2016 Monaco Grand Prix Practice Review

Monaco-GP

Max Verstappen wins the Spanish Grand Prix ahead of the Ferrari’s of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. Williams, McLaren, Toro Rosso and Force India all managed to score some much needed points.

Heading into this weekend, Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean unveiled a helmet especially for this weekend where Jules Bianchi in 2014 completed his greatest achievement in F1 when he scored an ninth place finish for Marussia. If you want to read more about this, then please read my article here:- https://jonesonf1.wordpress.com/2016/05/25/grosjean-pays-tribute-to-bianchi-this-weekend-in-monaco/

The Monaco GP circuit is considered the ultimate test of driving skills. It contains both the slowest corner in Formula 1, taken at just 50 km/h, and one of the quickest, taken at 260 km/h. The average speed is very low compared to other F1 circuits. The drivers have to go very close to the Armco barriers all the time and there is no margin for error at all.

The Grand Prix of Monaco is certainly the most classic race on the calendar of the Formula One World Championship, and the one race teams and drivers want to win above all others.

Monaco is a track where the driver plays a more important role than the power of the car. The course is narrow and dangerous, and overtaking is almost impossible, so qualifying is very important. The only corner that offers a real chance of a passing move is turn 1, Sainte Devote.

It is one of the few points with any run-off area and drivers quite often have to use the escape road. Overtaking might also be possible in the Nouvelle chicane after the famous tunnel section, by pressuring the driver in front to make a mistake. The circuit demands a softer set-up than usual and maximum downforce.

In 1955, Italian Alberto Ascari made history by becoming the first driver to crash into the harbour in Monaco during a Grand Prix. Ascari survived, but he was treated for a broken nose, bruises and shock. The only other driver to crash into the harbour in the circuit’s history was Paul Hawkins from Australia. He did so when he spun at the chicane with his Lotus during the 1965 Grand Prix. Hawkins emerged from the unusual accident uninjured.

Practices 1, 2 and 3

The main headline from the Practice sessions is that Mercedes and Ferrari look to have the driver-car package to beat this weekend as weather conditions and tyre management which will test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1.

Practice 1 saw Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheet with a time of 1.15.537 followed closely by Nico Rosberg with a gap of 0.101 seconds behind, Sebastian Vettel was in third with a gap of 0.419 seconds behind, Daniel Ricciardo in fourth with a gap of 0.771 seconds behind and Max Verstappen in fifth with a gap of 0.834 seconds behind Hamilton

Daniil Kvyat is sixth with a gap of 0.889 seconds behind, Nico Hulkenberg is seventh with a gap of 1.023 seconds behind, Sergio Perez is eighth with a gap of 1.160 seconds behind, Kimi Raikkonen is ninth with a gap of 1.375 seconds behind and Carlos Sainz Jr is tenth with a gap of 1.593 seconds behind Hamilton.

During FP1, there was several offs during the session, with Felipe Massa putting his Williams in the wall at Ste Devote and damaging the left side of his car. The Brazilian driver did not emerge again but was not the only man to be caught out by the first corner, with several drivers including Hamilton locking up and running into the deep run-off area later in the session.

In the final half hour of the session, Jolyon Palmer hit the wall after getting some oversteer at Tabac, this then cost the Englishman valuable track time at the end of the session.

But FP1 was stopped prematurely after a loose manhole cover was kicked up onto the circuit. The session came to a conclusion three minutes early when Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes appeared to kick up a manhole cover at the bottom of the hill at Turn 1, which bounced across the track and underneath the McLaren of Jenson Button.

The cover destroyed the McLaren’s front wing and gave the 2009 world champion a puncture, an incident which could have been much more serious if the cover had bounced towards the cockpit area. After an inspection by FIA race director Charlie Whiting, a replacement manhole cover was welded back into place to avoid a repeat in afternoon F1, GP2 and Porsche Supercup sessions.

Daniel Ricciardo tops the timesheets in FP2.

Daniel Ricciardo tops the timesheets in FP2.

Practice 2 saw Ricciardo tops the timesheet with a time of 1.15.537 followed closely by Hamilton with a gap of 0.606 seconds behind, Rosberg was in third with a gap of 0.899 seconds behind, Verstappen in fourth with a gap of 0.964 seconds behind and Kvyat in fifth with a gap of 1.208 seconds behind Ricciardo.

Sainz Jr is sixth with a gap of 1.374 seconds behind, Raikkonen is seventh with a gap of 1.433 seconds behind, Perez is eighth with a gap of 1.513 seconds behind, Vettel is ninth with a gap of 1.662 seconds behind and Button is tenth with a gap of 1.718 seconds behind Ricciardo.

During FP2, there was several offs during the session Romain Grosjean, Rio Haryanto, Sebastian Vettel and Kevin Magnussen all made contact with the Armco during the session. Grosjean’s accident came at the notoriously tricky exit of the tunnel as his Haas snapped sideways under braking and clouted both right wheels against the barrier. He managed to make it back to the pits and the car was repaired by the second half of the session in order to complete 23 laps in total.

Haryanto’s accident was at the same part of the circuit but he came off much worse. Like Grosjean, his car snapped to the right under braking but he overcorrected the slide and pirouetted 180 degrees before hitting the barriers hard on the left. The accident left his Manor with severely damaged suspension, but the Indonesian was unhurt.

Vettel lost the rear of his Ferrari on entry to Mirabeau, spinning him through 180 degrees and causing light damage to his rear wing as he made contact with the barriers. The team was able to get his car back on track only for him to glance the barrier with his left rear tyre at Ste Devote in the final ten minutes of the session.

Magnussen’s accident came at the final corner after he locked a front wheel under braking and understeered into the barrier. It damaged his front wing, giving the Renault team another repair job after Jolyon Palmer his the barriers in FP1.

Sebastian Vettel tops the timesheets in FP3.

Sebastian Vettel tops the timesheets in FP3.

Practice 3 saw Vettel tops the timesheet with a time of 1.14.650 followed closely by Hamilton with a gap of 0.018 seconds behind, Rosberg was in third with a gap of 0.122 seconds behind, Ricciardo in fourth with a gap of 0.157 seconds behind and Verstappen in fifth with a gap of 0.431 seconds behind Vettel.

Kvyat is sixth with a gap of 0.609 seconds behind, Sainz Jr is seventh with a gap of 0.674 seconds behind, Perez is eighth with a gap of 0.718 seconds behind, Raikkonen is ninth with a gap of 0.905 seconds behind and Hulkenberg is tenth with a gap of 1.016 seconds behind Vettel.

During FP3, Max Verstappen clouted the barrier at Beau Rivage in the final ten minutes. The impact looked heavy but Red Bull was able to check his car over and send him back out before the end of the session. Also, Jolyon Palmer had an early spin which saw him damage his rear wing against the barriers at the Swimming Pool complex.

You would be stupid not to bet against the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg to gain pole position again this weekend. As the Mercedes drivers seem to be performing brilliantly at the moment and the momentum is with them from all the track mileage and their strong form from the last race. Vettel, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Verstappen or Perez also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top ten places at the moment.

However, I think that Toro Rosso, McLaren and Force India have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here to be in the hunt for some decent points this weekend. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…

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