Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Monaco, 2021

Mercedes drivers see pace-setters Ferrari as genuine contenders in Monaco

2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were impressed by Ferrari’s pace after their rivals ended Thursday practice fastest in Monaco

“The Ferraris are really strong,” said Hamilton, who was bumped back to third place in the afternoon session by Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jnr. “It’s surprising to see them improve so much, but that’s great, it means more competition.”

Hamilton said Mercedes’ rivals are doing a better job at extracting performance from the tyres, as Pirelli has brought the softest rubber in their range for the first time this year.

“Ferrari particularly have, in the past for whatever reason, been very quick at getting temperature in,” said Hamilton. “Same as Red Bull generally also are like that too.”

Several sections of the Monaco circuit have been resurfaced this year, Hamilton added, which has led to lower lap times.

“It’s got really high grip this year for some reason,” he said. “They’ve re-done the surface for most of the track so there’s a lot of grip. I think already in practice one we were quicker than we were [in 2019], which is awesome.”

Asked whether he believes Ferrari will be serious contenders this weekend, Hamilton said: “I’m seeing what you’re seeing – I’m generally just focussed on my job – but it looks like it.

Valtteri Bottas also expects Mercedes to face competition from more than one team this weekend. “Ferrari looks really quick and Red Bull as well,” he said, “so it’s not only going to be about two teams.”

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2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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36 comments on “Mercedes drivers see pace-setters Ferrari as genuine contenders in Monaco”

  1. Mercs: Everyone is a contender in Monaco barring us, we may match Formula 2 pace at best

    Sunday: It’s an unbelievable win we didn’t expect that all year

    1. What a weird analysis. Did you watch fp1 and fp2?

      1. You dont have to watch FPs to predict the results anymore. Its not V8 era wake up fast.

        1. it was so competitive with Vettel winning 13 races out of 18. I miss those days.

          1. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
            20th May 2021, 19:51

            You may want to revisit the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012 seasons.

          2. If merc didn’t win 5 races, that’d be great at this point.

      2. Can you still get the Vettel reference every time someone says “Honestly”?

    2. Considering Mercedes didn’t say anything even close, you must be having voices in your head… I would suggest to go to the doctor

      1. It’s called satire. I would suggest to go [sic] and get some manners.

      2. You really haven’t noticed a Mercedes tendency to undersell their chances?

        1. I rarely notice anyone on a team sport overselling their chances. As shown today by Mercedes, RB and Ferrari.
          As Ham said, ‘we are the underdogs this race, but I said that about the last races and I was proved wrong. And I might be wrong again.

      3. Poe’s law is infallible

  2. Well, I guess Ferrari are a bit of a pressure to them not to mess up their hot laps and end up behind one, or two of them on the 3rd row, yeah. But really, we all know that will be about the amount of their “danger”. Good to have a close field.

  3. Barry Bens (@barryfromdownunder)
    20th May 2021, 16:11

    “It’s surprising to see them improve so much, but that’s great, it means more competition.”

    1 day later: ‘WaIt tHaT wInG BeNdS aNd Is IlLeGaL’

    1. Can’t get over RBR being caught by their bottom?
      Oh pity

    2. There Is a YouTube comparing the Ferrari rear with the red bull with the same behavior indeed.
      Like the flexing front wing of the Mercedes it’s only a item when the heat is on.

      1. We can be sure that ‘flexy’ wing is not going to be used in Monaco as they need al the downforce they need.

  4. This reminds me of 2009. Ferrari suddenly turned up with the second fastest car after spending the first few races struggling to get points finishes, Kimi nearly beating Jenson to pole and finishing 3rd on Sunday. Also Kubica in 2010 with his mega quali lap and searing race pace to keep up with Vettel. Monaco throws up the odd strange result from time to time, and I love it.

  5. Neil (@neilosjames)
    20th May 2021, 16:54

    Monaco’s weird enough that you never know… Portimao aside, Leclerc’s been qualifying well this year, and Sainz is probably starting to get a feel for the car too. All they need is one great lap and they have a chance to win.

    1. And even just a podium would be an improvement, so far I think norris took the only podium chance for non-mercedes or red bull.

  6. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    20th May 2021, 17:29

    Oh well at least now we know Ferrari aren’t genuine threats. Thanks for the spoiler alert Mercedes.

  7. “The Ferraris are really strong,”

    Whenever Mercedes staff utter those code phrases we can only expect Mercedes 1-2 victory on Sunday.

    1. That is rather the feeling i got here!

  8. F1 really is the weirdest sport in the world….

    Mercedes: Ferrari look really quick!
    Ferrari: Red Bull and Mercedes both have more pace than they’re showing.
    Red Bull: Don’t look at us – we’re really struggling this year.

    Can you imagine it in any other sport?
    Muhammad Ali: “I’m probably going to lose. I’ll try hard but Fraizer is so fast and powerful.
    Usain Bolt: “Have you seen how fast the other guys are? I’ll just run my own race and hope to get a medal if I’m lucky”
    Cristiano Ronaldo: “I’m not as good as Messi.”

    1. @petebaldwin
      I see your point but it’s basicilly the same in every sport that involves more than one person. Football, ice hockey, basketball, volleyball… teams do that too. If you ask who is the best from Hamilton, Ronaldo, Gretzky, MJ or someone else they believe they are the best but also give credit to other athletes. But if you ask Mercedes, Juventus, La Kings, Chicago Bulls they will move the pressure to other teams and say that we are not the favorites.

    2. You obviously have not come across many football managers. :)

      1. And you are… LOL

  9. If any track is going to negate their engine disadvantage it would be Monaco. I hope Ferrari aren’t getting our hopes up for nothing again. It would be great to see them at least take a podium.

    1. This looks a bit weirdly. Once upon a time FE was full engine and less aero and chassis, if not zero. Now Monaco shows they ve got the best chassis on close tracks? Last year it was a drama with their tyre management, now they re on top of it? Guys it’s only FP, my though top teams sandbags a lot.

  10. Much better headline in there about how the track has been resurfaced leading to more grip and times are dropping.

    At least that’s a statement of fact and not speculation about the level of competition that may or may not be remotely correct.

  11. So I guess if by some miracle Mercedes should be up there come qualifying it will all about the drives..

  12. Perhaps Ferrari have got their setup to “work” with two fuel flow sensors.

  13. Analysis on Formula 1 site, taking into account fuel loads and tyres, puts Red Bull ahead of Mercedes and Ferrari, but only by a tenth or so.

  14. Mercedes pole and win. Easy.

  15. Haha, you’ve got to love these Merc guys, always downplaying themselves and sandbagging. If it isnt RB, now its Ferrari. Hahaha

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