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.
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