Text: Alex Yoong / Photos: | posted May 24, 2013 13:00
2013 Monaco Grand Prix Preview
The Monte Carlo Grand Prix is the jewel in the crown of the Formula 1 calendar and it takes place this weekend. It’s a spectacular GP known for its glitz and glamour as plenty of stars come out to see and be seen. It’s also the tightest and slowest GP on the calendar. Most of the drivers will also say it is the toughest circuit of the year as its 19 corners in only 3.2km of race circuit demand 100% concentration at all times. Failure to adhere to this will result in a car in the barriers.
From Barcelona we saw that the order has not changed. Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus are still at the top, with Mercedes only able to match them in Qualifying. Surprisingly, Mclaren are still in a lot of trouble and their updates were very disappointing, especially for a team of high standards. In fact, everyone in Barcelona went quicker than last year except for them and Williams. It goes to show how wrong these two teams have got their sums so far.
In Barcelona, the third split is usually a good indicator of form for Monaco as its all slow speed and twisty. You need good mechanical grip there and traction is especially key. We saw that Red Bull and Mercedes were head and shoulders above everyone else in that sector so I suspect that it is going to be between these two teams to come out on top qualifying this weekend.
The big question is about race pace though and overall, you would have to say that Lotus and Ferrari have been the best this year. They have looked after the tyres very well and with excessive tyre wear this year being the main talking point, they will be in the mix on Sunday.
However, in Monaco it’s all about qualifying as there is very little room to try and overtake cars. Most teams did a 1 stop race last year as it was better to try and have track position and hold on with fading tyres than to try and make a 2 stop work with fresher rubber. More stops means more pressure to try and overtake cars. This is fine in a usual F1 track like Barcelona but it is not going to work here in Monaco.
So with that in mind and as long as the race is not held in hot sunny conditions, my money would be on Mercedes getting their fourth pole position on the trot but with Red Bull being able to push for the win come raceday. I think Ferrari and Lotus will not be able to qualify in a high enough position to come through and make their better tyre usage work for them.
Now that might be my prediction and it’s based on the form of the cars so far. But what about the form of the drivers? Monaco is all slow speed and mostly short corners, so drivers can really make a difference here. A driver who can somehow make his car pivot sharply into a corner while not sacrificing traction, will drag his car’s performance above what it is capable of, unlike on tracks with fast long corners. This is where Alonso could really excel . We saw him quicker than most of the field three years ago in an uncompetitive Ferrari car before a crash in practice ruined his whole weekend. Could we see that happen again this year? Based on his performance in Barcelona, I wouldn't rule it out.
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