Grand Prix of Monaco – Qualifying


Two weeks after the GP of Spain, F1 is in Monaco – one of my least favourite tracks because most times it’s a procession. BBC tried to defend the venue but their examples were 2016 (RIC lost the race because of a pit-stop mistake), 1988 (Senna hit the barrier at Portier when he slowed his pace because he had a huge lead), and 1996 (when there was a gaggle of mechanical issues) – none of those were won by exciting on-track battles.

But, like it or not, it’s the GP of Monaco this weekend. There’s a little news since Spain:

  • Turkey, which had replaced Canada for the June 11-13 weekend, was also dropped due to COVID quarantine constraints. As a result, the GP of France moved one week to make room for a second race at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria. I’ve posted an updated 2021 calendar to show the new schedule.
  • NOR signed a multi-year contract with McLaren, for the 2022 and 2023 seasons which matches RIC’s contract duration [FIA] [BBC]
  • The mental battle between HAM and VER escalated with HAM saying he believes VER “feels perhaps he has a lot to prove” and “I think I have done well to avoid all the incidents”; VER replied “I have nothing to prove and avoiding contact goes both ways. So we have done well.” [FIA] [BBC]
  • It’s two years since Niki Lauda died
  • McLaren unveiled their retro livery for this weekend [video] [photos]
    NOR’s helmet with goggles painted on [Twitter] – I like it so much I’ve made it the thumbnail for this post 🙂

  • It’s Williams’ 750th Grands Prix this weekend; they’ve added the names of 100 fans to the halo on RUS and LAT’s cars, and each team member will carry a number on their uniform showing how many races they’ve spent with the team [FIA]

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: PER (1:12.487), SAI, VER, GAS, HAM, BOT, NOR, VER, TSU, RAI
    LEC only managed a few laps before reporting gearbox problems and returning to the pits
    Ferrari tell SAI that teammate LEC is out of FP1 with gearbox problems but it’s not expected to affect SAI’s car
    ALO reports he “touched the wall in the last corner”; broke his front wing; VSC deployed [video]
    On his next run, ALO takes to the runoff area at Turn 1; RAI did the same
    SAI clipped the wall at the swimming pool; MAZ clipped a wall too but at least he didn’t spin

  2. FP2: LEC (1:11.684), SAI, HAM, VER, BOT, NOR, GAS, PER, GIO, VET
    Everyone except HAM rushes to leave the pits; all bar SAI are on medium compound tyres
    VER sets the initial target; HAM hits the same time
    TSU clips the wall but looks like he escaped any damage
    LAT struggles but keeps it out of the wall at the hairpin
    NOR shortcuts the chicane – bouncing over the sausage kerbs must hurt
    SCH hits the barrier out of Massenet; he’s got a puncture; tries to limp back to the pits but has to park the Haas; red flags mark an early end to FP2
    In a post-FP2 interview, VET said he got something in his eye which meant “it was just tears and tears and I was blinking the whole lap”

  3. FP3: VER (1:11.294), SAI, LEC, BOT, PER, NOR, HAM, RIA, GAS, VET
    There was some rain during the F2 support race earlier today, and the official forecast for FP3 is 40% chance of rain
    LEC runs off at Turn 1; brief yellow flags
    LAT hits the wall at the swimming pool; red flags suspend the session
    Despite saying “Now I know the limit” after hitting the wall in FP2 [FIA], SCH hits the wall again; this time the red flags mean FP3 will end early

An hour before Quali and Haas report they won’t be able to rebuild SCH’s car in time for him to take part in Q1; it will also require a new gearbox, which means a 5-place penalty
Williams, however, will have LAT’s car ready for Q1
Mercedes are making some setup changes to both cars

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Air temperature 19°C; track 34°C; it’s currently dry, overcast; 30% chance of rain during the Quali hour
RUS, TSU and LAT are first to leave the pits
RUS reports the tyres aren’t ready for a quick lap
RAI 1:14.091
GIO 1:13.429
NOR 1:12.676
(VER P2)
(GAS P2)
GIO 1:12.132
BOT 1:11.794
(STR P2)
(HAM P3)
VER 1:11.522
SAI 1:11.341
RAI runs wide at Turn 1; recovers
10mins left of Q1
NOR 1:11.321
VER 1:11.124
BOT 1:10.938
(LEC P2)
5mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are ALO, OCO, LAT, MAZ, SCH* (*No time for SCH because the Haas team are still rebuilding his car)
Incidentally, everyone is running of soft tyres
OCO P12, TSU to P16
ALO P16
LAT P16
Chequered flag; LAT, ALO, TSU, MAZ, SCH
TSU P16
ALO P17
Back of the grid: TSU, ALO, LAT, MAZ, SCH*
*SCH didn’t set a time (because his car is still in pieces) so he’ll have to appeal to the stewards to be allowed to race

Qualifying session 2
Queue of cars at pit exit, waiting for the lights to turn green
RAI 1:12.018
STR 1:11.876
VET 1:11.759
VER 1:11.040
LEC 1:11.039
SAI 1:10.806
(BOT P4)
(HAM P4)
(NOR P2)
VER 1:10.650
5mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are GIO, STR, OCO, RAI, RUS
The clouds seem to be growing
RUS P13
OCO P11
STR P11
Chequered flag; STR, OCO, GIO, RUS, RAI
RAI P11
LEC 1:10.597
STR P14, RIC P11
OCO P11
RUS P13
RIC P11
OCO P11
STR P13
Middle of the grid: OCO, RIC, STR, RAI, RUS

Top 10 shootout is between LEC, VER, BOT, SAI, PER, NOR, HAM, GAS, VET, GIO
They’ll all start the race on the soft tyres they used in Q2

Qualifying session 3
Everyone on soft again
GAS 1:11.796
VER 1:10.576
BOT P2
GIO P3
LEC P5
SAI P5
Order after first run: VER, BOT, GIO, GAS, NOR, VET, HAM, SAI, PER
SAI P3
LEC 1:10.346
HAM P5
GAS P5
BOT P3
5mins left of Q3; order is LEC, VER, BOT, SAI, NOR, GAS, HAM, VET, PER, GIO
The clouds continue to threaten
VER locks up into Portier but clears the corner
HAM taps the barrier before Portier
LEC into the wall coming out of the swimming pool – red flags, session ended
Front of the grid: LEC, VER, BOT, SAI, NOR, GAS, HAM, VET, PER, GIO

Well, before Quali started I posted (a bit tongue in cheek) in our work’s F1 group that the strategy could be “Set a quick lap time then park it across Rascasse?”
I doubt LEC did it deliberately but I still claim I almost predicted this 🙂

Interviews:
LEC: “It’s a shame to finish in the wall, it’s doesn’t feel the same but I’m incredibly happy about my lap.”; “I am worried about a penalty [for the gear box]. I’ve always been very unlucky here, so let’s just wait and see.”
VER: “Unfortunate to have the red flag. I felt really comfortable. No-one was putting in first laps, we planned to do two laps and the third fastest, but the red flag ruined the chance for pole.”
BOT: “It was disappointing not to get my last run in. That’s how it is sometimes. I left everything out there for the last one. The first run wasn’t enough for pole but I was feeling good after the second run. I’m gutted.”
HAM: “We go back to the drawing board now. There is a lack of grip, so that leaves you to overdrive the car and unfortunately it just didn’t improve.”
Christian Horner: “The more cars between us and Lewis at the moment is only a good thing.”

Provisional grid: LEC, VER, BOT, SAI, NOR, GAS, HAM, VET, PER, GIO, OCO, RIC, STR, RAI, RUS, TSU, ALO, LAT, MAZ, SCH*
*SCH didn’t set a time so he’ll have to appeal to the stewards to be allowed to race

We’ll need to wait and see what happens when Ferrari rebuild LEC’s car – if they have to replace the gearbox then he’ll get a penalty that hands pole to VER.
Mattia Binotto: “We are worried, we are checking it – it is too early to tell.”

It’s the first time HAM hasn’t qualified in the top six for the best part of three years. He started 14th at the German Grand Prix in 2018, but did go on to win that day. [stat from FIA’s feed]

[2021 calendar] [2021 line-up] [Points standings]