Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monte-Carlo, 2014

Rain may add further spice to tense Mercedes rivalry

2014 Monaco Grand Prix pre-race analysisPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Monte-Carlo, 2014The escalating tension between the two Mercedes drivers was ratcheted up in qualifying for Monaco where Nico Rosberg took pole position in acrimonious circumstances.

The stewards eventually ruled he did not deliberately attempt to disrupt Lewis Hamilton’s last lap by going off at Mirabeau and causing the yellow flags to come out. But Hamilton will surely be suspicious about the circumstances in which he was beaten to the most important pole position of the year.

Winning at Monaco without the benefit of pole position is extremely difficult. It’s only been done once in the last ten F1 races at the track.

But the driver who did it was Hamilton – in the rain hit 2008 grand prix. And tomorrow’s weather forecast makes for interesting reading on that point…

Weather

The weather forecast for Sunday has changed over the past few days and the possibility of race day showers has grown.

What remains uncertain is whether they will arrive soon enough to affect the race. Some models indicate rain will fall around midday, which would completely change the complexion of the race, while others predict it won’t arrive until long after the champagne has been sprayed.

The Red Bull drivers arguably have the most to benefit from rain, as it was in the wet qualifying sessions earlier this year that they got closest to Mercedes.

But whether or not the rain appears a repeat of Saturday’s clear skies and high temperatures looks increasingly unlikely. “We expect more cloud cover tomorrow and there is even a chance of rain,” noted Nico Hulkenberg.

Rain fell earlier in practice and Fernando Alonso is concerned traction will be very poor if it returns. “If it was to rain, as has been suggested, then just getting to the finish will already be a good result,” he said, “because as we saw on Thursday from the few laps we did, it’s really on the limit, like sliding around on ice.”

The start

Start, 2013 Monaco Grand Prix, Monte-Carlo,Rosberg knows his starts have been one of his weaknesses this year and it represents his team mate’s best chance to get ahead.

On the only previous occasion he started in front of Hamilton this year – Bahrain – Rosberg was passed before the first corner. But Hamilton doesn’t have anything like as long a run to the first corner to exploit here, and Rosberg has the added advantage of starting on the inside.

Last year the pair started from the same positions, and although Hamilton got a better start and got his nose in front of Rosberg’s, he had to back down when they reached turn one.

Third-placed Daniel Ricciardo is disappointed at having qualified behind both Mercedes, and is hoping to demote them at the start:

“I think we have the pace to hang with Mercedes, so hopefully we can at least get one of them off the line and maybe do something with strategy and give ourselves a real chance of taking a win.”

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Strategy

Last year Mercedes used their position of superiority to force a slow pace to the race. They did this out of concerns over how long they could make their tyres last, and the need to deny their rivals the opportunity to get ahead by making an earlier pit stop than Mercedes could.

As a result most drivers who started on super-soft tyres ran them until lap 25, when they made what would likely have been their only pit stops. As it turned out the suspension of the race a few laps later allowed them all a free change to another set of tyres.

The teams have found it hard to warm up the harder 2014-specification tyres. “Compared to what we expected, the tyres seem too hard and we are struggling a lot to get them up to temperature,” said Alonso.

“If the race is run in the dry tomorrow, then it will be an endurance race to see who can stay out on track the longest.”

This could give some drivers the incentive to make a very early pit stop and try to finish the race without stopping again. The high chance of a Safety Car appearance at Monaco gives another reason to risk this kind of strategy.

Qualifying times in full

Driver Car Q1 Q2 (vs Q1) Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’17.678 1’16.465 (-1.213) 1’15.989 (-0.476)
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’17.823 1’16.354 (-1.469) 1’16.048 (-0.306)
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1’17.900 1’17.233 (-0.667) 1’16.384 (-0.849)
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’18.383 1’17.074 (-1.309) 1’16.547 (-0.527)
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’17.853 1’17.200 (-0.653) 1’16.686 (-0.514)
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’17.902 1’17.398 (-0.504) 1’17.389 (-0.009)
7 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1’17.557 1’17.657 (+0.100) 1’17.540 (-0.117)
8 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1’17.978 1’17.609 (-0.369) 1’17.555 (-0.054)
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1’18.616 1’17.594 (-1.022) 1’18.090 (+0.496)
10 Sergio Perez Force India 1’18.108 1’17.755 (-0.353) 1’18.327 (+0.572)
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1’18.432 1’17.846 (-0.586)
12 Jenson Button McLaren 1’17.890 1’17.988 (+0.098)
13 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1’18.407 1’18.082 (-0.325)
14 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1’18.335 1’18.196 (-0.139)
15 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1’18.585 1’18.356 (-0.229)
16 Felipe Massa Williams 1’18.209
17 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1’18.741
18 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1’18.745
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1’19.332
20 Max Chilton Marussia 1’19.928
21 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1’20.133
22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1’21.732

Sector times

Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Nico Rosberg 19.826 (1) 35.241 (2) 20.922 (3)
Lewis Hamilton 19.906 (2) 35.140 (1) 20.935 (4)
Daniel Ricciardo 20.011 (3) 35.454 (4) 20.875 (1)
Sebastian Vettel 20.137 (5) 35.446 (3) 20.882 (2)
Fernando Alonso 20.067 (4) 35.498 (5) 20.968 (5)
Kimi Raikkonen
Jean-Eric Vergne 20.321 (7) 35.703 (6) 21.294 (10)
Kevin Magnussen 20.221 (6) 35.792 (7) 21.234 (7)
Daniil Kvyat 20.326 (8) 35.893 (8) 21.282 (8)
Sergio Perez 20.418 (9) 35.962 (11) 21.287 (9)
Nico Hulkenberg 20.452 (10) 35.945 (10) 21.340 (13)
Jenson Button 20.459 (11) 35.925 (9) 21.197 (6)
Valtteri Bottas 20.507 (14) 36.015 (12) 21.334 (12)
Romain Grosjean 20.481 (12) 36.163 (15) 21.321 (11)
Pastor Maldonado 20.489 (13) 36.114 (14) 21.398 (14)
Felipe Massa 20.614 (15) 36.053 (13) 21.515 (15)
Esteban Gutierrez 20.803 (17) 36.376 (17) 21.518 (16)
Adrian Sutil 20.754 (16) 36.310 (16) 21.647 (17)
Jules Bianchi 20.951 (18) 36.484 (18) 21.759 (18)
Max Chilton 20.957 (19) 36.951 (20) 22.020 (19)
Kamui Kobayashi 21.083 (20) 36.863 (19) 22.027 (20)
Marcus Ericsson 21.209 (21) 37.593 (21) 22.565 (21)

Speed trap

Pos Driver Car Engine Speed (kph/mph) Gap
1 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 292.0 (181.4)
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Mercedes 290.9 (180.8) -1.1
3 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 290.1 (180.3) -1.9
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 290.0 (180.2) -2.0
5 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 289.7 (180.0) -2.3
6 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Renault 288.8 (179.5) -3.2
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 288.0 (179.0) -4.0
8 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso Renault 287.7 (178.8) -4.3
9 Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes 286.2 (177.8) -5.8
10 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari 285.7 (177.5) -6.3
11 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 285.4 (177.3) -6.6
12 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault 285.0 (177.1) -7.0
13 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari 284.9 (177.0) -7.1
14 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari 284.8 (177.0) -7.2
15 Jules Bianchi Marussia Ferrari 284.8 (177.0) -7.2
16 Max Chilton Marussia Ferrari 284.2 (176.6) -7.8
17 Adrian Sutil Sauber Ferrari 284.0 (176.5) -8.0
18 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham Renault 283.8 (176.3) -8.2
19 Marcus Ericsson Caterham Renault 283.4 (176.1) -8.6
20 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Renault 282.5 (175.5) -9.5
21 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 281.9 (175.2) -10.1
22 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 281.7 (175.0) -10.3

Over to you

Will it be another typical Monaco pole-to-win run for Rosberg? Can Hamilton find a way to claim his fifth win in a row?

Share your views on the Monaco Grand Prix in the comments.

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