The Friday in F1 Monaco GP was a messy one for most with Ferrari edging out Red Bull and Mercedes mixing with McLaren for best of the rest.
The Friday in F1 Monaco GP was certainly a hectic one with several off moments and bouncing in abundance. The fight at the top saw Ferrari with some clear pace than Red Bull where Charles Leclerc topped both the sessions and Carlos Sainz did well too.
Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were pretty close to each other while Mercedes seems to be a bit far off along with McLaren. It doesn’t seem like there will be a three-way fight for the podium on Sunday, but more between Ferrari and Red Bull.
Leclerc: “It was not great in FP1; a bit better in FP2, but I really think that we need to do another step for tomorrow because I’m pretty sure that everyone has got quite a bit of margin on a Friday and also as drivers, so it’s a bit of the unknown for now. The car looks strong, also in the race pace we seem to be good even though there was quite a bit of traffic. But the initial feeling is good. Hopefully we can do the step that we want to do from tomorrow, and have a great weekend from that.
“Overall, mostly driving. Driving – I took it step by step and for now it’s all going well, but yes, once you put the last step in, that’s where the risks are becoming higher and this we will only do in qualifying tomorrow. It’s very tricky because the track is very very bumpy, a lot of kerb riding too, so you can really feel it’s a big difference compared to last year’s car, for everyone. And yes, it makes it even more challenging than before. But yes, for now, we are competitive, so I’m happy.”
Verstappen: “I think overall we’ve been trying a few things around here to see how the car’s behaving. I think I was a little bit happier in FP1 than FP2 and yes of course, if you have a little bit of a better balance, you can attack a bit more and of course your lap time comes out a bit better. Clearly, compared to Ferrari we have to find a little bit more – and now it’s also about finding my balance as well. You can feel the weight of the cars, a bit heavier, a bit slower, a bit bumpier in these cars as well because they are stiffer, but it’s alright. It’s a bit more difficult with the visibility but it’s very hectic to drive around here.”
Hamilton: “Firstly, it’s the bumpiest the track [has] ever been. It’s probably the bumpiest track I’ve ever driven, so that makes it one, difficult – but two, just generally our car bounces a lot. It’s different bouncing to what we’ve experienced in the past; it’s in the low-speed also, but it’s not aero[-related]. I think the bumps on the track just make it worse. But otherwise, I’m not really having to learn the track differently.
“Just fighting the car to put a lap together is [like]: ‘wow… holy crap! I don’t remember experiencing it like that before’. As I said, putting the lap together is difficult, but I think we made some improvements going into that session [FP2]. And it doesn’t even feel like, when you actually do try and put a lap together, the grip doesn’t feel terrible. It’s just your eyeballs are coming out of the sockets. So, we’ve got some work to do overnight to try and fix that. As anticipated, I didn’t think we would be as quick as the Ferraris and the Red Bulls. Our battle is to try and stay ahead of the McLarens I think.”
The rest of the Top 10 had mixed number of cars with McLaren, Alpine, AlphaTauri and Aston Martin featuring across FP1 and FP2. For the former, Lando Norris fought through tonsilitis to set a respectable time while Daniel Ricciardo had a crash in FP2.
Meanwhile, Alpine saw Fernando Alonso recover in FP2 from FP1 while Esteban Ocon struggled in both, which was same AlphaTauri where Yuki Tsunoda had a tough time but Pierre Gasly didn’t. And Aston Martin had Sebastian Vettel in the Top 10 in FP2.
Ricciardo: “Obviously it happens quickly, but it kind of slowed down as well. Like, I knew everything that was happening, and I tried to save it but already kind of into Turn 13, I already started losing it. I could feel the car was starting to get away from me and yes, a little strange. I think normally you pick up some stuff on Turn 14, on the kerb, if you kind of get a bit too greedy then the car can get unloaded. But I think honestly, we just pushed a few things with set-up.
“Obviously, we’re trying but we pushed a little too far probably in a couple of areas. Yes, [the pace is good]. You kind of never really know how you’re going to go around here in terms of if you’re in that midfield scrap. You’re either in the front end or the back end, but today at least we showed that we are going to be relatively competitive around here and for, let’s say, our battle.”
Gasly: “It was difficult but like always in Monaco. I must say I’m really, really happy with this Friday in terms of performance. We were definitely always on top of the midfield so that’s really positive. Obviously we are working quite hard at the wheel but it’s as you would expect in Monaco. So far we have shown a lot of positives I would say on this Friday. I managed to do clean laps, put things together and be competitive. I would still not say I am feeling 100% comfortable because I touched the wall a couple of times here and there trying to find the limit but overall I’m pretty pleased and we’ll try and do a step forward again for tomorrow.
“We will have to try to find the right spot. It’s a short track, a lot of cars and competitive drivers who try to find the best position on a very tiny track. For sure it’s not going to be easy. We have the pace to go through to Q2 for sure this weekend and we just need to keep it clean, not do any mistakes or be involved in any silly situations and we’ll focus on that tomorrow.”
Alonso: “Monaco is always different to other tracks as you need to find confidence in the car. FP1 was a little bit messy for us, but in FP2 we started to dial in my car. There is still more to come as we experienced some inconsistent balance here and there that we need to fix, as well as trying to understand the tyres a bit more for qualifying as getting a good position on the grid is obviously the main subject of the weekend. There’s some work to do, but it’s always special to drive here with a lot of adrenaline every lap.”
Vettel: “Although I have raced here many times, this circuit feels a lot different in these new cars. The main difference is that the tyres are much bigger so it is more difficult to see the track around you. The cars are also much stiffer and going through the tunnel is not as easy as it used to be. I was lucky to save the car during a mistake at the Swimming Pool, despite my heart rate definitely going up! We tried some new things today, so we need to see what worked well and learn how to fine-tune the set-up more. Tomorrow the key will be making sure we have a clean lap in qualifying, especially during Q1 when the track will be busy.”
There was troubled time at the Haas and Alfa Romeo camps where both Mick Schumacher and Valtteri Bottas were forced to have a MGU-K change after issue in FP1. The German also was forced to have a gearbox change due to the MGU-K problem.
Schumacher: “We had a few issues, especially this morning, so I didn’t get to run for most of FP1 unfortunately, so still catching up. Nonetheless we got a good amount of running in during FP2 so it’s now a matter of finding out what we need from the car to go quicker. It’s definitely different compared to last year, it’s a lot bouncier, and the bumps are not filtered so you feel it straight away in your body which has an effect, not only on the car but in terms of driving. The approach will be different, and the overall feel is a bit different compared to last year.”
Bottas: “Not an ideal Friday, but we had a good recovery in FP2. We lost the first session with a power unit failure that took two hours to fix, which is a shame as this really is a track where you need every possible lap to get fully comfortable: you don’t get to do too many clean laps either, with all the traffic, to prepare for qualifying, so it will be crucial to have a good FP3. FP2 was effectively my first session of the weekend, so I took it step by step. I know there is a lot of performance still to find, both in myself and with the setup, and I still think we have the potential to be in the top ten tomorrow. The car felt ok and I know we can be in the mix for Q3.”