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)

  1. patrick(uk) said on 15th May 2010, 21:19

    its time mclaren realised that their cars are not championship winning cars this year … period…they cant be relying on others to make mistakes so that they can win races…they need to get pole or else give up trying…

    • Bigbadderboom said on 16th May 2010, 11:16

      Really?, Considering they may just be getting over an evolutionary hiccup with this generation I think McLaren are quite strong contenders, you cannot draw too much from single lap pace, the McLarens are race distance cars and reliability and consistancy will be the deciding factor this season. They may not have blistering quali pace but in JB and LH they have 2 good experienced drivers, and don’t underestimate the development aspect as well, time again Mclaren have delivered good upgrades mid season.

    • James_mc said on 16th May 2010, 11:50

      Would this be the same McLaren who are leading the championship…. [doh]

  2. ThePink Bengal said on 15th May 2010, 21:44

    It’s all in the start I think. If Webber can hold back Kubica, he has a very good chance. On the other hand, if Kubica can come out of turn 1 in the lead then he stands a good chance to win, even if the Red Bull cars are faster.

  3. JUGNU said on 15th May 2010, 22:14

    It would be great if Robert wins the race. That would give Renault a huge boost and who knows they might improve the car enough and start competing with top 4 teams. Just want Renault and Robert to do well especially because of recent bad lucks and poor times for both of of the parties.

  4. Alexi said on 15th May 2010, 22:26

    The bad side of the track is unusually bad on Monaco. Everyone starting with an even number in the grid is more likely to suffer from a bad start. I don’t bet on a Kubica victory unless he’s noticeably faster than Webber and get first place on pit stops or when Webber is stuck behind a slower car.

    • Alexi said on 15th May 2010, 22:27

      The bad-bad this is on purpose :D

      • The tricky thing is, if you watched closely as the drivers crossed the line, they were usually running either in the middle of the track or on the even-numbered side of the grid. So while that will matter at the front, I don’t think being on the even-numbered side is as much an issue in the midfield…

  5. Scribe said on 15th May 2010, 22:33

    Hope someone catches up to redbull soon, F1 is at it’s most predictable, an therfore often worst when someone has that kind of ridiculous advantage.

  6. Bartholomew said on 15th May 2010, 23:01

    Fast Fred will kick some ass 2mmorrow !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    to the soundtrack of AC/DC “To Those About To Rock”
    Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh !!!!!
    WE SALUTE YOU broummmmm! ( cannons going off !!!!! )
    LOL nothing to lose Fred go 4 it

  7. Matt said on 15th May 2010, 23:53

    Hi all,
    Just moved from Aus to USA, and wondering if anyone knows where I can stream the race from? I watched it on SPEED TV last week, but its not available where I am this week… plus its just not the same without hearing Martin’s voice!!
    Thanks
    Matt

    • Darren said on 16th May 2010, 1:42

      Just before the race go to justin.tv and you will see some different options for streaming the race. It can be tricky finding an english version (you might get the sth. african or uk feed) and sometimes feeds can get shut down due to copyright but sometimes you can find a feed for the whole race. ps just was in the usa and came home to australia, F1 is almost invisible in nth amercia.

    • sato113 said on 16th May 2010, 2:20

      join the live blog on this site on sunday and there will be links at the bottom of the page!

  8. Formoe said on 15th May 2010, 23:56

    Kubica will have a better start than Webber and he’ll lead the race from start to finish. The Red Bulls will yet again struggle with reliability, and in the end they’ll «only» manage to secure 4th and 5th.

    Looking forward to seeing Alonso climb up to second place from the pit. If anybody can do it it’ll be him! Jenson will drive safe for points (not taking any chances), and Lewis will have an unfortunate meeting with the wall.

  9. johnno said on 15th May 2010, 23:57

    anybody notice bbc’s jake’s ipad? it serves no use whatsoever and he just occasionally looks down and nods at it.

    • sato113 said on 16th May 2010, 2:21

      yeah, maybe he’s whipping out the fancy hardware for monaco only…!

    • Aussie Fan said on 16th May 2010, 5:29

      Could he maybe be running the “Live Timing” app on it & checking it to get his facts straight?

      Funny if he was, that app has commentary from James Allen hahaha!

  10. S Hughes said on 16th May 2010, 0:24

    Maybe Alonso will get Massa to crash on the 12th lap and get an advantage like in Singapore.

  11. very possible Weber will bog at the start & as we have seen if anyone pressures real close the redbull drivers are prone to mistakes…..this is Kubica’s real test & certainly his most important!

  12. DaveW said on 16th May 2010, 1:40

    I predicted Kubica to win and in fact I hope he does lose 2nd to Vettel at the start. There is zero chance that a leading car will not tangle with a backmarker and I will not be shocked if Webber and/or Vettel get caught in a HRT/Virgin crossfire at about lap 12. They will have Kubica right on their tail and he will force their hands. I don’t agree that the leaders will pit just before encountering backmarkers. Without refueling, it is suicide to pit before your pursuers. What is to say you don’t come out in the caboose of the Schumacher train and lose heaps of time, or lose 10 seconds sitting in those narrow pits waiting for people to come by, when you could have lost only a couple seconds hustling by Senna? You have to take the risk to lap cars and you have to try to do it very briskly. Otherwise you are allowing the second pack, led by Hamilton, and even the MSC Stadtbahn to catch you up.

  13. Darren said on 16th May 2010, 1:45

    Seriously I think the leaders could catch the back markers before the predicted 14 laps going by the HRT laps times and the gap the leaders will get from the start.

  14. wasiF1 said on 16th May 2010, 2:05

    This is an opportunity for Kubica to take him on the podium. What fightback from Roseberg after a bad race in Spain & then staying on the pit most of the time in FP 1 he really fought back.IT will be interesting to see Alonso’s fight back from the back of the pack to the front. i do expect hi to be in the top 10.

    My top 3 Webber. Vettel & Kubica expecting no drama from them.

  15. F1Fan said on 16th May 2010, 3:55

    Webber surprised me last weekend, so I will go with the law of averages and say that he will find a way to screw up this race. And even if he doesn’t make the likely mistake, I just don’t like the Red Bull on the super softs, especially in Webber’s hands.

    Kubica revealed that his car is set up for the race, which explains the big gap to Webber in Q. They raised the suspension a bit before Q so they won;t hit the bumps at full fuel load. I think there will be a maximum of one Red Bull on podium.

    If Alonso was in Massa’s grid position, I would have no problem predicting him winning it, but I just can’t pick Massa on this circuit. I think it will end up being a battle between Kubica and Vettel for the win.

    • Aussie Fan said on 16th May 2010, 5:33

      I’m wondering why you don’t like the redbull on super softs “particulary in Webber’s hands”? At Barcelona thats when the red bulls were their fastest, & Webber was lapping sometimes up to 0.6 seconds faster than Vettel.

      Please explain your theory?

    • Robocat said on 16th May 2010, 8:48

      what are you going on about, you don’t like the RBR on softs especially in Webbers hands. To be honest Webber was alot better then Vettel on them in Barcelona. I dont understand your theory either. How about stopping with the confusing statements and sit back and enjoy the race, ay.

      • Andrew G said on 16th May 2010, 9:35

        Don’t bother with F1Fan guys, he just doesn’t like Webber.
        Agree Webber on softs hasn’t been an issue yet.

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