Mercedes confident ahead of tight Monaco pole battle
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 May 2013   |  1:56 pm GMT  |  108 comments

Friday in Monaco is a day off, but there are still quite a few people wandering around the paddock. There was a summit meeting of team principals with Bernie Ecclestone in his motorhome this morning, while the drivers are on promotional duties and the mechanics are up in the garages, tinkering with the cars.

There’s no doubt which team has the most confident staff: Mercedes.

Thursday’s free practice was everything the team could have wanted; fastest on a green track in FP1, fastest again in the second session with Rosberg and Hamilton ahead of the rest. The Mercedes single lap pace looked impressive, but Fernando Alonso was close to Hamilton’s time, despite setting his lap on used supersofts, compared to new for the Mercedes pair, which provided some encouragement. Romain Grosjean was also looking likely to get close to them, but he crashed on his qualifying simulation.

Nevertheless, Mercedes have tended to find more time in qualifying in recent races and their competitors expect that to happen again this weekend.

The crunch question is what their tyre performance will be like in the race, as there have been some alarming collapses recently when the rear tyres overheat on longer runs.

Thursday’s Free Practice 2 long runs show a more encouraging picture, as expected. The Monaco circuit puts a lot less energy into the tyres than Bahrain or Barcelona.

And the signs are that it is going to be tough for anyone to make the race on one stop, as that requires almost 50 laps on a set of soft tyres. There isn’t enough time in practice to simulate that, the most anyone did was 33 laps.

And that plays into Mercedes’ hands; if they can get the pole and the front row, they should be able to control the start of the race and run in clear air, then phase their two stops to suit the fastest race plan.

Thursday’s long runs showed that Rosberg has better tyre life than Hamilton. His 22 lap run on the supersoft after the qualifying simulation was competitive and ended with a 1m 19.7s lap. But he did cool the tyres half way through, which he would not be able to do in the race without a safety car.

He looks the favourite at the moment, but he’s keeping expectations in check,

“For sure we have made progress in managing the tyres,” Rosberg said. “But I don’t know yet if it will be enough. There are still some question marks. The rear tyres we still use too much.”

There’s an added motivation for Rosberg this weekend; if he wins he will be the first son of a former Monaco winner to take the honours and it would be exactly 30 years since his father Keke won this race.

The rivalry with Hamilton is fascinating too. It is well known that the pair have been good friends for many years, but Hamilton always had the edge in the junior categories. His arrival at Mercedes has not phased Rosberg, quite the reverse. The German has seen his stock rise significantly in the last month after beating Hamilton in qualifying in both Bahrain and Spain. Hamilton knows he needs to rebalance things, starting right here.

Both have excellent qualifying records at Monaco and Hamilton sounded confident after practice, “If I start on pole no-one will pass me,” he said.” And I’m convinced I can get the pole here.”

The pair are likely to take each other to a very high level tomorrow in qualifying in the chase for pole and it will make for a thrilling spectacle, all the more so if any of their rivals can break in on their personal duel.

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Tornillo Amarillo

C’mon Hamilton, can anybody explain why he’s behind Nico if they have the best car of the field in the last 4 qualifies…??!


Had to laugh at James’ pointed question at Vettel–implying that he failed and should be disappointed in qualifying third in a car that was third fastest in qualifying trim and will be third or fastest in race trim tomorrow.

Vettel laughed it off and didn’t take the bait. Said all the right things, didn’t blame the car like others normally do (Alonso, Kimi, Lewis). Showed a lot of grace and class.

Mohamad Rizal

Mercedes 1-2 for Mercedes 1-2 for Monaco Gp Qualifying today. But they tends to overheat their tyres during the race. So, if by the first corner they are still 1st and 2nd (Rosberg 1st and Hamilton 2nd presumably); then the team should consider to put Hamilton to stack the other cars. Let Rosberg to become faster by 0.5 seconds per lap at least. Mercedes need to do this if they want to boost their chance in winning this race.r Monaco Gp Qualifying today. But they tends to overheat their tyres during the race. So, if by the first corner they are still 1st and 2nd (Rosberg 1st and Hamilton 2nd presumably); then the team should consider to put Hamilton to stack the other cars. Let Rosberg to become faster by 0.5 seconds per lap at least. Mercedes need to do this if they want to boost their chance in winning this race.

Fernando Cruz

What a lost opportunity for Williams! Maldonado had the potential to reach Q3 but something wrong happened. Maybe his team waited too long to put the correct tyres on him in the closing minutes of Q2!? He was a lot faster than Bottas and ended Q2 more than 2 seconds behind Van der Garde!


Well we all know what was going on on the track. We know the mechanics were tinkering with the cars. The real question is what was going on in Bernie’s camper??


Accident prone practice. Can Massa, Sutil, and Grosjean participate in qualy?

P.S. I find it silly that Raikkonen was told to cover his James Hunt picture in his helmet.


I think the biggest thing is who stops first.

If there is a hint of two stops required then Webber will do two and if he’s not out in front at the start he should stop before Vettel to get the jump as early as possible. He’s very quick here having won it twice before.


I’m looking for a little tactical “blocking” during qualy!


“[Hamilton’s] arrival at Mercedes has not phased Rosberg”

Fazed, surely.


I wander if Lewis quatifies on 2nd spot will Ross Brawn make them stay in order rather than risk loosing the whole 43 points for the team. It’s gonna be interesting as Nico is not gonna forget Malaysia any time soon and he utter those memorable words, “don’t forget this guys” as he crossed the line in 4th place.

It’s gonna be good no matter what!


Reading some of the posts on this forum would lead one to believe Rosberg has more points than Hamilton and has out qualified him almost every race.


1. Rosberg had 2 DNFs because of mechanical problems.

2. Rosberg would have 2 more qualifying wins if not for the bad timing by Merc for him, and perfectly suiting Hamilton.

3. Rosberg was told to not pass Hamilton, costing him points.

4. If we go by your theory: Button had more points than Hamilton over 3 seasons so he is clearly the better driver?


My theory is quite simple – at this point in the game they are tied in quali and Hamilton has more points.

Your logic about Button being better driver because he got more points over three years is an incorrect extrapolation of my OP. The correct extrapolation is that o

ver three seasons Hamilton beat Button twice.

No if’s and butts – just facts that within the bounds of the sport (in F1 there is no aggregation of points over a number of seasons).

Like today, the facts are Rosberg won and Hamilton got 4th (not if the safety car didn’t hinder Hamilton he would have been second – it meaningless).


Ok, following your “points mean everything” argument; Button beat Hamilton over their 3 seasons together. Button is clearly the better driver, the points say so.



No, see my other reply. Drivers are ranked over the course of a single season not multiple. But that is not the reason why I think Jamilton is better than Button. I think he has driven better overall and in fact in 2012 Hamilton’s points do not quite do justice to his performance (on track – was not too impressed with his twitter antics).

My simple statement that Hamilton is not doing as badly as people seem to be implying (using points this season so far as a measure to illustrate it).

Rosberg has performed better than Hamilton in the past two races and past three quali but I think to make sweeping statements about Rosberg being better than Hamilton on the back of that is ridiculous.

Lets wait and see shall we?


Yes, indeed. The same phenomenon is seen whenever radio stations do “Best X Songs of All-Time” lists … invariably they’re overly weighted with more recent songs.

Seems it’s a particularly human failing (at least for some of us), to not look too far back, and to reach for simplistic conclusions, even from complex datasets. Oh well.


Hamilton beat a two times WDC in his rookie season.

Rosberg got beaten by Webber in his rookie season.

If Hamilton ends up being beaten by Rosberg, I’ll have to reevaluate my opinion on all of them, especially Alonso and Webber, and even Vettel. It seems Webber is a much faster driver than I thought, and Vettel must be amazingly fast to destroy Webber who destroyed Rosberg in qualification when they were teammates. Definitely something to think about.


Hamilton for pole. If the Merc gives up its rear tyres LH can deal with that.


Like he did in Spain…


Hamilton should help his best friend Fernando to win the race…Nando need this race to win the championship…:)


Who’s to say Hamilton won’t bag it?

Plus it isn’t in the drivers’ nature to help, these are brutal selfish bastards that’d do everything they can for their own good, not another driver.


lewis wont beat nico for has the knack of going fast in sectors 1 and 2 while still saving the tyres. so in sector 3 nico will always be faster.

Alonso was flooring it to the limit couldn’t get near nicos time.

with no nicos time 1.13.800,if anyone is faster good luck to them.


I thought 1:14 flat would be hard to break, but Rosberg just did a 1:14.378 in FP3. He bettered his FP3 time by 7-tenths last year, in Q3. That would mean a 1:13.678 … I think Nico might’ve been pushing a little more than normal in FP3, so your 1:13.8 sounds about right.

Of course this only holds if it’s dry.

Lastly, what the hell were Grosjean and Sutil doing in FP3? Rule 1 is don’t crash in FP3. He’ll be lucky to take part in quali. As a driver, I would ask my engineer to ensure that I wouldn’t be out on track behind him for qualifying.


no rain

Alexander Supertramp

You anticipated on this battle two weeks ago, hope you’re predictions come true!


James, why have you changed your attitude on the possibility of teams like Lotus and Ferrari choosing to one stop the race? Your article prior to this one says:

“That said they are still likely to need to make two stops on Sunday, where Lotus can definitely do one and probably Ferrari as well. This could prove decisive provided that the one stoppers are able to qualify at or near the front.”

Data would not have changed since the end of FP2, so what indicators have shown that one stopping is no longer possible for Lotus or Ferrari? I still think they can manage it, and if there is one track on the calendar where it’s absolutely worth trying to one stop at, especially with signs of your car being benign on the tires, it is at Monaco surely.


Last year it was marginal, and that was with a Safety Car after the first lap, for 2 laps. I can’t see anyone doing 50+ laps on the softs, or 30+ laps on the SS’s. but we’ll soon see.


It always said that it depended on practice running

At the moment it looks like 2 stops


With the way things are going with Grosjean, it looks like drivers are going to pit from Lap 2 onwards.


It is still fairly early in the season and it is possible that LH is still adapting to the car. Still, I for one, am surprised to see NR being ahead in most of the sessions to date. Over one last at least he is if not that tiny fraction better than LH, at least on par.

If NR keeps at it, LH might start being affected and ditto his performance. We will have a better picture after a few more races.

As for the race. I like that I can’t seem to be able to imaging whom the winner will be. Today’s F1 gets a lot of finger pointing, it is not perfect, but it is the best it has been in a while. I liked last year season very much too. Marc



Can you confirm if Lewis ran a revised suspension please.



I feel like ferrari will win this race if they qualify at least in the second row. Their cars in race trim are so much better.

Also, looking at the times from practice, anyone see Bianchi’s time. He is far ahead of his teammate and the caterhame cars. I would love to see this guy in a more competitive car next year.


Bianchi is fantastic, he should be at Sauber at least. Guttierez’s F1 ability is questionable so far. Pic, Chilton and Van de Garde however are not F1 caliber. Drivers like Robert Wickens and Alex Rossi should have been given a go.

It seems teams would rather an OK driver with money than a great driver with just his talent to offer.

Nicolas Prost I think is at least as good as Bruno Senna and yet was never given an opportunity.


“There isn’t enough time in practice to simulate that, the most anyone did was 33 laps”

James, so, why don’t the teams exploit to use the full training sessions, instead of coming out of the boxes 30 minutes, sometimes an hour later?


track changes so much dude and is always very green to start with, more so at street circuits. The big boys prefer to let the little guys clean the track


running on green track wont provide good data


I think, it would be great if points are introduced for qualifyings. It would even make qualifying sessions very interesting, and more exciting. 10 for Pole, 9…


That’d essentially make it 2 races per a single weekend + track for drivers.



I have always thought pole position should get 3 points, second position 2 points and third on the grid 1 point. Also, 1 point for fastest lap of the race regardless of the percentage distance completed.


more like 5 ,3 and 2,but 10 is way to much.

what about a point for every lap they do … ha ha.

winner/pole at Monaco would get 113 points!


You must be joking…


It’s 3×2 in qualifying for Hamilton.

50×22 in the WDC for Hamilton.

Hamilton is 4th in the driver standings.

Hamilton was just focusing on the race pace.

Hamilton has just drove 5 races in this car.

Who watched his interview for sky knows that he explained how different is to approuch throttle, steering wheel, and etc in the new car…

What are you talking about???


Remember a few rounds ago, everyone was talking about the possibility of Alonso being out-qualified by his teammate five times in a row. I think it is just a phase, and that Hamilton will get back on top of Rosberg again.


You ignored Rosberg having mechanical failures in 2 races, in 1 race he was told to not overtake Hammy and also the first 2 qualifying session were under weird circumstances.

Rosberg is the better Merc driver so far.


But then Hamilton is new to the team and car. Rosberg has been driving the Merc for quite a couple of seasons now so he knows how to react better.

I’d say give Ham till half point of the season before comparing both.


Hello Marcello!

Now, I’m the biggest Hamilton fan you’ll find, anywhere…. But, I don’t think the WDC points situation between Hamilton/Rosberg can really be viewed in the way you describe in your post.

Nico had some serious reliability problems the first few races weekends…. Remember? Otherwise that score would almost certainly appear a lot closer. Anyhow, qualifying for pole on Saturday is gonna be a real knock down, drag out between those two…!


Rosberg has had two mechanical retirements, which has skewed the points difference significantly.



Let’s not start to over rate and over hype Nico Rosberg to much. He did over one hundred F1 gp’s and had only one race win. This years Mercedes is more suited to Nico’s driving style. I think Lewis is doing a pretty good job so far if you are looking to the circumstances. I hope for Nico’s sake he will do well this season. You can’t remain a talented driver forever.(especially in a car that is build solely for him)


Agree, except I think Rosberg beat Hamilton fair and square in two qualifyings, not by Hamilton being “just focusing on race pace”. Untill now, Hamilton has been the better driver by quite a margin. Thing is, people usually do not look further back than one or two races. That way they can not get a clear picture!


Yeah, I know he always can explain something when he is not at the front.


Monaco qualifying looks an terrifically interesting prospect tomorrow!

No doubt, Mercedes looks the favorite, but I thought Rosberg’s rear tires looked worryingly worn after his late FP2 race simulation run…. I think Alonso’s Ferrari looks a good bet to, maybe, snatch pole from under Merc’s noses….

Frankly, I think that Rosberg feels, just a tenth or two, more at home than Hamilton in the WO4 chassis.

Three years of dealing with Mercedes GP’s approach in terms of operating systems (steering wheel/dashboard)and overall car feel and behavior gives an excellent driver like Nico an early season, slight, advantage. Absolutely, the same as if Nico had come to join Lewis at McLaren.

Furthermore, in terms of his body language, I sense that Hamilton is not quite as satisfied as Rosberg with his overall chassis set-up. Getting that aspect of race-craft together in an in ultra quick but perplexing car like the WO4 ain’t gonna happen right off….

Nor have I read where Lewis has expressed that necessary assured-ness in his ride, at this point, needed to constantly get the best of an extremely strong Teammate such as Nico.

Nonetheless, things are close between the twosome, which I always expected it would be….

Anyway, it’s early days yet! And the more Mercedes’ engineer/development team get that car more to Hamilton’s liking, the intra-squad battle between those ol’ Karting buddies is gonna be a real on-track scrape of mega proportions.

Bring on Monaco qualifying!


What some of you guys seem to be missing is the fact that, in any sporting discipline, one is judged by one’s previous form. Hence, if LH was that good in junior categories, It’s only logical that it is expected of him to translate that form into even better performances in senior categories! In all fairness, LH has completed merely five races with Merc and not in his 5th year with the outfit. Lest we forget, it took the great maestro, Schumi, 3. Barren seasons in a Ferrari before he could mount an assault on multiple championships. Besides, the race has not been won… The boys are still in a marathon. June the 3rd, enters Paddy Lowe!


3 barren seasons?

1996, 3 wins 3rd in WDC behind dominant Williams

1997, 5 wins 2nd behind Villeneuve before FIA disqualified him.

1998, 5 wins 2nd behind dominant Mclaren with Hakkinen driving

1999, broken leg, yet Ferrari won WCC and Urvine nd in WCC

Hardly barren…


I couldn’t agree more, in fact I think those years were probably schumachers best. He had no business competing with the Williams in particular, it kinda reminds me of Alonso’s second stint at Renault only better. I know 1997 will always be remembered for the incident but if you think about it how he got that Ferrari to compete with the vastly superior Williams was a miracle even more impressive than FA last year. The auld schumi v newey, Michael found a way, hopefully Fernando can too, only then will he be a true Ferrari legend.


Thanks Dutch Johnny ‘ol boy… Common sense is clearly not that copmmon to all of us! I think it’s pretty clear I made an emphasis on “championships” and not a few odd race wins!


Pot, kettle black…

“Common sense” would have pointed out that other than the championship winning team, Schumacher won races and was the next best placed driver in the championship because of his ability rather than the car.

96, behind Hill and Villeneuve

97, behind Villeneuve

98, behind Hakkinen

Barren? 15 wins over 4 seasons, against the odds, and taking the championships down to the last round in 1997 and 1998 is hardly unfruitful.


I think he means that those ferrari’s except ’99 weren’t that good. But ofcourse you need to make a point to bring schumacher down as always….


I know exactly what he meant, and I’m also aware that Ferrsri were carried by Schumacher through those seasons. Irvine had nothing to do with it.

I’m trying to work out how I’m having a go at MSC again. My point was that other than the dominant car of each season, Schumacher won races because of who he was…


True, true. More wins than any driver save Vettel in the past 3 seasons, and more wins than WEB or MAS have in their careers.

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