In recent races we’ve seen Vettel struggle after getting stuck behind KERS-equipped cars. With Kimi Raikkonen starting on the front row, can the Ferrari driver do to Button what Massa did to Vettel two weeks ago?
From second on the grid and with KERS power to rely on, Kimi Raikkonen has an excellent chance of getting past Jenson Button at the start.
His first chance could come on the run to the first corner and here the championship situation could play a role. Button has a clear chance to extend his points advantage over Vettel, and he won’t want to jeopardise that by getting into a wheel-banging match with a driver who, by his own admission, has nothing to lose:
I’m only interested in winning, so I have nothing really to lose. OK, the team needs points but in the end they are happier with a win than just some points. We’re not really in the championship.
Statistics are on Raikkonen’s side too. Over the five races so far this year he’s gained a total of 12 positions on the first lap – only one driver has done better. Button, however, has lost three places.
The starting grid at Monaco is slightly unusual in that the pole sitter’s slot is aligned with the inside of the first corner, rather than the conventional racing line. The drivers starting on the right hand side of the track must be especially careful to avoid cutting the low kerbs at the turn – eight GP2 drivers did it on Friday and were given 25 second penalties.
If Raikkonen can’t make it through at the first bend KERS could give him a second bite of the cherry at the chicane in front of the harbour. Merely being able to force Button to defend here could be enough to get the job done – if Button runs wide and cuts the chicane, he will have to either surrender the position or risk incurring an even more costly penalty.
The possibilities are playing on Button’s mind already:
The first lap of the race is always exciting for us all. If there is a car that can overtake us it will for sure be a car with KERS. There are a couple of places on the circuit where there is always that possibility.
In terms of strategy, Button is holding all the cards. Even if Raikkonen gets past at the start, Button is carrying two laps more fuel. He is at greater danger from a mistake of his own doing or a freak safety car period than anything else.
Vettel will have to do something special even to get on the podium. At the minimum he must get past Barrichello while fending off Massa’s KERS-powered Ferrari.
Mark Webber starts four places behind his team mate but, crucially, has nine laps’ more fuel on board. Can he repeat his Spanish Grand Prix performance by jumping ahead of Vettel via the pit stops?
Finally at the back of the grid (thanks to a gearbox change penalty) we find Lewis Hamilton. He’s got less fuel on board than the 12 cars immediately in front of him, and he has a KERS button. It’s safe to say he represents the best chance of seeing any overtaking during the race…
How do you think the Monaco Grand Prix will pan out? Will Button cruise to an easy fifth win? Have your say below.