For years, the Monaco F1 Grand Prix has been all about qualifying. Modern F1 cars simply cannot overtake around the streets of Monte-Carlo unless a competitor has a big problem. Tomorrow’s qualification battle will be immense as the advantage the top teams have over the rest of the field will be largely removed. In Monaco, having efficient down-force that allows you to have a high top speed as well as lots of pressure pushing the car onto the tarmac is largely irrelevant. There is no straight or high-speed corner large enough for this to come into play.
Monaco is all about the handling of the car and how it rides over kerbs, traction & acceleration and a large pair between the drivers’ legs!
Less than a second covered the top 11 cars in practice 2 today. The track will continue to get faster as more and more F1 rubber is put down on the streets and the drivers get into the groove. I expect the lap record of 1m14.4secs set by Michael Schumacher in 2004 to be broken this weekend. Alonso has already completed the famous Monaco circuit in 1m14.9 seconds and is certain to go faster tomorrow if the weather permits.
Fernando Alonso knows his way around Monaco extremely well and easily had the measure of Lewis Hamilton when they were team mates. This annoyed Hamilton a great deal as he naively felt he was the best street racer in F1. Knowing qualification is everything, these two have to be right up there in terms of expectations tomorrow. They both have the massive ‘cojones’ necessary to touch the unforgiving barriers and keep their right foot well and truly planted.
Don’t write off Button either, his smooth style may pay off again, as it did last year. My feeling is that Kubica in the Renault car will be the joker in the pack tomorrow. Renault have shown this year that they have great out-of-corner traction which is really going to help them at Monaco. Kubica will know this and is sure to put his talent to good use.
What about Webber, Vettel and the two Mercedes drivers (Rosberg and the legendary Schumacher)? Well, who knows. So far Red Bull have not shown any speed dominance, but they may be holding their cards close to their chest. The Red Bull car is considered to be fragile and I personally wonder whether it can withstand the beating it is sure to get in the race. Mercedes have switched back to their shorter wheelbase car for this weekend as it is easier to manoeuvre around the tight street circuit. While they will be closer than usual to the front, I just don’t think they can match the other teams yet.
Having said all the above, it only takes one of the top drivers to have a ‘perfect’ lap and they could easily be in pole position. Any one of 7/8 drivers could take pole tomorrow – it is going to be very exciting!
Sadly, the race will be far less exciting unless it rains and there are some other unforeseeable occurrences.
My money is on Alonso for pole, with Kubica in the top 3 as my wildcard.