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Monaco GP: Will Ferrari and Red Bull profit at Mercedes F1’s 2017 bogey track?
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Posted By: Editor   |  22 May 2018   |  7:36 pm GMT  |  133 comments

The pendulum of form swung in Mercedes’ favour last time out at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with the Silver Arrows claiming the first one-two finish of the season, but can Ferrari and Red Bull strike back at a venue which in 2017 exposed Mercedes’ “diva” car?

At last year’s event, with Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton struggling to get their Mercedes W08’s into the correct tyre operating window, they only managed to take fourth and seventh places respectively, whilst Ferrari claimed their first Monaco Grand Prix victory since Michael Schumacher in 2001.

If recent track history is anything to go by, Sebastian Vettel might fancy his chances of clawing back some of the 17-point deficit to championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

With Monaco being one of the least power-dependent circuits on the calendar, Red Bull are expected to once again take advantage of their chassis strengths and be in the mix this weekend, particularly as they have generally reduced the gap between themselves and Ferrari and Mercedes this season.

Whilst Mercedes boss Toto Wolff expressed his desire for his team to not be faced with the same issues as last season, he still labelled Ferrari and Red Bull as the favourites for Monaco.

“It’s a circuit that gives us completely different challenges – and unique ones, too,” said Wolff. “Last year, it became a weekend of damage limitation when we didn’t find the right set-up. It was a painful lesson from us and we are determined to show that we have learned it this year.

“We don’t head into the weekend as favourites – they are Red Bull and Ferrari. Red Bull are strong in the slow-speed corners and where straight line speed is less important, while Ferrari dominated last year.”

The Monaco circuit is one that places heightened significance on Saturday, where drivers will participate in the most important qualifying session of the year.

With overtaking opportunities at a premium, 84% of Monaco Grands Prix wins have come from drivers who started in the top three. The last driver to win in Monaco from lower than 3rd on the grid was Olivier Panis in 1996, who took victory for Ligier from 14th on the grid.

That doesn’t mean that there’s a lack of opportunity for a mid-race mix-up. Incidents are commonplace and the safety car has been deployed at every race this decade.

Pirelli debut the Hypersoft compound

Owing to the compact, low-speed nature of the track, the Circuit de Monte Carlo has some of the lowest tyre degradation levels of the season. Pirelli have consistently brought their most aggressive tyres to this event but one-stop strategies are commonplace.

Such was the lack of tyre degradation at the Principality, drivers were capable of executing an ‘overcut’ strategy. Instead of pitting earlier than your rival to profit from the fresh rubber, both Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo elected to stay out in free air and leapfrog their competitors when they eventually made their pit stops.

This tactic earned Vettel the victory, much to the annoyance of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen (who had started the race on pole), whilst Ricciardo jumped from fifth to third over the pit stop phase. Lewis Hamilton also did this to climb through the midfield to seventh after starting the race in thirteenth.

This year, as well as making their entire range of tyres one step softer, Formula One’s official tyre supplier will give the Hypersoft tyre it’s Formula One debut. The pink-walled tyres have been seen in testing before now, but these tests have been done on circuits which will never be allocated the softest tyres.

“We’ve tested the hypersoft in Abu Dhabi and Barcelona,” said Mario Isola, Pirelli’s Head of Car Racing, “of those two, Abu Dhabi is a better comparison to Monaco and there we saw that the hypersoft was worth about a second per lap than the ultrasoft; so we could see some more records broken this weekend.”

The likes of Red Bull, Williams and Renault have selected the maximum number of hypersoft tyres for this event, suggesting that they believe the Hypersofts will be more than durable enough for this weekend. Will the introduction of the new compound create additional strategy variation?

Alonso returns to Monaco after last year’s Indy 500 attempt

Given McLaren’s lack of competitiveness last season, Fernando Alonso was permitted to miss the Monaco Grand Prix in favour of the challenge of Indy 500, as part of his quest to complete the ‘triple crown of motorsport’; wins at the Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Whilst his Indy efforts didn’t go to plan, this year McLaren are in a stronger position and have an increased chance of a bigger points haul, meaning that Alonso will be required to maximise any opportunities that come their way.

The team from Woking are one of the front-runners in a tightly-contested midfield battle, and Monaco is a venue where, in their recent Honda days, they normally have the chance to showcase their claim of having one of the best chassis on the grid. The pressure’s on to demonstrate just how far they’ve come.

All images: Motorsport Images

Who do you think will triumph around the streets of Monte Carlo? Leave your comments below.

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1

@ Kenneth

What I meant is that Red Bull are likely to qualify on the front row and so far when have seen when Ricciardo qualifies at the front, he hasn’t won

2

@ Goferet..The only time i’ve seen Ricciardo take pole he was winning the race with an astonishing 12 sec lead over Hamilton only to lose with no fault of his own!

3

12 seconds and closing Kenneth…..

4

Ricciardo or Kimi for the win.

Dear Karma, please deliver Hulk to the podium.

5

I am not a massive fan of Alonso but I would really like to see him bring the McLaren home in a high position.

6

Surprise podium:

1. Kimi

2. Hulk

3. Hartley

Verstappen and Grosjean both cause multiple car pile-ups.

7

Who do you think will triumph around the streets of Monte Carlo? Well as always I hope the viewers and the fans. Monaco though, how glamorous it may seem, (it is not btw), is not the most exciting track to say at least. So, yeah some accidents, some strategies being decisive, but for the rest? Donkey parade!

8

I am secretly hoping for an upset by Alonso’s McLaren. But, to achieve it, you need two RB cars to be retired.

9
fursty ferret

If I was going to put a tenner on who will get pole and the win this weekend, it would be danni ric

10

I hope you’re right FF!

His 2016 pole was as hooked up as I’ve ever seen anyone around Monaco!

11

James.

Do you think we will see a 1.09 pole lap this weekend?.

12

Think sub-1:10’s will have to wait ’til next year, but it might be close.

13

Whilst we are on a topic associated with Monaco the question is, will Mercedes and Hamilton announce that they have signed and exchanged contracts? This has been going on for months now and they are continually saying that they are close or that ink is drying? Wouldn’t it be great if we were to witness some real investigative reporting ? I can’t possibly believe that they, the media, haven’t been working on this but for some very very strange reason they are keeping schtum which in turn begs the question…..

14

Out of curiousity why is this signage important for you? If he signs for another 1,2,3 years how will this affect the current grid as Bottas seat will probably still be up for grabs? Do you think he is looking to move to Ferrari? I don’t see the rush to sign though as the Merc hasn’t confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that its capable of winning a championship without a hell of a struggle this year.

15

@ Kurik…There are many possible variations on a theme when considering Hamilton’s movements. I won’t go into them all here as you can do that yourself. If Hamilton was to go to another team, which is extremely unlikely, the ‘character’ of the top three would be altered significantly especially at Red Bull.

16

His last deal was announced over the Monaco weekend, so no reason for any ‘investigative reporting’.

17
Stephen Taylor

Degradation will not be a problem . Pirelli say the hypersofts could last for 77 race laps. The biggest problem will be getting tyres up to working temperature.

18

Did they really say 77 laps?!?

19

I might cry if Alonso wins…

20

Thats Exceptional Lee!

21

Tears or joy , of course .

22

Ferrari: good drivers, fragile car.

Red Bull: good car, crash prone drivers.

Mercedes: good drivers, good car.

So methinks that Mercedes will go home with most points after this weekend.

23

Redbull: Good car, crash prone ‘driver’.

There go, fixed it for you Sami. No need for thanks 👍

24

May be right on the whole there Sars but Baku was 6 of 1, half a dozen of he other. So while “Crash PRONE” maybe be a bit strong, its not completely wrong. No need to thank me xxx

25

Sars, you’re too harsh on Dan, Baku was both of their fault….

26

Desperately Diving Danny is bit risky too in Monaco.

27

Ferrari: good drivers, fragile car.

Red Bull: good car, crash prone driver.

Mercedes: good drivers, good car.

So methinks that Mercedes will go home with most points after this weekend.

*fixed*

28

For me F1 IS Monaco. Its on my bucket list for things I have to go to.
I love love love it. Can’t wait….
I reckon Ricciardo is going to romp it in the dry.
The long and gangly Mercedes and Ferraris might struggle.
And PLEASE let it rain.
If it’s wet then Alonso will take the win.
theGrinch has spoken…

29

For Wolff to come out and say that he expects Mercedes to struggle smacks to me of the complete opposite. F1 is all about smoke and mirrors and Wolff and lit the fire and is wearing a pair of mirrored sunglasses.

30

The last sector is a good indicator of who will/may go well here. Unfortunately, I didn’t really follow the Spanish GP weekend – So who was quick in S3?

Ferrari have lengthened their wheelbase too so their advantage on the tight and twisty nature won’t be as much as last year. So I’m expecting RBR to take this one. Will be interesting to see how Merc and Ferrari fare.

Expecting Alonso to go well here! And Leclerc too. I noticed he was posting very good middle sector times in Baku.

Oh and with the highly skilled drivers we have today, I’m sure there will be a VSC/SC or two 🙂

31

Red Bull were the fastest through Barcelona S3 I believe, but I’d say Baku S2 is a better indicator these days, and Ferrari blitzed the field there; I expect Vettel to walk it this weekend, with the Mercs and Bulls fighting for best of the rest.

32

Yes, that’s right. I do recall them going very well in S2. But since then there have been rumours that FIA have clamped down on some teams (namely Ferrari and Renault) using exhaust blowing for performance gains. Also, apparently Ferrari have an interesting method of oil burn, which again, may have/will be looked into by the FIA. But I’ve also read other comments stating they’ve been given the all clear.

Anyway, lets see how the sessions unfold.

33

It would be nice to see Kimi jump Seb during the pits….

34

I’ve seen lots of people tipping Verstappen to do well here. I’m sure he will as he’s a smart learner but all I can remember of Verstappen at Monaco during his F1 days is a series of crashes. I’d say the safer money is on Ricciardo

35

Frenzy, If Max can stay out of the barriers, he may very well win the race! But i’m not sure he’s there yet. I would like to see Ric put one up the inside coming out of the tunnel…just to see if Max has at least learned to give his team mate a fair amount of room….

36

OR… MAYBE…. RIC has learned who is racing against and wont try any sketchy manoeuvres against VES? So wont try and “Put on up the inside..”
Drivers have to stand their ground against VES as he can take **** but trying dodgy overtakes destined for misery is not the way to do it.

37

We could even argue that, RIC is a safer version of Verstappen 🙂

38

No we couldn’t.

39
Garrett Bruce

As the old saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. . .

40
roryfireplace

the V-dad was a very fast driver in his day…indeed very fast….but he was inconsistent and subject to bouts of the “red-mist”. I was a fan though!

41

The tree is usually far from a fallen apple.

42

Verstappen is 5/5 in terms of hitting something in every race this season. That doesn’t really bode well in a place like Monaco.

43

Did he hit anything in Australia? He spun but I don’t think he hit anything…

44

Whatever way you look at it VES has screwed up at least once every race this year. He had some help in Baku but he was still at least 50% responsible.

45

He ran right over the high kerbing (turn 10 exit?) that caused damage to his floor which then contributed to his later spin.

Grosjean and him had a coming together in FP2 today, to go with his off in FP1. Better to get it over and done with in the practice sessions. Keywords being “done with” there.

46

ferrari will not be thinking of profiting at monaco, they’ll rather be concerned at no longer being allowed to burn oil through their elaborate intricately designed oil burning system around their turbo charger. looks more like redbull giving them wings.

the number 44 will sing loudly in their ears throughout the entire weekend..

verstappen and ricciardo sound like they’re in the mood for fun..

i intend to witness it all trackside..

47

Hey Aveli,

Let me know if you get near Cafe De Paris, as I will be on the balcony there most of this weekend!?

I have also access to the side, underneath the bridge and into Mirabeau corners. But it tends to be so dxmn loud there even with high grade ear plugs that I probably will only go there during FP sessions to check it out. To follow the quali and race you still need wifi and a screen so the café is better for that. ;o)

48

@ Cyber…you make me sick,sick,sick…..with envy this weekend!

49

Enjoy those free tickets!

50

Where will you be staying in Monaco?

DC’s hotel is rather pleasant. Remember you need a jacket and tie for the Yacht Club.

51

@ Nick H….I was under the impression that DC got out of that hotel a very long time ago? Any sources that show he’s still an owner?

52

You are very correct Kenneth, as Coulthard sold his share in that hotel all the way back in 2010!

The hotel is though still great and ‘affordable’ if you absolutely insist to stay in a hotel room in the principality during the race weekend.

http://www.columbushotels.com/en/default.html

But as aveli highlights below, there are plenty much better and much cheaper alternatives nearby. And the train service along the coastline from both sides of Monaco is the best and most efficient way to get in and out during the race weekend (all except of course if you pay to get the heli ride). And you are literally in quick walking distance to all from the MC train station. So just leave your Ferrari at home and enjoy the red ones on the track instead. ;o)

53

They have refurbished the Columbus this year, had a coffee there on Friday

Long overdue!

54

Ken you may be right. It was a while ago I stayed there with my family, 2010 (not during GP week I must add)

Was a nice hotel and actually not bad value for Monaco.

55

He’s a bellboy at the casino…

56

why do you ask, will you be there?

i’ll stay in ventimiglia.

57

Hello.

Still focusing on the sporting remnants of F1?

It’s all about glamour and parties. Can we please have some more of that- familier faces and glittering lifestyle.

Different agendas will contradict and people pushing for some good old racing will soon look like bird without a direction.

I really appreciate the work people do on this site and the efforts to keep topics relevant but as the racing has become minimum focus has shifted towards technical aspects of F1 cars. It’s the part of F1 but this is just bringing out nerds who will talk about technical stuff not understanding racing. There are many places to go to for ‘engineers’ to change their ideas. Racing is intuitive- bolts and screws are not.

58
Garrett Bruce

Sure would be a relief to be able to witness some actual driver car control skills, wouldn’t it ?

59

F1 is not just a competition between drivers, It is also a competition between car designs. Nerds/Engineers have every right to discuss tech stuff as well as racing if they so wish.

60

Yes I think Mercedes are a long shot with that long wheelbase.

Now if they bring a completely different car which I think won’t happen Then they could possibly do something. Red Bull may have the race pace but I would say Ferrari would be my pick as track position is everything in Monaco.

I would like to see just how that guy won from 14th on the grid. That can’t be done now.

61

@jdr…not according to Vettel who thinks that the longer cars are fine!! He would know wouldn’t he? or is he just making it all up?

62

Monaco 1982. was even wilder. TV director didn’t know who was leading (or who to show/follow) the race during the last lap. At least 3-4 drivers were leading at some point about lap or two to go.

63
Captain Risky

Panis won in 96 under almost bizarre circumstances. Wet, dry, pitstops, accidents, the race had it all. Only 6 finished. Even Herbert scored a podium(?) or at least points. The race eventually timed out.

64

Well, to get a result like that you need a lot of retirements, and wet weather. Only 3 cars were running at the end!

https://youtu.be/dBRm5iCqQBk

65

It could be repeated in similar circumstances now.

Panis won after a strong drive judging the conditions perfectly, making brave overtakes, and switching to dry tyres at exactly the correct time which allowed for even more overtakes and passed a few others while they were in the pits, but he also benefitted when many top drivers crashed out or had technical difficulties.

probabaly the most exciting race i have ever watched

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqFefH80-tc

66

Strange isn’t it? I happen to think that Mercedes are going to win and that the hoary old chestnut [ long wheelbase ] will mean zip this time around.

67

You say that before every race Kenneth…..

68

Even a broke clock tells the right time twice a day. Kenneth will average 1in 2 if he keeps saying it before every race.

69

It was a crazy race of attrition if I remember right. Only four cars finished.

70
Tornillo Amarillo

I pray, we pray… maybe one of the last opportunities -maybe the best- for Hulk to reach a podium?

71

Better players than Hulk in the upcoming Monaco: 1. Ricciardo 2. Hamilton 3. Verstappen 4. Vettel 5. Bottas 6. Alonso.

72

Personally I don’t think Mercedes may struggle at Monaco as much as they did in 2017 because the team’s regular drivers were keen to test in Barcelona and after the test, Lewis mentioned that he hoped what they had learnt during the test helps them at Monaco.

But certainly, Red Bull head into the weekend as the favourites whereas Ferrari have had a love/hate relationship with the track e.g. Not only has the team won there 5 times in the last 36 years but also only once has the team won on an even numbered year (1976) which means only once has the team won back to back on the track

Indeed, Monaco is the one track where it’s all about the qualifying, this is the reason why a bunker lap is of utmost importance before the yellow flags come out

Regards Mclaren, it’s a welcome back to Alonso after last year’s adventure in the Americans and yes, Mclaren have been the most successful team in the prinicipality with 15 wins to Ferrari’s 9 wins in second place so it appears something about the car’s DNA favours the team >>> having said that, Lewis still remains Mclaren’s last winner in 2008

Overall who I think will triumph in Monaco, it will probably be Max because Ricciardo has so far won races whilst starting from outside the top 3

73

@ Goferet…your last sentence doesn’t make any sense?

74
Tornillo Amarillo

Who do you think will triumph around the streets of Monte Carlo?

Vettel, but I prefer underdogs like Kimi, Max or Bottas for the show, I hope they have a good qualify.

Ham could finish P2 and it’s fine for me.

I am disappointed with Ric, in Spain he was slow going to a corner, put too much throttle and spun like a rookie… I think he lost 12 seconds before rejoining… WTF1? I think he lost any leverage to negotiate any good money for next season…

75

I would take a Monaco P2 for Hamilton right now!!

76

Wolf says ferrari and red bull are favourites, wouldnt be suprised if a mercs on the front row…they have a incredible team and bet they are getting to the bottom of the early season

will be a close all through the field cant wait!!!!

77

Lauda is taking about how Mercedes will walk away from F1 if they don’t like what F1 is like?

“The Halo system is the worst thing ever done to Formula One,” he said of the cockpit protection device.

Did someone forget to tell him Mercedes invented the Halo? I was recently reminded this was so, perhaps Lauda should be reminded too?

78

“Will the introduction of the new compound create additional strategy variation?“

Absolutely, will be fascinating to see how far through the race the softest tyres last; I’m going conservative and guessing 50 laps.

79

Except you would only possibly see that from someone starting P11-20, and starting on the harder tires. The rest will shed them at the first SC after 20 laps (or even before).

80

First lap SC, Perez in 11th pits for hyper softs and does the whole race on them, calling it now.

81
Craig Cookson

Yep, each race Pirelli seem to have accidentally brought the Hard, Harder, and Hardest compounds.

82

LOL

+10

83

Pirelli are already saying that it will last the race… Racing drivers were the ones supposed to have excuses, these days tyre manufacturers do….

Pirelli’s racing director Mario Isola is confident the hyper-soft will deliver on its promise in qualifying as well as being a good tyre for Sunday’s race. – “In my opinion I don’t expect a high level of degradation because the Monaco circuit is very smooth and not putting a lot of stress on the tyre. That means the hyper-soft is also a race compound and it will be interesting to see what is going to happen during the race.”

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