Rumour from the Barcelona Paddock has it that Fernando Alonso was spotted with Ferrari management – adding to the story today we have the Spanish Media purporting that a secret meeting had indeed occurred.
Diario Gol claim the two parties met at the Barcelona Grand Prix and terms were laid on the table for a potential switch back to Ferrari for 2019. Alonso’s manager Flavio Briatore has been pulling strings to take Alonso to Ferrari next year.
Clearly a remarkable move if it were to happen, but also unlikely. The red team favour Sebastian Vettel; but one thing to bear in mind is that the German has many some critical errors and also mandates that Kimi Raikkonen partner him in the other car. Kimi isn’t getting any younger and it is said that senior management in Maranello are keeping a very close eye on their number 1’s performance this season. In a car with the performance to beat Mercedes, they expect him to deliver this season.
Alonso also expects his team at McLaren to start delivering stating that “I think it will depend on us,” in terms of getting the car closer to the front.
“It’s not like in the past [with Honda] when we needed a mix of a lot of things to get it right; we were missing reliability, we were missing race pace, and sometimes deployment, sometimes aero, sometimes mechanical grip – there were many things to fix.” said Alonso.
“Now we know that on the power unit side we have the same engines as Red Bull, so it’s all on us, the chassis development, to close that gap.”
In terms of Monaco this weekend, both McLaren and Fernando expect to continue reaping in good points, potentially getting a lot closer to the sharp end of the field.
“I’m looking forward to getting behind the wheel there for the first time in two years and seeing how our car performs.” says the Spaniard.
“Simply because of the level of skill and concentration you need to get around lap after lap 78 times, as well as negotiating the traffic, strategy, weather and everything else this crazy race throws at you.”
First practice starts tomorrow at the Principality.
What to expect from the Monaco Grand Prix
A Ferrari title bounce back, a Red Bull fight to the wire, or a Mercedes struggle? How about all 3? Ferrari must surely be disappointed to have not converted their early season form into a championship lead, but Monaco offers them a chance to get a big bunch of points back. Ferrari were the class of the field here last year, but to repeat that success they will have to beat Red Bull, who will surely fancy their chances at the tight circuit, which will minimise the impact of the power deficit their Renault supplied engine has compared to the rival Ferrari and Mercedes units, while allowing the RB14 to show off its strengths around the slower twisty circuit.
Max Verstappen has unfinished business around the streets, having shown flashes of brilliance but also a worrying tendency to exceed the limit at the Monaco Grand Prix – a trait that is not likely to end well given the proximity of barriers the length of the lap. For Daniel Ricciardo, the memory a win lost to a botched pit stop in 2016 must still haunt him, and given the right machinery we can expect Ricciardo to be in the thick of the action this weekend. For Mercedes, last year was a real struggle, and they will be hoping that this time around their car will be more predictable. And what can the rest of the field expect at the Monaco Grand Prix?
McLaren look to have closed the gap, well, to the front of the midfield anyway, and Fernando Alonso cannot be ruled out of taing advantage of any trouble that might befall he regular front runners as he makes his return to the Monaco Grand Prix, having skipped last year’s race to head to the Indy 500 instead. A podium for McLaren? Not very likely without a serious incident ahead, but anything is possible at Monaco. Force India’s mechanics will certainly be prepared for a busy weekend, as Segio Perez has a tendency to try to create the impossible at the tight track.
Romain Grosjean will be hoping he can end his points drought, and a clean opening lap will be essential if he is to deliver a much needed result. Rising star Charles Leclerc will again be worth keeping an eye on from the midfield, and managing to bag any points in his home race for Sauber would definitely make a big impression on the Ferrari hierarchy.
Ayrton Senna holds the record for most Monaco Grand Prix wins with six, of the starting field the title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have won here twice each, as has former title contender Fernando Alonso, while Kimi Raikkonen grabbed his sole victory at the Monaco Grand Prix all the way back in 2005 for McLaren.
Last year’s race saw Ferrari finally end their Monaco victory drought, getting their first win at the Monaco Grand Prix since Michael Schumacher triumphed in 2001. They got the result they wanted, a 1-2 in qualifying and a 1-2 in the race, and they got it in the order they wanted too, with Sebastian Vettel seeming to benefit from the superior race strategy to jump team mate and polesitter Kimi Raikkonen for the victory. Ferrari favouring Vettel? Surely not! Kimi’s mid race lack of pace, which to a suspicious mind could have looked like an attempt to back up his team mate, didn’t help him, as Ferrari hauled him into the pits and allowed Vettel circulate long enough on his original set of Ultra’s to grab the lead. Kimi seemed positively disinterested from that point on for some reason.
To be fair, Daniel Ricciardo got the jump on team-mate Max Verstappen through a similar strategy offset, but in Red Bulls case, they were applying a pincer move to grab third place from the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas. So in that case the strategy paid off for Red Bull, and one has to feel the Ferrari pit wall felt it paid off as well for them! SO Ricciarddo cam home third from Bottas, Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton coming through to take seventh, behind the Renault of Carlos Sainz, with Lewis doing as much as he could to recover after a terrible Saturday on a track where overtaking is all bar impossible.
The first Monaco Grand Prix was held in 1929, with William Grover-Williams taking the victory in a Bugatti. The Monaco Grand Prix was part of the inaugural Formula One World Championship in 1950, with Juan Manuel Fangio winning for Alfa Romeo. The race did not feature in the F1 calendar for the next 4 years, but returned in 1955, and has been present ever since, the longest continuous presence on the F1 calendar of any circuit.
While other traditional European circuits are under pressure to retain their status on the calendar, the thought of Formula One without Monaco seems impossible to imagine, like Formula one without Ferrari.
The basic layout of the track has had relatively few modifications over the years. From 1955 to 1962 the start finish straight was located alongside the harbour, with the old Gasworks hairpin the first corner. This was moved to its current location in 1963, after a marshal was killed following a collision at the Gasworks hairpin in the 1962 grand prix.
1973 saw the largest changes to the track layout, after the swimming pool in the harbour was built. The swimming pool section was revised with additional corners added to the circuit after Tabac, and Gasworks hairpin was removed, with the track now feeding into the new final corners of La Rascasse and Anthony Noghes (named after the president of the Automobile Club de Monaco responsible for introducing the grand prix). The tunnel was extended significantly due to construction of the hotel.
In 2004, following land reclamation from the harbour, the pit complex was upgraded with the track layout altered by removing the inside barrier at Ste Devote and the merging of the pit exit moved to after the corner.
As a street circuit, the track is set each year in time for the grand prix, taking some 6 weeks to set up. That’s hardly surprising given that some 33 kilometres of safety rails, 20,000 square meters of wire catch fencing, 3,600 tyres for tyre barriers and 1,100 tonnes of grandstand seating for spectators are used in the construction of the circuit.
The circuit is the shortest on the F1 calendar at just 3.34 km, and is also the slowest. It boasts the slowest corner on the F1 calendar, the hairpin, taken at around 50 kph. There is some 41.8 m elevation change over the 19 turns on the track.
Despite the slow speed of the circuit, it is one of the most mentally demanding on the calendar, with the barriers every present as the drivers hurtle through the tight and sometimes bumpy streets, blast from the dark tunnel out in the glaring Monegasque sunlight, and navigate blind corners with the threat of a blocked road from a collision ever present.
From pole position there is a short sprint to the first corner, the right handed Ste Devote. There is likely to be fireworks here at the start as the drivers know that if they are behind a car coming out of Ste Devote they are unlikely to find a way by any time soon. With the DRS activation zone on the start/finish straight Ste Devote is as likely a place to see overtaking as any, and it will surely see plenty of action, and probably carbon fibre if previous years are any indicator. Last year saw plenty of action here both during and after the safety car deployment, as first Marcus Ericsson went off here all by himself when trying to unlap himself under the safety car last year (no, Romain Grosjean was not in the vicinity!), while Sergio Perez pushed his Force India past the McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne, on the restart, leaving Vandoorne nowhere to go but into the wall, while Daniel Ricciardo was lucky to avoid damage after running a bit too hot into the corner and making contact with the wall on the restart.
After Ste Devote the track climbs uphill through Beau Rivage, flicking left then right on this tight straight before winding left through the long Massenet corner (the barriers here claimed Max Verstappen’s Red Bull back in 2016), passing the Opera House then dipping down into the right hander Casino, the circuit rising through the corner (the highest point on the circuit). From here the cars snake right and left to avoid a large bump before dipping into a tight right hander Mirabeau (where Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull bumped its way past Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari in 2015).
From Mirabeau the cars dart downhill into the Hairpin. The hairpin is often viewed as the best opportunity for overtaking, with Adrian Sutil in particular making a number of successful moves in 2013 and 2014.
From the hairpin the cars snake downhill into Portier, a double right hander leading into the tunnel. Jenson Button made a one off return for McLaren at the Monaco Grand Prix last year, and Sauber and Pascal Wehrlein probably wished he hadn’t, as a frustrated Button made an ill advised move here on lap 60, tipping the Sauber up onto two wheels and into the barriers, with Wehrlein trapped inside the car as it lay on its edge against the wall!
The cars then disappear into darkness in the through the tunnel (the tunnel itself not being immune to Monaco crashes, with Juan Pablo Montoya taking out Michael Schumacher in 2004 under safety car – wiping out Schumacher’s unbeaten start to the season in the process).
The drivers emerge into the sunlight and must brake hard for the chicane, watching out for bumps. The chicane represents another potential overtaking opportunity (Sergio Perez crunch with Kimi Raikonnen in 2013 an example of how not to get the job done!). The chicane will also test the resolve of the stewards, with drivers frequently tempted to cut the chicane when under pressure.
Out of the chicane the cars have a short straight before hitting the left hander Tabac.
Out of Tabac the cars squirt up to the swimming pool, a fast left right followed by a further slower right left chicane.
The DRS detection zone is after the swimming pool, with the track winding into a left hander leading into the Rascasse, a tight right handed turn before the final corner. Sergio Perez bundled his Force India into the Toro Rosso of the unfortunate Daniil Kvyat here last year, and it was also here that Michael Schumacher controversially ‘parked’ his car in qualifying in 2006 to prevent Alonso from getting pole – for which Schumacher would be sent to the back of the grid as penalty.
Out of Rascasse the course bends right again through the final corner named after Anthony Noghes, and back onto the start finish straight with the DRS activation zone, offering another slight hope to overtake heading into Ste Devote.
TYRES WITH PIRELLI:
The brand new P Zero Pink hypersoft compound, which in testing has shown itself to be about a second a lap quicker than the ultrasoft, makes its competition debut in Monaco alongside the two other softest compounds in the Pirelli Formula 1 line-up: ultrasoft and supersoft. With Monaco requiring a high level of mechanical grip but putting the least stress on a tyre of any track all year, the prestigious street circuit is ideal territory for the softest and fastest Formula 1 tyres available.
THE CIRCUIT FROM A TYRE POINT OF VIEW
- Monaco is all about generating as much grip from tyres and downforce settings as possible, being the shortest and slowest lap of the year (with the hairpin being the slowest corner).
- As a street circuit that’s open to normal traffic outside the sessions (with a day off on Friday), there is frequently a ‘green’ and slippery surface, with a variable pattern of track evolution.
- Monaco has nearly always been a one-stopper under normal circumstances: it remains to be seen whether or not the use of the new hypersoft will alter this trend in any way.
- Wear and degradation rates are generally the lowest of the year: it’s an easy track on tyres.
- It’s one of the circuits where it’s hardest to overtake, so qualifying is all-important, but there’s a reasonably high risk of a safety car too; which can obviously affect race strategy.
- Weather can vary at this time of year; a wet Monaco is one of the biggest challenges in F1.
MARIO ISOLA – HEAD OF CAR RACING
“We’ve tested the hypersoft in Abu Dhabi and Barcelona: of those two, Abu Dhabi is a better comparison to Monaco and there we saw that the hypersoft was worth about a second per lap than the ultrasoft; so we could see some more records broken this weekend. Nonetheless, the hypersoft is definitely a race tyre rather than a qualifying tyre, so it will be interesting to see how it adapts itself to the unique demands of Monaco, and what effect it has on strategy. Collecting as much data about it as possible in free practice will be particularly important. The drivers have all each nominated between eight and 11 sets of hypersoft, so we should see plenty of running on it throughout the weekend, if it stays dry of course.”
- The Pink hypersoft makes its debut, exactly two years after the Purple ultrasoft was first seen – also in Monaco. Both were named by fans on social media.
- There are some new two-storey pit buildings, making life a bit easier for mechanics.
MIN. STARTING PRESSURES (slicks)
EOS CAMBER LIMIT 17.5 psi (front) | 17.5 psi (rear) -4.00° (front) | -2.75° (rear)
MEMORABLE MOMENTS FROM MONTE CARLO:
1982 – This race became very confusing to follow as the lead changed on so many occasions. Initially Alain Prost and Riccardo Patrese were battling at the front but a rain storm caused chaos. Prost crashed into the barriers and Patrese spun, but was able to restart his car.
Didier Pironi inherited the lead but ran out of fuel, as did Andrea de Cesaris. Derek Daly then lead for a while until his gearbox packed in. This brought Patrese back into contention and evenutally took the flag for his first victory in Formula One.
1984 – A controversial finish to the race saw Alain Prost leading in atrocious weather, being chased down by a young Ayrton Senna in his debut year. Senna set a blistering pace and came to pass Prost just as the race was red-flagged. Finishing positions were taken from the previous lap which denied him a sensational victory.
1992 – Nigel Mansell in the all conquering Williams was set for an easy victory before having to make an unscheduled pitstop as a result of a loose wheel nut. This allowed Senna to take the lead and set up one of the most iconic battles in the history of the sport.
Mansell was much faster and hassled the Brazilian all the way to the flag, but Senna was able to hold him back to take one of his six victories in the Principality.
1996 – An amazing race which holds the record for the least number of finishers in a Grand Prix. Olivier Panis in the Ligier took his one and only victory ahead of David Coulthard and Johnny Herbert. Every other driver failed to finish through a combination of slippery conditions and mechanical failure, although seven drivers were classified due to a finishing position count-back from a last lap pile-up.
2008 – Lewis Hamilton grazed the barriers and punctured his tyre on the sixth lap. He had to pit from the lead of the race and under normal conditions all would be lost. His McLaren team gambled on a strategy that relied on the weather changing and an advantageous safety car period neutralised the field. Luckily for him the gamble paid off and Lewis won the race against the odds. Read more
2014 – A storming performance in the midfield witnessed Jules Bianchi claim Marussia’s first Grand Prix points with a ninth place finish – crossing the line in eight place but losing a spot after a time penalty for being out of position on the grid. The highlight of the drive being a daring move on the rival Caterham of Kamui Kobayashi at Rascasse.
F2 leads the supporting races, while the Porsche Supercup and Formula Renault Eurocup 2.0 will also run, so there will be plenty of entertainment in the background.
The F2 season is starting to take shape, with McLaren junior and leading candidate for a 2019 F1 seat Lando Norris still leading the way after a pair of 3rd places in Spain. Mercedes George Russel is the man in form however, and his feature race win in Spain sees him start to make up the lost ground, as he is up to third in the standings, just behind Azerbaijan feature race winner Alex Albon. Renault junior Jack Aitken won the sprint race in Spain, and is now in sixth place in the standings, just behind Nyck de Vries and Sergio Sette Camarra.
|2012||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault|
|2011||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault|
|2010||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault|