Raikkonen set to end Ferrari’s drought but will Hamilton go radical on strategy?

2017 Monaco Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Having locked out the front row of the grid, Ferrari is in great shape to ends its 16-year win-less streak in the Monaco Grand Prix.

And having taken his first pole position since 2008, Kimi Raikkonen is the driver best-placed to get the job done. If taking pole position at Monaco puts him 60% of the way towards victory, the next 49% will come if he beats Sebastian Vettel to Sainte Devote at the start.

Monaco GP qualifying in pictures
That will be an interesting test of which Ferrari driver has found the best solution to getting their car off the line. The two drivers have differed in their preferred approaches, Vettel preferring to use a new hand clutch arrangement while Raikkonen has stuck with the old one.

It was clear on Thursday that with the entire top ten starting the race on ultra-soft tyres, which are durable enough to complete the entire race distance, those who did not make the cut for Q3 could gamble on a different race strategy. But what has come as a complete surprise is that Lewis Hamilton is among the drivers on that position.

Stoffel Vandoorne’s Q2 crash finally thwarted his attempt to get into the pole position shoot-out. But Hamilton was already struggling to match his team mate’s ultimate pace as Mercedes used unusually slow warm-up laps in a bid to get the most from their Pirellis.

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Like everyone else who did not reach Q3, Hamilton now has the advantage of being able to start the race on new tyres. He can expect to find traffic a struggle in the opening stages, so will Mercedes resort to radical tactics to limit the damage from his poor starting position?

Putting Hamilton on a new set of super-softs for the start of the race should allow him to pit at the end of lap one, come out in clear air and run to the end of the race on the quicker ultra-soft tyres. It’s not likely to put him in a position to win the race but it may open the door for a higher points finish than would otherwise be available.

The possibility of a Safety Car period tends to weigh heavily on the minds of strategists during races like this. However Red Bull are likely to have an incentive to gamble against the Safety Car coming out. Both their drivers will start the race on ultra-softs, but their pace loss after switching to the super-softs has been greater than the other teams. Keep an eye out for the RB13s running longer than most.

Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’13.1171’12.231 (-0.886)1’12.178 (-0.053)
2Sebastian VettelFerrari1’13.0901’12.449 (-0.641)1’12.221 (-0.228)
3Valtteri BottasMercedes1’13.3251’12.901 (-0.424)1’12.223 (-0.678)
4Max VerstappenRed Bull1’13.0781’12.697 (-0.381)1’12.496 (-0.201)
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’13.2191’13.011 (-0.208)1’12.998 (-0.013)
6Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso1’13.5261’13.397 (-0.129)1’13.162 (-0.235)
7Sergio PerezForce India1’13.5301’13.430 (-0.100)1’13.329 (-0.101)
8Romain GrosjeanHaas1’13.7861’13.203 (-0.583)1’13.349 (+0.146)
9Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’13.7231’13.453 (-0.270)1’13.613 (+0.160)
10Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1’13.4761’13.249 (-0.227)
11Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’13.8991’13.516 (-0.383)
12Nico HulkenbergRenault1’13.7871’13.628 (-0.159)
13Kevin MagnussenHaas1’13.5311’13.959 (+0.428)
14Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’13.6401’14.106 (+0.466)
15Felipe MassaWilliams1’13.7961’20.529 (+6.733)
16Esteban OconForce India1’14.101
17Jolyon PalmerRenault1’14.696
18Lance StrollWilliams1’14.893
19Pascal WehrleinSauber1’15.159
20Marcus EricssonSauber1’15.276

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Kimi Raikkonen18.844 (2)34.058 (1)19.151 (2)
Sebastian Vettel18.807 (1)34.201 (3)19.208 (3)
Valtteri Bottas18.855 (3)34.221 (4)19.147 (1)
Max Verstappen19.041 (4)34.165 (2)19.290 (4)
Daniel Ricciardo19.105 (6)34.425 (6)19.397 (5)
Carlos Sainz Jnr19.051 (5)34.548 (10)19.552 (10)
Sergio Perez19.216 (11)34.590 (15)19.514 (8)
Romain Grosjean19.226 (12)34.357 (5)19.460 (6)
Jenson Button19.199 (9)34.584 (13)19.575 (11)
Stoffel Vandoorne19.114 (8)34.571 (11)19.482 (7)
Daniil Kvyat19.211 (10)34.543 (9)19.658 (13)
Nico Hulkenberg19.296 (13)34.520 (7)19.655 (12)
Kevin Magnussen19.341 (14)34.527 (8)19.544 (9)
Lewis Hamilton19.109 (7)34.574 (12)19.682 (14)
Felipe Massa19.439 (15)34.589 (14)19.753 (16)
Esteban Ocon19.499 (16)34.844 (16)19.740 (15)
Jolyon Palmer19.639 (18)35.171 (17)19.886 (17)
Lance Stroll19.756 (20)35.196 (18)19.941 (18)
Pascal Wehrlein19.665 (19)35.476 (19)20.018 (20)
Marcus Ericsson19.612 (17)35.645 (20)20.009 (19)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes289.3 (179.8)
2Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari289.0 (179.6)-0.3
3Lance StrollWilliamsMercedes288.5 (179.3)-0.8
4Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes288.2 (179.1)-1.1
5Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes288.1 (179.0)-1.2
6Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari287.9 (178.9)-1.4
7Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes287.8 (178.8)-1.5
8Max VerstappenRed BullTAG Heuer287.5 (178.6)-1.8
9Nico HulkenbergRenaultRenault287.5 (178.6)-1.8
10Esteban OconForce IndiaMercedes286.7 (178.1)-2.6
11Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG Heuer286.4 (178.0)-2.9
12Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari285.2 (177.2)-4.1
13Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari285.1 (177.2)-4.2
14Daniil KvyatToro RossoRenault284.6 (176.8)-4.7
15Pascal WehrleinSauberFerrari283.9 (176.4)-5.4
16Jolyon PalmerRenaultRenault283.6 (176.2)-5.7
17Jenson ButtonMcLarenHonda283.6 (176.2)-5.7
18Carlos Sainz JnrToro RossoRenault283.0 (175.8)-6.3
19Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari283.0 (175.8)-6.3
20Stoffel VandoorneMcLarenHonda281.5 (174.9)-7.8

Over to you

Are we set for an all-Ferrari battle for victory in Monaco? How will Hamilton approach the race after his disappointment in qualifying?

And who’s impressed you in this weekend so far? Share your views on the Monaco Grand Prix in the comments.

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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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67 comments on “Raikkonen set to end Ferrari’s drought but will Hamilton go radical on strategy?”

  1. I wanted to comment, but the ugliness of that Ferrari threw me off.

    1. My first impression was it was a Google-cam composition error, but indeed, from that angle the car looks hideous.

      1. !Haha exactly George.be! I thought I was seeing a picture with a glitch as well :)

    2. Could of been worse could of been a picture of a McLaren.

    3. Yeah??? I think it looks very purposeful, and it looks like it shouldn’t need front and rear wings, something I’d like to see tried out.

      1. The cars now have wings on the wings on the wings on the wings…

  2. Question here, is Monaco Seb Vettel’s worst track? He lost twice to Mark Webber and now to Kimi. He was outqualified 5 out of 10 times, and while that seems reasonable, given Seb’s status as such a beast of a driver, you do wonder… he’s only won once, and he’s had the car to do it more than that. And maybe tomorrow, he’ll follow his team mate once more to the flag.

    1. @fer-no65 It definitely isn’t his best, that is certain. Webber though was pretty good here, and I do believe had Vettel had one more clean run today he would’ve been on pole.

    2. That’s a great question. It might be a similar thing to how some great drivers have never been great in the rain, which you’d thought they should’ve been.

      1. Jim Clarke never won monaco and he was good. Rosberg beat Hamilton here 3 to 4 in the same car.

        1. Yup and now Bottas follows in Rosberg footspteps…

          It seems neither Hamilton or Vettel have great results here.

          Daniel Ric, Webber, Kimi, all beat Vettel around Monaco…

          Hamilton likewise, got handily beaten many times….

          It is not like Monaco is not much different than other tracks, maybe it rewards other type of skills these two do not posses.

    3. Maybe. He looked on rails but in the end Q3 was sloppy, sloppy for everyone but Kimi, he went in early got a run, got a few hot laps under him, whilst the others tried to be too clever, particularly the RB’s. There have been many Monaco q3 where the pace staggers.

      I think Hamilton has a chance to win, he talks about having had the opportunity to win some more Monaco’s but I think he has the Monaco lucky charm, he has won some he shouldn’t, particularly last years, when he missed the chicane. I think Hamilton should pit on lap 1, especially if the VSC comes out, switch the ss for the US, alternatively he could either hope for a safety car or simply enjoy early laps of clear air and eventually leapfrog the leaders as they race tactically.

      1. That’s assuming: he has the pace of front runners and is quicker than those around him; doesn’t get held up by traffic; he is the only one doing an early pit; there isn’t a VSC after he pits that allows others to essentially have a free pitstop.

        He is truly buggered for the race.

      2. Its a very long shot, rather a pipe dream.

        1. Yes a long shot. Hamilton isn’t the only car that can do that. Thus the traffic with other cars doing the same.

      3. Hamilton will pit at lap 2, quickly catch the tail end while the ferraris are 40 seconds up the road, then lose 2 seconds a lap in traffic. By the the time the top guys pit, they will be a minute ahead of hamilton, too big for any safety car dream, as straight after safety car he will be losing time again behind cars anyway. He is better off staying out long on first stint so that he has less overtaking to do. His bad car setup up wont help overtaking.

      4. A Die hard Hamilton fan it seems.
        And he is the only one of course with that strategy ;)

  3. the next 49% will come if he beats Sebastian Vettel

    that would be 39% @keithcollantine

    1. 40% I think. But if Vettel is faster in the race, he might even overshoot Räikkönen during the round of pitstops, so I wouldn’t say the race is decided after the first corner.

      1. I understood it as “1% left of unpredictible circumstances”

        1. The way it was written implied that the two percentages should add up to 100%, but yes, there are unpredictable circumstances that account for at least a few more percent I think.

          1. @f1infigures No its 60% and 39%, the last 1% is what you are talking about and a agree that Vettels chances of over or undercutting Kimi is greater than 1%. Given what happens every year in Monaco its silly to think qualifying and start is all there is to it.

  4. I can’t see how Ferrari won’t be considering the use of Team Orders to get Vettel in front of Raikkonen, which would be a disappointment for Raikkonen, but at least he has proved he can produce a faster lap than Vettel.

    1. Too early for that. If Vettel has a few bad races they need Kimi to be able to take up the slack. Additionally Kimi winning a few races justifies the reason for keeping him.

      1. Too early for what? Since 2014 Kimi has been trashed by both Alonso and Vettel…

        1. @xtwl Well what if Ferrari made sure the reigning world champion won in France 2008?

          1. @xtwl Actually looking more into 2008…excuse my brainfart there.

      2. Too early for team orders obviously. Sure Kimi lost against his team mates in the past. In those days the car was not a contender. It is 2017 and the car is up there at the pointy end. What happened before makes no difference to this season. Additionally employing team orders now would have a negative impact on the teams reputation.

    2. @drycrust We’re not talking about Mercedes. I’m sure they’ll want Seb to win but as ever since the Austria 2002 debacle Ferrari won’t employ team orders on an open championship. On the other side Ferrari are always pretty clear with team orders, they don’t veil them, they don’t pretend they had always the intention of letting their drivers race.

  5. Andrew Purkis
    27th May 2017, 19:05

    Ham has to do the reverse strategy surely SS/US? hes nothing to lose if he does the standard US/SS

    1. I hope so for the sake of an interesting race. We’ve all seen the infuriating lack of this kind of ambition from top teams before though when they just run the ‘optimal strategy’ and hope for the best, but I really hope the put after 1 lap this time out. It’ll make life interesting!

      1. I fear that too. Computer says US/SS, human must obey ;)

    2. Ham starting on SS, and coming in early to go to the optimal tyre isn’t a good option, except if those around him do the same because he would lose time:
      – At the start if he loses positions,
      – By staying on the SS’s while being unable to overtake on the slower tyre. (which is, even with the faster tyre, near impossible) – Expect 1.5s/lap slower compared to P6
      – By losing a lot of track positions on a too early stop, and having less fresh tyres in case of a SC later on. Track position is KING in Monaco.
      Choosing new US’s on the other hand:
      -Might be able to win a few places on the start. He’s starting further, so gains are possible with a decent get-away
      -Might be able to gain a few positions on a mid race SC where other teams split strategies
      -Might be able to overtake a few slower cars (with the added fuel load, the engine performance is more important than in Qualification)
      – Could outlast all cars in front to their pitstop, which gives an option to gain a lot on a late SC

      Jenson on the other hand should go for it: He would gain lots of free air in an early stop, without any penalties

      1. But if there is a SC or VSC in the first 10 laps, Hamilton starting on SS surely makes sense.

        Starting on US, means he’d have to go to nearly there last 10 laps before pitting for SS.

        To me, if you assume there will be a SC in the first say 20 laps, surely he has to start on SS and hope for this (rather than pit first lap as you say).

  6. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    27th May 2017, 19:07

    Kimi’s going to need 109% to beat Vettel.

    1. Lol so true

  7. As I’ve commented yesterday, out-of-sync fast cars will go with the following strategy: start on super softs, pit in lap 1-3 depending on SC and then go to the end of the race on ultra softs. This means Hamilton and although not particularly a fast car, I suspect Jenson’ll do the same. Heck, maybe even Ricciardo.

    Dutch tv channel Ziggo Sport asked Lewis about whether he’d do this strategy and his response was: “Yeah, or pit and save the engine for the next race”. Of course the latter will only happen if he can’t get through to a points scoring position halfway through the race.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      27th May 2017, 20:24

      The latter won’t happen at all. Whenever Hamilton is struggling, he suggests quitting but he’s only starting a few positions out of the points. Surely a team player would be saying he’s looking to score as many points as he can for the team?

      1. It seemed Hamilton was wearing his dejection on his sleeve post qualifying. I think he will drive hard to rescue as many points as possible. If anyone knows how important every point is during the entire season, he does.

        The temptation to go radical strategy with the 1 lap or so on SS tires is understandable, but think that is too big of a risk. Wait for the likely safety car and change then would be my preference.

    2. As I’ve commented yesterday, out-of-sync fast cars will go with the following strategy: start on super softs, pit in lap 1-3 depending on SC and then go to the end of the race on ultra softs. This means Hamilton.

      The problem with that strategy is that a stop in the first few laps will put Hamilton at the tail of the pack, or at least almost there. Then with fresh US tyres he might heave the pace but on this track he will have to follow every car ahead of him for a bit before being able to pass. That will degrade his US tyres at least to some extent and so by the time he gets to the guys who started with US tyres and have not yet stopped, passing will be far more difficult. By the time they start to go in for their options, perhaps well into the second half of the race, the front 5 or 6 (maybe more) will be more than a pit stop ahead of Hamilton.

      All that can happen even without the Safety Car. If one does come out, it will be the wrong time for the too-early stoppers one way or another.

      1. No fresh ultrasoft tyres will allow Hamilton to pass anybody in this track, I think…. If he pits in lap 1 and ends behind both Saubers, 50 laps later he will probably still be behind both Saubers. A difficult one for Mercedes.

        1. Bearing in mind odds of a SC at Monaco (current betting 1/8 on), surely he should start on SS and hope for a shunt in the first 10 laps? I think he has more to gain than lose doing this.

  8. It was a sloppy lap from Vettel because he was pushing too much, not as good a setup as Kimi. Kimi seemed more at ease despite a lot of steering input out of some corners(I think only two corners).

    1. @scuderia_fan85
      Oh god! I wouldn’t believe that Vettel’s fans are just as pathetic as Hamilton’s fans.
      Either an outrageous excuse or a conspiracy theory for every single thing.

      1. @sakis I’m not sure “pushing too much” is a praise (too much=so much that out of his own doing he’s slower?)

        1. @davidnotcoulthard It might not be a praise, I accept this. But what about the phrase “not as good a setup as Kimi”? I don’t think he is a Ferrari mechanic to know and be certain about this, so he is obviously trying to make an excuse for Vettel and downgrade Raikkonen’s achievement.

          Several posts here prove that both VET and HAM’s fans are so fixated on the “He is the best” idea and they simply cannot accept that sometimes other drivers are just better than them.

          1. @sakis We’ll probably end up disagreeing in the end but IMO to be able to get a better-suited a setup for yourself than your team mate in my opinion counts as a praise – I’d say RAI managed to get better/more comfortable with a setup=VET failed to not be worse than Kimi in this respect, for which if anyone is to blame, then it’d be VET, which would take away from how good he is, especially this weekend anyway.

    2. It was a little sloppy, but to be honest, he didn’t manage to get a clean lap in all weekend, where Kimi managed 3-4 reasonably clean laps (both his Q2 and Q3 laps).

      Kimi was on fire in Q2 and Q3.

      1. I am a huge Seb fan… Kimi was much better out there than Seb, even Seb said he needed to have gone faster.

  9. Just because US will last an racedistance doesnt mean they will be very quick an entire racedistance. I doubt Hamilton will gain much by undercutting and burning off his tyres at early race like everyone else. The best he can hope for in that case is an Monaco without safetycars which aint the most foolproof strategy.

  10. It will be interesting to see if Ferrari invoke team orders in the race. Kimi seemed even more disinterested in his pole than his usual Finnish charm. He even invoked the ‘bwoaah” a couple of times. Great to see Valtteri out qualify Bieber.

    1. If Hamilton was in P3 or P4, then Ferrari would definitely have evoked Team orders considering what Merc did with Bottas in Spain. But now that Hamilton is in P13, I think Ferrari will wait and see how it goes with their 2 drivers. If a mishap and subsequent Safety Car ends up in Hamilton’s favour, then Ferrari will invoke team orders. Bit if Vettel finishes in P2 and hamilton, say in P7, then it is still 12 points to the good.

      Mind you, there is the chance that Team Orders may not be necessary at all. Vettel has been starting very well on that new setup of his and he has a better record than Raikkonen with standing starts. There is a 50:50 chance that Vettel might jump ahead right at the start.

  11. Kimi has the best chance to win this race, obviously. It is up to his start and race performance. He is very good at Monaco. I think he will get the win.

    There will be a safety car. I would not bet against it. Timing of the safety car and how teams react could make or break the race. The biggest decision will be when do US tire starters take SS tires. An early safety car will not really help there. Even a mid-race safety car would still likely not be a good time to switch to the US. Do team strategists split strategies with their drivers to cover both options? How do they decide which driver takes which option? Could be interesting.

    1. He is good when it is dry. Luckily for him it stays dry… the stupid mistakes from last year will be forgotten .

  12. Jack King (@jacktheking95)
    28th May 2017, 2:26

    I have a very ‘Germany 2010’ feeling about this race…

    1. @jacktheking95 Controversial! But I can’t see Ferrari giving that instruction or Raikkonen obeying it at this stage in the championship.

      1. Yeah I think you’re right, ultimately came down to Vettel having the pace on Kimi when it really mattered today (in my humble opinion).

  13. I doubt Kimi will be leading at the first corner.

    1. I doubt Kimi will be leading at the first corner.

      Frankly, that is a real possibility. Kimi isn’t the greatest of starters and Vettel has been getting some good ones lately.

      1. I think he will because the run is so short to St devote, Vettel will need to cover Bottas and he will need to watch out for Verstappen. Bottas is the dark horse for this race and l think Ferrari would be happier to see the Red Bull jump him at the start.

  14. Are drivers allowed to pit at the end of the formation lap to change tyres and have it count as a having used both tyres? If so this might be Hamilton’s best opportunity to gain some time and avoid the first corner madness.

    1. @sparkyamg That’s a very ‘F1’ question! I would say not. Article 24.4 (k) of the Sporting Regulations states:

      Unless he has used intermediate or wet-weather tyres during the race, each driver must use at least two different specifications of dry-weather tyres during the race, at least one of which must be a mandatory dry-weather race tyre specification…

      As the formation lap does not count towards the race distance I don’t see how the tyres any drivers uses on them can be considered to fulfil this rule.

      1. Ah! But what if there’s an extra formation lap after an aborted start as that does count as one of the race laps?

  15. Ferrari don’t need to “invoke team orders”, they simply need to favour Vettel strategy-wise. That is what I am affraid of – Vettel getting the preferential treatment on when to stop, undercutting a bewildered Raikkonen. I can especially see it happening in the case of Bottas hounding Vettel throughout. Ferrari react to a threatening Bottas, pitting Vettel first, in order to cover the Mercedes. Kimi (who was “not under threat” from Bottas) coming in a lap later and joing behind Vettel. Job done for Arrivabene.

  16. I think that too many have not done their homework here and have ignored the lessons provided by FP and Qualifying. Raikkönen was able to post scorching laps after only a single warm-up whereas Bottas needed a slow warm-up lap followed by yet another albeit quicker warm-up lap before getting the US into the working window. Translated to the race this means that unless Bottas can get ahead of the Ferraris at the start, they will simply disappear into the distance same as will happen at the restart after a pace car. With Ferrari also being substantially quicker on the long runs, the chance of a Merc catching them is akin to that of the proverbial snowball in hell. Bottas could even find himself overtaken by both RBRs at the start and as for Hamilton from P12 on the grid…

  17. Are you allowed to pit for the alternative tyre on the last lap, travel 40m down the pit lane and cross the finish line or do you have to start and finish 1 complete lap on the alternative tyre, assuming no safety cars?

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