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Monaco GP: Rosberg storms to victory for Mercedes in incident-packed race


By Berthold Bouman

Monaco GP: Rosberg storms to victory for Mercedes in incident-packed raceNico Rosberg stormed to victory in Monaco during round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship, exactly 30 years ago after his father Keke Rosberg won the race for Williams in 1983.

A great win for Mercedes, Rosberg kept his cool and remained in control during an incident-packed race on the streets of Monaco, with two Safety Car interventions, and one red flag period. Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber took second and third place respectively.

It’s amazing,” Rosberg said to the BBC. “This is my home, I’ve grown up here all my life and it’s really special. The whole weekend went perfectly. I had a terrible start and I was close with Sebastian and Lewis but after that I controlled the pace. The car was really good, the tyres held on OK and that was really the key, so a massive thanks to the team. I’m ecstatic!”

After the start the whole field of 22 cars made it through Saint Devote without damage, but Dutchman Giedo van der Garde hit the Williams of Pastor Maldonado at the end of the first lap, and he had to pit for a new front wing. His team colleague Charles Pic also had a bad day, his Caterham caught fire and after nine laps and he had to stop his car near the pit lane entry.

Sebastian Vettel finished second - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Sebastian Vettel finished in second place – Photo: Red Bull Racing

After 25 laps were completed, almost the whole top ten rushed into the pit lane for the first tyre stop, but Rosberg remained in first place, and was followed by Lewis Hamilton in the other Mercedes, Vettel, Webber and Fernando Alonso.

Just a few laps later Felipe Massa crashed heavily at the same place where he had crashed on Saturday morning, he first hit the guard rail ahead of Saint Devote and then crashed into the barriers. Massa was okay, but was seen wearing a neck brace. The Safety Car came out and Rosberg and Hamilton decided to pit, but Hamilton emerged from the pit lane in fourth position, while Rosberg remained in the lead.

After the Safety Car had returned to the pits, Hamilton was chasing Webber for third place, but the Australian closed the door and kept the Mercedes behind him. At the same time Alonso had to fend off Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus, and Perez was pushing his team colleague Jenson Button.

Perez was on a rampage today - Photo: McLaren

Perez was on a rampage today – Photo: McLaren

The Mexican got past Button outbraking him at the exit of the tunnel, but he ran wide, cut the chicane and was told by his team to give the place back to Button, who had complained about his team colleague over the radio, and thus the rivalry between the two McLaren drivers re-ignited this afternoon in Monaco.

On lap 45 Max Chilton in the Marussia hit the Williams of Maldonado, the latter crashed hard at Tabac, and the race was red-flagged. Fortunately, Maldonado could get out of his battered Williams unscathed, but Marshals had to repair the guard rail and barriers. Chilton’s actions were rewarded with a drive-through penalty. Maldonado said, “It was an unfortunate incident today with the Marussia car and the impact was quite big. Fortunately I am ok and the stewards took immediate action.”

While waiting for the restart of the race, most drivers used the opportunity to change the tyres, which is allowed according to the FIA regulations.

After some 30 minutes the race was restarted behind the Safety Car, again no problems for Rosberg and he remained in the lead. But Alonso had to hand his place back to Perez, as the Spaniard cut the chicane after Perez attempted to overtake him and forced him off the track just before the red flags came out. Perez, who was on a true rampage today, then tried to overtake Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus, but the Finn somehow managed to stay ahead of the Mexican.

More drama unfolded after Raikkonen’s team colleague Romain Grosjean crashed into the back of Daniel Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso after he tried to outbrake him at the exit of the tunnel. Both cars ended up on the escape road, Grosjean limped back to the pits for a new front wing, went out again but had to retire with front suspension damage. It was Grosjean’s third crash of the weekend, and he received a ten-place grid penalty for the Canadian Grand Prix.

The Safety Car came out again and when the track was cleaned Rosberg again kept his cool and stayed in the lead, but further down the order Perez again did his little trick at the chicane after the tunnel, this time collided with Raikkonen, who just kept his racing line.

The Finn had to pit as his left rear tyre was punctured, meanwhile Perez again cut the chicane to fend off Adrian Sutil in the Force India, but not much later had to give up his race as he had sustained even more damage to his car.

Great race for Adrian Sutil - Photo: Sahara Force India

Great race for Adrian Sutil – Photo: Sahara Force India

Hamilton finished in fourth place, while Sutil was fifth for Force India, Button was sixth and Alonso seventh. Raikkonen finished in tenth place and thus added one point to his tally.

Vettel said after the race, “Overall I’m happy and pleased with the result, we know that it’s very difficult to overtake here. Congratulations to Nico, he did a very good job and had a very controlled race; I think he had the pace and the tyres to respond whenever we tried to get a little bit closer to him.” And the triple World Champion added, “It was hard with the restarts, but we can be happy with the result.”

Also a good day for Sutil, who finished in fifth place and the German said, “Fifth place feels fantastic. It’s just the result we needed and I’m very happy right now. The car felt very good and we made the most of the chances that came our way.” About the race itself he said, “It was difficult to move forward in the first half of the race when I was stuck in the train of cars, but the red flag opened up some more opportunities.”

Vettel is still leading the Drivers’ Championship, followed by Raikkonen and Alonso. Red Bull is still leading the race for the Constructors’ title, while Ferrari and Lotus are second and third. Next race is the Canadian Grand Prix, on June 9.


Monaco GP: Rosberg on pole for Mercedes after rainy qualifying session


By Berthold Bouman

Monaco GP: Rosberg on pole for Mercedes after rainy qualifying sessionNico Rosberg took pole position for round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Monaco Grand Prix. The German set the fastest time on a rainy Monte Carlo circuit on the super soft Pirelli tyres, his team colleague Lewis Hamilton was second fastest, and triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel was third for Red Bull.

It was the third consecutive pole for the German and he said in a BBC interview, “The conditions were [changing] all over the place. Then it started drizzling again so the lap times got a lot slower. It was changing so much — you have to be on the right tyres at the right time. Everything when to plan and the last lap went OK.” Also Hamilton was pleased with his second place and said, “I’ve been struggling all weekend. The first time I have had that in Monaco. Very happy to be here and lock out the front row.”

Nico Rosberg on pole again - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Nico Rosberg on pole again – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Vettel made a mistake on his last lap and said, “I was a bit annoyed with my flying lap in Q3; I think I maybe pushed a bit too hard here and there. The start of the lap wasn’t bad, but also it wasn’t great; with hindsight I should have gone for two flying laps at the start of Q3 and not one, but I decided for that.” About his third place he said, “We have a good race car and should be able to do well from there tomorrow.”

The first qualifying session was struck by rain, all drivers went out on the intermediates, except Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean, who were still waiting in the garage until their cars were fixed. First casualty was Jules Bianchi, he went out in his Marussia but stopped at the top of Beau Rivage with smoke emerging from the back of his car.

It soon became a lottery on the wet streets of the gambling capital of Europe, Pastor Maldonado was quickest in the Williams after the chequered flag was waved to signal the end of the first session. Romain Grosjean went out with three minutes remaining, he performed a true miracle, stayed away from the barriers, and scored second place.

Giedo van der Garde - Photo: Caterham F1

Giedo van der Garde – Photo: Caterham F1

Another miracle, as Giedo van der Garde qualified for Q2 in the underpowered Caterham, the Dutchman felt at home on the wet circuit and he was of course elated about his performance today. He finally finished in 15th place and van der Garde said, “I’m obviously very pleased to put my name into the Q2 timesheets for the first time this year and I want to thank Tony [Fernandez], Cyril [Abiteboul] and the whole team for the jobs everyone did today. Honestly, it’s a great feeling.”

And he added, “Sunday could be very interesting. I start between the two Williams cars of Bottas and Maldonado and I’ve had good starts all year, so hopefully I can have another good launch, avoid anything like the GP2 mess on Friday, and from there anything’s possible. I finished on the podium here last year in GP2 and, while that’s not going to happen this year, we will definitely be racing quite a few cars all afternoon!”

Paul di Resta, Charles Pic, Esteban Gutierrez, Max Chilton, Bianchi and Massa were not so lucky, and didn’t make it into Q2. Massa’s Ferrari still wasn’t fixed and the Brazilian will start from 22nd and last position on the grid tomorrow.

During the second session the circuit started to dry out, but most drivers initially went out on the intermediates, but later switched to the super soft Pirellis. Again van der Garde showed how quick he was in the rain, halfway Q2 he was even in third place, but unfortunately for him, in the last minutes  Q2 everyone tried the super soft tyres and the Dutchman tumbled down the order quickly.

Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Grosjean, Valtteri Bottas, van der Garde and Maldonado did not make it into the third and final qualifying session.

All drivers went out on the super softs for Q3, and lap times were dropping quickly. With three minutes to go, Vettel was the fastest man on track, but again Mercedes did what they have done the whole weekend, and Rosberg landed his third pole of the season.

Sergio Perez - Photo: McLaren

Sergio Perez – Photo: McLaren

Mark Webber, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso completed the top six. Webber was optimistic about the race tomorrow and said,  “The conditions are changing and the tyres are tricky, so starting on the second row here is not bad. It’s a long race and a lot of strategy can unfold, so we’ll see what we can do from there.”

The McLaren team did benefit from the rainy circumstances, Sergio Perez was seventh while Jenson Button was ninth. “It’s not great to cross the finish line, feel like you’ve just done a mega lap, and find that you’re only seventh. Still, I put in a really strong performance here today, and I felt like I’d really maximised the full potential of the car,” Perez said.

Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh, however, remained optimistic, “Looking forward tomorrow’s race will be long and hard — and, although overtaking will be as difficult as ever, mistakes will inevitably play a part in the race’s unfolding drama, and both Jenson and Checo will be trying their hardest to drive faultlessly again in an effort to score as many world championship points as they possibly can.”

The qualifying results can be found here.


Monaco GP: Rosberg again fastest for Mercedes after final free practice session


By Berthold Bouman

Monaco GP: Rosberg again fastest for Mercedes after final free practice sessionNico Rosberg was fastest again after the final free practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix. The German set a time of 1m14.378s, the fastest time so far recorded on the streets of Monaco this weekend, where the barriers are close and one little mistake can mean disaster, as Felipe Massa, Adrian Sutil and Romain Grosjean found out.

Massa’s crash was a nasty one, he hit the barriers just before Saint Devote, and then helplessly slid into the second barrier, his car sustained a lot of damage and his engineers will have to work hard to get the car ready for qualifying this afternoon.

Adrian Sutil crashed his Force India at Beau Rivage, while Grosjean paid an unscheduled visit to the barriers of Saint Devote for the second time this weekend, his mechanics will also have to work hard to get his car ready in time for qualifying.

Rosberg again fastest this morning - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Rosberg again fastest this morning – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

But the French Lotus driver had already set his time, which gave him the right to second place, while Sebastian Vettel was third this morning. Fernando Alonso was fourth, followed by Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen who were fifth and sixth respectively.

Mark Webber was seventh in the second Red Bull while Paul di Resta was the fastest Force India driver as he took eighth place, while team colleague Sutil couldn’t improve his time due to his crash and the German finished the morning in 15th place. Pastor Maldonado and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top ten.

Another crash for Romain Grosjean - Photo: Lotus F1

Another crash for Romain Grosjean – Photo: Lotus F1

No McLarens in the top ten as Sergio Perez and Jenson Button were 11th and 12th, they were followed by both Toro Rosso drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo. Further down the list were Massa, Esteban Gutierrez and Valtteri Bottas.

Caterham were faster than their arch rival Marussia this morning, as Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde were 19th and 20th, while Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton took 21st and 22nd place.

The result of the third free practice session can be found here.


Monaco GP: Rosberg and Hamilton on top of second free practice session


By Berthold Bouman

Monaco GP: Rosberg and Hamilton on top of second free practice sessionMercedes dominated the second free practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix this afternoon, as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton took first and second place. Rosberg lapped the Monte Carlo street circuit in 1m14.759s on the super soft tyres, he was 1.436s faster than this morning.

Again a strong showing by Ferrari, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa took third and fourth place respectively. Mark Webber was the fastest Red Bull driver this afternoon, the Australian took fifth place, while Sebastian Vettel was ninth in the second Toro Rosso.

Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean landed sixth and seventh spot, but Grosjean crashed his Lotus into the wall at Saint Devote after he had run wide, the red flag came out as track marshals used the opportunity to inspect a loose kerb at the swimming pool before the session was restarted.

Second place for Hamilton - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Second place for Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Jenson Button was again faster than his team colleague Sergio Perez, he was eighth while Perez was 12th. Paul di Resta completed the top ten, but he was closely followed by Adrian Sutil in the second Force India, the German was 11th fastest this afternoon.

Nico Hulkenberg was again quick in the Sauber, he took 13th place, while Esteban Gutierrez was 15th, just 0,112s slower than Hulkenberg. Pastor Maldonado was not as quick as he had been this morning, he took 14th spot for Williams while Valtteri Bottas was 18th.

Paul di Resta - Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta – Photo: Sahara Force India

Toro Rosso drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne were 16th and 17th respectively, and at the bottom of the list are the usual suspects, as usual Marussia driver Jules Bianchi was faster than Max Chilton, while tis time Charles Pic outpaced his Dutch team colleague, he was 19th while Giedo van der Garde was 22nd and last.

Results of the second free practice session can be found here.


Monaco GP: Rosberg fastest for Mercedes after first free practice session


By Berthold Bouman

Monaco GP: Rosberg fastest for Mercedes after first free practice sessionNico Rosberg topped the time sheets this morning during the first free practice session for the Monaco Grand Prix, round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship. The Mercedes driver set a time of 1m16.195s, however, the difference with the number two, Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, was minimal as the Spaniard was only 0.087s slower than Rosberg.

Lotus likes surprises and this time Romain Grosjean was third this morning, while his Finnish team colleague Kimi Raikkonen was 11th. Felipe Massa was fourth for Ferrari, while Lewis Hamilton took fifth place in the second Mercedes.

Alonso second for Ferrari this morning - Photo: Ferrari F1

Alonso second for Ferrari this morning – Photo: Ferrari F1

Pastor Maldonado surprised friend and foe as he took sixth place for the troubled Williams team, Valtteri Bottas in the second Williams was 17th, the Finn was 1,837s slower than his team colleague.

Mark Webber was the fastest Red Bull driver this morning, as he took seventh place, while triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel was tenth. McLaren apparently found some speed as Jenson Button and Sergio Perez were eighth and ninth respectively.

Just outside the top ten were both Force India drivers Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil, the difference between the two was just 0.116s. Sauber tested a few parts and Nico Hulkenberg and his Mexican team colleague Esteban Gutierrez scored 14th and 16th place for the Swiss outfit.

Webber talks with the media - Photo: Red Bull Racing

Webber talks with the media – Photo: Red Bull Racing

Jean-Eric Vergne was the fastest Toro Rosso driver and took 15th place, while Daniel Ricciardo was 18th. No ‘guest drivers’ this morning, and thus Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic were 19th and 20th for Caterham, while Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton completed the list as they took 21st and 22nd respectively.

The results of the first free practice session can be found here.


Monaco GP: Ferrari to concentrate on qualifying, tyres not a problem


By Berthold Bouman

Monaco GP: Ferrari to concentrate on qualifying, tyres not a problemScuderia Ferrari has won many times on the most iconic circuit of all times: the Monte Carlo street circuit in the Principality of Monaco. Many great drivers have won the race for Ferrari; Niki Lauda (1975, 1976), Jody Scheckter (1979), Gilles Villeneuve (1981) and Michael Schumacher (1997, 1999, 2001). But 2001 was the last time Ferrari won the classic event, and the Maranello-based team is hungry for more.

Fernando Alonso: We have had two podiums here

Ferrari star driver Fernando Alonso is confident he will score a good result at the Monte Carlo track this weekend, “The feeling is good, the team is confident, as we saw we had a competitive package, getting both our cars onto the podium in Barcelona. However, Monaco is a unique track where you need a special set-up and confidence in your driving.”

Alonso doesn't expect any tyre problems - Photo: Ferrari F1

Alonso doesn’t expect any tyre problems – Photo: Ferrari F1

And the Spaniard added, “We have had two podiums here in the last couple of years, so we should be competitive again and I hope to get a good result.” Asked about his main rivals he commented, “We can expect Mercedes, who have been on pole for the last three races, to be very strong again and remember they were on pole position here last year with Michael (Schumacher) although he lost that place with a penalty. We know how difficult it is to overtake here, so maybe that makes them [Mercedes] favourite here.”

There has been a lot of talk about the Pirelli tyres, Pirelli promised to make changes, how does Alonso feel about that? “I have not formed an opinion on what effect that might have, because we are still waiting to find out what will be the final changes to the tyres,” he explained. “When we know exactly what their characteristics will be and probably we must wait until we have raced on them first, then we will be able to form an idea,” Alonso added.

“From the Ferrari side, we are not taking too much notice of the tyres, as we have an important race to deal with this weekend and we know that the tyres are the same for everyone.”

Felipe Massa - Photo: Ferrari F1

Felipe Massa – Photo: Ferrari F1

Felipe Massa: Monaco is a very special track

Asked about the circuit Felipe Massa said, “Monaco is a very special track, completely different to all the other venues we race on. Everywhere, you are really close to the edge of the track to the guard rails and you have to drive on the limit but not the slightest bit over it, because the smallest mistake is severely punished in Monaco.”

In Spain the Brazilian finished on the podium in third place, but he wants more and commented, “I was not happy with losing three places on the grid after qualifying, but I had a really great race, during which I managed to overtake many cars on track. We have to make it our target to fight for the podium at every race and of course, what I really want is to get a win soon!”

Felipe Massa talks about the Monaco Grand Prix – Video by Ferrari

Ferrari are currently second in the Constructors’ Championship, just 14 points shy of leader Red Bull. Alonso is third in the Drivers’ Championship with 72 points, and Massa is fifth with 45 points.

Also read:

• Red Bull Monaco GP Preview
• Ferrari Monaco GP Preview
McLaren Monaco GP Preview
• Lotus Monaco GP Preview
Mercedes Monaco GP Preview
Sauber Monaco GP Preview
Force India Monaco GP Preview
Williams Monaco GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Monaco GP Preview
Caterham Monaco GP Preview
Marussia Monaco GP Preview


Monaco GP: Marussia to focus on tyre management this weekend


By Berthold Bouman

Monaco: GP Marussia to focus on tyre management this weekendThe Russian-Anglo Marussia team is also looking forward to the race in Monaco this weekend, they have had a strong season start, as they managed to outpace their direct rival Caterham. The Monaco Grand Prix is always special, and rookie Jules Bianchi is looking forward to what he considers to be his home Grand Prix.

John Booth: It’s a track which really showcases a driver’s ability

Team Principal John Booth faces a tough challenge this season, but the Monaco Grand Prix is always something special. “Racing around the tight and twisty streets is an unparalleled experience for any driver and Jules [Bianchi] and Max [Chilton] are both very excited and looking to the race weekend with confidence after spending time in the simulator,” he said.

Quizzed about this weekend’s challenges he commented, “It’s a track which really showcases a driver’s ability so we look forward to seeing more of the obvious potential of both of our drivers shining through again. Monaco will not be without its challenges I’m sure and there will be the same heavy focus on tyre management. We do have a few minor developments however, which we hope will keep us moving in the right direction.”

Team Principal John Booth - Photo: Marussia F1

Team Principal John Booth – Photo: Marussia F1

Max Chilton: I hope we can put on a good show

Driver Max Chilton is looking forward to his first race in a Formula One car on the streets of Monte Carlo this weekend, “It’s shaping up to be quite a weekend so I hope we can put on a good show for the benefit of all the partners and guests who are making the trip there.”

“It’s a fascinating track and everything can turn on a knife-edge because of factors like the close proximity of the barriers and the importance of qualifying ahead of our immediate competitors,” the Briton added.

About the recent car developments he commented, “Although this is a very different challenge to Spain, I hope we can carry through some of the benefits we saw from the new developments last time out and have a better showing in Monaco.”

Home GP for Jules Bianchi - Photo: Marussia F1

Home GP for Jules Bianchi – Photo: Marussia F1

Jules Bianchi: This season is a dream come true

Frenchman Jules Bianchi feels Monaco is his home Grand Prix and he said ahead of the race, “When I was nine or ten years old and used to go to watch the Monaco Grand Prix, I could never have imagined that one day I would be racing here myself. So much of this season is a dream come true but next weekend is certainly one of the highlights for me. It’s a unique race, a fantastic experience on and off the track and the atmosphere is very special.”

He too, is hoping the Barcelona updates will help the team to make more progress, and Bianchi said, “I would like to think that we can have a strong weekend after some positive signs with the new upgrade in Spain. We were not able to make the best of it on race day there but I hope for better things in Monaco.”

Marussia are now tenth in the Constructors’ Championship, and Bianchi and Chilton are 19th and 22nd respectively in the Drivers’ Championship.

Also read:

• Red Bull Monaco GP Preview
• Ferrari Monaco GP Preview
McLaren Monaco GP Preview
• Lotus Monaco GP Preview
Mercedes Monaco GP Preview
Sauber Monaco GP Preview
Force India Monaco GP Preview
Williams Monaco GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Monaco GP Preview
Caterham Monaco GP Preview
Marussia Monaco GP Preview


Monaco GP: More aero updates for Sauber, team aims to qualify stronger


By Berthold Bouman

Monaco GP: More aero updates for Sauber, team aims to qualify strongerSauber is also looking forward to round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Monaco Grand Prix, an iconic race staged in the streets of the Principality’s capital, Monte Carlo. Pirelli will bring the soft and super soft tyres to Monaco, and it is expected drivers need several stops to complete the race.

Tom McCullough: We have some further updated aero parts

Sauber’s Head of Track Engineering, Tom McCullough, explains the difficulties of the famous street circuit, “The circuit in Monaco is a real challenge for the drivers and the team. The track improves throughout the weekend and it’s important to give the drivers a set-up that gives them confidence as the barriers are very close.”

Sauber will focus on the tyres, said McCullough, “This will be the first race of the season where we use both the soft and super-soft tyres. We have some further updated aero parts to add to the package we took to Barcelona. Coming off the back of our better race pace in Barcelona, our aim is to qualify stronger, as this is particularly important in Monaco where overtaking is so difficult.”

Hulkenberg waiting in the garage - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Hulkenberg waiting in the garage – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Nico Hulkenberg: In terms of performance, I’m quite positive

For Nico Hulkenberg, the circuit is not only a challenge, but also a joy to drive, and he said, “I’m really looking forward to the Monaco Grand Prix. The circuit along with the backdrop of the principality are just fantastic, and the atmosphere is one of the best in the season. The track is one of a kind with extremely narrow streets that will punish every little mistake.”

And he added, “This is a great challenge between me, the car and the track, and I always have a lot of fun driving there. In terms of performance, I’m quite positive. We’ve seen that the softer tyre compounds suit us quite well, which gives me confidence we’ll have a good weekend.”

Esteban Gutierrez - Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez – Photo: Sauber Motorsport

Esteban Gutierrez: Management of the rear tyres will be crucial

Esteban Gutierrez is also looking forward to race, but he has never driven a Formula One car on the streets of Monaco, and the Mexican said, “Driving on the limit through the narrow streets of Monaco is something special that I am really looking forward to. It’s one of my favourite tracks. I’ve driven there in GP2 twice and competing there in a Formula One car will be even more challenging and interesting.”

About the track itself he said, “It’s a high down force track with a lot of slow corners, and management of the rear tyres will be crucial. After the positive race in Barcelona, I am focusing on building on my performance there.”

The Swiss Sauber outfit is currently in eighth place of the Constructors’ Championship with five points. Hulkenberg is 14th, and Gutierrez is 16th in the Drivers’ Championship.

Also read:

• Red Bull Monaco GP Preview
• Ferrari Monaco GP Preview
McLaren Monaco GP Preview
• Lotus Monaco GP Preview
Mercedes Monaco GP Preview
Sauber Monaco GP Preview
Force India Monaco GP Preview
Williams Monaco GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Monaco GP Preview
Caterham Monaco GP Preview
Marussia Monaco GP Preview


Monaco GP: Whitmarsh – McLaren not in a position to fight for victories


By Berthold Bouman

Monaco GP: Whitmarsh - McLaren not in a position to fight for victoriesIt has been a very difficult start of the season for McLaren, the MP4-28 is simply not fast enough, but the Woking-based team is still working flat-out to improve their performance. Although McLaren took 15 wins on the Monte Carlo circuit, all they can do this year is to gather data from the car, which will hopefully help the engineers to sort out the problems.

Martin Whitmarsh: We’re not yet in a position to challenge for victories

Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh warned ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix his team is not in a position to fight for a win, “McLaren has a fabulous record in Monte Carlo. We’ve taken 15 wins — more than any other constructor — through the streets of the Principality and while we’re not yet in a position to challenge for victories this year, we’ll relish the challenge provided by this race and we hope to challenge for more points with both cars.”

Asked about this weekend’s prospects he said, “Our aim is to continue improving the performance of the MP4-28 in Monaco. The tight and twisty nature of the circuit makes its requirements fairly exceptional, but every kilometer that we complete with the car provides us with useful data because we have a very busy development programme. Overtaking opportunities are limited at Monaco, even with the DRS, so qualifying is going to be very important on Saturday afternoon.”

Sergio Perez - Photo: McLaren

Sergio Perez makes a pit stop – Photo: McLaren

Sergio Perez: You have to build up your speed during practice

Sergio Perez agrees Monaco is a great challenge and he commented,” It’s the only circuit on the calendar where you have to build up your speed during practice, rather than going flat-out on lap one. You push a little bit harder with every lap, getting a bit closer to the barriers each time.”

The Mexican crashed hard in Monaco in 2011, and thus the race in 2012 was his first race in a Formula One car on the Monte Carlo track. “I missed out on a World Championship point by one position and I’m looking to change that this year, said Perez, adding, “The MP4-28 is improving, as we introduce upgrades and understand its performance better. It was more driveable in Spain a couple of weeks ago, particularly on light tanks. That will be vital in Monaco because qualifying is very important.”

Jenson Button - Photo: McLaren

Jenson Button – Photo: McLaren

Jenson Button: I’m confident that we can make another small step forward

Jenson Button reckons the Monaco circuit is a unique challenge, and he commented, “Monaco is unlike any other racetrack in Formula One. A qualifying lap around there is an exhilarating experience for a driver: you turn into corners on the limit and you kiss every barrier at the exit. To get pole position, as I did in 2009, is hugely satisfying and you need to be inch-perfect for 78 laps in order to win the race. It’s a great challenge.”

About McLaren’s problems  Button said, “We’re not yet where we want to be in terms of competitiveness, but I’m confident that we can make another small step forward in Monaco. We’ll continue to chip away at the performance of the MP4-28 until it’s capable of challenging at the front; there’s no other agenda for a winning team like McLaren.”

Due to the problems with the car, McLaren is sixth in the Constructors’ Championship with only 29 points, Button is in tenth place in the Drivers’ Championship with 17 points, while Perez is 11th with 12 points.

Also read:

• Red Bull Monaco GP Preview
• Ferrari Monaco GP Preview
McLaren Monaco GP Preview
• Lotus Monaco GP Preview
Mercedes Monaco GP Preview
Sauber Monaco GP Preview
Force India Monaco GP Preview
Williams Monaco GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Monaco GP Preview
Caterham Monaco GP Preview
Marussia Monaco GP Preview


Monaco GP: Mercedes aiming to get the most out of the car at Monte Carlo


By Berthold Bouman

Monaco GP: Mercedes aiming to get the most of our the car at Monte CarloAfter a disastrous weekend in Spain, where Nico Rosberg scored pole position for Mercedes, but finished the race in sixth position, while Lewis Hamilton, who started the race in second place, finished the weekend in 12th spot, Mercedes is looking forward to the race in Monaco.  The Silver Arrows have a problem, during qualifying the car is very competitive, but their race pace is not what it should be.

Ross Brawn: The priority is always to get the drivers comfortable

Team Principal Ross Brawn said about the poor performance during the Spanish Grand Prix, “Our work continues back at Brackley and Brixworth to fully understand the reasons for our below-par race performance in Barcelona, in order to develop the right solutions for the upcoming circuits where high tyre usage could once again be a limitation for us.”

Brawn’s main concern is to make the drivers feel comfortable and confident in the cockpit, and he commented, “Monaco is a not usually a race to which teams bring many updates because the track conditions change so much across the weekend. The priority is always to get the drivers comfortable with the unique challenge the circuit presents and to give them a set-up they feel confident pushing to the limit.”

Nico Rosberg - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Nico Rosberg – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Nico Rosberg: It’s great to race in the city where I live

For many Formula One drivers, Monaco will be their home Grand Prix, Rosberg also lives in Monte Carlo and remarked, “Monaco is always a fantastic weekend and it’s great to race in the city where I live. Knowing that all my family and friends are watching makes it very special and I love being able to drive from home into the paddock on a scooter!”

On a street circuit where overtaking is difficult and sometimes even impossible, qualifying is very important and the German said, “At the moment we have a good car for qualifying which helps in Monaco as it’s the most important qualifying session of the year as track position is so important. So that might be helpful for us but there are so many unknowns, especially with the tyres, so we will just have to wait and see.”

Lewis Hamilton - Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Lewis Hamilton: You have to perform every single lap

Hamilton has put his disappointing performance in Spain behind him and is looking forward to the challenge of racing on a street circuit. “Monaco is one of my favourite races of the year and I love driving the streets there. As a driver, you know that you have to perform on every single lap and it’s a challenge that I really enjoy,” he said.

About qualifying the 2008 World Champion said, “Perhaps more than at many other tracks, qualifying and getting the best possible track position is crucial in Monaco, but we have to keep our focus on Sunday as well and keep working to improve our race pace. Everyone is working really hard and I know we can get there. We just need to keep motivated and work it out together.”

Mercedes are currently fourth in the Constructor’s Championship with 72 points, while rival McLaren are sixth with only 29 points, Hamilton is fourth, and Rosberg is ninth in the Drivers’ Championship.

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Monaco GP: Caterham hoping to build on progress they made in Spain


By Berthold Bouman

Monaco GP: Caterham hoping to build on progress they made in SpainCaterham are hoping to build on the progress they made in Spain, and are optimistic ahead of round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Monaco Grand Prix, the most prestigious race on the 2013 calendar. There is no room for errors at the Monte Carlo street circuit, one mistake, and the race is over.

Cyril Abiteboul: In Barcelona we built on that performance

Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul is hoping the car upgrades introduced in Spain will help his team to make more progress. “The Spanish Grand Prix was a very busy race for us, the busiest of the season so far. We raced a hybrid 2012/2013 car for the first three races of the season and then introduced a number of new parts in Bahrain on Charles Pic’s car that helped him secure the best ever performance our team has seen in pace terms since we came into the sport,” Abiteboul said.

And he added, “In Barcelona we built on that performance, introducing the first major 2013 package on both Charles’ and Giedo’s cars but, honestly, it wasn’t an easy weekend for us. We’re still a relatively young, small team and bringing such a large number of new parts always presents challenges with set-up and integration of the package into the cars, particularly with such limited time to test your ideas on Friday and Saturday.”

Giedo van der Garde - Photo: Caterham F1

Giedo van der Garde – Photo: Caterham F1

Giedo van der Garde: It’s a pretty mad weekend

Dutchman Giedo van der Garde has been on the podium in Monaco several times during other race events, but knows the circuit is a tough challenge, “It’s a pretty mad weekend, with a lot of guests and fans everywhere, closer than you see anywhere else in the season, but once you’re in the car it’s very important to have a good flow or you’ll lose time and increase the chance of making a mistake.”

He thinks the smaller teams have a chance to do well at the street circuit, “Monaco’s also a place where the smaller teams, like us, can do something special. It’s a shorter lap than many of the other tracks we race on, and everyone has to run as much downforce as possible, so outright speed isn’t the key.”

Charles Pic - Photo: Caterham F1

Charles Pic – Photo: Caterham F1

Charles Pic: We are running with a different set-up

Charles Pic also knows the circuit is a great challenge and said, “For the car it’s completely different than almost any other track, so we are running with a different set-up there to optimise the mechanical grip.”

The Frenchman also thinks the Monaco race is an opportunity for the smaller teams to score points, and explained, “You can hope that it can be a good chance for you to finish in a good position, but with such a tight circuit and so many chances for something to happen it’s something we can’t control so we have to be focused on optimising the car, extracting 100 per cent for qualifying and then focusing on the race. We’ll have to make sure we go the right way on tyre choice and strategy, and then we’ll see. We’ve definitely been improving over the last couple of races, so the aim is to carry that through to Monaco.”

Caterham are currently 11th and last in the Constructors’ Championship, while Pic and van der Garde are 20th and 21st in the Drivers’ Championship.

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Monaco GP: Force India hoping to turn around Sutil’s fortune, aiming to score points


By Berthold Bouman

Monaco GP: Force India hoping to turn around Sutil’s fortune, aiming to score pointsLady Luck hasn’t been on Adrian Sutil’s side lately, as the German retired from two Grands Prix this season, and, to add to his misery, he also lost a lot of points due to several issues during pit stops. Force India is hoping to turn around the German’s back luck, and the Indian outfit is determined to finish both cars in the points this weekend.

Vijay Mallya: Adrian is mentally very strong

Team owner Vijay Mallya is determined to keep his fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship, as he likes to fight with the real big teams. “A strong points finish by Paul di Resta ensured we held on to fifth position in the World Championship, and we look capable of fighting at this level in the races to come. With a little help from Lady Luck, who hasn’t been much on Adrian Sutil’s side lately, we will be able to score points with both cars and firmly establish our position in the championship,” Mallya said ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.

About Sutil’s bad luck in Spain Mallya commented, “He would have been on course for scoring some big points had it not been for the pit stop problem. His race pace was superb, but things are not going his way at the moment. The good news is that Adrian is mentally very strong and he will deal with it. In the cockpit he’s doing exactly what we expect and that’s why we put him in the car. With 14 races remaining there is plenty of opportunity for Adrian to get the results he deserves.”

Paul di Resta - Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta – Photo: Sahara Force India

Paul di Resta: Monaco was a rewarding race for us last year

Paul di Resta finished the Spanish Grand Prix in seventh place, and he is hoping new updates will make the Force India even faster. “Having more time to optimise the car with the upgrades should allow us to extract even more performance from it. Monaco was a rewarding race for us last year and we will try to go there and continue our run of points finishes,” di Resta said.

Asked whether it is possible to hang on to fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship, he commented, “McLaren is a strong team and they will keep improving, but in the races so far we have been fighting them and we’ve often been quicker. Realistically, though, we are doing a great job regularly beating our direct rivals — Sauber, Williams and Toro Rosso. Our strength has been our consistency — we have been performing well in each of the races so far, and we are now looking forward to the Sundays with confidence.”

Adrian Sutil - Photo: Sahara Force India

Adrian Sutil – Photo: Sahara Force India

Adrian Sutil: I believe we can improve certain things to avoid mistakes

Despite the problems, Sutil remains positive, and he is looking forward to the race in Monaco, “Most of the things that happened were out of my control, but still I believe we can improve certain things to avoid mistakes in the future. We as a team have to stay confident and work on solving these small problems. The car is fast and if we have a perfect weekend, which is our aim all the time, I’m sure the podium will come soon.”

Sutil loves the Monaco street track and said, “I’ve always liked street races and Monaco is the best street circuit of them all. There’s no room for even the smallest mistake and that’s why it’s different to other tracks. You have to give the walls so much respect and build up your speed. More than anything it’s a test of your mental strength because you keep your concentration for nearly two hours during the race.”

Force India is currently fifth in the Constructors’ Championship with 32 points, but McLaren is right on their tail and are sixth with 29 points. Paul di Resta is eighth in the Drivers’ Championship, while Sutil, due to his bad luck, is 13th.

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• Red Bull Monaco GP Preview
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Monaco GP: Williams determined to make progress, new updates for Monaco


By Berthold Bouman

Monaco GP: Williams determined to make progress, new updates for MonacoAfter another disastrous weekend in Spain, Williams are determined to get the so much-needed performance out of the 2013 contender, the Williams FW35. The Monaco Grand Prix, round six of the FIA Formula One World Championship, is always a special Grand Prix, and there is no room for errors on the tight and twisty street circuit.

Mike Coughlan: The grip levels change the whole weekend

Technical Director Mike Coughlan is aware of the problems Williams have encountered this season, but is determined the extract the maximum out of the car he has designed. “Monaco may be one of the shortest tracks of the year, but it’s the most demanding, especially for the driver. Although the corner speeds are the slowest on the calendar, you have to use as much of the track as possible and the closer the driver can put his car to the barriers the faster he will go,” Coughlan said about the famous circuit.

And he further explained, “As it is a street circuit the grip levels change the whole weekend so it’s important to give the drivers as much time on-track as possible in order for them to gain confidence, particularly for Valtteri who has never driven here before. Due to the bumpy nature of the track, a good mechanical platform is required. We need to raise the ride-height and increase the steering angle capacity for the tight, twisting corners. We also run with maximum downforce there.”

Pastor Maldonado - Photo: Williams F1

Pastor Maldonado – Photo: Williams F1

Pastor Maldonado: Monaco is a very difficult challenge

Pastor Maldonado knows the circuit well and said about this weekend’s challenges, “I always look forward to this race as I feel very comfortable driving the circuit. You can also feel the history of Formula One as you drive through the streets and tackle some of the really famous corners. Monaco is a very difficult challenge, both mentally and physically, as you have to try and find the limits of the car with no margin for error if you push too hard.”

The Venezuelan driver reckons qualifying and the right tyre choice are important this weekend, “Qualifying will be very important at this race and is probably 70% of the weekend because overtaking is so difficult and risky. Tyre strategy and tyre management is important as you always use the softer compound of tyres in Monaco and they are very sensitive this year.”

Valtteri Bottas - Photo: Williams F1

Valtteri Bottas – Photo: Williams F1

Valtteri Bottas: The most challenging race on the calendar

Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas is looking forward to the event, but has never raced on the street circuit. “This will be my first time racing in Monaco and I’m really looking forward to it because it’s such an iconic track. It’s definitely the most challenging race on the calendar for the drivers, being an old school street circuit with no room for mistakes and I’m looking forward to the challenge of being on the limit at all times while being so close to the walls,” said Bottas.

He too, thinks the tyres are the most important factor this season, and said, “In the past tyre wear in Monaco has been quite minimal, but with Pirelli bringing the softs and super softs to this race the tyre degradation may be more of a factor, although less than we saw in Bahrain and Barcelona.”

Williams are currently ninth in the Constructors’ Championship as they have not scored one single point this season, Bottas and Maldonado are 17th and 18th in the Drivers’ Championship.

Also read:

• Red Bull Monaco GP Preview
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HRT hoping for trouble-free weekend at Monaco


By Berthold Bouman

Like all other teams HRT is getting ready for the toughest race of the year: the Monaco Grand Prix. HRT has last week completed the move to their new headquarters at the Caja Mágica in Madrid, an ultra-modern facility with brand-new management, administration, operations and engineering areas.

Narain Karthikeyan, HRT

“It’s been a lot of hard work but it’s a dream that has finally come true and an exciting project. This is the present but we continue to work looking ahead to the future to make this a top level sporting and technological centre and surely, with the help of everyone, we will achieve this,” said HRT Team Principal and ex-Formula One driver Luis Perez-Sala.

About Monaco Perez-Sala said, “It’s a very demanding track mechanically, where drivers need great ability and suffer physically and psychologically because you can’t make any slip-ups and therefore you need to be fully focused at all times.”

And he added, “It’s a tough test for the car’s reliability and even more so if it is hot. We have minor upgrades for this race which we hope will help us to close the gap to the front pack.”

Driver Pedro de la Rosa describes the circuit and the problems drivers encounter. ”Monaco is by far the most difficult and technical circuit in the entire Championship. The only trick to this track is to do miles and not change the car’s set-up too much because you can find more time in the driver than in the car.”

Qualifying will be the biggest problem, de la Rosa reckons, “Another major difficulty at this track is the traffic, it’s vital to complete a clean lap and make the most of it. Pirelli is bringing its soft and super-soft tyres so it’s even more important to do a good first lap with the super-softs as you won’t have two laps with them.”

Narain Karthikeyan agrees with his Spanish team mate, “It’s not every day that you get to race in such a beautiful setting and with such a special vibe surrounding the race. It’s one of the toughest races because you’re so close to the guardrails that you know you can’t make one single mistake.”

Karthikeyan encountered a lot of problems during the Spanish Grand Prix and was plagued by cooling problems, which meant he was only able to complete a few laps in free practice. “I am hoping for better luck this time and to get a proper chance to work with the updates we brought in Spain and have a trouble-free weekend,” the Indian commented.


Lotus’ maiden win is imminent according to Raikkonen


By Berthold Bouman

Since Kimi Raikkonen’s return to Formula One many have been speculating about how long it will take the Iceman to score his first victory, and thus also scoring Lotus’ maiden victory. So far the Finn is in fourth place of the Drivers’ Championship, just 12 points behind Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso who share the lead with 61 points each.

Kimi Raikkonen expects maiden Lotus victory soon

His team mate Romain Grosjean is eighth with 35 points but let’s not forget the Frenchman didn’t finish the first two races after collisions with Pastor Maldonado and Michael Schumacher. Grosjean also made an impressive Formula One return, always qualified for Q3 and finished third in Bahrain.

With two podium finishes, second in Bahrain and third place in Spain, Raikkonen is getting closer to the highest step of the podium. In Spain, Raikkonen wasn’t able to fight for the win, and he was disappointed.

“I expected us to be a bit stronger in the race, especially at the beginning. We weren’t fast enough in the first stints and that’s why we couldn’t fight for the win,” he said, adding. “We showed at the end that we have the speed but it was too late. Maybe we made the wrong choice in the first pit stop, but like I said we weren’t quick enough at the start and that cost us the race.”

Asked whether a win is imminent he replied, “Twice now we’ve come close and I’m sure we can make that last step. Unfortunately you’re not always going to be able to challenge for the win, and if you get the chance you have to take it because it’s not every race that you will have the opportunity to go for it.”

And what about Monaco? “The next race is a bit different -– Monaco -– and it’s hard to say how we’ll go there. The team has done a good job, but we still have work to do and things to improve. So far the season is going well; obviously we’re not 100% happy because we’re not winning just yet, but that’s normal and I’m pleased the team want to push even further.”

But he remained upbeat, “Hopefully we can keep doing what we’re doing now and eventually I’m sure things will go exactly right and we’ll be up there.”

It will be difficult to win in Monaco, it is notoriously hard to overtake on the narrow streets of Monte Carlo, so pole position would make it a lot easier, but qualifying doesn’t seem to be Raikkonen’s strongest point this season. Raikkonen won the Monaco Grand Prix in 2005 for McLaren after he had started the race from pole position.