F1 Analysis: The Magic of Monaco


There is no doubting that Mercedes have the fastest car over a single lap in Formula One at the moment. Today, Nico Rosberg made it three pole positions in a row, and four in a row for the Silver Arrows, after a scintillating lap time around the streets of Monte Carlo.

Additionally, for the second race in succession, he will be joined at the front by team mate Lewis Hamilton.

Rosberg in particular has been on it all weekend, topping all three practice sessions before qualifying fastest today. Those who doubted how the German would cope alongside Hamilton at the start of the season are quickly being proven wrong.

In fact, the only moment of doubt about the result on Saturday came courtesy of some light rain in Q1 and Q2. It gave Rosberg’s rivals a glimmer of hope with the Mercedes not looking quite as fast in the damp as it had in the dry.

Ultimately however, their luck just ran out. The rain eased off, the track dried out, and Q3 returned to normality. Red Bull pushed the German cars close, but came up short. Red Bull have won the last three Grands Prix here and are still in a good position to add a fourth victory tomorrow, with 2011 winner Vettel starting third, whilst the 2010 and 2012 winner, Mark Webber, starts fourth.

It is often said that qualifying is the most important part of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend. A front row start greatly increases your chance of winning Formula One’s most prestigious race, but there are clues to suggest that Mercedes may not have it all their own way tomorrow.

Last time out in Barcelona, Fernando Alonso defied the odds to take a commanding victory from the third row of the grid, a result that was in stark contrast to previous statistics from the Spanish race. Despite starting from the third row of the grid again, Alonso is under no illusion that it will be difficult to repeat that feat on race day, but will no doubt push the Mercedes and Red Bulls hard.

It will be an even harder race for Alonso’s team mate Felipe Massa, however. The Brazilian crashed heavily in the final practice session, meaning he was unable to set a time in qualifying. He will therefore start from stone dead last, the exact position Alonso started from in 2010. That day, Alonso was able to finish in the points after a chaotic race saw numerous safety car periods, and Massa no doubt will be hoping for a repeat of that tomorrow.

But the question that everyone has been asking all weekend has been whether Mercedes have finally found a way to manage their tyres better. Despite having qualified strongly in recent races, the trend has been that both drivers have gone backwards in the race.

Will that happen again? Some people believe it will and we’ll see a Monaco ’92 situation – only with a lot more cars in the train. Others think that Mercedes will try and work together to achieve victory with whoever is behind after the first corner attempting to back the pack up as the leader stretches an advantage.

Or maybe Mercedes will have found a cure for their tyre troubles, with the lower speed corners of Monaco preserving the life of the delicate Pirellis. Could Nico emulate his father’s success here in 1983? Or will Lewis record his first win for Mercedes, and his second around the streets of the principality?

We just don’t know. But then, that’s the magic of Monaco.

One thing is for certain though: you definitely don’t want to miss it. So cancel all your commitments and settle yourself down at 1pm tomorrow to witness what could be a stunner.