Street Fight
Monte Carlo 2018
Monaco Grand Prix
Rosberg and Mercedes rule the streets, but Lotus, Ferrari and Red Bull close
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Posted By:   |  23 May 2013   |  5:04 pm GMT  |  105 comments

Nico Rosberg underlined Mercedes’ claim as pole position favourites for this weekend’s Grand Prix by topping both practice sessions on an eventful Thursday in Monaco. In the faster second session he was the only man to break under the 1m 15s barrier, ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

But it looks very close at the front with Ferrari, Lotus and Red Bull all competitive in different ways. The Lotus has exceptional speed at the end of long runs, the Ferrari looks good in all conditions and might challenge the Mercedes for pole, while the Red Bull also looked pretty competitive in low fuel and race conditions.

With Free Practice taking place traditionally on Thursday in Monaco the worries of rain never materialised, with the weather in fact remaining glorious throughout the whole day. The day was short of drama, with only Romain Grosjean’s crash in the second session and a brief red flag stoppage, which marshals used to remove a piece of metal sticking up from the kerb at the Swimming Pool.

Rosberg took the top spot in both sessions, but it does by no means look like a dominant position for the Mercedes team. Both Ferrari and Lotus also look in the hunt for the race, thanks to strong race pace on the long runs. Both had their qualifying simulation runs ruined in dramatically different ways; slightly flattering Mercedes’ pace.

Alonso was the pace setter during the early prime tyre runs in FP2, heading the field by 4/10ths of a second at this stage. Splitting Alonso and Rosberg in third was Romain Grosjean who was looking to have another strong day around the street circuit.

And as quickly as it seemed that Grosjean could be releasing himself out of the shadows of his high flying team mate, he promptly found himself scampering for cover when he stuck his Lotus in to the barrier at St. Devote on the first lap of his option tyre run. The car sustained substantial damage on its left-hand side and the incident put the Frenchman out of the session with an hour still to run. Felipe Massa was on his fast lap when this happened, which spoiled his chances.

Grosjean had been flying prior to his accident, “It was the first flying lap on supersofts and I thought the grip would be better than what it was,” said the Frenchman. “Never mind, the car is good and it gives me the confidence to push. I’ll have to buy the mechanics a beer on Sunday and apologise, but it’s okay.”


Following a short red-flag delay to fix the kerbing there was a flurry of cars taking to the track to set their option tyre time before switching attention to longer runs in the second half of the session. Alonso was amongst these cars and having seen the Mercedes pair jump to the top of the times he set about reclaiming his previous position.

But as is the way with Monaco an unpredictable set of slow-moving mobile chicanes halted his chances of threatening Rosberg. He did manage to set a competitive lap time a later lap, but with past-perfect tyres he completed the day 4/10ths of a second behind Rosberg.

The Mercedes pair had a relatively trouble free day as the two Monaco residents Rosberg and Hamilton aim to put themselves in the best position for a Grand Prix victory this season.

After the embarrassing slump from pole position in the race in Barcelona, there should be fewer problems for the Mercedes drivers in the race here, as Monaco is relatively easy on the tyres, with a smooth surface and no sustained high energy corners pushing the Pirelli rubber to its limit.

“We completed a lot of laps and I feel comfortable in the car,” said Rosberg. “It seems that we are quick again on one lap but we have been working hard again to make improvements to our race pace.”

And in race simulation mode the time drop-off gave some encouragement to Mercedes where they were able to put the super-soft compound through its paces over a stint similar in length to what we can expect on Sunday, of around twenty-five laps, with minimal degradation showing.

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.

The Ferrari looks the most benign car here. It continued to show strong pace during a race stint as both Alonso and Felipe Massa, in fourth place, lapped consistently as the afternoon drew to a close. All day it seemed that the Ferrari drivers were able to do the lap time with less obvious effort going on in the cockpit compared to the Mercedes. But the Mercedes definitely has the one lap pace advantage.

The Championship leader, Sebastian Vettel, had a quiet day in ninth position and spent the majority of the day on the soft compound completing heavier fuel runs, despite a KERS problem. The sister Red Bull of Mark Webber followed a similar route but was able to take fifth position, as the Australian seemed to have the edge over his team mate here.

Fortunately for the triple World Champion his closest title challenger also had a difficult day. Kimi Raikkonen didn’t suffer any serious issues but the Finn was overshadowed by Grosjean. Although Lotus will take pleasure in their long run pace with both of their drivers setting very fast laps deep in to long runs on the super soft tyre.

Strategy will be key; a one-stop race looks possible for some but not others. Today’s times leave us with the clear impression that we are in for a mighty scrap among the top four teams for both pole position and the race victory.

It will also be very close in Q2 for the final two places in the top ten Q3 shootout, with McLaren and Force India in the mix.

MONACO GRAND PRIX, Free Practice 2
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m14.759s 45
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m15.077s + 0.318s 50
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m15.196s + 0.437s 37
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m15.278s + 0.519s 38
5. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m15.404s + 0.645s 41
6. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m15.511s + 0.752s 38
7. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m15.718s + 0.959s 10
8. Jenson Button McLaren 1m15.959s + 1.200s 39
9. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m16.014s + 1.255s 32
10. Paul di Resta Force India 1m16.046s + 1.287s 42
11. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m16.349s + 1.590s 43
12. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m16.434s + 1.675s 40
13. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m16.823s + 2.064s 42
14. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m16.857s + 2.098s 40
15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m16.935s + 2.176s 44
16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m17.145s + 2.386s 37
17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m17.184s + 2.425s 42
18. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m17.264s + 2.505s 46
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m17.892s + 3.133s 40
20. Charles Pic Caterham 1m18.212s + 3.453s 43
21. Max Chilton Marussia 1m18.784s + 4.025s 40
22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m19.031s + 4.272s 30

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1

I’ll add two slightly unusual points. Webber was fastest in the speed trap. The Lotus’ were at the bottom of a very narrow range. Monaco is different when it comes to tyre wear and degradation.

2

2+ stops for all. Mercs maybe 3. Im betting the ferarri’s come on strong mid race. My bet is either a redbull or ferarri win. The mercs are just to hard on tyres.

3

James what’s with the “Finn being overshadowed by Grosjean” ? Seriously it’s getting silly that people are talking him up when he’s not in the same league as his team mate – you just keep putting pressure on the guy. Last year you were talking about his quali pace and at best it was 10/10 & this year he’s been beaten out if the ballpark in all 5 quails & races and he will probably be outgunned again on Sat. Yet you use “overshadowed” on a Thursday ?- is it your like if Grosjean or dislike of Raikkonen that’s driving this or perhaps its the professor Prost singing Viva Le France in everybody’s ear !,

4

With all the talk about Merc being 1 & 2 then just performing a double act, do any of the following considerations come into affect:

1) With this being a racing track for 4 days a year, won’t the racing line have far better traction than normal?

2) With that in mind, this is probably the shortest distance to the first corner. So P3 would have to have made a great start. And of course, P2 will be aiming inwards as well.

Conclusion – lets hope GRO does not get P3, or even worse, P5 lol

5

That’s because it’s not true or you looked at a couple of laps in isolation. Also depends on the fuel load he ran and whether or not there was traffic etc. you must look at performance on the same rubber with more than 15 consistent laps on them and very few were near Lotus , Ferrari or Red Bull actually.

6

N. Rosberg has won a single GP, up until now, so, I can’t say much about his talent. But, I have never seen him make mistakes on the grid, right? He kind of reminds me of good-old Nick Heidfeld

7

When Brawn surprised everyone (except JA!) by announcing Schumacher, everyone hinted at how annoyed Rosberg must have been, since he would obviously be relegated to No2, etc… he silenced everyone by beating good-old (literally) Schumi. For three seasons.

With Lewis, it’s still early days for comparisons… but Lewis isn’t exactly having an easy time of it, is he?

It makes you wonder: exactly how out-of-form was good-old Schumacher last year..?

8

GOOD OLD NICK, LIKE ROSBERG HE SHOULD HAVE WON A RACE IN CANADA IF NOT FOR TEAM ORDERS.

9

In the past 10 years or so if your not in a good car you don’t win no matter how good a driver you are.

The cars nowadays are all aerodynamically so well balanced and easy to drive on the limit – the difference a driver can make compared to 10 or more years ago is minute.

Looking at Hamilton and Rosberg in the same car now, how many races would both have won if Rosberg was in the McLaren this past 6 years and Hamilton in the Williams and Mercedes?

10

I think thats a little unfare on nico, he won his only GP2 season and with the exception of his first year (where he was against a very experienced 29 year old MW) he has always beaten his team mate including MS all be it a much past his prime MS. To me and most comentators he looks the equal of LH this year who is held in very high regard. NH I always saw assteady reliablebut i couldnt see him winning a WC if he had a the best package like this years ferrari, i think Rosberg would.

11

He is certainly very fast on one lap. Beating Schumacher, and now Hamilton … wow, hats off for that!

12

At Monaco, track position more than anything is the key. If Merc get a 1-2 on the grid then it would be foolish to expect anything other than a Merc win.

Alonso and Kimi need to ensure they get 2nd and 3rd if they want a realistic chance. If they disappoint in qualifying again, it wont be an easy salvage operation.

13

Hi James,

Quick question –

Rumour has it that Williams are seeking to change engine suppliers for 2014. I believe they want to switch to Mercedes engines due to it being cheaper than the Renault power units.

Any truth to this?

Keep up the good work James.

14

I have heard that and referenced it in recent articles, yes.

Also Toro Rosso is moving to Renault, so they will have a full roster anyway

15

Kimi had some problems with power steering on thursday. Why can’t Lotus engineer a proper power steering for Kimi? Or is it difficult to get that just right?

16

During testing it is not unusual that some problem may come up. Vettel had KERS problems. Engineers and mechanics have plenty of time to fix any problems today. Don´t worry about Kimi. He´ll be ready. Then during qualy and the race many things could happen to anyone

17

Sure. I was just wondering why it’s power steering issue again.

18

Durig Rosbergs longer run his lap times were dropping off but then he ran a very slow lap and his next laps were pretty much back were he had started, it was a pretty wired performance caractéristique and maybe if merc lock out the front row they could use it to keep the driver in P1 out longer, let him build a gap so he can back off and cool his tyres with protection. Id like to see mercs 1 and 2 into turn 1 just to see how they manage it.

Anyway its the weekend so come on Leinster, Clermont and Mark Webber.

Hey James what do you think of this tyre cooling to improve performance.

19

Even if Rosberg does get P1 by the end of Q3, he’ll as usual still manage to find a gap to slip the back despite Monaco being a train track.

Alonso, Hamilton, Kimi and probably Vettel as well will manage to find a gap through to the front instead.

20
Marcus in Canada

Can I just say the 5Live commentary of Practice by James Allen/McNish/Anderson is superb!

21

You can! Thanks for feedback

22

i would love to be able to get the 5live comentary but alas im in South Africa .. James – anything on the cards to lets us listen in to you fella’s ?

Cheers

23

We listen to them during Free practise Marco

24
Tornillo Amarillo

Another strategy race, one or two stops, that’s the question, not necessary nice to watch, but we will see, hopefully.

I cannot imagine HAMILTON being beat by ROSBERG in qualify, that would make Lewis look just ordinary… I believe Lewis will do anything for being ahead of Nico this time, and I really mean Anything!

Anyway, nobody has expected Mercedes winning at the front, so for Monaco I expect Ferrari, Lotus and whatever happens from there.

25
Tornillo Amarillo

*at the front this year

26

My Tip for Podium

ALO

RAIK

HAM

These 3 know where its at. Feel the track on the Thursday, then go for broke on the Saturday. HAM for pole and AlO to sneak in 2nd

27

That would really spice up the championship but i cant imagine a redbull free podium this weekend

28

Me neither: substitute WEB for HAM.

29
All revved-up

Monaco to me is a special race and have always enjoyed it. On TV more so than being there. As MW said, too many little dogs in handbag types – especially for a country folk at heart me.

To me I’ve always enjoyed it despite the processional nature of the race. I think it’s got something to do with the fact that the drivers are centimeters from breaking their suspension. There is also the real chance of a following driver under cutting the driver in front who’s stuck in the procession.

Guess not all processional races are boring.

30

I forsee a Merc 1-2 in quali and most everyone doing 2 stops during the race if its somewhat warm. Ferrari and Lotus may try to do a 1 stopper if they fall too far behind the Mercs but it could very well be a Monaco train which would be quite boring. Pullin for Merc to finally get a victory this season. This is their best chance.

31

I think the Mercedes will deflate again. I can’t see Nico beating Alonso or Hamilton this weekend. He’s fast but he never looks like a winner to me. My guess is we’ll see Vettel being in the fight as well. And let’s not forget Webber. He digs this track.

32

What an amazing photo!

33
Alberto Martínez

James,

What about Button´s long run? It was quite impressive! I was absolutely surprised when I saw that in average he was faster than Vettel, Alonso and even Raikkonen?

Do you have an answer to this because nobody is talking about this matter?

34

Sounds impressive, but we’ll have to wait until Saturday to find out if McL can reach Q3. If not, starting in 10th or so will not auger well for the race even if they can do minimal stops.

You may not hear much positive stuff from posters on here – most enjoy rubbishing JB.

35
hero_was_senna

To be fair Peter, many posters on here, I include myself, honestly thought Button would be destroyed by Lewis.

On pure speed he was, but on occasions he out qualified Lewis too.

I’m happy enough to admit I got him wrong.

36

I think Mercedes are slowing starting to understand the tyre issues, but it seems to be a slow business. It makes one wonder if the teams that are good on tyres have had a degree of luck in finding a good solution reasonably quickly. Interesting that Rosberg seems to be faster than Hamilton most of the time, but I expect it has something to do with familarity. It looks likely that Rosberg will get pole, but if Hamilton get his car balance and set up right it could be either of them.

37

Mention that Vettel had no KERS and his suspension was being altered, missing out lots of time in practice while Webber was out all the time with working KERS…then say Webber had the edge over Vettel.

Ok, lol.

38

People , People it was only Thursday we still have 1 full free practise and qualifying and 100 +min of racing . The way you guys talk its like the race is over with 3 weeks ago comeon !!– I will just remind you race is still another 2 days away and anyone “racing” their team mate on Thursday would be stupid – why do the initial Rg spring to mind !

39

Yes, very odd, considering that on softs Mark was only 0,05s faster than Vettel whose KERS wasn’t working.

40

Webber isn’t slow round here. I guess he will beat Vettel.

41

If Mark can get off the line without ending up halfway down the field

42

Well traditionally webber has been better at Monaco than Vettel but agree its too early to tell from a “practice” session if one had an edge over the other – just like one can’t say that Roseberg has an edge over Hamilton. Saturday is when it counts.

43

Hamilton not exactly the kind that likes running behind his teammate in Monaco!!!!

44

Mr Allen,your introduction to the posibilities

after Friday practice is simply superb,thank you. I do at times like to put a wager on

when a gut feeling is right. which brings me

to Alonso,watching him via RTL,TV Germany in

pactice he was the fastest of them all in the

first sector at any given time,add to that he

done 30 add laps on super soft which suggest

a one stop strategy, on the other hand the

Merc had rear tyers heating after 11 laps and

were told to ease off.

45

Hopefully, things will turn out very differently for Mercedes this time out..

I’m a slight contrarian, not liking Monaco all that much (beyond Saturday that is). But since KERS was introduced, it’s been a lot better.

Now: with a team which has great one lap pace, a team which has great long run pace, and two all round good teams, can anyone possibly complain about the prospects for this weekend?

People will look back on this as a golden era, no doubt!

46

The thing I wonder is why Lewis alone tested their new suspension. Lets hope it goes well for them.

sadly, McLaren have not yet made a step forward.

47

Apparently the new suspension is easier on the rear tyres but as a result the car may be slower in qualifying which is why I think Nico will be on pole but Hamilton will win from P2.

48

No point both drivers testing it – better to run both to determine which is better. Common process, lots of teams do it.

49

It makes sense that 1 driver tests the new bits while the other is used as a comparison. Merc are fortunate that both drivers are ext’ quick and reliable enough to do this.

50

Very much as one could have expected things to stand so far. Mercs fast over a lap. ferrari fast and consistent. Lotus good on their tires. RB possibly not as fast as Ferrari in race simulation.

Plenty of time now for all of us to analyze the datas before P3. Marc

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