monaco Grand Prix
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Posted By: James Allen  |  20 May 2013   |  11:08 am GMT  |  146 comments

The last few Grands Prix have been decided by race strategy; good planning and execution. And Monaco looks set to be the same. Mercedes has taken three poles in a row, but lost out on race day. Will Monaco offer them a chance to hold on and win the race?

If the race is a marginal one or two stop race, will Lotus and Ferrari be able to play a strategic game to get the win? Ferrari hasn’t won Monaco for 12 years.

From a strategy point of view the Monaco Grand Prix is a very tricky race as cars can lose a lot of time running in slow traffic and there is a very high (80%) chance of a safety car, which can turn strategies on their heads.

Although Monaco is a unique proposition, a narrow street track on which it is almost impossible to overtake, there is potentially a game to be played this year on race strategy.

Traditionally a one stop race, there is scope for teams like Lotus and Ferrari that are kinder on their tyres than rivals, to pit early and attempt the undercut, at an early point in the race, knowing that their rivals will not be able to react and bring their car in because it will not make it to the finish from there on a single set of tyres. So the question is, how early will the teams dare to stop?

With the likelihood that Mercedes will take pole and the front row in Monaco in qualifying, this is a very real possibility as a tactical play for Lotus and Ferrari and it will be fascinating to see whether they do it.

Monaco is a unique street circuit, which offers no real reflection on the way cars will perform at other venues. It is a one-off.

The track layout is tight, with no high speed corners, two short straights and the lowest average lap speed of the season at 160 km/h (100mph).

The track is narrow and lined with barriers, which means that a safety car is often deployed while marshals clear accident debris and this can greatly influence strategy if it falls at an opportune moment.

The only possible overtaking place is on the run between the exit of the tunnel and the chicane, but drivers must be careful as it is very dirty off line in the tunnel and they can lose grip by picking up dust and discarded rubber from the tyres, which is a particular feature of the Pirelli tyres used in F1 today.


Track characteristics

Monte Carlo – 3.34 kilometres; Race distance – 78 laps = 260.52 kilometres. 19 corners in total. The slowest lap of the season at an average lap speed of 160km/h.

Aerodynamic setup – High downforce; Top speed 295km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 285km/h without.

Full throttle – 45% of the lap (lowest of year); Total fuel needed for race distance – 120kg (very low); Fuel consumption – 1.55 kg per lap (very low)

Time spent braking: 12% of the lap (high); 13 braking zones; Brake wear – Medium; 48 gear changes per lap.

Total time needed for pit stop: 25 seconds.

Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.28 seconds (very low)


Form Guide

The Monaco Grand Prix is the sixth round of the 2013 FIA F1 World Championship.

Cars that go well in Monaco have plenty of low speed downforce and traction, for good corner exit performance. The Mercedes was the fastest car in the slow Sector 3 in Barcelona, which is usually a good indicator of pace for Monaco. It has also had pole position at the last three Grands Prix, but has then faded each time in the race as it overheats its tyres. This is less of a problem at Monaco as the track puts less energy into the tyres, so Mercedes may well be able to hold on and win this race.

Monaco requires a particular technique of driving close to the barriers and this is a venue where a driver can make a real difference.

As far as drivers’ form is concerned at Monaco, all the world champions have won Monaco; Sebastian Vettel won in 2011, while other previous Monaco winners in the field are Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. Mark Webber has won it twice. Red Bull has won the race for the past three seasons. Ferrari hasn’t won Monaco since 2001, a wait of 12 years!

Weather Forecast

The forecast looks good with temperatures around 20 degrees and a low chance of rain. Being coastal however rain can arrive quite suddenly and there is a threat of rain for race day.

Likely tyre performance and other considerations

Pirelli tyre choice for Monaco: Supersoft and Soft.

Monaco is gentle on tyres, the track surface is smooth and there are no high energy corners.

This race sees the second appearance of the supersoft tyre, which was used in Melbourne. The teams have done little running or testing on it this year. In Melbourne it lasted only nine or ten laps, but with the shorter lap in Monaco and less energy going into the tyre, it should go further.

However, to make a one stop strategy work you will need to do more than 50 laps on a set of soft tyres. Based on what we saw in China, where the soft was good for only six or seven laps, this will be a struggle. Pirelli has acknowledged its mistake in making the construction of the 2013 tyres too aggressive and this is the last outing for them before they return to the 2012 construction from Montreal onwards.

To pull off a one stop strategy the cars that qualify on supersofts will need to get to at last lap 27. This may prove too much for many runners, who are likely to be forced into a two stop strategy. This creates a great opportunity for a car, like the Lotus, that may not qualify at the front, but can potentially do the race on one stop only. It is more likely that the race will be like the 2011 edition which saw a mixture of one, two and even three stop strategies.


Number and likely timing of pit stops

Last year saw the top ten finishers all doing a similar one stop strategy. Of the podium finishers, Webber pitted on lap 29, Rosberg on lap 27 and Alonso on lap 30.

The pit lane at Monaco is long and slow so the time needed to make a stop is quite long at around 25/26 seconds. This, and the risk of losing time on slower traffic, encourages teams to make less rather than more stops.

But with big question marks over both tyre compounds, ahead of a change of construction by Pirelli from Canada onwards, free practice running will be crucial to identify the optimum strategy and stop laps.

Teams will do whatever strategy they believe is the quickest and will allow them to run in as much clear air as possible.

Given the performance gap between the soft and super soft tyre it is likely that everyone will qualify on the super soft.

The first lap is always very costly for the midfield and back of the field. With having to follow through the tight corners, it’s common for the cars in the bottom third of the grid to do a first lap which is 20 seconds slower than the leader, who is running in clear air.


Chance of a safety car
Very high – there is an 80% risk of Safety Car intervention with a total of 14 Safety Car periods in the past ten years. And if one is deployed at the right time it can make your race. But if it falls at the wrong time, your victory plans fall apart – as they did for Jenson Button in 2011, who was trying to drive flat out uninterrupted on three stops, a risky plan given the likelihood of the safety car.

Recent start performance

The run from the start to the first corner at Monaco is very short and always chaotic. The first turn, St Devote, is tight and slow and cars go through it in single file.

Last year 13 cars ended the opening lap in a different position from their grid slot.

As far as 2013 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season, on aggregate, as follows –

Gained
+9 Perez
+9 Gutierrez
+9 Sutil***
+8 Van der Garde
+7 Maldonado
+3 Button
+3 Chilton
+2 Alonso
+2 Hulkenberg**
+2 Massa
+1 Bianchi
+1 Pic
+1 Vettel
Held position
Di Resta
Lost
-9 Vergne ****
-8 Grosjean
-7 Ricciardo
-6 Webber*
-5 Hamilton
-4 Raikkonen
-3 Bottas
-2 Rosberg

*Webber dropped from second to seventh after a clutch problem in Australia
** Hulkenberg did not start in Australia *** Sutil suffered puncture from contact with Massa in Bahrain ****Vergne retired following collision.

Pit Stop League Table
Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics and we have seen tyre stops carried out in less than two and a half seconds by F1 teams. Here again Ferrari leads the way consistently this year.

It is also clear that the field has significantly closed up in pit stops. The top four teams fastest stops were within 4/10ths of a second of each other in Spain. It shows how much work has gone on in this area.

The league table below shows the order of the pit crews based on their fastest time in the Spanish Grand Prix, from the car entering the pit lane to leaving it.

Worth noting is that the leading times are around one second faster than last year at the same event, showing the progress made in this area.

1. Ferrari 18.471s
2. Red Bull 18.606s
3. McLaren 18.810s
4. Sauber 19.324s
5. Mercedes 19.352s
6 Force India 19.481s
7 Toro Rosso 19.498s
9. Lotus 19.743s
10. Marussia 19.830s
11. Caterham 20.734s


The UBS Race Strategy Briefing is written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists, from Pirelli and from JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan.

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146 Comments
  1. Phil Glass says:

    Sorry to put a dampener on things this early on but this will be a win from pole for VET.
    RAI and ALO will have fun with the undercut, with RAI finishing ahead after starting p6.
    VET
    RAI
    ALO

    ps Merc will start p2 and p3. If they finish in the points it’s drinks all round on me.

    1. Miha Bevc says:

      I hope you are right but I wonder why are you so optimistic about Red Bull chances?

      1. Phil Glass says:

        @ Miha
        just a hunch that Mark W will step up a gear to aim for 3 Monaco wins, but will be shall we say frustrated when SV goes a couple of tenths faster right at the end of Q3. I know in theory Merc are expected to lock out the front again, esp with the ss tyre. But I just don’t see it.

        My Argos F1 Forecaster crystal ball says not….

      2. Skippy says:

        One: Redbull is known for having the best aerodynamics out of all the teams and it has showed over the past three years.

        Two: Weber is PISSED at his team (probably) and will be very hungry for a win.

        Three: Vettle needs to get some points back after Redbull’s overall weak performance from Catulyna (sorry if I misspelled that).

      3. adrianna says:

        with all due respect it is catalunya

      4. Galapago555 says:

        with all due respect it is Catalunya.

    2. Anne says:

      If Kimi can go with one pit stop he is the main candidate. Mercedes has more possibilities than Vettel to win the pole.But I don´t know how many pit stops they might need. Vettel probably needs 2 pit stops. I don´t think he can make less than that

    3. Tim says:

      I hope you didn’t buy your crystal ball from the same shop as some of the other posters on here – if you did, make sure you keep the receipt :-)

    4. KRB says:

      Is that your real name, or did you just pick it to go along with your postscript quip??? :-)

      1. Phil Glass says:

        :) :)

    5. Knoxville says:

      what are you smoking man?

      my predictions :
      1st Hamilton
      2nd Kimi
      3rd Alonso

    6. ledio says:

      Vettel out of the points.

    7. veeru says:

      plain wrong. Merc front row lock out
      just look at sector 3 times in Barcelona.

      End of the story for qualy.
      Race: anybody’s guess

      1. Stephen Taylor says:

        It certainly will be if they have to start on Inters.

    8. Tim says:

      Do you still think Vet for pole? Based on his current form getting through to Q3 will be an achievement :-).

    9. Tim says:

      @ Phil Glass
      Sorry to put a dampener on things this early on but this will be a win from pole for VET.
      RAI and ALO will have fun with the undercut, with RAI finishing ahead after starting p6.
      VET
      RAI
      ALO

      ps Merc will start p2 and p3. If they finish in the points it’s drinks all round on me.

      There might still be time to get a refund on your magic eight ball predictor if you get a move on! :-)

    10. Tim says:

      @Phil Glass
      ps Merc will start p2 and p3. If they finish in the points it’s drinks all round on me…..

      Hey Phil, I hope you haven’t given up your day job to open that fortune tellers booth.
      Mines a lager please :-)

  2. Phil Glass says:

    James, a question please. What do you put Kimi’s poor starts this season down to?
    Last year and previously he was always one of the best starters.

    Regards,PG.

    1. C Lin says:

      Yes, James I will also like to have your views, please. Thanks.

    2. Joel says:

      Tyres, Tyres, & Tyres

    3. P says:

      In China, Kimis bad start was because his race engineer requested a clutch adjustment Kimi did not want, race engineer apologized after the race.

    4. Simmo says:

      Hmm… Did Kimi and Webber not both swap race engineers for this year?

      If I am right in thinking so, Webber always got horrendous starts, so now Kimi has got that engineer…

      1. Joe says:

        That’s true, but Webber’s starts haven’t exactly improved either.

      2. Glennb says:

        Webber actually made up a place in one race start this year. I dont recall which race it was. The video footage of that event is now locked away in a vault. It might have been Malaysia?
        He should win from pole in Monaco.

  3. MISTER says:

    Thank you James.
    Liked you started to add the track layout in your pre-race report.
    Having, in the back of my head, the idea that Pirelli tyres wear quick this year, sounds impossible the teams can pull out a one stop.

    I guess with the forecast of only 20 degrees, a one stop for Ferrari, Lotus and maybe Force India should not be a problem. Also taking into account a possible Safety Car, we should be looking at even more teams trying the one stop.

    I personally believe the top 10 will start to work out their strategy after the first lap.

    Looking forward to see what changes Pirelli will announce from Canada onwards.

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      Sorry to burst your bubble reL Pirelli changes

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/22593977

      1. [MISTER] says:

        Thanks mate, I read that earlier today, but FIA seem have requested Pirelli to make some changes in regards to the failures from recent races.

        I am actually one of those which think the tyres should stay as they are. From the past 2 seasons we learned that teams get better and better in understanding the tyres are put in front of them, so I expect the teams to get better and better wear out of these tyres as the season goes ahead.

  4. Stewart says:

    James,

    Assuming Merc lock out the front row (strong possibility but still a big “if”). Would they consider telling their drivers way in advance like now, that whoever is on pole will be supported to win the race. With 2nd place instructed to hold the pack up letting the pole sitter getting 10 or 20 secs clear giving them the option to react to any undercut and or making it harder for lotus,RB or Fer to find a gap?

    I would have thought winning Monaco would be very appealing and could outweigh any team order controversies
    .
    Setting it out in advance could avoid any internal team order problems as both drivers know the deal.

    Is it feasible, would they do it and would the drivers go for it?

    1. Miha Bevc says:

      Interesting thought. I wouldn’t want to be P2 on saturday:)

      But even if they agree on that, P2 has to start from the dirty side of the grid and can lose the position until first corner. And there goes the strategy…

      1. Miha Bevc says:

        And don’t forget the possibility of safety car…

    2. Robert N says:

      My thoughts exactly.

      They may not go as far as telling their 2nd driver to hold the pack up, but they could split strategies. The pole sitter would do a 3-stopper, say, and the second driver a 2-stopper.

      I guess other teams would be wise to split strategies as well, but will the drivers always be happy with that?!

      1. Anon says:

        No one will do a 3-stopper unless you include drive throughs, punctures or repairs.

    3. KRB says:

      They should do this, for sure, if they lock out the front row. Better for the team result, and helping them in case of needing to stack their pits stop during any SC period early on.

      Such a strategy would have to come from Brawn himself, in consultation with the drivers.

    4. Nigel says:

      Something along those lines is certainly feasible at Monaco – though the number 2 would have to be very precise during the first couple of laps, and might get jumped.

      Whether or not the drivers would go for it is a very interesting question.

    5. Richard says:

      I believe Brawn did this in 2009 with Button and Barrichello, not a 100% sure about it though.

    6. P says:

      Hahaha, you think either Red Bull driver will obey any team orders now? Dream on!

      1. [MISTER] says:

        Nobody is talking about RedBull…

      2. Quade says:

        Lewis and Rosberg have not signed for Red Bull yet.

    7. Fan says:

      Ferrari is not above this strategy either. Massa is ALO lap dog and will do whatever is asked of him.

      1. Doobs says:

        The only non-team player is Vettel

  5. Ed says:

    Great analysis as always, James. Might it be beneficial to also see the average pit stop times from each of the teams? I remember seeing McLaren consistently top the pit stop table last year and yet they were botching every other stop and ruining their drivers chances in the race. Unlike qualifying, for example, every stop needs to spot on to make a strategy work.

  6. Elie says:

    Ahh the return of the Supersoft can really shake up quali on Sat which is where the outcome of Sundays race will be determined.Lotus revels on that tyre but the question is who’s is going to give us 100% commitment. I think 2 stops are certain but whoever can do the longest on that last stint may try pitting sooner on the first stop to undercut.
    Sure the Mercs are favourite but if Lotus or Ferrari force the pace Mercs can go back just like they did in Spain.

    1. KRB says:

      Still always have to go to the alternate tire at that first stop (assuming dry weather), correct? Otherwise, you limit your strategic options.

      1. Elie says:

        Fair point but not necessarily the case. Barcelona proved you need to know exactly how many stops you will be making before Sunday and I doubt anyone will be one stopping this year including Lotus and I suspect many will be 3 stopping even with a safety car. I think the winner will hold track position while the guys marginal on tyres will pit in uncertainty. The race will be won by where you start Sat and how much confidence you have to hold on to your tyres ( and track position) through race.

    2. Martin says:

      There was a comment on Autosport that the reason Mercedes were so fast in the last sector was due to both drivers and Perez working out that they needed to save the tyres for the traction zones in sector three. The Mercedes were apparently quite slow in sector 3 in pre season testing. Comments in Spain about drivers not stringing their best sectors together in one lap were not necessarily accurate, as we saw with the Ferrari drivers with Massa taking too much out of the tyres at the start of the lap and falling behind Alonso.

      Managing the supersofts over one lap may or may not be an issue in Monaco. One possibility that teams/drivers who feel they are unable to compete for pole mighht consider is starting on the soft tyre. Last year the supersofts were helped by the first lap safety car as the excess surface temperature from the start was able to be dissipated before the heat became critical.

      I don’t have a strong feeling for who will be fast in qualifying. This year’s tyres are meant to be better in terms of warm up, so Lotus’ problems with that last year may not be an issue. The normal compliance in the Lotus suspension might put them closer to the right set up in Monaco too. The Renault engine might be a benefit around Monaco too, but that is probably more relevant in the race. The total downforce of the Red Bulls will definitely help in qualifying.

      I’ll be interested in seeing how the Force Indias go relative to the Sauber, McLaren and Toro Rosso cars to see if the engineering philosophy it took to look after the tyres hurts them at a high downforce track.

      1. Yago says:

        Interesting point. Not only did Massa’s tyres fade at the last sector in Barcelona, also did Alonso’s and Webber’s to even a higer extent (Webber even talked about it afterwards). This is not the first time that managing the tyres over a single lap becomes a crucial factor. As an example I remember overheating issues hampering drivers in the final sector of Hungaroring in 2011, or Alonso saying he saved his tyres in the first two sectors to be able to really push in the final one in Abu Dhabi 2010. But there have been more cases.

  7. KimiFan says:

    Lotus are really slow at Pitstops, its embarrassing for a team thats fighting for p3 in constructors tbh. They need to work harder in their pitstops than their quali pace in monaco

    1. Mani says:

      yea, that slow pit stop always cost them to undercut people.

  8. John says:

    I think it would be interesting if we could look at average pit stop times, rather than focusing on only the fastest.

  9. Josh says:

    James, are we going to get the race strategy calculator this year?

  10. Brace says:

    James, there’s one thing to keep in mind when it comes to undercuts.

    If Mercedes are in front, they will probably drive slower, in an attempt to drive at the pace of their own car, just like they did in Spain.
    Thing is, that made quite a train behind Rosberg, and with that in mind, it is most likely that cars following Rosberg or Hamilton won’t have enough of a gap in front of the slower midfield to pit and come out in front of them. If they come out behind the midfield cars, their undercut is as good as dead and they will only lose even more time to those whom they wanted to undercut in the first place.

    1. docjkm says:

      Was planning to make the same point after reading the article. No one will ever hire me as a race strategist, but I would think an early undercut would be doomed to unravel behind slower traffic?

      Thanks for these, Mr James, they are thought provoking and do more to whet the appetite than driving my go cart around the local Tiffany’s (to mimic the ambiance)

    2. Robert N says:

      Yes, that train is a real possibility. In that case, the best strategy would be not to run in Q3 and to start on new softs.

      On the other hand, with the cooler temperatures in Monaco, and the tyre friendly track, Mercedes could be in much better shape than usual on Sunday. They might actually have the pace to run away from the chasing pack?!

    3. azac21 says:

      Im with you on this.
      Undercut will only put you into the midfield traffic possibly behind someone who tries to go a long way in the first stint.

      In Monaco this year the win will be decided on who can stay out later in his first stint, protect his tyres and use them in clean air.

    4. hero_was_senna says:

      I remember the 1995 Monaco GP. Hill had qualified on pole from Schumacher.
      They led until Hill made his first pit-stop and Schumacher took the lead and pulled away. Benetton had managed to stay with Williams but were running heavier and only stopped once that afternoon, winning the race.

      It could be that you’ll only get the top 10 run late in Q3 to see what everyone else is doing. If Mercedes lock out the front row with supersofts, and the other 8 start on soft, they can all run longer than the Mercedes.

      But what happens if Mercedes has a big enough advantage that they can qualify on the harder compound ahead of the others?

      1. Tealeaf says:

        I doubt using the prime tyres Rosberg can qualify ahead of Vettel on softs.

  11. Mark in Australia says:

    It reads like you are tipping a Mercedes to take Monaco glory this year, James…

    I think it will be…

    Kimi
    Lewis
    Mark

    Can’t wait for the race!

    1. Knoxville says:

      Mercedes is unstoppable in quali.
      and i predict that they will bring their one lap form here to monaco and comfortably qualify top here.

      in the race, they’re gonna pile up a train behind them whistle looking after their tyres making an undercut almost impossible.

  12. Jamie norman says:

    I thought the fia said no to 2012 spec tyres, as they only be changed on safety grounds

    1. Satchel says:

      Correct.

  13. Colombia Concalvez says:

    OT. James, Do you know anything about BMW joining F1 again ?..

    1. Doobs says:

      They’ve said not.

  14. Multi 21 says:

    Hamilton & Rosberg are expected by almost everyone to lock out the front row.

    How’s this for a Mercedes scenario to win the race:

    They do a deal that whoever qualifies on pole will win the race. Whoever it is that is second will back up the pack after St. Devote to allow the pole sitter to run into the distance, and even, maybe, stop twice.

    Both drivers will undoubtedly back themselves to take pole. It will be disappointing for the loser but a great result for the team.

    1. Alexander Supertramp says:

      Not really the way big brand Mercedes would love to get the spotlight! I don’t see this happen.

      1. KRB says:

        They don’t want to win in Monaco?! Of course they do, and if they did it like that I think most would applaud their strategy. I say this as a HAM fan who would support this strategy in the event of a NR-LH front row.

        It appeared at the start of the 2012 Chinese GP that they were doing the same thing, with MSC allowing ROS to pull a gap at the start of that race.

    2. Nigel says:

      What if the pole sitter isn’t in front after the first corner ?

      1. Multi 21 says:

        That’s the only problem with the strategy, but it’s one of the shortest runs to the first corner of the year and also the narrowest.

        If they pre-arrange it properly they can easily depart from the grid in a set formation into St. Devote that blocks the track for those behind.

    3. Glennb says:

      RB have already come to this arrangement for Monaco. Seb is to back everyone up for Mark to take the win.

      1. Multi 21 says:

        They used Webber to back the pack up last year while leading after pitstops when Vettel was on a contra-strategy.

      2. glennb says:

        Thus helping Seb out. I believe Webber is known as “magnanimous mark” inside RBR ;)

  15. 180110 says:

    Somehow I have a feeling Lotus and Ferrari will look at doing a 2 stop strategy from Thursday Practice itself and the rest of the field will try to do one less than they ought to and get the data wrong and ultimately by the time they sort things out, it will leave Lotus and Ferrari in a better position execution wise. [TOTALLY copied what happened at Spain viz. Ferrai v Lotus v Red Bull v Merc, but will happen again I think coz the teams will be forced to try and stop one less than they should and a one stop looks tough even for Fer and Lot methinks]

    P.s. – If I were a betting guy, would put some money on McLaren. Podium maybe.

  16. yoshif8tures says:

    What happened to the race calculator from last year?

  17. colin grayson says:

    last race before the tyres revert to 2012 construction ???

    the FIA have mandated that this will not be allowed , only alterations to the 2013 construction if required for safety

  18. Brent says:

    James I had read, on many sites, the tires could not be changed unless for safety; you say 2012 spec next race. Who will actually decide what can or cannot be done to the tires during the season?
    I am in the “can’t change the rules mid game” group.

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      The FIA is the only one with the power. They have said no to any changes.

    2. Jake says:

      The article clearly states 2012 construction it does not mention compound changes.
      The change to the construction is made for safety and allowed in the rules. The gip and wear are to remain as per the 2013 spec.

  19. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Mercedes in pole, I’m not quite sure. If that happens, could it be a worrying pile-up?

    IMO safety car could be 99,9999% since there are many pay-drivers this season.

    1. Tealeaf says:

      Well that logic is wrong because with all the ‘pay’ drivers on the grid this season there has been no safety cars yet at all. Mercedes or should I say Rosberg will get pole.

      1. KRB says:

        Would be nice if you supported Rosberg b/c of his skills, instead of as an anti-LH stance. I’ve seen your work on crash.net … “Shamilton”, “Lewser”, etc. Really now?!?

      2. James Allen says:

        None of that here please. The Mod will keep a very close any on any further comments from this poster. Any issues, they will be deleted

      3. KRB says:

        Umm, I seriously hope you don’t mean me? Just google “crash.net tealeaf comments” to see what Tealeaf’s been up to on other sites. I guess you should be glad JA that he drops the ad hominems here, but the spiteful comments
        still endure. Small mercies I guess.

        I’m never for consigning anyone to the dustbin forever just b/c of past mistakes or missteps; anyone can change, but they have to show improvement.

        Tealeaf, Val from Montreal, Dave C (not David C), and Equinox all seem incapable of providing an opinion w/o being antagonistic.

      4. James Allen says:

        All are under close observation, as well as a few others, don’t worry Mod

      5. David C says:

        I think the Pay Driver issue is overstated if you look at the current drivers
        Red Bull – NO
        Ferrari – NO
        Merc – NO
        McClaren – NO
        Torro Rosso – Young driver program both have numerous junior titles, no GP2 experience but thats the way RB do it and it produced a triple world champion
        Lotus – Kimi no, Roman (2 time GP2 champion) no
        Force India – no both good drivers
        Williams – Pastor won GP2, Bottas won GP3 and last yearimpressed as a friday driver
        Sauber – hulk no, Estaban (who gets a bit of stick) won both GP2 and GP3
        Catherham – charles pic poor junior results and worse than team mate last year so yes i guess, van der garde the same particuraly with his age.
        Marussia – JB 3rd GP2 two years in a row, 2nd GP3, a Young man id say no and MC very poor junior results id say yes.

        Thats 3 out of 22 (who in my opinion are only in f1 due to backing and havent shown enough YET to warent the opertunity they have) and all at the back away from the others. The fact is we will never see another LH again not necesserialy because he is a oce off but because he had unlimited testing before he got to his first race, maybe he did a whole season worth of laps.

  20. goferet says:

    No doubt, the Monaco race is meant as a fashion show for the viewing pleasure of the power players in the principality.

    This is why despite not adhering to the modern safety measures, the race is still a firm fixture on the calendar >>> not to mention the fact that Monaco is the only venue on that doesn’t pay a license fee.

    Anyway, the slight possibility of rain is the only hope we can cling onto for a good show because a wet race at Monaco is a sight to behold.

    Right, considering the problems the soft tyres threw up in China, I highly doubt anybody will be able to make it on a one stop this time round unless somebody in the lead decides to take a gamble like Vettel did in 2011 only to be saved by the redflag.

    Staying on the topic of tyres, I understand Pirelli won’t be bringing the 2012 rubber in Canada afterall. Apparently, the only changes they will be making is to make sure there are no more failures… apart from that, we will be having the same 2013 boots.

  21. goferet says:

    Some Monaco stats

    1) Most successful Senna 6 wins, Schumi 5 wins and Mr. Monaco (Graham Hill) 5 wins

    2) Mclaren 15 wins, Ferrari 9 wins, Lotus 7 wins

    3) Since 1986, winner hasn’t come lower than P3 with the exception of 1996 >>> which was a wet one, winner came from P14.

    4) Since 1950, Monaco has the most 1 time winners >>> 19 in total (I included Lewis, Jenson, Kimi and Vettel in this)

    5) In the last 10 years Newey cars have won 5 out of 10. Mclaren cars 4 out of 10. Ferrari have won 4 times in the last 32 years

    6) Senna is the only driver to have won 3 races from pole.

    7) Moss, Alonso, Fangio, Mr. Monaco, Stewart and Lauda are the only pilots to have won 2 races from pole.

    8) Mercedes have never won an F1 championship race in Monaco. Only wins came in 1935, 1936 and 1937.

    1. KRB says:

      Webber’s also won from pole twice, but other than that, good stats, thanks.

      JA, you said there are 48 gear changes per lap, but that includes a driver hitting the gear paddle 3-4x at once, to downshift or upshift. How many gear-shifting “moments” would there be, per lap?

      Looking at that pic of last year’s podium, is Rosberg still wearing those neon yellow shoes this year? If so, he should stop.

      1. Tim says:

        Looking at that pic of last year’s podium, is Rosberg still wearing those neon yellow shoes this year? If so, he should stop….

        :-) Lol

      2. goferet says:

        @KRB

        Aah yes, left out Webber

        Thanks.

      3. Glennb says:

        @goferet

        “Aah yes, left out Webber”

        So does Marko. Mark’s used to it. Not to worry…

    2. Bayden says:

      Mercedes powered cars won 2007-2009 races, Renault powered cars 2010-2012, maybe it’s Ferrari’s turn to win the next three?

  22. Dougel says:

    Interesting you say Lotus and Ferrari could pit early to gain the undercut, because last year Alonso lost a potential win by failing to maximise the advantage of an over(?)cut. Alonso stayed out longest of the front runners, but was quickest despite being on old tyres, however, he pitted before pulling out a big enough gap to “overtake” his rivals. I can’t remember why Alonso was quicker on worn tyres, but it makes me wonder if it was something peculiar to Monaco and if a similar scenario occur this year.

    1. Yago says:

      During last year’s race, the softs took several laps to get to temperature. This together with Alonso nursing his rear tyres by not wheelspinning in corner exits, while mantaining a similar pace to the driver infront of him (HAM), made the overcut possible. This could happen again this year. In my view you are making an interesting point here.

    2. Irish con says:

      That’s a very good point made there. Last year the guys who stopped first rosberg, webber and Lewis had problems warming up the soft tyres and the warmed up super soft that alonso was on meant he was faster at that stage. The tyres are softer this year so that problem shouldn’t be as big this year I would imagine.

    3. Anil says:

      It was because there was a big warm up problem with the tyres as track temperature was very low and they were expecting rain. If he stayed out 1 more lap…..!

    4. Monster says:

      If i remember right, it was down to warming up tiers, took them few laps to get them in operating window

    5. hero_was_senna says:

      I remember that race, with the commentators all saying about Massa pressing Alonso and “he was quicker than you” laughter.
      It was only later when Alonso had saved his rubber, and Massa ruined his, that people realised what he had been doing.

      This weekend is going to be fascinating.

    6. Multi 21 says:

      I was thinking the exact same thing.

      Is it possible that Massa or Grosjean will be used by their team to stop earlier than normal to dummy Mercedes & Red Bull into defending the undercut and force them onto 2 stops?

      Combine that with what Alonso did last year to preserve the tyres early on and make up a lot of time on track and you have a potential way for Alonso & Raikkonen to overcome their regular poor qualifying performances.

      But that will take quite a lot of careful planning to execute correctly.

  23. DK says:

    Whoever qualified at P11 should have a good chance. New tyres to run longer, try one stop to jump the cars in front if he survive the first corner and gain some places. McLaren?

    1. Multi 21 says:

      Did you read the bit in the article about how much time you lose in the pack on the first lap?

      The only good chance is that they may score a point.

  24. goferet says:

    Some miscellaneous stats

    a) In the last 10 years, only 4 winners in 10 years have gone on to clinch the driver’s title whereas in 20 years it has been 8 out of 20.

    b) All Schumi’s wins in Monaco came from P2 except his first in 1994 which was from pole

    c) Drivers who have started from pole and never won include Ralf, Massa and Clark

    d) The years 1984 to 1993, the race was won by two drivers >>> Prost and Senna

    e) Lewis hasn’t won at tracks where he got his first win in the wet e.g. Monaco, Spa, Japan, Silverstone

    Likewise, Alonso got his first win in the wet in Korea and Nurbering >>> hasn’t won there since.

    Same thing Jenson in Hungary and China, hasn’t won there in the dry plus Vettel in China (though he got the monkey off his back in Monza by winning in the dry too)

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      I have this image of you ferreting through your notes in a home that looks as though Bilbo Baggins has rented it out…

      So last 10 years 40% have gone on to win the WDC?
      Or in 20 years, 40% have gone on to win the WDC?
      If you go back 30 years, only 40% have won the WDC.
      I checked further back again, during 1973 to 1982, only 3 winners went on to win the WDC that year and back between 1963 to 1972, once again only 40%.
      I find that staggering, in 50 years of Monaco GP’s the winners who went on to win the WDC is just 38%, and it seems to be consistent throughout each decade.

      1. goferet says:

        @ hero_was_senna

        Lol maybe.

    2. Brace says:

      Alonso won at Nirburgring in 2005, in dry race.

      1. tarun says:

        he got it as a gift from kimi!

    3. Luis Rodrigues says:

      @goferet

      on b) you can say that Shummi’s win in 1994 was from P2 as well as P1 was left empty in Ayrton’s memory.

  25. Elie says:

    Someone driving like this will determine how Sunday pans out !
    http://youtu.be/6_2dOAJd2dg

  26. Andrew M says:

    “But if it falls at the wrong time, your victory plans fall apart – as they did for Jenson Button in 2011, who was trying to drive flat out uninterrupted on three stops, a risky plan given the likelihood of the safety car.”

    Jenson should still have won that race, they had the opportunity to switch to a 2 stop and maintain track position but didn’t.

    1. KRB says:

      It was McLaren putting on another set of super-softs at the first stop that screwed him up. It’s a silly strategy.

  27. Irish con says:

    People are saying Mercedes will be able to hold off the other cars if there tyres go again because this is Monaco need to remember Michael in 2011. Lewis nailed him into sainte devote and Rubens got him into Mirabeau. So I really can’t see Mercs being able to do 30 odd laps on a soft tyre at a competitive pace to make a 2 stop work which is the likely strategy I think. Kimi is the guy easiest on his rear tyres this year so could potentially make a 1stop work but sounds difficult to me.

  28. mhilgtx says:

    Well I see the possibility of a Merc – RBR front 2 row’s lock out.

    If so you can write off Lotus and Ferrari.

    Ferrari surprised me in Spain by having the best strategy of the race. They further surprised me by executing their plan flawlessly.

    I look for Webber to do well as he seems to love this track.

    Lotus has downforce issues, this helps with tire management but kills their qualifying pace. Same thing with Ferrari to some extent.

    This will be my first real Monaco and I can’t wait.

    As a matter of fact what a great day of racing, first the Monaco GP and then the Indy 500, and my wife thinks I am going to Church…

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      It is a better religion than anything the so called religious leaders would have us believe. That’s another story..

      1. Martin says:

        I think your love of F1 is entirely rational
        ;-)

    2. Quade says:

      Yes, I say amen to worship at St. F1′s Octane Cathedral.

    3. Jack W says:

      My wife thinks I’m in Monaco the whole w/end for the race.

  29. Sasa says:

    I think Mercedes has to sacrifice one of its drivers for Mercedes to have a chance at victory. I think its pretty clear that they are going to have the front row locked out, which means that the driver on pole will go for the win while the other driver holds up the rest of the field.

    1. Max Smoot says:

      If Mercedes could lock out the front row, the P2 spot would be at a disadvantage on the dirty side. I wonder if Mercedes could agree that the pole sitter assist his teammate through Ste Devote and then both control the race from there? Team orders later could restore the original positions as a gesture to the faster Q3 time. Or is that too much cooperation to expect among hyper competitive teammates? Rosberg and Hamilton seem to be a cut above the rest when it comes to sorting these things out.

  30. Oz Geezza says:

    Mr Allan, your analogy of forth coming
    Monaco F1 is simply superb thank you.
    I would like to spin the question, why every
    one and that include you Sir, take for
    ganted that Mercedes will lock the front grid in qualifying for the race.
    I do not think that would be happening?.
    Two weeks since last F1 meeting is a long
    time in F1 terms,and a surprises may arise
    at this weekend F1 meeting.

  31. Peruvian says:

    Every one knows that Mercedes tires will not last long, If I was hamilton or Rossberg, and I was leading the race at one point, I would run super slow to trick people behind me to think that I have no tires left, and soon will pit, so the ones behind just wait and wait, and suddendly I pile 3 or 4 super fast laps to make room for a pit stop.
    That the enemy knows your weakness can be use to your advantage.

    1. Yago says:

      That would sound like science fiction, if it wasn’t for the fact that something similar has been done before. I remember Schumacher in Imola in 2006 slowing down Alonso on purpose, so Renault decided to pit earlier than expected to try to do the undercut. They thought that even with a full tank they could be faster than MS. Wen ALO pitted, MS suddenly put several fast laps and then pitted himself. When he returned to track, he was still infront. He won that race, with a much slower race package than the Renault. It was a masterpiece, and a revenge for what happened the year before, when ALO beat MS in a similar fashion.

  32. cometeF1 says:

    While it might be true that Monaco is not so well suited for F1 anymore, it is still one of the great race on the calendar.

    Qualifying here is more than having the fastest car over a lap. I don’t think that Mercs will capture the front row so easily. If they do and play it smart, the win could be theirs.

    Hopefully, the race won’t be decided on Saturday and that Sunday’s race will be a thriller. Marc

  33. Truth or Lies says:

    Ferrari 1,2
    Raikkonen 3

  34. Nesto says:

    Alonso won at Monaco 2 years in a row, 2006 & 2007

  35. luqa says:

    From a safety perspective this race should be out of the calendar- yet it gets a dispensation. WHY? All of a sudden safety is thrown out the window? Utter hypocrisy!
    The race itself will be more of a procession than usual because overtaking on the Pirelli marbles off line is nigh on impossible even at the best of times.
    Unless it is a partial wet race which will throw an element of uncertainty into the equation, this race is always an utter bore- regardless of Pirelli strategy.. Roll on Montreal!

    1. Tim says:

      From a safety perspective this race should be out of the calendar- yet it gets a dispensation. WHY?

      Money makes the world go around
      The world go around
      The world go around
      Money makes the world go around
      It makes the world go round :-)

  36. Akira-Fan says:

    how many times are we going to hear about the silly tyres this weekend?

    i predict that we will see no racing & will see nothing but cars running to a lap delta desperately trying to conserve tyres as in every other races in 2013.

    i’ll watch practice/qualifying, if tyres look marginal i wont bother watching the race as im tyred of watching this tyre stupidity, 1st i’d have missed in about 30 years.

    1. AlexD says:

      You kniw what….if I stop reading all that media have to say…and if I stop reading what never happy fans write…I would not even notice that there is something wrong with tyres.

  37. Fan says:

    I think its going to be a two stopper – at least. Despite what the genius’ at Pirelli are telling us I don’t think anyone knows how long the supersofts will last. No doubt it will not be for very long. If you can make it to Q3, but can’t get on pole it might be better not to send your car out, save your tyres and start on the harder compound. On race day start cautiously. No point in going full out, you will wreck your tyres and not a lot of opportunities to pass at Monacco. Drive to a target delta time in the beginning. When the leaders pit you will be in clear air and can drive to a higher delta time and hopefully build up enough of a cushion from which to comfortably pit onto another set of the mediums and finish the race on the softs.

    Also look for another delamination this weekend hopefully with the tight circut and less runoff areas no one will get hurt. You heard it here first.

  38. Jaspar says:

    Hi James, great insight as always. What about the prospect of the Ferraris & Lotus’ saving their tyres whilst potentially behind the slower Mercedes before turning on the pace when the track opens up. Bit like what Alonso did last year to jump past Hamilton after his one stop.

  39. Monza01 says:

    I would not bet against Lewis Hamilton for pole – and the race as well if the tyre situation proves not to be such a massive problem for the team as at recent races.

    Either Red Bull driver must be in with a shot but Monaco is the one race where Webber might just be able to outperform Vettel.

    I doubt whether Alonso will be far away at the end of the race but the Ferrari could be some way behind the front row at the end of quali.

  40. Leber says:

    I really think Ferrari will win the race. But Kimi will chances too.

  41. Methusalem says:

    Some advantage to the drivers whose residence is Monaco? NR & LH live there!

    1. KRB says:

      Think Di Resta does too.

  42. foreverf1 says:

    An undercut might just work for the cars NOT on pole. Reminds me of Lewis’ win in 08 when he inadvertently gained an undercut because of a puncture when he hit the barrier. He had to pit early and moved to the pack of the field when everyone at the front made their scheduled stops. It just might work.

    Although I can see Rosberg taking this race from pole.

  43. lalonso says:

    Off topic but I would love any insights;
    Quoting JA here
    “and they can lose grip by picking up dust and discarded rubber from the tyres, which is a particular feature of the Pirelli tyres used in F1 today.”

    Despite all the complaints about tyre wear, I’m not so convinced it doesn’t create a more exciting/entertaining race. However if more tyre debris from the Pirellis(as compared to Bridgestones etc) discourages the racers from deviating at all from the racing line and driving the “train”, isn’t it more detrimental for the excitement of the sport than the tyre wear issues? I’ve read 1000 complaints about the latter but none on the former. Any thots?

  44. Brent says:

    I don’t believe, from what I have read, that they can build this years tire with the same technique as last years which is why they changed the construction while changing the compounds.

  45. SuperSi says:

    Merc and RBR will win at Monaco because they will just place it on pole and then they have already won the race. Now that they rigged the tyres to favour them its even easier.
    Yawn.

    1. Stephen Taylor says:

      The FIA have said nothing can be changed on the tyres unless there is a safety reason for doing so.

      1. KRB says:

        And plus the changes are only from Canada on …

  46. Ryan Eckford says:

    Mercedes have to be the favourites for Monaco as the characteristics of the circuit suit the characteristics of their car, and the way they work the tyres. Red Bull and Ferrari will be the main challengers I feel, with Lotus, Force India and McLaren battling behind them. They will be followed by Toro Rosso, Sauber, Williams, Marussia and Caterham.

  47. Robert N says:

    James,

    slightly OT. As mentioned by another poster, in recent years many drivers used the pitlane exit as a short cut for St. Devote at the start.

    Will the stewards do something about that this year?

    1. James Allen says:

      Good question. I’ll ask FIA

  48. Dren says:

    Mercedes went well here last year with tire degredation issues. Rosberg was faster than Webber, but finished second. Schumacher was on pole before the penalty. He likely would have won the race.

    Mercedes will dominate pole and the race with a 1-2. Hamilton will win. Third will be up for grabs between Webber, Alonso and Raikkonen.

  49. type056 says:

    James, why you say that Pirelli will bring 2012 tyre from Canada?
    I though that as FIA said they do not allow to change tyre only for safety reason.
    Did you hear that news?

  50. jjpm says:

    Free practice 1 : Hamilton, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg
    Free practice 2 : Rosberg, Alonso, Perez
    Saturday (some rain)
    Free practice 3 : Raikkonen, Rosberg, Massa
    Qualif. : Rosberg,Grosjean,Hamilton

    Race : 6 rookies, Maldonado, Grosjean, Perez, Sutil, Vergne, Di Resta, Webber :

    IMO, Safety Car will rules!

    1. jjpm says:

      the 6 rookies are not, obviously, the listed drivers…

  51. Jonathan says:

    Excellent review.

    My thoughts:
    If a Mercedes is on pole there will be incredibly condensed traffic, meaning top 7 could easily be within 10 seconds of each other, with the Mercedes’ pace generating a train due to their slow race pace.
    If there’s a mixture of pit-stop strategies (some will pit 1, some 2) this will decide the race, since total time needed to pit in Monaco is 25 seconds (very useful information given by the writer of this post).
    This put together, I think Kimi could win this, if he manages to quali better than 6th.

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