Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus are battling it out at the top of the grand prix table, but the twisty circuit at Monaco could be advantageous for the Mercedes team. This preview by Steve Rogerson looks back at the Spanish Grand Prix and gives a sampler of what we can expect in Monaco, as well as commenting on the Pirelli tyre debate.
Monaco Grand Prix 2013 in Monte Carlo Preview
The Formula One racing teams head for the famous street circuit of Monte Carlo for the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday 26 May 2013.
Fernando Alonso wins his home grand prix in Barcelona
Photo from Ferrari
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The momentum is with Ferrari after a double podium finish last time out in Spain as the Formula One racing teams head for Monte Carlo and the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday 26 May 2013. Fernando Alonso won in Barcelona with his team mate Felipe Massa in third, sandwiching the Lotus of Kimi Räikkönen between them. Lotus have been the most improved team this season, but sadly a suspension failure brought an early end to Romain Grosjean’s race in Spain.
The Red Bull team though still lead the championship thanks to a fourth place from world champion Sebastian Vettel and fifth place for his team mate Mark Webber. Mate might be too strong a word though as there is no sign that these two drivers have kissed and made up after their team-orders row at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Mercedes took the front row of the grid in Spain but couldn’t match that in the race as they were let down badly by the Pirelli tyres. Nico Rosberg did manage to put points on the board in sixth place while Lewis Hamilton could only manage 12th.
Paul di Resta looked good for his seventh place in the Force India but his partner Adrian Sutil was down in 13th. The planned major improvements to the McLaren cars didn’t turn out as well as they hoped but both drivers were in the points with Jenson Button eighth and Sergio Perez ninth. And Daniel Ricciardo scored a rare point for Toro Rosso in tenth place.
Three teams so far have failed to get into the points. This was expected for Caterham and Marussia, but not for Williams, which has had a dreadful start to the season.
Monaco Grand Prix
The Monaco Grand Prix is the world’s most famous street circuit and some consider it a dull procession as overtaking is notoriously difficult despite the introduction of kers and DRS. But that is not the excitement of Monaco; the fun lies in watching these high-speed cars come within centimetres of raised kerbs as they navigate the twisty circuit.
As such, qualifying is important, which could favour Mercedes this year. So far, the German team has done well in qualifying but failed to match that in the race as problems with tyres surfaced. The Monte Carlo circuit is a lot kinder on tyres than most and Mercedes could well find themselves in front and holding it for the whole race. But there has to be at least one tyre change – probably two – and the chasing pack will be looking to take advantage of that.
As past experience has shown, put one wheel wrong at the wrong time – which is most of the time at Monaco – and you are out of the race. Mark Webber won this race last year.
News From the Pitlane
Tyre maker Pirelli is becoming hated in many sectors of Formula One, especially after the farce in Spain where the tyres were clearly not up to the job. Some fans are even calling for a boycott of Pirelli products in protest. Pirelli has responded by bringing planned improvement at the British Grand Prix forward two weeks to the Canadian Grand Prix on 9 June 2013. Meanwhile, they hope that the slower Monaco circuit will be gentle enough for the supersoft and soft tyres that have been selected.
McLaren will switch from Mercedes to Honda as its engine supplier from the start of the 2015 season. Honda supplied McLaren with its engines from 1988 to 1992, a period that saw McLaren land four constructors championships and four drivers championships. Honda has not been in Formula One since 2008. Dr Paolo Aversa from the Cass Business School speculated: “Since both McLaren and Honda have a stake in the car market, it would be interesting to see whether this alliance will be replicated in the automobile industry too, and how this will influence their race strategies.”
Standings After Five Grands Prix
Constructors: 1. Red Bull 131, 2. Ferrari 117, 3. Lotus 111, 4. Mercedes 72, 5. Force India 32, 6. McLaren 29, 7. Toro Rosso 8, 8. Sauber 5.
Drivers: 1. Sebastian Vettel 89, 2. Kimi Räikkönen 85, 3. Fernando Alonso 72, 4. Lewis Hamilton 50, 5. Felipe Massa 45, 6. Mark Webber 42, 7. Romain Grosjean 26, 8. Paul di Resta 26, 9. Nico Rosberg 22, 10. Jenson Button 17, 11. Sergio Perez 12, 12. Daniel Ricciardo 7, 13. Adrian Sutil 6, 14. Nico Hulkenberg 5, 15. Jean-Eric Vergne 1.