Rosberg will have to get creative to beat Hamilton

2015 Monaco Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Lewis Hamilton wasn’t the only person to be especially pleased with his qualifying performance at Monaco.

“I’m really happy and excited with seventh place today,” said Sergio Perez, who lines up behind the Mercedes, Ferraris and Red Bulls. “I always say qualifying in Monaco counts for 90% of your final result, so it was important to be strong.”

Hamilton was quick to discount the suggestion that, having taken pole position, his job was half-done. But it’s a fact that ten of the last eleven Monaco Grand Prix winners have started there, so it’s not that much of an exaggeration to suggest he’s got one hand on the trophy.

What he can’t afford is a repeat of the dismal start he made in Spain. That dropped him behind Sebastian Vettel and the Ferrari driver is once again perfectly placed to take advantage of any problem for the Mercedes drivers.

“It could be possible to jump one of the cars ahead,” said Vettel, “two is more difficult, but then Lewis, too, should have a good start, otherwise he may be blocking the way.”

Hamilton may draw some comfort from the fact it’s been 13 years since the Monaco Grand Prix pole sitter was beaten to turn one. It’s still possible though – Ferrari junior driver Raffaele Marciello squandered his pole position advantage in today’s GP2 sprint race, allowing Richie Stanaway through to take advantage.

Vettel qualified the best part of three-quarters of a second off Hamilton’s time. He had expected to be closer, but cloudy conditions during qualifying took the edge of the temperature, causing problems for some teams.

“Today it looked like everybody was struggling to get the tyres to working temperatures – which is funny, because they call them super-softs – and the Mercedes cars were the ones which probably suffered the least from this problem, so this is why the gap looks bigger,” Vettel explained.

He wasn’t the only driver with this problem. Max Verstappen ended up last of the Q3 runners, one of a trio who failed to improve their times in the final segment of qualifying.

“Q1 and Q2 were okay, even though I was already starting to struggle with the tyres,” he said, “but in Q3 it was really difficult to get the tyres up to temperature.”

“I had no grip at all and started to lock-up a lot, and in my last run I was only eight hundredths faster with a new set of tyres.”

Kimi Raikkonen seemed to struggle with the cooler temperatures too, and also blamed traffic for only managing sixth on the grid, beaten by both the Red Bulls.

“Here there is a big chance to remain stuck behind other cars for the whole race and overtaking is really difficult,” he reflected, “that’s why the result of today is very disappointing.”

Strategic options are very limited at Monaco. A one-stop strategy is the standard strategy as tyre degradation is low and overtaking is extremely difficult – so much so that the leaders have the luxury of easily being able to slow the chasing pack if they need to.

Of course the big variable is the possible appearance of the Safety Car or – in an innovation for 2015 – the Virtual Safety Car. The VSC has already been used in three GP2 races so far this year without trouble, although the hapless Marciello spun his car after one deployment at the Circuit de Catalunya as he was caught out by how quickly the race resumed.

Last year Hamilton rued not taking the initiative of gambling on the Safety Car coming out by pitting when Adrian Sutil crashed at the chicane. Unless Rosberg can make a blinder of a start, his best chance to win may be to make that kind of gutsy call, though it brings with it a significant degree of risk.

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Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’16.5881’15.864 (-0.724)1’15.098 (-0.766)
2Nico RosbergMercedes1’16.5281’15.471 (-1.057)1’15.440 (-0.031)
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’17.5021’16.181 (-1.321)1’15.849 (-0.332)
4Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’17.2541’16.706 (-0.548)1’16.041 (-0.665)
5Daniil KvyatRed Bull1’16.8451’16.453 (-0.392)1’16.182 (-0.271)
6Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’17.6601’16.440 (-1.220)1’16.427 (-0.013)
7Sergio PerezForce India1’17.3761’16.999 (-0.377)1’16.808 (-0.191)
8Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso1’17.2461’16.762 (-0.484)1’16.931 (+0.169)
9Pastor MaldonadoLotus1’17.6301’16.775 (-0.855)1’16.946 (+0.171)
10Max VerstappenToro Rosso1’16.7501’16.546 (-0.204)1’16.957 (+0.411)
11Romain GrosjeanLotus1’17.7671’17.007 (-0.760)
12Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’17.4921’17.093 (-0.399)
13Nico HulkenbergForce India1’17.5521’17.193 (-0.359)
14Felipe MassaWilliams1’17.6791’17.278 (-0.401)
15Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’17.7781’26.632 (+8.854)
16Felipe NasrSauber1’18.101
17Valtteri BottasWilliams1’18.434
18Marcus EricssonSauber1’18.513
19Will StevensManor1’20.655
20Roberto MerhiManor1’20.904

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton19.732 (1)34.904 (1)20.391 (1)
Nico Rosberg19.884 (2)35.116 (2)20.416 (2)
Sebastian Vettel19.942 (3)35.182 (3)20.721 (5)
Daniel Ricciardo20.066 (5)35.339 (4)20.520 (3)
Daniil Kvyat20.068 (6)35.343 (5)20.732 (6)
Kimi Raikkonen20.073 (7)35.350 (6)20.764 (7)
Sergio Perez20.229 (10)35.698 (10)20.881 (9)
Carlos Sainz Jnr20.217 (9)35.729 (12)20.815 (8)
Pastor Maldonado20.058 (4)35.724 (11)20.911 (12)
Max Verstappen20.075 (8)35.760 (13)20.685 (4)
Romain Grosjean20.231 (11)35.527 (7)20.908 (11)
Jenson Button20.323 (14)35.578 (8)20.901 (10)
Nico Hulkenberg20.310 (12)35.658 (9)21.007 (13)
Felipe Massa20.310 (12)35.887 (14)21.040 (14)
Fernando Alonso20.346 (15)36.090 (15)21.119 (15)
Felipe Nasr20.552 (16)36.319 (17)21.166 (16)
Valtteri Bottas20.745 (18)36.503 (18)21.178 (17)
Marcus Ericsson20.624 (17)36.186 (16)21.702 (18)
Will Stevens21.274 (19)37.441 (20)21.853 (19)
Roberto Merhi21.516 (20)37.383 (19)21.866 (20)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes294.3 (182.9)
2Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes293.6 (182.4)-0.7
3Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes292.8 (181.9)-1.5
4Valtteri BottasWilliamsMercedes292.6 (181.8)-1.7
5Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari292.6 (181.8)-1.7
6Pastor MaldonadoLotusMercedes292.3 (181.6)-2.0
7Felipe NasrSauberFerrari291.8 (181.3)-2.5
8Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari291.4 (181.1)-2.9
9Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes290.4 (180.4)-3.9
10Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari290.3 (180.4)-4.0
11Romain GrosjeanLotusMercedes290.1 (180.3)-4.2
12Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes288.4 (179.2)-5.9
13Jenson ButtonMcLarenHonda285.3 (177.3)-9.0
14Daniel RicciardoRed BullRenault284.6 (176.8)-9.7
15Fernando AlonsoMcLarenHonda284.2 (176.6)-10.1
16Daniil KvyatRed BullRenault284.1 (176.5)-10.2
17Carlos Sainz JnrToro RossoRenault283.5 (176.2)-10.8
18Will StevensManorFerrari283.3 (176.0)-11.0
19Max VerstappenToro RossoRenault282.8 (175.7)-11.5
20Roberto MerhiManorFerrari281.0 (174.6)-13.3

Over to you

Has Hamilton got the race 90% won? Will McLaren finally take their first points? And where can Carlos Sainz Jnr recover to from his pit lane start?

Share your views on the Monaco Grand Prix in the comments.

2015 Monaco Grand Prix

Browse all 2015 Monaco Grand Prix articles

Author information

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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46 comments on “Rosberg will have to get creative to beat Hamilton”

  1. Just one cut tyre at the start, a front wing hitting a rear going into St Devote for example, and the championship lead could change.

    1. Rosberg can really be creative.

      1. let’s say he’s got a number of options at his disposal ;)

        1. Hamilton’s Options ;))))))

          1. Hahahahaha.
            Or we might witness the PRIME time of Hamilton’s weekend :P

          2. Michael Brown
            24th May 2015, 1:12

            I don’t think Rosberg is prepared with a plan. He might just WING it

  2. Ten of the last eleven Monaco Grand Prix winners have started from pole position, so Lewis Hamilton has practically got one hand on the trophy.

    Yep, especially considering who the 11th winner was.

    1. Haha. :)

  3. Rosberg has to make sure he is second after the first corner let alone take a place from Hamilton.

    I think Vettel will go for glory into T1. His only chance of gaining anything from the race greater than 3rd.

    1. @evered7 Vettel is smarter than that. A normal start and his third is guaranteed. A better than normal and he could go for second. First is out of the question unless Hamilton makes a really bad start.

      1. @xtwl True that Vettel needs a better start to get P2 at T1 but considering that he lacks the pace versus Mercedes, it gives him extra initiative to go for it at the start. But he also needs Hamilton to have a proper start else he would just be blocked I guess.

        1. @evered7 I remember in 2012 (?) when both Webber and Vettel from P4/3 had massive starts but just could not go anywhere. Even when Vettel has a great start he might not even be able to pass any Mercedes car if they are alongside each other.

          1. It was 2013. The problem for VET and WEB was that HAM and ROS were almost side by side so they had no way to pass.


        2. But also he has someone alongside him who will be risking everything for a podium. Ricc said “legitimately” he should have been 3rd. A bit rude I think.

  4. At the middle/back, it’ll be interesting to see the McLarens fight for scores. Considering the Honda engine this season, if they can’t score points here (or in Singapore), they’re not likely to score points anywhere else.

    And also interesting to see if the Red Bulls are capable of putting the pressure on the Mercs/Vettel. Because if they can’t, they’ll have to face a big threat from Kimi right behind them.

    1. Assuming they all make it through the first corner I can see Kimi using good tyre management to clear one RedBull.
      But as you say the other one could well be an hour of Kimi applying pressure but going nowhere. Unfortunately another sub par Saturday has most likely cost him a podium.

      1. Unfortunately another sub par Saturday has most likely cost him a podium.

        @johnnik – You’re already assuming he would beat Vettel. Which with all respect for Kimi does not seem likely given past races where he, just like Alonso before him, left him far behind. The Ferrari is much better than last year but Kimi is just no longer what he used to be. Only good on his good days.

        1. Sorry, I agree.
          I should have said a podium chance, rather than podium outright, meaning if he makes it to the fight he’ll be too late to do anything about it.

  5. A fair, square and dominant pole to Hamilton, taking back what was rightfully his in 2014.

    Looking back to FP’s, Lewis was always faster than Rosberg on race sims, so the German will need the Lady Luck – a safety car, perhaps – to beat Lewis this weekend.

    And Perez was mega; he is convincingly destroying all the hype around Hulkenberg…

    1. Hulkenberg was sliding a lot during qualifying, as if setup was far from ideal.

      1. Hulkenberg’s not really shown great pace in any of the practise sessions either, and was complaining of set up issues in FP3. All in all, he’s just struggled a bit to get the car to his liking this weekend and not really quite got it under control.

    2. A fair, square and dominant pole to Hamilton, taking back what was rightfully his in 2014.

      @becken-lima – How? He did not set a lap quicker than Rosberg so you would never know his lap was going to be good enough on the ground of one sector. For all we know he was destined to crash and not start Sunday and Rosberg saved him, poof.

      If it was anybody else but Rosberg nobody would’ve thought for a second it was on purpose…

      1. Au contraire @xtwl, at the time everyone liked Nico and nobody wanted to believe it could be deliberate.

        1. @lockup I guess you experienced it way different then…

          If you’d go back to the particular topics you’ll see plenty of threats towards Rosberg and many many people straight out believeing it was on purspose even before the stewards were aware…

          1. Well okay @xtwl I guess there were people each way and it’s not easy to work out the proportions.

            Still I think it’s easy to forget that Rosberg was basically pretty well liked at the time. I do think lots of us were enjoying the story of the boyhood friends ending up in the same team and making it work. Personally I wasn’t convinced it was deliberate until the Sky midweek report showed the head-on footage.

    3. And Perez was mega; he is convincingly destroying all the hype around Hulkenberg…

      I think the hype around Hulkenberg is justified. Perez is just also that good; his drive in Bahrain was epic as well. Force India have a great driver pairing.

    4. I do not understand all the hype around Perez. he is a terrible driver, and he proved that multiple times.
      I am pretty much sure he will crash today. BTW, he is good only a couple times in a whole year.

  6. For Hamilton its quite easy, just keep the normal race plan, keep the pace down a bit so he can save fuel and tires while all the people behind him suffer worse degradations from dirty air and just react to undercuts. The biggest risk is unexpected safety car.

    For Sainz though, except the two Manors, probably Saubers, and people who retired I don’t think he can make any progress beyond that. It almost certain his best bet are starting on Soft and betting for the safety car.

    Speaking of safety car, the start could be more interesting in the middle pack than the front. We have Maldonado in P8 with a kind of slow starting Perez in front of him and a rookie in quicker car behind him. There also out of place Williams and Grosjean further back. Personally I think Williams really don’t suit Monaco so maybe they not really out of place, but who knows if Massa or Bottas feels they should be more aggressive than usual since they’re out of points anyway. I just hope Button and Alonso can have a trouble free race. It will be nice to see the true McLaren race pace and if they can really get some points this week.

  7. Perez starts just behind Raikkonen- I can hardly wait to see what happens!

    1. (Remembering last year’s race…)

    2. @ferrox-glideh “I want to punch him in the face”

  8. In an interview after qualifying, Toto Wolff (IIRC) said that Hamilton’s bad start in Spain was mainly down to the team. Andrew Benson reported it was a “systems malfunction”, but not sure on his sources.

    Hopefully Hamilton/Mercedes are aware of whatever caused it and have amended it for this race. Ever since the start of these new regulations in 2014 Hamilton has seemed to be consistently very good at starts, the only bad starts I’ve seen him make were Australia 2014 (due to losing an engine cylinder on the formation lap, which soon after caused his retirement), Monza 2014 (due to a glitch in his start procedure), and Spain 2014 (due to a “systems malfunction”).

    As was mentioned though, Marciello was beaten to turn one by Stanaway in the GP2 sprint race, so there’s no doubt it will be an important start.

    1. Yeah @polo I think this was part of how ‘the team made it a bit difficult’ for Hamilton last race. I reckon the start should be okay this time, but Lewis will surely want a good gap before the stops…

  9. Perez will make this race worth watching, unless he crashes out on the first lap

    1. to be fair last year was Button mistake !

      1. Nope, it was totally Perez’s fault last year.

  10. Are mounting rockets to his car being ‘creative’ enough?

    1. you mean surface to surface rockets?

  11. I suppose sabotaging Lewis’ car would be one option (remove 2 cylinders from the engine right before the race and make it a V4, put superglue on the steering wheel so he can’t adjust anything on the wheel).

    But in all seriousness, it is pretty simple: Hamilton needs to get a bad start, Rosberg a good one; Hamilton needs to have a massive meltdown with his pit crew; or some unforeseen problem needs to happen (mechanical etc).

  12. While I agree Hamilton has one hand on the Monaco trophy, it isn’t a simple race, and nor is it a race that is kind to equipment

    1. @dragoll It’s the least stressful race of the season for drivers and cars.

      1. @psynrg There is no where for the drivers to take a break, there are no straights, they’re forever having to be weary of bumps, lines, armcove barriers, and they’re the things that don’t move. Traffic is a nightmare around this circuit.
        Because the road is so bumpy, it puts a lot of stress on suspension, and generally all fixings on the car. Then take into account that the heat generated on the black ashphalt gets trapped in between the armcove barriers and the cars aren’t travelling at 300+km’s to generate massive amounts of air to cool the engines and components.
        Another argument is, there is very little overtaking, however, there are some brave/foolish drivers that throw caution to the wind and attempt a dive exiting the tunnel or into lowes, sometimes we see great manouvres, other times we see collisions, whats to say Rosberg doesn’t get desperate and lunge inside Lewis?
        My final point is, drivers cannot remain 100% focused throughout the entire race and can easily make mistakes without any pressure, look at Senna in 88 who was leading by a country mile and binned it late in the race and when interviewed was open about the fact that he let his mind wander about other things and it caught him out.
        These are the factors that make monaco a truly epic experience for F1 drivers, while its not exciting for spectators from the outside looking in, it is an enormous challenge for the drivers.

  13. I thought Rosberg had the pace advantage over Hamilton, just ruined it in q3. he might still have a pace advantage in the race also.the start will be the most important, whovever is first in turn1. also vettel might just rosberg for p2 at the start, then it will be easy for hamilton.

  14. Creativity can come from many different places:) The nicest ones are the unexpected ones!

    1. @nuvolari71 You beat me to it! Would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

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