Ferrari have Mercedes within range as Red Bull lurk

2013 Monaco Grand Prix Thursday practice analysis

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Romain Grosjean’s suspension-crunching shunt at Sainte Devote changed the complexion of the second practice session.

“I didn’t have the grip I expected going into the corner, but there was nothing wrong with the car – my braking and entry speed were all wrong and I ended up hitting the barrier,” he explained.

“We have a very good car here and it gives you the confidence to push, but unfortunately I pushed a bit too hard.”

This was exactly what Grosjean did not need on his return to the track where his incident-prone ways were first thrown under sharp scrutiny 12 months earlier. And it was a further disappointment for those of us who wanted to see just who was quickest over a single lap.

One of the drivers whose run was affected by Grosjean’s shunt was Fernando Alonso. He didn’t seem to be holding much back during practice, experiencing a lurid slide at Rascase as well as a few other hair-rising moments between the barriers.

Unlike Grosjean, he avoided hitting them, but he hinted he could find even more time: “We will have to wait a bit to see where all our rivals really are, because here too, until Saturday, no one pushes a hundred percent: the barriers constitute too high a threat to take risks in the first free practice sessions.”

A look at the theoretical best times based on each sector puts Alonso in between the two Mercedes, who ended the second session on top. Factor in the potential performance lost as he wasn’t able to do a flying lap right away on the super-soft tyres and Ferrari’s position looks quite strong.

Red Bull had a subdued first day in the principality. But as Mark Webber points out that is par for the course for them.

In 2012 their quickest car was seventh in second practice, in 2011 they were fifth, and in 2010 they were third. Yet they went on to take pole position and win each of those races.

“I think traditionally we’re never too electric here on Thursday’s,” said Webber. “Today was actually one of the better ones we’ve had in the last few years.”

That wasn’t entirely true for his team mate, who was held back by a KERS failure in the second session.

McLaren finally got their new front wing on the MP4-28 and Jenson Button found some cause for encouragement: “Our pace on a long run looks surprisingly good, although we’re not quite there with our qualifying pace yet,” he said.

“Still, I feel happier with the car here than I have the past few weekends. There are some areas in which we’ve struggled before that now seem a little bit better, and that’s obviously positive.”

Team mate Sergio Perez gave some thoughts on the pivotal question of whether drivers will be able to make it through the race with a single pit stop. He’s expecting a tactical qualifying session:

“I think Saturday will be the most important day of the weekend – everyone will be trying to save tyres so as to have as few stops as possible in the race. It’s likely to be a slow race with low degradation, so we need to give it our all on Saturday.”

Pitting just once is preferable at Monaco as it limits the opportunities for drivers to get stuck in traffic. But Daniel Ricciardo isn’t sure that’ll be possible this year: “Running Sunday’s race on a one stop strategy could prove more difficult than last year."

But with well over 24 hours until we see the cars on-track again Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery is hedging his bets for now:

“So far, we’d say that the teams are on course to make two stops during the race – one seems very possible too – but we’ll have a much better picture after qualifying on Saturday, which is when we can make a more accurate forecast in representative track conditions.”

Here’s the data from the first two practice sessions for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Longest stint comparison

This chart shows all the drivers’ lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint:

Sebastian Vettel80.44779.4980.57479.55881.97880.27980.83290.2280.82580.59991.52181.392
Mark Webber80.82580.32580.68985.76380.43689.65380.11179.66780.73883.62180.05179.4879.77595.63479.83679.62880.34290.45979.9581.61780.50280.99281.24481.85
Fernando Alonso80.41780.35680.80780.08480.59280.55581.20880.77781.22480.96882.00881.49880.53384.39980.27480.08885.516
Felipe Massa80.41284.30279.71979.58680.74380.76788.980.55180.4180.71787.71881.10182.04781.512
Jenson Button80.57680.41280.16780.25497.09979.87284.1880.39482.84387.98479.55279.83182.4879.78290.6279.83585.09680.086
Sergio Perez81.09180.72984.84179.96979.68381.05182.57780.83681.337
Kimi Raikkonen79.89679.58579.48380.74985.31679.9480.31280.680.54780.93482.0381.74880.98
Romain Grosjean76.99976.09687.89675.99884.00375.718
Nico Rosberg82.59980.98980.74986.51680.88780.58280.42280.57280.47880.79480.82387.99280.5294.32579.75179.84580.37780.63982.84586.29379.784
Lewis Hamilton83.92181.31180.53879.9780.63680.52480.17680.55381.56381.7781.70481.48381.41581.15984.76881.28280.91183.02381.25380.63880.5580.87580.9381.306
Nico Hulkenberg81.40380.35182.99681.38685.67881.12581.24381.20581.11581.2781.26381.2581.27380.95280.8780.965
Esteban Gutierrez80.65279.85481.51181.95280.5480.65581.23684.14880.76180.714
Paul di Resta81.39581.94880.07680.35380.53985.43281.06780.86181.30488.61383.60681.305
Adrian Sutil81.22380.15782.17780.70880.30582.13491.21580.74780.48681.25581.539
Pastor Maldonado83.2982.35480.94682.09181.59380.98786.3981.84382.06781.83888.76682.04582.498
Valtteri Bottas84.39181.9582.14981.19881.27281.681.37281.71488.92181.97582.14782.87282.85187.47183.65692.624
Jean-Eric Vergne84.03782.7383.28581.20680.57780.41781.24481.65281.08881.48681.05381.61180.938
Daniel Ricciardo82.2982.00481.04980.79180.85981.12381.38981.30680.95381.06980.53480.53582.7483.59581.51981.14981.03182.56182.88682.565
Charles Pic83.68482.56983.07381.83281.44182.0381.38781.67881.31281.24681.73981.39781.82582.26986.49981.70783.07
Giedo van der Garde82.55481.69483.07181.82981.70282.24186.18387.66782.54382.37982.30182.0182.99285.55282.23682.623
Jules Bianchi84.63185.77984.92782.86783.54184.05884.50284.23684.99989.376
Max Chilton85.24982.31182.58482.59682.88183.44183.86485.88684.78783.63484.02682.7984.2183.07383.548

Sector times and ultimate lap times

PosNo.DriverCarS1S2S2UltimateGapDeficit to best
19Nico RosbergMercedes19.681 (2)34.906 (1)20.172 (1)1’14.7590.000
23Fernando AlonsoFerrari19.558 (1)34.936 (3)20.422 (3)1’14.9160.1570.280
310Lewis HamiltonMercedes19.766 (4)34.999 (5)20.312 (2)1’15.0770.3180.000
44Felipe MassaFerrari19.790 (5)34.929 (2)20.545 (5)1’15.2640.5050.014
52Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault19.873 (8)34.973 (4)20.524 (4)1’15.3700.6110.034
67Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault19.684 (3)35.034 (6)20.748 (10)1’15.4660.7070.045
78Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault19.840 (6)35.131 (7)20.586 (6)1’15.5570.7980.161
85Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes19.843 (7)35.321 (9)20.757 (11)1’15.9211.1620.038
91Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault19.939 (9)35.440 (11)20.635 (8)1’16.0141.2550.000
1014Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes19.994 (11)35.403 (10)20.649 (9)1’16.0461.2870.000
116Sergio PerezMcLaren-Mercedes19.949 (10)35.630 (14)20.631 (7)1’16.2101.4510.224
1215Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes20.017 (12)35.294 (8)21.034 (15)1’16.3451.5860.004
1311Nico HulkenbergSauber-Ferrari20.161 (15)35.595 (13)21.067 (17)1’16.8232.0640.000
1416Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault20.097 (13)35.742 (16)20.990 (14)1’16.8292.0700.028
1517Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault20.191 (16)35.726 (15)20.988 (13)1’16.9052.1460.359
1612Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari20.342 (18)35.501 (12)21.067 (17)1’16.9102.1510.025
1718Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari20.113 (14)35.840 (18)21.056 (16)1’17.0092.2500.175
1819Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari20.315 (17)35.765 (17)20.965 (12)1’17.0452.2860.100
1922Jules BianchiMarussia-Cosworth20.375 (19)36.213 (19)21.289 (19)1’17.8773.1180.015
2020Charles PicCaterham-Renault20.534 (21)36.297 (21)21.296 (20)1’18.1273.3680.085
2121Giedo van der GardeCaterham-Renault20.509 (20)36.255 (20)21.702 (22)1’18.4663.7070.565
2223Max ChiltonMarussia-Cosworth20.609 (22)36.483 (22)21.597 (21)1’18.6893.9300.095

Complete practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2Total laps
1Nico RosbergMercedes1’16.1951’14.75977
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’16.4691’15.07779
3Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’16.2821’15.19665
4Felipe MassaFerrari1’16.3941’15.27862
5Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’17.0201’15.40469
6Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’17.5091’15.51165
7Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’16.3801’15.71831
8Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’17.1291’15.95969
9Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’17.3801’16.01456
10Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’17.5481’16.04670
11Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes1’17.6251’16.34964
12Sergio PerezMcLaren1’17.3781’16.43466
13Nico HulkenbergSauber-Ferrari1’17.1931’16.82369
14Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’16.9931’16.85768
15Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1’18.7541’16.93573
16Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’19.0671’17.14563
17Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’18.4541’17.18468
18Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault1’18.8301’17.26475
19Jules BianchiMarussia-Cosworth1’19.7731’17.89261
20Charles PicCaterham-Renault1’19.4381’18.21272
21Max ChiltonMarussia-Cosworth1’20.2251’18.78462
22Giedo van der GardeCaterham-Renault1’19.2031’19.03152

Speed trap

#DriverCarEngineMax speed (kph)Gap
114Paul di RestaForce IndiaMercedes281.1
215Adrian SutilForce IndiaMercedes280.80.3
35Jenson ButtonMcLarenMercedes278.42.7
420Charles PicCaterhamRenault278.32.8
519Daniel RicciardoToro RossoFerrari277.73.4
69Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes277.73.4
723Max ChiltonMarussiaCosworth277.53.6
818Jean-Eric VergneToro RossoFerrari277.43.7
96Sergio PerezMcLarenMercedes277.43.7
1021Giedo van der GardeCaterhamRenault277.23.9
113Fernando AlonsoFerrariFerrari277.23.9
127Kimi RaikkonenLotusRenault277.23.9
1322Jules BianchiMarussiaCosworth276.94.2
1412Esteban GutierrezSauberFerrari276.64.5
152Mark WebberRed BullRenault276.44.7
164Felipe MassaFerrariFerrari276.34.8
1710Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes276.15
1811Nico HulkenbergSauberFerrari275.75.4
198Romain GrosjeanLotusRenault273.97.2
2016Pastor MaldonadoWilliamsRenault273.97.2
2117Valtteri BottasWilliamsRenault273.87.3
221Sebastian VettelRed BullRenault271.99.2

2013 Monaco Grand Prix

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Images © Ferrari/Ercole Colombo, Red Bull/Getty

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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30 comments on “Ferrari have Mercedes within range as Red Bull lurk”

  1. Wasn’t Hamilton running a camera and other non aero friendly parts on the car? Fairly sure that’ll have affected his lap times. However 3/10ths off his teammate with that still isn’t bad.

    1. No, those cameras and other parts will effect him very little. There is a reason why these specific parts are used; they have very little effect on the aero balance of the car. After all, what good would they be if they changed the way the car drove? Then they wouldn’t be gathering any useful data.

      He is just 3 tenths off the pace. That being said, I don’t expect the gap to be that big on saturday.

    2. Even if it slowed him down a bit, it’s okay.
      Free practice is for gathering data, not taking pole.

  2. This looks very promising indeed!! I just hope ALO is able to pull out the rabbit out of the hat! If the MERCs lock the front row, it´ll be up to the strategists to figure something out.
    I hope it´s a good race!

  3. Don’t know where Rosberg is finding these extra tenths of a second race after race but good on him. I suspect he’ll end this season with a much improved reputation. He’s always been overlooked as one of the best drivers out there but his talent is undeniable. Definitely his father’s son.

    1. Still a lot of the season to go, lots of time for people to forget about an impressive few races though

    2. Maybe the rage from the team orders fiasco is still spurring him on!

    3. Put him in any car and he’d be up there in terms of pure 1-lap speed. Think getting someone like Lewis as a team-mate who is much more consistent than Schumacher v2.0 has helped Rosberg up his game.

      It makes you think Schumacher was still bloody good to be keeping him on his toes occasionally for the last couple of years too.

      1. @brum55 – I think this is an interesting point you raise. In 2012 (MSC’s most competitive Merc season), ROS had an average starting grid position of 9.4 and MSC 9.65, basically identical. And when you remove grid penalties MSC squeaks ahead 8.65 to 8.9.

        While it is too early to say much about this season, were ROS to go pole in Monaco and HAM P2, they would be basically tied for average starting grid position. Of course that could wildly swing one way or the other, but if it were to hold one could make a couple of assumptions. 1. ROS is a good qualifier. 2. The Mercs are better at qualifying than race, generally. 3. 2012 MSC and 2013 HAM were relatively as effective as each other in qualifying, given the differences in the cars year to year.

        A lot of ifs, granted, but interesting to think about.

        1. @hobo One thing to consider is Hamilton is still new to the team whereas Rosberg is in his 4th year so Hamilton could still assert his authority as the year goes on.
          I also think Rosberg is more motivated, as regardless of how well/badly Rosberg did relative to MSC, it was a lose-lose situation. If he outdrove MSC, it was because MSC was old whereas when he got outdrove by MSC, Rosberg would get slammed.
          It is the complete opposite with Hamilton as team-mate as he is expected to get outdriven but when he isn’t he will look like a top tier driver.
          Its only 6 races in and his reputation is being enhanced more than it was in the previous 3 years.

    4. It means that Webber is actually a much better driver than everyone assumes him to be, as he beat Rosberg quite convincingly in Q when they were teammates. And it also shows how incredibly fast Vettel is to beat Webber so soundly year after year.

      1. Rosberg only lost to Webber in his rookie season, when he was 20. Even then, the difference wasn’t so big. Only 4 points to 7. Nico has improved a lot over the years, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was as fast as Vettel today, though he’s not as good under pressure.

        1. Points don’t really show the whole picture. Webber beat Rosberg in Q very convincingly: 12:6, if I’m not mistaken. And Webber had 11(!) retirements that year, as opposed to Rosberg’s 9. Quite a few of those times were when Webber qualified very well. And Rosberg might have been a rookie, but so was Hamilon against Alonso, yet Alonso couldn’t beat Hamilton while Webber could and did beat Rosberg. The driver is fast or just isn’t, rookie or not. So if Rosberg really is a very fast driver, then so must be Webber. They have been teammates, so it’s the best possible benchmark.

          1. Coulthard beat Webber over a season. So Coulthard is obviously better than Webber, Hamilton, Rosberg and Schumacher …

            You’re seriously claiming that comparing a driver in his rookie season in a car that broke down 11 and 9 times? And then even more based on qualifying result during a season where the times were for a very large part determined by fuel loads?

  4. The McLaren in Jenson’s hands particularly looks pretty handy in the long-runs, although the track evolution will be different to other tracks given the extra day between FP and the race, he’s seemingly right in there with the front runners, shame he’s been downplaying their single-lap pace as well, they need that track position.

  5. Why is VdG doing so few laps? Shouldn’t rookies be practicing?

    1. VdG strikes me as a the type to be cruising around doing laps in the pit paddock at Monaco… I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns out to be one of the “ladies men”

  6. Ferrari have often flattered to deceive on qualifying whereas Red-Bull and Mercedes this year have found huge chuncks of time. Hopefully Alonso can pull something out the bag as this is not one of Vettel’s best circuits.

  7. Wouldn’t surprise me to see another Mercedes front row lock-out, but I reckon it will be more difficult in the race. I reckon Alonso could be heading for a second consecutive race win, as long as he gets on the first or second row of the grid, otherwise his good pace will be compromised.

    Going to be a really interesting weekend, for sure. DRS won’t have much effect, Saturday is back to being very important, and I reckon the degradation will only be between 1-2 stops. The strategy will be key, of course, as always in Monaco. Can’t wait!

  8. Nothing from the long-run data suggests that Mercedes is any worse on the long runs, which is a bit of a surprise, but a pleasant one for me. Were the Mercedes long runs on the soft or the super soft tyre? Another surprise for me was how good Pic was on his long run, although of course we don’t know fuel loads.

    On Rosberg vs. Hamilton, Rosberg looks totally on it this season, with the exception of a few disappointing Q3s a the beginning of the year. Perhaps it was more difficult for him to find that last bit of motivation over the last two years, driving in no-man’s land and beating the old man over and over again.

    Hamilton, by contrast, is feeling real pressure on Saturday for the first time in his career. In his debut season he didn’t always beat his team mate but he didn’t need to; he was the rookie and Fernando the reigning double world champion. In the following two seasons Kovalainen never seemed to get his act together, and with Button, he could always rely on regularly outqualifying him, even in the darkest days of 2011. Lewis also didn’t have to get the near-perfect lap to be in front of Jenson on Saturday, because the latter would often have problems of his own.

    This season, though, Hamilton does not look completely at ease in the car, and good performances are not sufficient to stay ahead of his team mate. Hamilton does not give the outward impression of suffering from this pressure that is new to him, but who knows what goes on inside a driver’s head?

    On Grosjean, I hope his crash doesn’t affect his weekend too much. He finally looked to have found his speed again, being quicker than Kimi most of the time. With the Lotus good on its tyres, he might be one of the drivers able to make a one-stop strategy work, and then even a first win might be on the cards.

  9. @keithcollantine Minor correction: I think the title of this article should read “Thursday practice” :)

  10. The analysis shows that Lap 15 something significant happened to the track, it all of a sudden became faster… I’m guessing on Lap 14 we had a street sweeper go through ;)

  11. @AdrianMorse

    This season, though, Hamilton does not look completely at ease in the car, and good performances are not sufficient to stay ahead of his team mate. Hamilton does not give the outward impression of suffering from this pressure that is new to him, but who knows what goes on inside a driver’s head?

    I agree, only Lewis knows whether he’s feeling some pressure or not but these drivers are arguably the best professionals out there in sport given their extremely demanding jobs of driving the fastest machinery out there, I’m sure the few tenths Nico has turned up with this season will serve as an incentive for Lewis to bring even more out of the car, just like Nico himself did when Schumi arrived to Merc in 2010.

    I also propose a theory, mainly linked with Montoya and how long it took for him to settle in McLaren in 2005 and Lewis perhaps not being at case as he says he is, it took approximately half a season for Montoya to feel comfortable with the MP4-20 that season and whilst I’m not assuming that it’ll take Lewis exactly that long to feel completely at one, it’s vital to acknowledge that every driver is different, and some will take longer than others to fully adapt to their new teams, you can argue that Alonso settled in at Ferrari fairly quickly but he came as a double world champion who had been at three teams (Minardi, Renault and McLaren) prior to Ferrari, so experience served as an aid to Fernando. Lewis has stepped into a completely new environment for the first time in his career, with different team dynamics to the dynamics he experienced in McLaren, I expect him to take it bit by bit via improving relationships with race engineers and other personnel, those few tenths don’t just stem from innate speed, it’s partly evident when someone refers to having to reduce the number of buttons on his steering wheel.

    About feeling and succumbing to pressure, I’ll just wait at least until mid-season, if not the end, when we can start composing our annual season reports and judge the drivers’ performances despite it being five races in already.

  12. The consistency in lap times from Hulkenberg from lap 6 to 16 on his long run was incredible!

  13. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    24th May 2013, 1:31

    Wouldn’t be at all surprised if Alonso took pole.

    1. I would be shocked if he took pole here. Mercedes will up their game on Saturday and so will Red Bull. If Alonso finished on the 2nd row of the grid, he should be very pleased with himself.

      If I had to guess, I’d say Rosberg, Hamilton and Webber will be battling for pole.

  14. 24 laps in one stint by Ham and times a pretty consistent. I think they well have a much better race this weekend.

  15. Looking at long stint (race pace) comparisons are interesting. Red Bull seem to have the quickest car here with low degradation levels, followed closely by Lotus and then Ferrari/ Mercedes. I think Ferrari posted some quick times here on Friday, but I dont think they are favourites for the race.

    Have a feeling Mercedes is going to lock out the front row, but Mark Webber will take P3 and be the favourite for the win, followed by Alonso, Vettel and Kimi

    Lets see how this weeks prediction championship pans out..

Comments are closed.