Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Miami International Autodrome, 2023

Alonso’s win ‘possibility’ in the principality and four more Monaco GP talking points

2023 Monaco Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

After the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix was cancelled, Formula 1 instead heads to Monaco for the slowest and shortest race of the 2023 season.

Last year, Sergio Perez won Formula 1’s most famous event for the first time, holding off two Ferraris and team mate Max Verstappen for two-thirds of the race. But after a controversial spin in qualifying, Verstappen was unimpressed with his team mate, leading to one of few flashpoints between the two Red Bull drivers.

Will the two championship leaders have another flare-up between them this weekend in Monte Carlo? Here are the talking points for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Alonso’s best chance of victory?

Aston Martin and Fernando Alonso could not have hoped to enjoy such a strong start to the 2023 season as they have in the first five rounds. Alonso has only failed to finish on the podium once all season – in Baku – and is sitting alone in third in the drivers’ championship on 75 points.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Miami International Autodrome, 2023
Alonso has four podiums from five rounds
But while four podiums are beyond what anyone would likely have expected from Alonso’s first five weekends in British Racing Green, many are wondering if the team could possibly compete head-to-head against the Red Bulls for a race win – over ten years since his last.

Team principal Mike Krack believes that the team’s AMR23 is better suited to a tight and slower circuit like Monaco than lower downforce tracks.

“We have shortcomings on very long straights, it’s no secret,” Krack said. “On tracks where this doesn’t count as much is where we can have more confidence, but being fast in these races isn’t everything. You have to be fast, you have to finish, not make mistakes and then see what the result is.”

Alonso himself is also bullish about the kind of performance he could put on this weekend. “After four podiums we want obviously more,” he said after finishing third in Miami. “And at least a second place.

“But the two Red Bulls, they are always unbreakable and they are always super-fast. But as I said, maybe Monaco, maybe Barcelona we have a possibility.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Red Bulls lock horns

The story of the 2023 season so far – at least at the front of the field – has been the domination of the two Red Bull drivers. Five races down, five victories between the pair – two for Perez and three for championship leader Verstappen.

Perez’s qualifying crash last year prompted speculation
Despite the two team mates appearing to be the sole contenders for this year’s world championship, there has been a distinct lack of tension among the two. Even at the last round in Miami, where Verstappen hunted down Perez to pass him for the victory, it was all smiles on the podium. A picture of harmony and happiness.

That was not the case near the end of last season, when tempers flared between the two at Interlagos, when Verstappen refused a direct order to allow Perez back through on the final lap of the grand prix after Perez had been asked to move aside to let Verstappen attack Alonso. Perez was disgusted, but Verstappen implied he had his reasons for being so selfish.

While he never admitted it and Red Bull certainly did not confirm it, reports after the race suggested that Verstappen’s action was retribution for an incident at last year’s Monaco Grand Prix, when Perez spun out on his final qualifying lap, triggering a red flag that just so happened to secure him third on the grid, one ahead of Verstappen. After a brilliant strategic call in the race, Perez went on to lead a pack of four over the final two-thirds of the race and win.

Perez has since won three more races and all at street circuits – Singapore, Jeddah and Baku. But Verstappen took the win last time out in Miami. Both Red Bull drivers will head into this weekend confident that they can fight for victory – but only one of them can come out on top.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Leclerc’s hometown luck

Given that only around 10,000 people on the planet are citizens of the tiny city state, it is remarkable that Monaco has produced one of the most prominent drivers on the modern Formula 1 grid. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is one of only three F1 drivers to ever race under the flag of the principality of Monaco – and by far the most successful of the trio.

Pit stop confusion cost Leclerc dear last year
Despite achieving more in the sport by the age of 25 than most F1 drivers ever do in their entire career, Leclerc has largely had a miserable time at his home grand prix, never visiting the podium in four attempts and retiring from the race more than any other venue on the calendar.

He crashed out in his first race in 2018 due to brake failure, taking Brendon Hartley with him. In 2019, he started 15th after a tactical error by his team meant he was eliminated in Q1, then clashed with Nico Hulkenberg which put him out of the race.

He took a stunning pole in 2021, but largely due to crashing at the end of the session (a bit of a theme in Monaco) and was unable to take his pole position at the start of the race when he headed out of the garage on Sunday only to discover his driveshaft was broken.

Last year was supposed to be Leclerc’s year. Starting from pole position, the race began in wet but drying conditions. He was brought into the pits to switch from wet tyres to intermediates, dropping him from the lead to third. Then when he pitted a few laps later for dry tyres, he did so directly behind his team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr. By the time he was back out on track, Leclerc was down in fourth – and would remain there for the rest of the race.

This year, Ferrari will struggle to secure their third consecutive Monte Carlo pole, given the speed of the Red Bulls so far this season. But for Leclerc, even getting to finish the race on the podium will be a victory in itself.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Upgrades galore

For weeks, teams have been working day and night back at their factories to design and manufacture major upgrades for their 2023 cars in order to introduce them for the first triple header of the season.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Miami International Autodrome, 2023
Mercedes will bring their Imola upgrades to Monaco
That meant they were supposed to have already raced them last weekend. However, the cancellation of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix denied teams the opportunity to get vital real world data on all their new parts around a permanent race circuit like Imola. Instead, teams’ first chance to fit them on their cars will be at the slowest, tightest, bumpiest and least-representative circuit on the calendar.

Some teams, like Ferrari, have decided to delay some of their new parts until next weekend at Barcelona. Others, like Mercedes, are ploughing ahead with their development plans and introducing a swathe of new parts in Monte Carlo after already having them installed onto their cars prior to the cancelled Imola weekend.

With the midfield especially close this season, the delaying of these upgrades could have a important yet invisible hand over how the championship plays out at the end of the season, whether it is the top or the bottom of the table. While expecting major changes to the pecking order this weekend or even the next would be foolish, there will certainly be some teams who leave Monaco either more or less confident about their chances over the rest of the season.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

New look

For years, the Monaco Grand Prix has been notorious among fans. Not for the lack of overtaking – for the subpar TV production that made the race incredibly frustrating to watch for fans across the world.

(L to R): Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes; Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Monaco, 2022
Fans might see more action this year
From phantom yellow flag graphics that never get explained to camera angles that emphasise advertising boards over the cars on track, the viewing experience has never been the best during the Monaco weekend. Who could forget, of course, the infamous moment in 2021 when the world feed cut away from Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly side-by-side heading up the hill to show a replay of tenth-placed Lance Stroll missing the Swimming Pool chicane?

The reason the Monaco coverage has been so poor compared to others has been largely because of a rare quirk with the event. While coverage of all over races is produced by Formula One Management itself, the Monaco rounds have always been produced by local company Tele Monte Carlo. That is no longer the case, however, as when Monaco Grand Prix organisers signed a three-year extension with F1 to continue to host the race until 2025, the deal gave F1 the right to run the broadcasts of the race, putting it in line with all other races on the calendar.

Even if the race does not have the same level of action or volume of passing as other races will this season, hopefully fans will finally get to see every moment of drama that does happen during the race.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Are you going to the Monaco Grand Prix?

If you’re heading to Monaco for this weekend’s race, we want to hear from you:

Who do you think will be the team to beat in the Monaco Grand Prix? Have your say below.

And don’t forget to enter your predictions for this weekend’s race. You can edit your predictions until the start of qualifying:

2023 Monaco Grand Prix

    Browse all 2023 Monaco Grand Prix articles

    Author information

    Will Wood
    Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

    Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

    22 comments on “Alonso’s win ‘possibility’ in the principality and four more Monaco GP talking points”

    1. Can’t wait to see who brings out a yellow or red to secure their grid position in this year’s qualifying.

      1. Lance Stroll is not that much different from Nelson Piquet Jr if you think about it… ;)

    2. This year, Ferrari will struggle to secure their third consecutive Monte Carlo pole, given the speed of the Red Bulls so far this season.

      The RB19 faces challenges in heating up the tires, especially in cooler conditions expected during the Monaco weekend. In Monaco all the teams are expected to throw as much downforce they could into the car without worrying about drag, though RBR will still be easier on the tyres than other teams. This advantage is rooted in their suspension type, geometry, and their ability to maintain a consistent airflow and strategically stalling the rear wing, beam wing, and the diffuser.

      On the other hand Ferrari were mighty in Baku especially in sector 2 due to their ability to put more energy into the tyres which is the reason they’re losing in races. Also lately, they’ve shown good pace out of the traction zones. Leclerc is a one lap ace. If he can stay out of trouble and deliver those special qualy laps, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on pole.

      Alonso arrives in Monaco as the favourite, thanks to Aston Martin’s exceptional performance in slow corners, particularly in terms of traction. This marks the first time since 2007 that he is regarded as the frontrunner to win in Monaco. Even during his time with Ferrari in 2010, he didn’t hold the favourite status due to Red Bull Racing’s blistering qualifying pace with the RB6, particularly in early races like Barcelona.

      1. Coventry Climax
        23rd May 2023, 22:41

        If he can stay out of trouble and deliver those special qualy laps, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on pole.

        Doesn’t that apply to at least half of the drivers?

    3. I’m not mentally prepared to witness Alonso’s possible win.

      1. @qeki

        I don’t think I’ll be able to handle it either. A decade and a retirement after his last win… that would be epic. I’m not getting my hopes up though.. I still expect Max to be favourite here, followed by Leclerc and Perez. I think Alonso has a good shot at the podium, but I can’t see him qualifying higher than P3.

      2. I will cry and scream as if my country won the World Cup.

        The last 8 years in the life of Alonso’s fan:

        2015 – oh no, that McLaren is rubbish
        2016 – oh no, that McLaren is rubbish
        2017 – oh no, that McLaren is rubbish
        2017 – Indy500, oh no, Nano can’t get a break :((
        2018 – oh no, that McLaren is rubbish
        2018 – WEC – Wow, Nando smiles again
        2019 – WEC – Wow, Nando smiles again
        2019 – Indy500, oh no, this is terrible
        2020 – Indy500, oh no, this is terrible
        2020 – Dakar – Hah, that’s nice
        2021 – oh no, that Alpine is rubbish
        2022 – oh no, that Alpine is is getting rubbish
        2023 – WOW! That Aston Martin is not rubbish at all!

        1. 2019 Lemans was a joke win. Almost as bad as Singapore 08

          1. Which year was it he drove in the dark and brought them back to the front after a Buemi error?
            What a fantastic drive – he wanted to keep driving but his team brought him in. Epic!!

            1. Alonso did a blistering night stint in the 2018 24 Hours Lemans. He reduced the gap to the other Toyota from 3 minutes to 40s which was crucial for the win.

            2. He didn’t watch it. He probably read the comments section where people complained ablut how much faster the Toyota were than the rest. But he has no clue what Alonso did thay night. It was special and everyone at WEC said so.

          2. Just look at how many laps Toyota completed in that race. It’s on par with other wins of other manufacturers. Toyota didn’t hold it back; they pushed to the limit. Also, there was stats with Alonso being about 3 tenth of a second faster per lap than the second guy. Which is a lot.

    4. As long as the winning car doesn’t have a leaping bull on it, I’ll be happy.

    5. Red Bull have to be the favourites, given their form so far this year and the fact that Monaco is historically one of their stronger tracks.

      But, if anyone can beat them to pole position, I can foresee a Rosberg 2013-style performance to frustrate the Red Bulls and potentially deliver a win for someone else. Mercedes again, most likely, but don’t rule out Ferrari given their single-lap pace.

    6. My take is that Monaco is probably the only track that a team other than RBR can win because pole there is king.
      The big question though is will those with a good enough car overdo things in qualy and throw away the chance like so many have before.

      Could end up being a darn good race if someone else takes pole and have the RBR cars harassing them for the entire race. And yes it is possible to overtake in Monaco.

      1. Indeed, it’s important that someone else takes pole (leclerc probably favourite, maybe some chance for alonso but I don’t know if the aston can compete in quali), and indeed there’s rare possibilities of overtake, especially at the chicane after the tunnel, plus let’s not forget if you have more pace, like red bull will during the race, it’s possible to overcut.

    7. RandomMallard
      23rd May 2023, 13:47

      I was just thinking, when was the last time the race in Monaco wasn’t preceded by Catalunya? I remember Barcelona’s S3 was always regarded as good testing ground for Monaco due to it’s tight and twisty nature, a point rendered moot this year both by Spain coming after Monaco, and no longer using the chicane at the end of the lap in Barcelona.

      1. My mind immediately went to 1999, the first season I watched and indeed monaco was before spain that time, so it’s not to exclude it might’ve happened more recently too.


        Also see how tiny the calendar was compared to nowadays? I was shocked when I saw it and thought they forgot to add some race!

      2. Monaco was held prior to Spain in 1999, as @esploratore1 mentioned. The Spain-Monaco combination though started only in 2004, as before that it was split by either the Nürburgring (in 2000) or Austria (the other years). Turkey also had a one-off slot in between them in 2008. But either way, since Spain didn’t get that chicane until 2007, it was basically since then that the teams had that added interest in doing well in S3 in Spain.

    8. Alonso’s best chance of victory? – Maybe or certainly if he somehow gets pole position.
      Red Bulls lock horns – Checo could be the driver to watch for, but either way around is viable.
      Leclerc’s hometown luck – Hopefully, he’d finally be more lucky, especially if he somehow manages qualify first.
      Upgrades galore – Yes, but of course, the impacts will be more minimized than they would’ve been in Imola & will be in Montmelo.
      New look – Race direction quality should definitely improve, which I’m hopeful about.

      1. I think leclerc should have a serious chance on pole if he pulls out one of his traditional laps, ferrari has been more competitive in quali so far, then however it’s such a curse at his home grand prix that I don’t discount something could happen to ruin his race again even if he gets pole.

      2. Alonso indeed should have more chance to win than leclerc if he gets pole, but I don’t know if the aston has the quali pace for it.

    Comments are closed.