Verstappen and Perez wary of threat from rivals’ one-lap pace in Monaco

2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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Red Bull’s drivers believe their vulnerability in qualifying could play into their rivals’ hands at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Although the team has made a dominant start to the season and goes into the sixth round undefeated, the RB19’s performance advantage has not been as great in qualifying as in the races. In the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, on a circuit with several slow corners where tyre warm-up is crucial, Charles Leclerc put his Ferrari on pole position for the sprint race and grand prix.

Max Verstappen predicted this weekend will be “a little bit more difficult and closer together” than recent races.

“We still have a good car,” he said. “Just trying to extract the most out of it.

“We know that over one lap it’s normally not our strongest point. But nevertheless we still took quite a few pole positions this year. So it’s still all possible but for sure here in Monaco there can always be quite a surprise.”

The unusual characteristics of the slow Monaco circuit may suit other cars better than the RB19, says Verstappen. “It’s just because of the corners being so tight and really quick changes of direction,” he said. “It’s really stop-start compared to most tracks, you have to combine a lot more. It’s a different technique.”

“The corners are so tight, so slow that you sometimes require a lot of different behaviour of the car compared to normal tracks, and also the way you have to drive it,” he added.

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“Sometimes your car works perfectly for these kind of conditions and sometimes it’s maybe not ideal. I prefer of course [that] I have a quick car on most of the tracks and maybe not ideal for Monaco. But it’s okay, it’s only one race on the calendar. We want to have a good result, I want to win of course, but if that is not the case, I just take the points.”

Ferrari locked out the front row of the grid for this race last year. Verstappen named Leclerc as a likely threat for pole position, but added “Carlos is also pretty handy around here.”

“Also I think Aston Martin they’re quite good in the low speed and in general,” he added. “They haven’t been as efficient on the straight so I guess here I think they can be close.”

Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez, last year’s race winner, also suspects Red Bull will face stronger competition from their rivals this weekend.

“We certainly know that is not our strongest circuit, that we will struggle to show our strengths,” he said. “But it’s still Monaco.

“I think come Saturday you really need a good warm-up on your tyre, that definitely is a key around here. I just have to say that it’s not our strongest circuit, but we will see. It’s still Monaco and anything can happen.”

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2023 Monaco Grand Prix

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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...
    Claire Cottingham
    Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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    2 comments on “Verstappen and Perez wary of threat from rivals’ one-lap pace in Monaco”

    1. I’d be happy if Charles finally won in Monaco, but I’m skeptical.
      Even if he qualified first, I fear Ferrari would find a way to screw him again via a strategic blunder, or he’d make an unforced error.
      I’m more confident about AM & Nando concerning possible pole-to-win conversion, although I think Checo could be the driver to beat this weekend.

      1. Yes, would be nice to see an upset such as leclerc\alonso on pole\making it to the win, I wouldn’t rule leclerc out even with his terrible monaco luck: verstappen always looked like something always happened to him in monaco, then in 2021 the first time he led a lap he also won, obviously like you said leclerc has to deal with ferrari’s pit wall too.

        Let’s say my biggest realistic hopes of a non-red bull pole are on leclerc, then if alonso finds himself in the right place he seems a more realistic candidate for a non-red bull win, I’m just not sure if the aston can be good enough yet to compete for pole, ferrari so far proved better on 1 lap.

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