Webber aims for Red Bull’s third pole-to-win in Monaco

2012 Monaco GP pre-race analysis

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Monaco 2012Red Bull are on pole position for the third year in a row at Monaco.

But unusually it’s Mark Webber who lines up at the sharp end rather than Sebastian Vettel, who’s taken the lion’s share of the team’s pole positions.

Webber is aiming to repeat his 2010 pole-to-win feat and give Red Bull their third consecutive victory in the principality.

The start

The first moments of the race are even more crucial in Monaco because of the difficulty of overtaking here. Going on past form, we could be in for an exciting start.

Webber hasn’t got a record of particularly good starts this year. In the first five races he’s lost a total of seven places on lap one.

The problem for those lining up behind him is they won’t have much chance to capitalise on it. The narrow, curved run to the first corner is just 300m long and Webber’s car will be positioned on the inside.

The driver who starts second usually has worry more about keeping his position than gaining one. Only once the the last four starts has the driver who started third failed to take second. That was slow-starting Webber, last year.

Lewis Hamilton may be only third on the grid but he has a decent chance of getting in the mix with Webber and Rosberg at the start.

Strategy

Strategy at Monaco has always been making as few pit stops as possible, limiting your vulnerability to being jumped from behind.

This was the policy Vettel pursued last year, pitting for softs on lap 16 and attempting to run until the end.

It left him with a lot of defending to do and whether he might have kept Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button behind in the final laps without the red flag – and the opportunity to change tyres – is one of the great ‘what ifs’ of last year.

Strategy therefore becomes a questions of who will dare to pit first for soft tyres – and whether they will try to make them last until the end. This will partly come down to who can find clean air to drop back into at their first pit stop.

Lotus had especially good performance on the soft tyre but couldn’t find the same kind of performance on the super-soft. This might embolden them to take on a longer stint on the softs than their rivals.

As well as being on pole, Red Bull also have the best-placed car which has the choice of tyre to start on. Vettel, who starts ninth, said: “We could be on a different strategy tomorrow as we?re able to start the race on hard tyres, slightly different to the cars ahead, so we?ll see how the first stint goes and go from there.”

As ever, the narrow confines of Monaco increases the chance of a safety car deployment, which would make life very difficult for the strategists.

Qualifying times in full

Driver Car Q1 Q2 (vs Q1) Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Mark Webber Red Bull 1’16.013 1’15.035 (-0.978) 1’14.381 (-0.654)
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’15.900 1’15.022 (-0.878) 1’14.448 (-0.574)
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1’16.063 1’15.166 (-0.897) 1’14.583 (-0.583)
4 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1’15.718 1’15.219 (-0.499) 1’14.639 (-0.580)
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’16.153 1’15.128 (-1.025) 1’14.948 (-0.180)
6 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’15.873 1’15.062 (-0.811) 1’14.301 (-0.761)
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’15.983 1’14.911 (-1.072) 1’15.049 (+0.138)
8 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1’15.889 1’15.322 (-0.567) 1’15.199 (-0.123)
9 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’15.757 1’15.234 (-0.523)
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1’15.418 1’15.421 (+0.003)
11 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1’15.648 1’15.508 (-0.140)
12 Jenson Button McLaren 1’16.399 1’15.536 (-0.863)
13 Bruno Senna Williams 1’15.923 1’15.709 (-0.214)
14 Paul di Resta Force India 1’16.062 1’15.718 (-0.344)
15 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1’16.360 1’15.878 (-0.482)
16 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1’16.491 1’16.885 (+0.394)
17 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1’16.538
18 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1’17.404
19 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1’16.017 1’15.026 (-0.991) 1’15.245 (+0.219)
20 Timo Glock Marussia 1’17.947
21 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1’18.096
22 Charles Pic Marussia 1’18.476
23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1’19.310
24 Sergio Perez Sauber

Felipe Massa made it into Q3 for the first time this year and reckoned he could have beaten his team mate: “I could definitely have done even better than this seventh place: fifth was within my reach, given what we saw in Q1 and Q2.

“Unfortunately, in Q3 I did not manage to get a perfectly clean lap because of traffic, but that?s an easy thing to find here.”

Sector times

Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Mark Webber 19.484 (11) 34.685 (2) 20.185 (1)
Nico Rosberg 19.228 (2) 34.770 (3) 20.355 (2)
Lewis Hamilton 19.291 (3) 34.811 (4) 20.398 (4)
Romain Grosjean 19.136 (1) 35.037 (10) 20.389 (3)
Fernando Alonso 19.319 (5) 34.993 (8) 20.539 (7)
Michael Schumacher 19.295 (4) 34.584 (1) 20.422 (5)
Felipe Massa 19.366 (6) 34.891 (6) 20.470 (6)
Kimi Raikkonen 19.399 (8) 34.988 (7) 20.590 (9)
Sebastian Vettel 19.436 (9) 35.020 (9) 20.696 (10)
Nico Hulkenberg 19.526 (12) 35.109 (12) 20.717 (12)
Kamui Kobayashi 19.668 (16) 35.103 (11) 20.714 (11)
Jenson Button 19.379 (7) 35.359 (14) 20.739 (14)
Bruno Senna 19.474 (10) 35.438 (15) 20.781 (16)
Paul di Resta 19.664 (15) 35.283 (13) 20.771 (15)
Daniel Ricciardo 19.613 (14) 35.474 (16) 20.737 (13)
Jean-Eric Vergne 19.678 (17) 35.609 (18) 21.016 (17)
Heikki Kovalainen 19.803 (18) 35.545 (17) 21.031 (18)
Vitaly Petrov 20.033 (20) 35.883 (20) 21.294 (19)
Pastor Maldonado 19.537 (13) 34.888 (5) 20.575 (8)
Timo Glock 20.293 (22) 36.217 (21) 21.304 (20)
Pedro de la Rosa 20.384 (23) 36.229 (22) 21.483 (21)
Charles Pic 20.207 (21) 36.509 (23) 21.559 (22)
Narain Karthikeyan 20.559 (24) 36.570 (24) 21.740 (23)
Sergio Perez 19.987 (19) 35.862 (19) 32.524 (24)

The lap which ultimately put Webber on pole did not get off to a promising start – he was only 11th-quickest in the first sector.

Romain Grosjean believed his slow middle sector cost him a chance of pole position: “I did a very good lap in the first part of Q3 but then I couldn?t improve on my second set of tyres.

“This was a shame because our strategy was perfect for the last part of qualifying. The traffic wasn?t too bad but I missed out in sector two. I think pole position was within reach.”

Speed trap

Pos Driver Car Speed (kph/mph) Gap
1 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 282.5 (175.5)
2 Jenson Button McLaren 282.2 (175.4) -0.3
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 281.6 (175.0) -0.9
4 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 281.6 (175.0) -0.9
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 281.2 (174.7) -1.3
6 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 281.1 (174.7) -1.4
7 Mark Webber Red Bull 281.0 (174.6) -1.5
8 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 280.5 (174.3) -2.0
9 Pastor Maldonado Williams 280.4 (174.2) -2.1
10 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 280.3 (174.2) -2.2
11 Paul di Resta Force India 279.8 (173.9) -2.7
12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 279.6 (173.7) -2.9
13 Felipe Massa Ferrari 279.5 (173.7) -3.0
14 Bruno Senna Williams 279.3 (173.5) -3.2
15 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 279.0 (173.4) -3.5
16 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 278.9 (173.3) -3.6
17 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 278.5 (173.1) -4.0
18 Romain Grosjean Lotus 278.4 (173.0) -4.1
19 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 278.2 (172.9) -4.3
20 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 278.2 (172.9) -4.3
21 Timo Glock Marussia 277.4 (172.4) -5.1
22 Charles Pic Marussia 276.9 (172.1) -5.6
23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 276.6 (171.9) -5.9
24 Sergio Perez Sauber 276.4 (171.7) -6.1

Your view on the Monaco Grand Prix

Mark Webber take his second victory in the Monaco Grand Prix? How will Michael Schumacher fare after being relegated from first to sixth on the grid?

And what progress will Pastor Maldonado and Sergio Perez make from 19th and 24th? Have your say in the comments.

2012 Monaco Grand Prix

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44 comments on Webber aims for Red Bull’s third pole-to-win in Monaco

  1. Toro Stevo (@toro-stevo) said on 27th May 2012, 2:04

    I could have sworn Webber lost more positions than that on the starts, but I assume that doesn’t count the positions he then subsequently made back up before the end of the first lap.

  2. Lord Stig (@lord-stig) said on 27th May 2012, 4:29

    I was surprised by how poor the pace of the Lotus was in qualifying. They had minimal running in on the super soft so I presume their car just did not find as much benefit from them as other found. Their pace on the soft was much more impressive so we could see some of that in the race. The forecast is for dry weather so strategy should not be very hard to get right. You can see the forecast for yourself here. Safety car’s are always a possibility in Monaco so that might case a bit of a curve ball for some. Without rain, however, I suspect we may be in for a bit of a procedural race.

  3. What better place for Mark Webber to get his first win for 2012..? The confidence gained from having won in Monaco in 2010 will see him keep his head and take the win..

  4. sagar atgamkar (@sagaratgamkar) said on 27th May 2012, 7:32

    possibly GRO will out perform RAI. dont think MAS is ant threat to ALO. possible to see MSH on the podium finally

  5. Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 27th May 2012, 11:29

    A protest brewing against Red Bull’s floor, according to PA’s Ian Parkes on Twitter.

    What’s the problem? Is this a new floor? Have the other teams just been waiting for a Red Bull to beat them, so they can get it thrown out?

    So this is F1’s latest way of making itself look silly, after sending Hamilton to the back in Spain, and going to Bahrain and pretending nothing was wrong.

  6. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 27th May 2012, 12:21

    Well summed up Keith, particularly about Webber at the start. I can’t see Webber winning this to be honest, I can see Hamilton bagging it.

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