Can Ferrari fight back in Monaco?

2018-05-23 06:01

FOR several decades Formula 1 has, among other descriptors, been one synonymous with glamour.

It’s especially true this weekend as the paddock heads to the French Riviera for the Monaco Grand Prix, which is the veritable jewel in F1’s crown.

The combination of ferociously fast F1 cars and the tight barrier-lined streets of Monte Carlo is a sight and feat to behold.

At 3.3km in length, the streets of Monaco are not conducive to much overtaking.

This makes qualifying a vital component to a successful weekend. Equally important is stringing together the best lap possible, which often consists of skimming the barriers.

However, it’s a fine line between shaving the Armco and ending up in the barrier. With the margin of error so minute, it’s imperative that drivers maintain concentration throughout every lap they complete of the circuit.

While Mercedes’ form and pace were untouchable in Spain, they may struggle on the Monaco streets by Toto Wolff’s own admission.

While Pirelli’s change to the tread, on grounds of safety, ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, was rumoured to have aided Mercedes more than it did Ferrari, that specific compound has only been earmarked for three races on the calendar.

The Monaco Grand Prix and the Anthony Noghes circuit is not one of them.

Instead, along with the ultra and supersoft compound, this weekend will see the first introduction of pink side-walled hypersoft tyre.

“Monaco is a lot about mechanical grip, so, a softer tyre will give a big advantage in terms of lap time,” said Pirelli racing manager, Mario Isola.

“I have a good expectation that we will have a lap record.” Traditionally, Mercedes has struggled to get the softer range of compounds working effectively.

Case in point being Lewis Hamilton’s failure to advance to the top 10 of qualifying for the 2017 race, which he started from 13th on the grid.

But it’s a new season and Mercedes will have worked hard to understand and overcome their tyre conundrum.

Given the drubbing they received in Spain, it is imperative that Ferrari maximises any and all advantages they may have this weekend. Despite only being five races into the season, Kimi Raikkonen has already suffered two retirements.

While rumours are making the rounds that Ferrari want to re-sign the Finn for 2019, Raikkonen will be keen to repeat his stunning pole position from 2017.

Barring unreliability, he may yet be a good bet for a stellar weekend.

And while Red Bull’s mysterious lack of pace in Spain was peculiar, they will almost certainly be a threat in Monaco.

The high downforce demands of the circuit will reward a good aerodynamic package which Red Bull seem to have this year.

The feeling is that Daniel Ricciardo is the more likely of the two Red Bull drivers to shine around Monaco, as he has done in the past.

It remains to be seen whether Max Verstappen can temper his exuberance to keep his car out of the walls long enough to beat his Aussie teammate.

Statistics and previous form suggests that Ferrari will be the team to beat this weekend and despite the fact, Formula 1 remains one of the most unpredictable sports in the world, the Scuderia wouldn’t be a bad bet.

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