I observed a Monaco ritual this morning when I watched Free Practice 3 down by the swimming pool section of the track. It never fails to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck as you watch the drivers go flat through the first part of the corner, pushing out towards the barriers in search of a few extra hundredths of a second.
Alonso and Massa were noticeably hustling more than the others, the Ferrari is not hampered by its downforce problems here and both men are on it, as are both McLaren drivers.
Alonso was blocked by a Toro Rosso in his first hot lap, picking up from Lewis Hamilton’s complaint that the Red Bull B team does seem to be getting in the way a bit as the A team’s advantage closes. It’s all talk and gamesmanship, but worth keeping half an eye on anyway.
What struck me was how much the drivers rely on co-operation with each other. Everything happens so quickly that drivers need to work together, even though they are rivals, to get out of each other’s way if they are not on a screamer of a lap.
At one point Lewis Hamilton came through the swimming pool at respectable speed and immediately pulled to the right before the second part of the corner, Fernando Alonso was coming through very quickly and Hamilton slotted back in.
It’s like a code between them, I guess. This was only practice, but if they block in qualifying there are penalties, so they have to be careful.
But I thought it was very interesting to see two such intense rivals co-operating in the heat of competition.
Both know that Red Bull is beatable this weekend and they want to be the one who does it.