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Previously on TheJudge13:
After the washed out FP2 session on Thursday, the Formula One teams didn’t take long to get out and entertain some of the empty grandstands around the circuit. Raikkonen was on track and circulating to gather some information after his gearbox problem two days ago and was joined by the other teams shortly after.
By all accounts Ferrari are struggling with the soft tyre compound with the rear tyres being destroyed before the fronts are up to temperature and the team cannot get a good balance on the car. Why this should come as a surprise to anybody is remarkable, they haven’t been able to tune in the prancing mule in any session this year! Maybe Alonso’s practice start on Thrusday from an imagined 5th spot on the grid wasn’t dismissive of the team effort but an indication of where he feels he can qualify..
Other teams are reporting tyre warming issues throughout practice and they adopt the strategy of two warming up laps before setting the time on the third. Of course the rain would have washed away a considerable amount of rubber that had been impregnated into the tarmac and the short duration curves of the Monaco track do not indulge the drivers craving for downforce but the main suspicion was that Pirelli’s 2014 compounds are just too conservative. Of course, people only complain about the effectiveness of the tyres when they are not winning – except Hamilton also complains about his rear being loose through Tabac.
Young Ronnie Ericsson runs deep into Ste. Devote and proves to the watching world that Caterham goes as well in reverse as it does forwards. It would seem to imply that these mega torquey engines won’t be able to emulate the Red Bull spin celebrations from last year, or otherwise the French manufacturer is genuinely concerned with reliability. Either way, he reverses without using his mirrors – which would have been an instant fail in a driving test – and accelerates backwards towards the circuit as Rosberg appears at speed having just set the best time… One can only imagine the criticism if that had been sulky Pastor.
Elsewhere in the Prinicipality, Anthony Davidson pondered if Lewis had missed breakfast this morning as he was “obviously (yawn) hungrier” than his team-mate. When a snapshot of a portly Keke Rosberg was shown on screen it revealed that not only does he share traits with Vijay Mallya but it confirmed that Nico hasn’t eaten either – as Keke ate all the pies…
Vettel reported a speed limiter problem to the team, it was reading 52-56kph; Button needed his brakes readjusting and his camber changing – as ever he fiddles whilst Rome burns; “Marvellous Max’s Mapping” read the press release, as Marussia were testing an updated engine map to harvest more energy which had the effect of the pretty one missing the chicane on a few occasions; Rosberg has issues with part of the suspension at the rear of the car – his first confirmed reliability issue this year and finally Ted Kravitz lampooned the Red Bull team as they constructed a “ridiculous human wall” in front of their car as they made adjustments to their trick braking system. As he said, he just walked to the side to have a look…
Unsubstantiated rumours emerged that Giancarlo Minardi was sipping on an early morning Grappa down by the chicane. Word arrived that Red Bull sounded far less aggressive and had less wheelspin as it came out of the chicane compared to other Renault powered cars. The next corner being Tabac highlights which drivers have faith in their steed, both the Mercedes and the Bulls proving more committed through here.
At one stage Vettel charges into the corner and his rear tyres scream in protest – quite obviously his exhaust blowing technique hasn’t been un-learnt yet. Whilst Ricciardo flows around the circuit Vettel look positively scrappy yet the toothy one commented that his car felt disconnected compared to Thursday session.
By the end Hamilton was fastest with Red Bull amongst the Silver Arrows, yet a general feeling that Mercedes hadn’t pushed fell over the Principality. In the middle of the session, Hamilton aborted a lap that would have been quickest up to that point and came into the pits, his tyres 17 laps old…
|2||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:16.808||0.050||26|
|4||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:17.184||0.426||23|
|7||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:17.725||0.967||23|
|8||Nico Hulkenburg||Force India||1:18.074||1.316||21|
Team-mate comparison Table – Monaco FP3
Mercedes not commenting on Rosberg reports (GMM)
Mercedes says it is making no further comment about Nico Rosberg’s contract. Amid reports the German has inked a further two-year extension to his already five-season stay at the Brackley team, a Mercedes spokesman said: “We have long term relationships with both our drivers.” A spokesman also told Die Welt newspaper: “The rumour of a contract extension has been around since the first race in Australia. We have not commented so far, and that will continue,” he added.
Der Spiegel, meanwhile, said it made a similar enquiry to 28-year-old Rosberg’s management, who reportedly ‘did not deny’ the contract extension news. “They (Rosberg’s management) did not want to comment further,” Spiegel added.
Mercedes will hold a press conference in the Monaco paddock on Saturday morning, attended by title sponsor Petronas, Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche, team boss Toto Wolff and drivers Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. Wolff told Der Tagesspiegel newspaper that “conspiracy theories” about Mercedes favouring championship leader Hamilton over Rosberg for the 2014 title are not true. He insisted their contracts do not give either driver ‘number 1’ status.
“For us, they are both valuable, with their different personalities,” said Wolff. “They both speak to our customers in different ways.” And he said the pair will continue to enjoy a free run to the title, unfettered by team orders. “Of course, this includes all sorts of mind games and banana skins put in each other’s paths, but this is ok so long as they don’t throw them at the team,” said Wolff.
Dennis wants Alonso to lead McLaren’s Honda charge (GMM)
Former McLaren and Ferrari driver Alain Prost has some advice for those beleaguered F1 teams — “do something different. If you compare them to Red Bull and Mercedes, you see that Ferrari and McLaren have only continued to work in the same way as they always did,” the quadruple world champion is quoted by Spain’s Marca newspaper. “Sometimes you have to stop, make a plan and start again. Sometimes you have to do something different,” Prost added.
The F1 legend believes Ferrari’s problems can be traced back to “when Michael Schumacher left“, while McLaren’s decline began when Adrian Newey switched to Red Bull. According to swirling rumours in Monaco, McLaren could be looking to boost its fortunes ahead of the works Honda partnership in 2015 by making a swoop for Fernando Alonso.
“Fernando would be welcome back at McLaren,” McLaren ‘supremo’ Ron Dennis, who clashed so infamously with the Spaniard back in 2007, reportedly told the Italian press. “You’re surprised that I’m talking about Fernando? I don’t have any problem — the most important thing is for us to win again. In 2015 we have the Honda engine and we need a great driver.”
McLaren’s current lead driver, Jenson Button, was asked by Spain’s AS newspaper if Alonso will be at McLaren next year. “He has a Ferrari contract,” the smiling Briton replied. “Yes it would be a great challenge to have him as a teammate.”
According to two British F1 correspondents, there may be some truth to the Alonso rumours. Jonathan McEvoy, of the Daily Mail, cited ‘sources’ as he reported that ‘meetings’ have already taken place. And The Times’ Kevin Eason agreed that “It is an open secret that McLaren have approached Alonso”.
However, while Alonso has sounded frustrated with life at Ferrari recently, returning to struggling McLaren might not be at the top of his wish list. “I’m happy,” he told France’s L’Equipe. “I have a great life, I’m a Ferrari driver — it doesn’t get much better. A third title would be the icing on the cake for my career. So many great drivers have won three titles.”
Flavio Briatore, close to Alonso throughout his career, said in Monaco: “Fernando has a contract with Ferrari, so it’s out of the question to go elsewhere unless something extraordinary happens. He, like everyone else, has difficult moments, and like every driver he wants a competitive car, and he can’t solve the problems of an entire team by himself,” the Italian is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport.