Can rejuvenated Ferrari end 11-year wait for Monaco win?

2012 Monaco Grand Prix preview

2001 Monaco Grand Prix startGiven Ferrari’s immense success in the last decade it is remarkable their last victory in F1′s most prestigious race was over ten years ago.

Not since Michael Schumacher’s triumph in 2001 has a Ferrari won in Monaco.

Fernando Alonso has worked wonders with the F2012 so far this season and the revised car was clearly more competitive in Spain.

Can he give them their first victory at Monaco in 11 years this weekend?

If he does, he and Ferrari would be the first driver and team this year to win more than once.

But as we head into the sixth round of the season it’s possible we could see another different winners for the sixth race on the trot. Lotus and Sauber have both shown race-winning speed earlier this season.

A theme of the season so far has been how the reduction in gap between the teams and the more challenging tyres has meant the driver can make more of a difference to their finishing position. That is especially so on the streets of Monaco, where the forbidding walls reward the brave and punish the greedy.

Monte-Carlo circuit information

Lap length 3.34km (2.075 miles)
Distance 78 laps (260.5km/161.9 miles)
Lap record* 1’14.439 (Michael Schumacher, 2004)
Fastest lap 1’13.532 (Kimi Raikkonen, 2006)
Tyres Soft and Super-soft

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Monte-Carlo track data in full

Pirelli are bringing their softest tyre compounds for the low-grip track: soft and super-soft. The suer-soft is the only compound in their range which remains unchanged from last year, though it shares the wider construction of Pirelli’s other rubber.

Sebastian Vettel’s pole position time of 1’13.556 last year was just three-hundredths of a second off the fastest lap of the current configuration. But with the ban on exhaust-blown diffusers making this years’ cars slower, it’s doubtful we’ll see a repeat of that performance.

Red Bull

Vettel remains the co-leader of the championship despite a disappointing weekend in Spain.

He won here last year, though was perhaps fortunate that the late red flag handed him a ‘get out of jail free card’, allowing him to change his tyres as he came under fierce pressure from Alonso and Jenson Button.

McLaren

Despite having been the pace-setter more often than not this year, McLaren have played down their prospects for this weekend, feeling their car is better suited to tracks with quicker corners.

However Hamilton is definitely one to watch. He’s always been quick around here, having won in F3, GP2 and, of course, in the wet 2008 Grand Prix. He will be anxious to avoid a repeating his error of last year when he failed to set a ‘banker’ lap in qualifying, leaving him vulnerable when Sergio Perez crashed his Sauber.

Ferrari

An on-form Alonso pressed Vettel hard for victory last year. Sadly the late-race red flag meant we never got to see the do-or-die move that was surely coming.

Ferrari’s upgrade in Spain moved them decisively within range of the front runners. Having averaged 1.48% off the pace in the first four races they halved the deficit to 0.73%. Alonso is more than capable of making up that shortfall and contending for victory.

Mercedes

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Barcelona, 2012Schumacher had his knuckles rapped last weekend for cutting the track to baulk Lewis Hamilton during practice.

He starts this weekend on the back foot, knowing he will lose five places on the grid as punishment for hitting Senna during the race. Based on recent qualifying form there’s a good chance they’ll end up sharing row seven.

Team mate Nico Rosberg expects the W03 to suit this track better than the Circuit de Catalunya: “The nature of the track should suit our car but as we have seen at every race so far this season, tyre management will be crucial.”

Lotus

Lotus are another team who’ve been cagey about their Monaco prospects – despite having finished two-three and three-four in the last two races.

Kimi Raikkonen is still not entirely happy with the steering on his car so there’ll be more modifications to his E20 this weekend.

Force India

Force India were on the fringes of the points in Spain but expects more from their recently-upgraded VJM05 this weekend.

Nico Hulkenberg will be hoping for a longer race than his maiden appearance here – a damaged front wing dumped him into the barrier at the tunnel on lap one.

Sauber

Sergio Perez, Sauber, Barcelona, 2012Sauber showed great potential with their revised car in Spain, though it was slightly masked: Perez started fifth, but a first-lap punctured destroyed his race. Kamui Kobayashi might have bettered tenth on the grid had it not been for an hydraulic problem.

For Perez, this should be his first Monaco Grand Prix start following his nasty crash in qualifying last year. He had impressed up to that point, getting the Sauber into Q3. He won the GP2 feature race here in 2010. Kobayashi scored a career-best fifth in last year’s race.

Toro Rosso

Daniel Ricciardo is another driver who’s enjoyed success here. He ran in first practice at the track last year, which helped him on his way to a second consecutive win in the Formula Renault 3.5 support race.

It looks like a good chance for him to put on over his team mate, who’s had the beating of him in the last four races.

Williams

There’s a very real chance the first two-time winner of the year could be Pastor Maldonado following his superb win in Barcelona. The Williams has shown good low-speed traction and Maldonado has three wins at Monte-Carlo to his name from the junior categories.

Bruno Senna had a tough time in Spain but this weekend he will at least get to drive in all three practice sessions for a change.

Caterham

Caterham have been frustratingly close-but-not-close-enough so far this year.

Monaco offers their experienced driver pairing the chance to gain some ground on the likes of Toro Rosso, but this is the one race where they may rue the absence of track specialist Jarno Trulli.

HRT

HRT’s aerodynamic update in Spain showed promising signs of progress but they’re still some way off getting on terms with Marussia.

Marussia

Timo Glock was very proud of his qualifying lap here last year. On the evidence so far he may need another top-drawer effort to keep the increasingly impressive Charles Pic in check.

2012 driver form

Q avg R avg R best R worst Classified Form guide
Sebastian Vettel 6 5 1 11 5/5 Form guide
Mark Webber 5.8 5.4 4 11 5/5 Form guide
Jenson Button 4.6 8.8 1 18 5/5 Form guide
Lewis Hamilton 7 5 3 8 5/5 Form guide
Fernando Alonso 8 4.8 1 9 5/5 Form guide
Felipe Massa 14 13 9 15 4/5 Form guide
Michael Schumacher 7.8 10 10 10 2/5 Form guide
Nico Rosberg 5.2 7.6 1 13 5/5 Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen 9.2 6.2 2 14 5/5 Form guide
Romain Grosjean 5.8 4.33 3 6 3/5 Form guide
Paul di Resta 13.2 9.8 6 14 5/5 Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg 13.4 11.5 9 15 4/5 Form guide
Kamui Kobayashi 10.8 8.5 5 13 4/5 Form guide
Sergio Perez 10.4 8 2 11 4/5 Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo 12.6 13.2 9 17 5/5 Form guide
Jean-Eric Vergne 15.6 12.2 8 16 5/5 Form guide
Pastor Maldonado 10.8 10.25 1 19 4/5 Form guide
Bruno Senna 14.6 12.75 6 22 4/5 Form guide
Heikki Kovalainen 19.2 18.5 16 23 4/5 Form guide
Vitaly Petrov 18.8 16.75 16 18 4/5 Form guide
Pedro de la Rosa 21.75 20.25 19 21 4/4 Form guide
Narain Karthikeyan 23.5 21.67 21 22 3/4 Form guide
Timo Glock 21 17.4 14 19 5/5 Form guide
Charles Pic 20.6 18.33 15 20 3/5 Form guide

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2012 Monaco Grand Prix

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Images ?? Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo, Mercedes/Hoch Zwei, Sauber F1 Team

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69 comments on Can rejuvenated Ferrari end 11-year wait for Monaco win?

  1. johnpap (@johnpap) said on 23rd May 2012, 17:24

    baaahhh…The only think u people agree on , is that ferrari is a piece of junk..Noone sees the fact that they are improving and they will keep on doing that..From my point of view ,Alonso will take the championship and u wont be able to realize it simply cause u underastimate them too much..

  2. Nico74 (@nico74) said on 23rd May 2012, 18:40

    For me FA and LH are the best drivers but i think LH has the better car and he and the team Will learn from mistakes and they Will improve. FA Will always be there and if someone make a mistakes he Will take his points

  3. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 23rd May 2012, 19:58

    If Ferrari are super strong around here, and if Alonso has whatever problem… Massa, winning? Now that would make this season completely and utterly bonkers!

    • Dusty in California (@dusty-in-california) said on 24th May 2012, 3:58

      Even if Massa could do it, would Ferrari let him win? Certainly not if Alonso was anywhere near him.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 24th May 2012, 12:47

        I think that is a valid question…personally I think the answer is yes, they would let FM take the win if it came down to that. I think it is early enough in the season, and even though I’m sure the temptation would be there to get FA the lion’s share of the points, there are so many races to go, and most importantly they have been publicly saying FM needs to up his game, starting at Monaco…Ferrari, imho, would look the fools if they were shown to be pressuring FM to improve, claiming they are behind him in achieving that goal, only to cut the legs out from under him. I think FM would be totally demoralized if they team-ordered him out of a win at this point. And I think if they were about to do that to FM then surely it would also mean he might as well be replaced mid-season…it would be a miserable and uncomfortable rest of the season on one side and maybe even both sides of the garage if they did this to FM at race 6 of a long season.

        Also, given that it is only race 6 and presuming an order would only be even considered if the drivers were close ie. FA looking to at least get second or third place, I think it would be worth it for the whole team to leave FA with those points, rather than for the sake of a handful more points create such a negative aura around the team, and from the fans, that would last the rest of the season.

  4. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 23rd May 2012, 22:16

    Tough one to call this one, well, they’ve all been tough!

    I think qualifying will play a big part, bigger than usual. I expect McLaren are correct about knowing what their advantage is and I guess the E20 will have it’s biggest advantage, speed, cut down significantly.

    Monaco really is a thorn in the side as far as the season goes. It’s quite unpredictable which when coupled with a season we’re having makes it impossible for me to call a winner. I think the weekend will be full of surprise results but I can’t see the action on track being too spectacular.

  5. Kimi4WC said on 24th May 2012, 0:00

    Kimi is so winning this. Watch Lotus to focus on qualifying this weekend and get front row 1 – 2.

  6. Langrind (@langrind) said on 24th May 2012, 0:16

    I think Perez and/or Maldonado will be two outsiders to watch out for. Both showed good pace in Monaco last year. Give them a free quali lap (if that’s possible), and I think they could be close to the front of the grid.

  7. raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 24th May 2012, 3:02

    My bet is on Vettel to take this one. The RB8 has shown one thing that has intrigued me – if a circuit’s “laptime” corners are all in the same speed range, the setup can get hooked up, and they can be competitive. Take Australia and Bahrain – Bahrain is all about trail braking and hairpins, save for a couple of fast sweepers at the end of Sector 2. Australia… well it’s practically the same corner repeated over and over really. Turn 6/7, 9/10… all carbon copies of Turn 1/2. The penultimate corner is also a carbon copy of Turn 3 in reverse.

    Malaysia, China and Spain has hairpins and sweepers in a mix, and they’ve performed decidedly worse there than they have in Bahrain and Australia.

  8. BBT (@bbt) said on 24th May 2012, 9:02

    One paper I’d expect one on the Renault powered cars to win as the pack is close and that is a very drivable engine, no top speed and power problems to fight against. Williams, RBR or Lotus for the win maybe.

    Having said that track position (and therefore quick clean pitstops) is everything. I think the pack of cards is stacked in the least favour for Mclaren so far, so with this season they’ll probably get a 1 – 2.

    Not worth thinking about too much, anyone apart from the ‘new’ teams could win it.

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