Mercedes Handles Qualifying in Monaco!
What a spectacular sequence of events these past few days. With an arousing Free Practice 2 on Thursday and an electrifying Qualifying Session this morning, the stage is set to have a nail biter tomorrow for the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix.
The big news today, Mercedes‘ front row performance and the on-and-off weather. Mercedes secures the front row for tomorrow’s race amongst trying slick conditions, followed by a pouty Sebastian Vettel and an eager Mark Webber. The reputation of the 2013 Mercedes car as a Saturday banzai qualifier lives on for another week as Nico Rosberg secures yet another pole position. This makes it 4-in-a-row for the Mercedes AMG team, and a personal best 3-in-a-row for Rosberg. Keke Rosberg (Nico’s father) won the Monaco Grand Prix 30 years ago, which only adds to the suspense today in Monte Carlo. The real challenge will be to keep the Mercs’ ahead of the field as the race goes on – rear tire degradation will certainly be pivotal tomorrow morning.
Lewis Hamilton will sit at the #2 spot, but doesn’t look happy to be trumped once again by Rosberg. In the post-qualifying interview Hamilton said he was yet again “struggling with the car”, but still edged out enough tenths to push Vettel to the third spot at the end of Q3. Vettel will sit one spot above his fellow teammate, Mark Webber, but you wouldn’t know that from their post-qualifying interview. Vettel was quite displeased with his performance today, conversely Webber was in good spirits after qualifying. Both RBR drivers addressed the strength of Mercedes’ outright speed, but Webber chided “we’re ready to pounce”, and they will have the perfect position on the grid for that move.
Row Three will sit Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus aside Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari, with both cars looking twitchy and uneasy during today’s qualifying. Both constructors had trouble with their #2 men on Saturday as well. Romain Grosjean had a second crash in free practice on Thursday which kept the car out of the first 16 minutes of Q1. With 4 minutes left of Q1, Lotus engineers got Grosjean out of the pits and he promptly set a fastest lap. During Q2, he retired to 13th position on the grid. Grosjean should feel lucky in comparison to Ferrari’s Felipe Massa who will start in last place on Sunday. Massa developed a transmission problem during Thursday’s practice and didn’t make it to the circuit this morning.
Finishing out the top 10 are the two McLaren’s of Sergio Perez and Jenson Button, Adrian Sutil in the Force India, and a surprising Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso. This is quickly becoming a forgetful season for McLaren but the car seemed to hit its pace in the wet. Strange. I can remember a certain McLaren driver of the past who used to dominate Monaco in the wet as well… (and Lewis is wearing his helmet).
The stage is set. Mercedes will have to hold back the pack and hope their tires will last long enough, and at F1’s slowest circuit – they might do just that. Red Bull will have to prove their car is still a racer, even if it isn’t dominant. Kimi and Fernando will have to turn on the pressure to put themselves and their teams on the podium.
Predictions? I think Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso will be pushing hardest to make it three wins at Monaco, but with overtaking at a premium and Mercedes’ tire ire, Vettel is in a perfect position to win. Webber looks comfortable. Could he make it 3 wins for Red Bull? What do you think?
We’ll be watching the weather. See you on Sunday!
Tags: 2013, f1, fernando alonso, ferrari, formula 1, jenson button, keke rosberg, kimi raikkonen, lewis hamilton, mark webber, mclaren, mercedes, monaco grand prix, monte carlo, nico rosberg, pole, red bull, sebastian vettel