Can Webber do the double in Monaco? (Monaco GP pre-race analysis)

Webber led every lap of last week's race in Spain

Webber led every lap of last week's race in Spain

For the second Sunday in a row Mark Webber finds himself on pole position at circuit where overtaking is notoriously difficult.

But the challenges of strategy and traffic – not to mention 78 laps avoiding Monaco’s unforgiving walls – means a win for him tomorrow cannot be taken for granted.

The start

Pole position is the place to be at Monte-Carlo. Start from there and you’re unlikely to be beaten into turn one.

It hasn’t happened since 2002, when David Coulthard, starting second, beat pole sitter Juan Pablo Montoya into the first corner. So Mark Webber is looking pretty secure.

This is the first race of the year where the pole sitter lines up on the right-hand side of the track. It’s the inside line for the first corner but it’s also closest to the racing line, where the track is cleaner and grippier.

Last year that allowed Rubens Barrichello, who started third, to pass Kimi Raikkonen for second place at the start of the race. That will give Robert Kubica reason to be wary about Sebastian Vettel.

First-corner crashes are always a worry at Monaco. That will be especially so this year with four extra cars on the track and every driver carrying a full fuel load for the race ahead.

The tarmac run-off at the inside of Sainte Devote will at least give drivers room to avoid any accidents. But drivers who use it when they don’t need to can expect a drive-through penalty – as five of the drivers in this afternoon’s GP2 race discovered.

Read more: Monaco Grand Prix grid

Strategy and tyres

Once again, every driver in Q3 opted for the softest tyre compounds available which, this weekend, is the super-soft.

The remaining drivers have the choice of starting on either compounds of tyre. That might be tempting for those who are struggling to make the super-soft tyre last, but doing so would leave them vulnerable if the safety car comes out early – which is not unlikely in Monaco.

While their rivals could get their mandatory pit stop out of the way and switch to medium tyres, those who started on the medium tyres could only switch to super softs to achieve the same result – and they would probably not be able to reach the end of the race on those tyres.

In the dry races this year we’ve seen most of the drivers rush into the pits within a few laps each other, because pitting before the driver in front of you gives you a good chance to get ahead.

A botched or mis-timed pit stop could be enormously costly here at Monaco.

Monte-Carlo is rarely the scene of exciting wheel-to-wheel racing. But it is a punishing circuit and, as with Lewis Hamilton’s failure in the closing stages at Spain, you can never take the finishing order for granted.

Webber would do well to remember no to repeat the example of his countryman Jack Brabham, who crashed out of the lead at the last corner of the last lap of this race 40 years ago.

Traffic

A theme of the weekend has been traffic – and expect that continue in the race, especially if we see high reliability and no safety cars.

Last year field spread meant the tail-enders were 25 seconds behind the leader after two laps. With the HRT drivers some five seconds off the pace, the front runners could hit traffic as early as lap 14.

For a driver trying to pass a slower rival, every backmarker presents an opportunity.

Read more: When backmarkers strike in Monaco

A tough day for Alonso

The final big question ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix is where Fernando Alonso will finish. He may well be the fastest driver on the track, but he’ll start from the pit lane.

He could be the only driver on the grid for whom starting on medium tyres might make sense. That could at least allow him to gain track position in the event of the safety car, and we saw in Barcelona how well the Ferrari preserved its tyres.

Michael Schumacher raced from last (22nd) to fifth in a Ferrari here four years ago. But he was able to gain a lot of places via the refuelling stops – not an option that’s open to Alonso.

What do you expect to happen in the Monaco Grand Prix? Where will Alonso finish? Have your say in the comments.

Read more: Alonso to miss qualifying after crash

2010 Monaco Grand Prix

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86 comments on Can Webber do the double in Monaco? (Monaco GP pre-race analysis)

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  1. Marc Connell said on 15th May 2010, 19:23

    Cant wait till the race :) hope kubica wins, wouldnt that mean there was more teams winning this season than last season, and more drivers winning this season than last?

    • Marc Connell said on 15th May 2010, 19:27

      4 different teams won last year, 3 this year so far. If kubica wins. Well that will make it equal and Mercedes looks like there gunna win a race so, that makes it a possible 5 different teams winning this year.

      5 different drivers won races last year. This year so far 4 different. If kubica wins, that will make it tie with last year. Schumacher and rosberg look like there gunna win, so forth Hamilton. This seaon is looking to be pretty un predictable :)

  2. sumedh said on 15th May 2010, 19:30

    I want Vettel to beat Kubica off the grid and then leave Kubica vs Massa a straight fight.

    Both Kubica and Massa have a point to prove, and are perhaps fighting for the same race seat next year. Getting them to do the fighting on-track would be epic!! It sure was the last time, the 2 duelled, Fuji 2007 last lap!!

    • Ben Curly said on 15th May 2010, 20:37

      This is Monaco. Which means there will be no overtaking except for Alonso working his way up to the midfield. Most likely we won’t see any real fight between drivers, and if we did, I’d rather see Kubica dueling Red Bulls.

    • phoros said on 15th May 2010, 22:43

      I think Robert has nothing to prove. Not at all but especially after today performances.

  3. Antonio said on 15th May 2010, 19:32

    At least we know what Kubica, Vettel, and Hamilton are going to dream of tonight!:) I can’t wait for the moment they approach Sainte Devote! Just breathtaking I would say.
    I can see Alonso moving up to 7th with the help of the safety car coming out 3-4 times maybe! Other than that I feel sorry for those behind Schumacher! Though I doubt that anyone will be able to put pressure on him but even if they do so they want find a way past him even if the race went on all day!!:)

  4. hollus said on 15th May 2010, 19:35

    I expect Alonso to start with the supersofts and make exactly one lap in them. If he is lucky and the safety car stays home for that one lap, he has a chance at doing something.

    • Icthyes said on 15th May 2010, 19:52

      It would probably be better for Alonso to start on the mediums.

      If there’s an incident early in the race, the rest of the field will scramble to change onto the mediums. Alonso can stay out and take P1. Later in the race he can switch to the super-softs when the track is rubbered in, so they won’t fall apart as quickly. But he has to make a big enough gap to do that, and with everyone on slightly newer rubber that will be hard.

      Of course, starting on the super-softs and pitting after Lap 1 would be a smart move if a safety car comes along, because then he doesn’t have to pit again. But he will have to make enough time on the mediums to make sure he ends up at the front of the pack when they reach the safety car. And if it comes out on Lap 1? Then the strategy won’t work.

      • BasCB said on 15th May 2010, 21:58

        Maybe Fernando will be instructed to do so because the team organizes a SC in lap 2-3!
        Not with his team mate (giving up p4 is not so good) but maybe one or two of the engine customers?

        • hollus said on 15th May 2010, 22:31

          The only way there is no safety car in lap 2-3 is if there is one in lap 1. With so many rookies there is no way somebody doesn’t have a moment and starts a chain reaction.

    • johnno said on 15th May 2010, 23:55

      not sure about if this is true, but if you change tyres before 7 laps into the race does that not count as a tyre change?

  5. wayne said on 15th May 2010, 19:38

    Yes this years championship is much more unstable although the redbulls r looking like this years champions if they can finnish all their races!but I do favour the mclarens lewis driving has been sensational and button is consistent in the points,lewis time will come.I think the ferraris r a has been team their grreatest achievements only when schu and brawn were there.and I dnt think they will ever shine like they did again.

    • US_Peter said on 15th May 2010, 20:50

      I agree that they’ll probably never be as dominant again as the MSC years, but I think it’s a gross overstatement to say that Ferrari are a has been team. They’ve been hugely more competitive this year over last year, and things can change at the drop of a hat in this sport. Just like McLaren, I don’t think Ferrari are going anywhere. Williams on the other hand…

  6. Younger Hamilton said on 15th May 2010, 19:39

    i think Lewis can threaten the podium because he is known for his overtakes and fast starts he’s also on the clean side of the track so dont expect him to be slow off the start and probably pip Massa into saint Devote

    • TommyC said on 16th May 2010, 0:25

      wishful thinking perhaps? remember last year he went nowhere from the back of the grid. i wish him luck passing those with a similarly competitive car…

  7. BBT said on 15th May 2010, 19:44

    After lap one I see no overtakes.
    Hope I’m wrong but there you go.
    The only chance on people further back is drivers up front binning it or reliability problems.
    Over taking on track = 0

  8. Icthyes said on 15th May 2010, 19:46

    Alonso had better be praying for a safety car after Lap 1! Let’s hope it’s not Massa who causes it, or there’ll be some questions asked ;-)

    I hope this year’s Monaco is more of a procession in the sense of a few cars following each other, rather than just the top 5 spread out. And I hope Webber wins if Kubica can’t. Mark’s been very impressive of late and is holding his own against Vettel. Will be interesting to see his reaction if Mark wins again.

    • sumedh said on 15th May 2010, 20:00

      Why after lap 1?

      Here’s my 2 cents on the issue. In normal circumstances (I will take Malaysian GP as a reference point), Alonso starts picking up the slower drivers as fast as he can, but continues to lose time to the leaders.

      Thanks to the superior race pace of Ferraris, he can jump guys like Alguersuari, Petrov who can be tough to pass on track. He pits in around lap 35-40 (Alonso went more than half race distance at Malaysia) and probably joins about 20-25 seconds adrift of a Schumacher train on the track, Assuming Schumacher himself might have fallen 30-35 seconds behind the leaders by lap 35-40, Alonso might be the next guy to be lapped.

      NOW, comes a safety car, this 60-second gap is dwindled down to nothing. Alonso’s tyres are softer and fresher than everyone ahead of him, and he has around 30 laps to overtake the 10-11 cars that will be in front of him.

      I don’t know when I transcended from a logical prediction to a dream there ;-)

      But a safety car just after his pitstop (when his gap to the front runners will be at its maximum) is most beneficial to him. Just like Singapore 2008.

      • sumedh said on 15th May 2010, 20:06

        The reason I dreamt up this scenario is I have put Alonso for the win in the predictions championship :D :D.

        Nevertheless, a race that unfolds as above will be truly epic to watch!!

        • Anshumaan said on 16th May 2010, 9:17

          I hope this happens dude amazing theory you have there!!!
          But lets face it…max to max he’s in the top five you just can’t win at monaco by passing 10 cars in the last 30 laps assuming you get stuck behind even a single car…it only makes fr a waking dream wish fulfillment!!

      • That’s actually possible. If his tyres are much better than the others’ than he just might overtake some guys. That would probably not be enough for the win, but it seems very likely to get some points, maybe even 5th place.

      • Ben Curly said on 15th May 2010, 20:47

        “I don’t know when I transcended from a logical prediction to a dream there”.

        Well, right about here: “Alonso’s tyres are softer and fresher than everyone ahead of him, and he has around 30 laps to overtake the 10-11 cars that will be in front of him”.

        I believe he will score some points, but overtaking Schu, Rosberg, Kubica, Hamilton or Vettel will be well nigh impossible.

      • BasCB said on 15th May 2010, 22:08

        As Keith writes, the race leader will be lapping the slowest car after about 14 laps. So it makes sence for them to pit from lap 13-15 to have this moment a little bit later with new tyres.

        If Alonso starts on Mediums and is able to pass the new teams cars as well as some of the others in the first few laps, he would be very well positioned if a safetycar gets on track in lap 8-10, so he can get in front of the cars (or some of them) running on super softs.
        Then he has to get the most out of his tyres after the restart, hope some of the backmarkers on old Mediums hold up the pitted cars to build a gap and stop on lap 50 or so, having the super softs on a lighter car.
        The alternative would be not to loose to much time, hope for a late safetycar enabling a pitstop without losing much time and getting the fresh super softs to the finish
        Not impossible to get into the points here, but a race win?

      • Icthyes said on 16th May 2010, 0:44

        Well, apart from the idea of overtaking at Monaco being wishful thinking beyond the 6 cars ahead of him, ‘after Lap 1′ meant that Lap 2 is started behind the safety car. Probably not the best way to phrase it but that’s what I meant!

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th May 2010, 8:28

        I don’t know when I transcended from a logical prediction to a dream there ;-)

        Very funny! Hopefully it was after you sent in your predictions’ championship entry.

    • Everybody has been bagging webber continually over and over again. Yes he does make mistakes from time to time. But when hes on it, he hard to beat. What about webber at ferrari.

      • I think Red Bull will want to keep him. He’s clearly pushing Vettel hard which is what they will want to keep him developing as a driver. Plus, Webber and Red Bull have that joint venture GP3 team which suggests a long-term partnership, perhaps with Webber “moving upstairs” into an advisory role like DC did in a few years’ time.

        • LennyCat said on 16th May 2010, 9:19

          I know the following is not substantiated so don’t get narky if you disagree…

          Am interested in these Webber Ferrari rumours too. If hear say is anything to talk about it looks like there will be some shiffle shuffling in some way or another between Massa, Webber, Raikkonen (returning from WRC) and Kubica. I.e. Ferrari, Renault and RBR. As Raikkonen has stated he won’t come back for anything but the best car so I think he will either be at RBR or Ferrari, if at all, but more likely RBR with Kubica heading to Ferrari and Webber (even if continued success follows in 2010) shafted to Renault (unfortunately – hope he stays with RBR or joins Ferrari). Who knows where Massa will be but pretty sure not a Ferrari.

          • sumedh said on 16th May 2010, 11:12

            Hmm, interesting points there.

            If there is indeed a merry-go-round between Raikkonen, Massa, Kubica and Webber – then I would say the person least likely to get a seat among the 4 is Webber.

            Lets face it, except for the last 7 days, he has not been in the same league as Vettel throughout their association for 1.25 years. Plus, age is not on his side.

            My bet would be Kubica at Ferrari, Massa at RBR, someone else at Renault (Heidfeld, Fisichella), Kimi stays in rallying, Webber retires.

  9. theRoswellite said on 15th May 2010, 19:49

    If Webber leads off and wins in last weeks fashion, we’ll have a real championship battle with just about all hands on deck.

    For my $2 wager I’ll take a sentimental favorite….Kubica. If he can get the lead, on form or by default, he could bring Renault a victory. And Robert certainly deserves that top step.

    After last year, a win at Monaco would bring the “new” Renault team full circle and lift the spirits of any Frenchman so recently deprived of a home Grand Prix, not to mention all those party animals in Krakow!

    I’m thinking yellow.

    • TommyC said on 16th May 2010, 0:30

      whilst kubica’s qualy was absolutely fantastic, i just can’t see him keeping up with webber on race pace. i think he’ll have to get past at the first corner to have a real chance at victory. (although i hope he doesn’t, being a webber fan and all…)

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th May 2010, 8:30

        I think the opposite – as good as the RB6 has been on a single lap its race pace hasn’t been as good.

        If Kubica can keep Vettel behind him at the start I think there’s a decent chance he can keep in touch with Webber and possibly jump him at the pit stops.

        • Cyclops said on 16th May 2010, 10:33

          True, remember that Kubica had supreme pace on prime tires. If he can keep up with Webber and jum him at the pit stops he’ll probably run away with no chance of being caught on pure pace.

  10. Spud said on 15th May 2010, 19:53

    Grreat lap by Webber today. I don’t think anyone expected that, especially Kubica.

    Webber has a great chance now tomorrow to go on for the win.

    I’ll be rooting for Kubica, but since he says his tyres are “already gone”, he could struggle at the start.

    I reckon Red Bull one-two tomorrow.

    • m0tion said on 16th May 2010, 5:04

      I saw Webber having a good long look at his front tyre, he went in after the waves and came out again just to eyeball it. He did quite a long run of fast laps on the one set but here is hoping. He will be cool as a nuke again into T1.

      posting actual qualification times compared with kubica might give many a better idea of qualifying driver performance.
      Q1 Q2 Q3
      1. Webber RBR 1:15.035 1:14.462 1:13.826
      2. Kubica Renlt 1:15.045 1:14.549 1:14.120

      Kubica was hot and entertaining all the way from P1 Thu but was it all toward building optimum qualifiying performance like it is supposed to be or was the primary personal objective some showboating for contract purposes? Very successfull strategy mind you so that is not criticism of a guy getting about his business.

  11. Jian said on 15th May 2010, 20:11

    Its another Red Bull vs Reliability really, we’ll see tomorrow how this fight pans out, I predict another 1:1 as in Spain (one car fine, one car troubled).

  12. Toncho said on 15th May 2010, 20:23

    I bet Alonso will DNF, in Monaco you can not overtake even an Hispania so the frustation will force him to take risks and in Monaco is a bad idea :-)))

  13. Can’t see anyone getting close to Webber. I think he’ll win easily but I do hope Kubica can give him a good race. A Kubica win would be great for F1… and my bank account :D

  14. Electrolite said on 15th May 2010, 21:00

    Kubica absolutely threw that car round the track. That was a pleasure to watch.

  15. From my point of view, the most reliable driver for the race is Robert Kubica. I mean: if I had money to bet, I would choose him. He has been fast all the week-end so far, and on a track like Monaco he deserves a success. Let’s see :-)

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