Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Monaco, 2019

Mercedes pair can’t relax with Verstappen in their mirrors

2019 Monaco Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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There are only two things likely to prevent another Mercedes one-two in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, and both are forces of nature. One is the weather and the other is Max Verstappen.

The Red Bull driver has had few off-days since last year’s race around the streets of the principality. He has opportunistically grabbed places when they were there for the taking, and consistently brought his Red Bull home in the highest position available.

That has enabled him to out-score the Ferrari drivers so far this year. Could he become the first driver this year to beat one of the Mercedes home?

Prising them apart on the first lap could be difficult – expected a carefully choreographed first corner by the silver cars. But Red Bull’s race pace has dependably been its strength, and Verstappen could use that to split the race leaders.

Unusually, pitting first does not always confer as great an advantage in Monaco as it does at other tracks. Tyre wear is low, and the front-runners will have to discard softs for mediums, which are likely to take longer to warm up.

It remains to be seen whether this will be the case this weekend, especially as large sections of the track have been resurfaced. However as tyre blanket temperatures have been lowered for this season, expect it to hold true again on Sunday.

Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Monaco, 2019
Rain is possible on race day
A scenario Mercedes may have to be alert for is one where their two drivers are running closely together at the front with Verstappen right on their tail. In this situation it becomes difficult to pit both drivers without one of them losing their position to the rival attacking them.

Verstappen’s hopes of beating a Mercedes – and everyone else’s, for that matter – may get a shot in the arm if the weather takes a turn for the worse. While earlier forecasts indicated Saturday had the highest risk of rain, it failed to materialise, but Sunday’s forecast again includes a decent chance of a shower.

While some forecasts put this chance at little more than 20%, others rate it as high as 40% from the outset of the race, rising to 80% towards the end of the grand prix. Even if the rain doesn’t arise it may still have an effect, as strategists will be unwilling to commit to a dry-tyre pit stop if they suspect a shower will come.

The support races in Monaco have seen the usual mix of Safety Cars and red flags. F1’s crop of stars can usually be relied on to keep things a bit cleaner, but the sheer tightness of the midfield battle and the close confines of the circuit inevitably make race interruptions a greater threat.

A late-race Safety Car period could add another headache, as drivers will face the temptation to stay out on worn tyres which won’t warm up as quickly, rather than pit for fresher tyres, in the hope that the near-impossibility of overtaking in Monaco will help them stay ahead.

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Qualifying times in full

DriverCarQ1

Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’11.5421’10.835 (-0.707)1’10.166 (-0.669)
2Valtteri BottasMercedes1’11.5621’10.701 (-0.861)1’10.252 (-0.449)
3Max VerstappenRed Bull1’11.5971’10.618 (-0.979)1’10.641 (+0.023)
4Sebastian VettelFerrari1’11.4341’11.227 (-0.207)1’10.947 (-0.280)
5Pierre GaslyRed Bull1’11.7401’11.457 (-0.283)1’11.041 (-0.416)
6Kevin MagnussenHaas1’11.8651’11.363 (-0.502)1’11.109 (-0.254)
7Daniel RicciardoRenault1’11.7671’11.543 (-0.224)1’11.218 (-0.325)
8Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’11.6021’11.412 (-0.190)1’11.271 (-0.141)
9Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren1’11.8721’11.608 (-0.264)1’11.417 (-0.191)
10Alexander AlbonToro Rosso1’12.0071’11.429 (-0.578)1’11.653 (+0.224)
11Nico HulkenbergRenault1’12.0971’11.670 (-0.427)
12Lando NorrisMcLaren1’11.8451’11.724 (-0.121)
13Romain GrosjeanHaas1’11.8371’12.027 (+0.190)
14Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo1’11.9931’12.115 (+0.122)
15Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo1’11.9761’12.185 (+0.209)
16Charles LeclercFerrari1’12.149
17Sergio PerezRacing Point1’12.233
18Lance StrollRacing Point1’12.846
19George RussellWilliams1’13.477
20Robert KubicaWilliams1’13.751

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Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton18.280 (1)33.096 (2)18.667 (1)
Valtteri Bottas18.354 (2)33.026 (1)18.685 (2)
Max Verstappen18.511 (4)33.240 (3)18.789 (3)
Sebastian Vettel18.466 (3)33.444 (6)18.972 (9)
Pierre Gasly18.658 (5)33.370 (4)18.892 (5)
Kevin Magnussen18.693 (7)33.425 (5)18.968 (8)
Daniel Ricciardo18.769 (9)33.525 (8)18.863 (4)
Daniil Kvyat18.746 (8)33.470 (7)18.933 (7)
Carlos Sainz Jnr18.671 (6)33.716 (12)19.030 (10)
Alexander Albon18.791 (12)33.714 (11)18.906 (6)
Nico Hulkenberg18.785 (11)33.824 (15)19.061 (11)
Lando Norris18.882 (14)33.699 (10)19.093 (12)
Romain Grosjean18.874 (13)33.670 (9)19.202 (15)
Kimi Raikkonen18.901 (15)33.789 (14)19.121 (14)
Antonio Giovinazzi18.782 (10)33.844 (16)19.238 (17)
Charles Leclerc18.903 (16)33.763 (13)19.118 (13)
Sergio Perez18.945 (17)34.039 (17)19.216 (16)
Lance Stroll19.124 (18)34.199 (18)19.427 (18)
George Russell19.257 (19)34.622 (20)19.585 (19)
Robert Kubica19.267 (20)34.548 (19)19.841 (20)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari291.6 (181.2)
2Charles LeclercFerrariFerrari289.9 (180.1)-1.7
3Lance StrollRacing PointMercedes289.3 (179.8)-2.3
4Kimi RaikkonenAlfa RomeoFerrari289.3 (179.8)-2.3
5Lando NorrisMcLarenRenault289.1 (179.6)-2.5
6Antonio GiovinazziAlfa RomeoFerrari288.8 (179.5)-2.8
7Carlos Sainz JnrMcLarenRenault288.6 (179.3)-3.0
8Sergio PerezRacing PointMercedes288.5 (179.3)-3.1
9Daniel RicciardoRenaultRenault287.7 (178.8)-3.9
10Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari287.2 (178.5)-4.4
11Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari287.0 (178.3)-4.6
12Alexander AlbonToro RossoHonda286.4 (178.0)-5.2
13Nico HulkenbergRenaultRenault285.9 (177.6)-5.7
14Pierre GaslyRed BullHonda284.8 (177.0)-6.8
15Max VerstappenRed BullHonda284.7 (176.9)-6.9
16Daniil KvyatToro RossoHonda284.7 (176.9)-6.9
17Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes284.6 (176.8)-7.0
18Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes284.2 (176.6)-7.4
19George RussellWilliamsMercedes283.2 (176.0)-8.4
20Robert KubicaWilliamsMercedes282.8 (175.7)-8.8

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Over to you

Will this be a straightforward sixth one-two for Mercedes? And what can Leclerc salvage after his disaster in qualifying?

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

2019 Monaco Grand Prix

Browse all 2019 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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25 comments on “Mercedes pair can’t relax with Verstappen in their mirrors”

  1. So Ferrari are top of the speed trap, while Mercedes are near the bottom. I really wouldn’t see any reason why a team would run less downforce.

    1. @mashiat, part of that seems to be an inherent characteristic of their car, but part of it also seems to be that Ferrari are hitting the limit on the amount of downforce the car can generate and just can’t bolt anything else on (I believe there was a report from Barcelona indicating they were running their high downforce package in that race and had little left they could add to that).

  2. I suspect it’s going to be an incident-heavy race and the Mercedes 1-2s are going to come to an end.

    1. Let’s hope. But I doubt it. zzzzz

      1. I doubt it too. It’s fine to try to get people excited about the race but it’s impossible for a guy in 3rd to beat the guys in the front row on “race pace”. Its getting very common for all the pre race analysis to hype up the race, but specially here it’s not going to happen. Mercedes are not going to lose all their advantage so easily, the car doesn’t drop in performance on Sundays like the Haas does. And the red bull isn’t strong enough, and won’t find a way past. Heck, Riccardo kept a healthy Ferrari without ERS last year…

  3. Mercedes should be worrying for Belgium SPA and Monza races with their slow top speed and lesser engine power.

    1. Whatever you say, Toto.

    2. Some people really don’t understand F1 at all.

      Monza, spa and Monaco are the most track specific aero set ups of all. The Mercedes at Monza will be a lot different to the Mercedes at Monaco.

      The Ferrari, it seems, less so due to the fundamental principle of their car.

  4. Guybrush Threepwood
    26th May 2019, 5:20

    Would have been good to see how much quicker Ricciardo would have been in the RBR.

    1. Angry Verstappen fan reply in 3…2…1…

      1. Ricciardo could have shown how much faster he is that Verstappen in the RB this season if only he hadn’t left the building. How does that relate to Verstappen fans and how does it make those fans angry? If i’m correct Max is on the second row and Daniel isn’t.

    2. As Max has been quite consistent in beating Ricciardo last year in qualifying I would say about a tenth or 2 slower. Slightly faster than Gasly.

      1. Frustrated Ricciardo fan reply in 3…2…1…

      2. w0o0dy, on the other hand, it could be pointed out that, during the practise sessions for the 2018 Monaco GP, Ricciardo was generally the quicker of the two drivers and usually about 0.1-0.15s faster over a single lap compared to Verstappen.

        From the trend that we have seen over the past few years, Monaco is a venue where Ricciardo seems to be fairly consistently quick at – we’ve seen it demonstrated again this year, with Ricciardo managing to get his car up to 7th whereas Hulkenberg failed to make the top 10.

        I would therefore be wary about automatically assuming, as you have, that Verstappen would automatically be ahead by a couple of tenths, given this is an atypical circuit and one which seemed to follow an atypical trend compared to the rest of the calendar.

        1. Anon,
          Based on…? In 2017 Verstappen beat Ricciarod quite comfortably in quali by 0.5 sec… quite a gap.
          In 2018 Verstappen didn’t take part in any of the quali sessions, you base your opinion on times set in FP…wich isn’t race, but an oppertunity to set up the car. Dan set his fastest lap at the end of each session, while Verstappen did his fast runs early on in the sessions. On a small side note, during Verstappen ‘crash-lap” he was around 0.3 sec faster than Dan.

          Dan hardly ever beat Verstappen in quali… in sessions he lost there usually were reasons…at Baku Ricciardo enjoyed a good tow, at Mexico Verstappen has engine issues in his fast run… same issues hit Dan at the start.
          In Abu Dhabi Dan was really (much) faster on merit.

          1. Matn, why do I get the impression that, whatever evidence is presented in front of you, you have already decided that Verstappen would always be quicker and that there is nothing that can be presented to you to the contrary that will shake that belief out of you?

          2. Anon,
            The evidence…? I explained it quite good I think.
            Dan hardly was ever faster over the last 2 years… why would he have been faster in Monaco yesterday?

          3. Matn, it is because your later post gives the impression you would always want to find some other reason to say that there could be no way that Verstappen could be beaten on pure pace alone. I have no doubt that, if the practise times were the other way around, you’d have been saying “well, Verstappen was faster in the practise sessions and would have been the faster driver in qualifying”.

    3. That’s almost funny…like Dan beat Max on pace in Monaco last season….
      Dan beat Max on pace in three races last season:
      – Buku 0.084 sec (Max overtook Dan in lap 4 and lap 30-something)
      – Mexico 0.026 sec (Dan was ahead shorther than their gap in quali)
      – Abu Dhabi (Max got in front again).

      Ahead, due to circemstances:
      – Bahrain, Max crash in Q1 during calibration lap, due to wrong engine settings… both DNF-ed withing 2-3laps
      – Monaco, FP3 crash prevented him from qualifying
      – Russia, gridpenalties… Verstappen jumped Dan at the start
      – US, broken suspension in Q1

      For the sake of Dan’s good performance in Monaco, don’t compare him to Verstappen…he got beaten quite thouroughly

      1. You haven’t included the same ‘ Ahead, due to circumstance’ list for Max.
        Makes it look like there is a bias involved in your argument.

  5. Will this be a straightforward sixth one-two for Mercedes? – Yes.
    And what can Leclerc salvage after his disaster in qualifying? – Lower top-ten. A similar position to what Max achieved from P20 on the grid twelve months ago.

    1. “And what can Leclerc salvage after his disaster in qualifying? ”
      Possibly Fastest Lap of the race award! Those Ferrari were fast!

      1. Fast enough to be fourth fastest. I expect Verstappen to pit for new tyres and fastest lap if he has a window for it.

  6. If there is a real threat of rain, it probably will be much like the 2012 snooze-fest I fear, when everyone is going very slowly to make the tires last as long as possible. This likely reduces Leclerc’s chances of jumping a train of cars by pitting very late as Hamilton did back in 2017. Expect someone near the back of the grid to pit early (probably Giovinazzi) and use the clear air to undercut a bunch of cars, as Di Resta did back in 2013.

  7. Whadya know, Versteppan DID prevent a Mercedes 1-2……..though probably not in the way they expected.

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