Ferrari have had a less than stellar start to the season. 3 DNF’s in 5 races have been the result of some ‘bad luck’ but the reality is that Red Bull Racing are just 15 points behind them and given the form from the last race in Barcelona, the red team are set for another tough weekend in the principality.
Ferrari’s qualifying form in Spain was dismal, and they spent the morning of the following test looking for explanations which saw Sebastian Vettel top the time charts at close of play. Yet Red Bull Racing, Ferrari’s closest challengers, proved on day 2 of the test that Ferrari are still well within their grasp.
The finishing positions for the Monaco GP of course are mostly decided on Saturday afternoon and if McLaren’s performance through sector 3 at the Circuit de Catalunya is maintained, then Ferrari could be staring down the barrel of P7/P8 on the grid.
As Jonathan Noble recently observed, “Analysis of the qualifying pace through here [sector 3] for the Spanish Grand Prix therefore gives a good pointer to the merits of each chassis, and shows why McLaren has reason to be bullish ahead of the [Monaco] weekend.”
Taking each team’s best times from qualifying, Mercedes are quickest through this twisty section of track without any long straight to speak of, then next up was Red Bull followed by McLaren – a further 2 hundredths back. Ferrari worryingly were almost half a second slower through the final sector than Mercedes and if this translates into pace around the streets of the principality, the pressure will continue to increase on the Scuderia.
Add to this the fact that Honda’s Hasegawa said in Spain that Fernando and Jenson were not happy with the car: “The drivers were always complaining about the rear stability and traction,” he said. “Because of that I didn’t fully understand out our car performance”.
If Red Bull mount a serious challenge to Mercedes and either Jenson or Fernando get in amongst the Ferrari’s we could well see a change in the constructors top three by the time the party in Monaco is over.