Vettel on course for first win in Monaco

2011 Monaco GP pre-race analysis

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monaco, 2011

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monaco, 2011

With his closest championship rival tripping up in qualifying, Sebastian Vettel has a strong chance of increasing his points lead in Monaco.

And if recent races are anything to go by Mark Webber may find third on the grid a better place to start than second.

The start

It’s an extremely short run to the first corner at Monaco – just 120m. Even so, starting on the pole sitter’s side of the grid is a considerable advantage.

You have to go back to the 2007 Grand Prix to find the last time the driver who started second was not beaten to Sainte Devote by the driver who started third.

Expect Jenson Button to line up with his car pointing towards Mark Webber’s in the hope of holding on to second place when the lights go out.

After that, the opportunities for overtaking are few and far between. The DRS zone at the exit of Anthony Noghes is not expected to do much to aid overtaking – tyres will play a bigger role here.

For Sebastian Vettel, he should have a clear run into the first corner. Happy in the knowledge that his closest championship rival is starting four rows further back, he has a great opportunity to increase his points advantage.


The initial projections of the super-soft tyres falling apart within ten laps proved to be well wide of the mark on Thursday when some drivers easily racked up 20 laps on them. That raises the prospect of teams doing two or even one-stop strategies.

But be wary of taking it for granted: track evolution (that rate at which surface grip increases) at Monaco is often high and as the lap times fall the tyres may go off more quickly. There could be a sting in the tail at the end of the race for anyone who tries dragging a stint out too far.

Lewis Hamilton’s plight in qualifying was probably caused by the team trying to save a set of super-softs to extend his second stint – a gamble that backfired. McLaren face a strategic challenge in their effort to move him up from the fifth row.

Overtaking is near-impossible at Monaco, so they will prefer to avoid any plans that leave him having to pass cars.

On the face of it their choices are between a conservative strategy which will probably consign them to the lower half of the top ten, or try something different in an attempt to jump him past the cars in front of him.

As his fastest time in Q3 was deleted it’s not clear whether he will have to start on the super-soft tyres he used for that lap, or if he will have a free choice.

The latter seems more likely, in which case a credible gamble for McLaren might be to start him on softs. But that could leave him vulnerable if the safety car comes out.

The safety car has not been deployed at all this year. But this race saw four appearances last year, and that will be factored into any strategic calculations.

Here’s how many new sets of tyres each driver has left:

New super-soft New soft
Sebastian Vettel 0 2
Mark Webber 0 1
Lewis Hamilton 0 2
Jenson Button 0 2
Fernando Alonso 0 2
Felipe Massa 0 0
Michael Schumacher 0 2
Nico Rosberg 0 3
Nick Heidfeld 1 2
Vitaly Petrov 1 2
Rubens Barrichello 1 2
Pastor Maldonado 0 2
Adrian Sutil 0 2
Paul di Resta 0 2
Kamui Kobayashi 1 2
Sergio Perez 0 2
Sebastien Buemi 1 2
Jaime Alguersuari 2 2
Heikki Kovalainen 1 3
Jarno Trulli 1 3
Narain Karthikeyan 3 3
Vitantonio Liuzzi 3 3
Timo Glock 1 3
Jerome d’Ambrosio 1 3

2011 Monaco Grand Prix

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44 comments on Vettel on course for first win in Monaco

  1. Fixy (@fixy) said on 28th May 2011, 22:12

    Massa is the only driver without new tyres!

  2. Ethos said on 28th May 2011, 22:23

    Hamitons about the only F1 driver that can and probably will get a podium from that grid position. mcLaren need to wake up with thier strategy or Vettels going to win the WDC before the second half of the season… That will kill any motivation to even bother watching it

    • Ben Curly (@ben-curly) said on 29th May 2011, 7:49

      I doubt it. He is a great driver, but this is still Monaco and he has some motivated drivers ahead, who will not make it easy. I think that strategy might be a deciding factor, but this year it isn’t McLaren’s forte.

  3. RichyB said on 28th May 2011, 22:42

    I’m very interested to see what Schumacher can do tomorrow.

    Given he’s made an average of 2 places off the start since his return, it will be interesting to see what he if he can perhaps get Alonso off the start, and settle into a decent race-pace, especially with his 2 sets of fresh soft tyres. He seemed to find some extra pace during Q3 which makes me think he could just do something sneaky come Sunday…

  4. F1Lover said on 28th May 2011, 22:50

    Hope Button gets a good start as well as Hamilton.I got the feeling that there will eb at least 2 safety cars…

    • The Last Pope said on 28th May 2011, 23:21

      What are the odds that at least one of them is caused by a Hispania. Its not their pace that worries me, it that the car just looks like it wants to crash. Hope they don’t.

      • topdowntoedown (@topdowntoedown) said on 28th May 2011, 23:50

        Very good point. It’s like the car’s trying to throw itself into the scenery at all times. Unfortunately, the scenery is quite close at Monaco…

        • XeNoNTeK said on 29th May 2011, 3:21

          And when it does, it doesn’t half milk it by falling into the smallest pieces imaginable.

  5. jake said on 28th May 2011, 22:54

    I don’t think Lewis starting on the primes will help him as it will mean he’s left with overtaking to do. His best bet will be to do a very aggressive undercut, hopefully giving him some free air, then maybe doing a 3-stop. For this to work, Mclaren will have to find him clear air, and he’ll need great pace…one of which he’s had all weekend.

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 28th May 2011, 23:28

      I think that will be the best way to go. Or if there’s an early Safety Car, maybe try and replicate what Alonso did last year.

      All in all I see Vettel leaving with more than 50 points in hand and that’s a bad margin for his rivals.

  6. Electrolite said on 28th May 2011, 23:07

    I’m always so late to the party with qualifying as I work during Saturday afternoons and catch up in the evening. So gutted for Perez, and it’s a shame Hamilton and Rosberg didn’t get that lap.

    But it’s nice to see Jensen up there and I’ll be rooting for him tomorrow.

    For Vettel, this will be a nice test for him – sure, by now he’s pretty good at keeping his cool at the front of the pack and winning from pole, but at this place it’s a different story.

  7. BasCB (@bascb) said on 28th May 2011, 23:21

    This promises an exiting race. I just hope Button does not fall back after the start. Maldonado, Schumacher and Alonso as well as Massa will be interesting in the first lap.
    And Hamilton might show a very nice race to get on the podium, or can he even try for a 1 stopper to win it? Would be amazing to see that. And do not forget about Petrov, if he rediscovers the good starting he might get right into the middle of the top ten.
    Will Vettel win? He has his best chance ever, but then again I have a bit of a bad feeling about this weekend so who knows what happens in the race.

  8. sato113 (@sato113) said on 28th May 2011, 23:33

    how about if HAM pits on lap 1 to change from super softs to soft, and then does 2 long stints on quick, new soft tyres…?

    • sato113 (@sato113) said on 28th May 2011, 23:33

      forgot to mention, pitting on lap 1 would then give him an advantage when a safety car appears. (which it might well do in the first few laps…)

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 29th May 2011, 2:44

        Didn’t Alonso pit on lap 1 last year after Hülkenberg crashed? That was advantageous for him coming from the back of the grid, but would it have the same effect for Hamilton from 9th? I’m not so sure.

  9. jake said on 28th May 2011, 23:49

    too much traffic

  10. Glenn said on 29th May 2011, 1:33

    I think the Safetey Car will be busy today!
    Is the track safe ? 3 cars lost their rear ends coming out of the tunnel, where there appears to be a slight bump. Will it be worse in the race, marbles on the track, different lines for attempted passes?

  11. Pink Pirelli said on 29th May 2011, 1:37

    Boring. This year is sadly reminiscent of 2004. Someone, anyone, please stop Vettel from winning every race. Even if I were a Vettel fan (and I am most certainly not) I would find the results boring and predictable.

    • Alex Bkk (@alex-bkk) said on 29th May 2011, 1:56

      It’s Monaco where anything or nothing at all can happen.

      I think I’ll go with anything can happen ;)

    • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 29th May 2011, 2:32

      If it helps you any, this was where Schumacher’s winning start to the season came to a crashing halt. :P One of the few places that year where he didn’t win.

    • 91jb12 (@91jb12) said on 29th May 2011, 8:56

      i am a vettel fan and i’m not finding it boring. if you look deeper than just the results you’ll find he’s actually had to work hard for 3 of his 4 wins so far.
      Lets be honest if roles were reversed with a Hamilton or Button, we’d be calling this the best season ever.

      • Alex Bkk (@alex-bkk) said on 29th May 2011, 11:23

        Lets be honest if roles were reversed with a Hamilton or Button, we’d be calling this the best season ever.

        No that would have to be Alonso ;)

  12. Alex Bkk (@alex-bkk) said on 29th May 2011, 1:57

    In English please.

  13. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 29th May 2011, 3:13

    Will be a good race.I don’t think neither DRS or may be the tyres which as they are saying are performing well will have too much influences among the top teams,drivers ability will be the thing to watch in this raceWatch out for Alonso,Hamilton,Vettel,Kobayashi,& Schumacher as they thread the needle through here.

  14. Daniel said on 29th May 2011, 5:53

    I really hope Vettel won’t win this race. I hardly wait for the start, especially to see Alonso and Michael wich seem to have great starts. Anyway, since there’s room for only one car in the first turn, I’m affraid of incidents.
    Does anyone have news about Perez?

  15. Mattfd said on 29th May 2011, 9:25

    Anything can happen at Monaco if the safety car comes out at the right time for a driver he could be right at the front after just making a pit stop. I always look back to Panis winning…..

    Really hope Vettel doesn’t win not because I dislike him, but for the reason we need to keep this championship going!

  16. Pingguest said on 29th May 2011, 10:29

    It really looks like this championship is already decided. No-one can really threaten Vettel, as he has the pace, mood and necessary luck a real champion has.

  17. Funkyf1 said on 29th May 2011, 10:52

    Can I just send a shout out to Perez. I think his pace showed his experience at this track and he could of been a real show come race time. IMO he will be sorely missed from the grid.

  18. Watch Schumacher he’s starting on the inside and sure to be gunning for another win here, the trouble he causes could help mam up the field.

  19. Scottie (@scottie) said on 29th May 2011, 10:55

    Is 1999 the last time 2nd on the grid got to the first corner first?

    Murray went crazy! :)

  20. Maciek said on 29th May 2011, 11:41

    Ooooo… I think we’re going to see the most interesting Monaco GP in while, just hope everyone gets away cleanly through the first corner and that the online streams will hold up!

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