Who takes the pole and with that basically the victory in it Principatu de Mu̍negu?
After a not very welcome break after even less welcome storms in Italy, the F1 season continues in Monaco. This is the race where everything glitters even brighter than elsewhere in the world called F1. There may even be a diamond somewhere that once fell from a Jaguar on the scrupulously clean streets of the Principality.
The driver who shines today in qualifying has by far the best chance of winning tomorrow. There have been a few legendary races in Monaco. The 1982 edition, for example, in which several contenders fell silent in the final phase. Or the 1984 edition, when the late Senna and the late Bellof announced themselves as the great new talents of their generation. And of course the 1996 race, when Panis, who started fourteenth, won after Jos Verstappen, who started thirteenth, retired in the first corner.
But often the Grand Prix is also a parade. But ten of the sixty-eight times the race has been run has been won by someone who started outside the top three. That didn’t happen last time either. Perez took it after he got the slightly better strategy from Red Bull. This is because after Perez crashed in Q3 our hero Max had to settle for 4th place on the grid, behind Perez.
A year ago it was a battle between Ferrari and Red Bull. Despite Red Bull’s dominance on the other circuits, it is expected to do so again this year. The Ferrari is known to be fast over a lap. And since tire wear doesn’t play a major role on the (slow) Monte Carlo street circuit, it could well be that Ferrari can be fast in the race too. At least the free training sessions suggest that.
In addition, Aston Martin is as always one darkhorse for the podium and perhaps even the victory. Who will take advantage on this Saturday? Let’s see, in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix!
Norris is going ridiculously fast with the McLaren this weekend and also takes a quick first place in Q1. His team-mate Piastri has so far been far from a match for the Briton. But the Ozzie may have just built up his weekend nice and quiet and has now studied the data. He is now only one and a half tenths faster than Monaco expert Lando and takes P2. The McLarens are faster than both Red Bulls, who may have done some kind of warm-up lap.
Then it hits the mark: Perez hits the boarding at Sainte Dévote. There goes your weekend Checo. The Mexican could not use this in the battle with Max for the World Cup. This race was one that Sergio would need to win to maintain any claim to anything beyond the Barrichello/Bottas role.
When the inevitable red flag has cleared, the track has become a bit faster. Or the drivers are now going for it more, that is also possible. Anyway, Perez is soon eighteenth. So that won’t be Q2 anyway and will connect to the back for PER tomorrow. Unless the as always promised but so far not come rain comes tomorrow, it will be a difficult story to get some good points out of it.
At Ferrari, the internal battle has also started again. Sainz faces Leclerc at the traffic lights at the end of pit lane. That was clearly not the deal. Over the radio, the Monegask is told that they are going to rectify this. But LEC says ‘leave it like that, but tell Carlos not to slow down stupidly in the last sector or anything’. You guessed it: Sainz then does exactly that… However, the times that Ferrari can drive are good enough for both at the moment.
But not as good as Max’s. The malheur for Perez is of course a gift for our hero, who goes straight to the best of times. Alonso, Leclerc and Stroll initially join. But Alpha Tauri may have been the smartest of all. They waited a while in the garage and now go like a spear on the improved track with new rubber. Tsunoda even briefly goes for P1!!1! How? The pear box of Alpha Tauri has so far not shown anything this weekend.
In the end it is Sargeant, Magnussen, Hulkenberg and Zhou who, together with Perez, do not make it to Q2. Hamilton escapes the dance and still goes to P7 with a few mistakes. De Vries also advances to Q2 for the second time. However, he does so in fifteenth, where his teammate eventually takes a spectacular P2 (behind Max who goes even faster). So, preferably a little extra in the next session…
Alfa Romeo Racing
Red Bull Racing
Verstappen also seems to be the fastest in Q2. The rest try, but bite themselves to pieces. Hamilton slides, slithers and erases the updated Mercedes around the circuit, but to no avail. All weekend HAM is faster than RUS, but now he is only eleventh. The seven-time champion suspects that his car has damage.
Leclerc is also working on the absolute limit again. This time it goes well, but Leclerc is still almost two tenths short of Verstappen. That seems little, but on the short track of Monaco it is secretly quite a lot. Especially if you take into account that Charles makes the Ferrari dance old-fashioned again. You wouldn’t say much more than that.
Then it’s Norris who seems to do some damage to his good weekend by hitting the wall. A yellow/red flag threatens to end the session. But the McLaren shows itself surprisingly strong and can continue. It does ensure that various drivers who had to / want to do another lap cannot approach it completely optimally. Once again it is Hamilton in particular who has to work hard in the end to get to Q3. But LH44 succeeds to its credit.
The dropouts are called Piastri, De Vries, Albon and Bottas. De Vries is close to Q3, but yes, he just doesn’t make it. Tsunoda does just that. The difference is really minimal, but again ‘in the wrong direction’ from a Dutch perspective. And yes, that is ultimately just the difference in F1. We also see that in Stroll, who ends up behind Nyck with his excellent Aston. Alonso, of course, goes on thick. So that’s the difference between a pretty good driver and a real real one.
Tomorrow another chance for Nyck from P12. As we often see, damage driver Norris will continue to Q3. But whether he can really come out with that remains to be seen given the damage to the McLaren. Both Alpines in Q3 is a boost for team France. Although you can also say that Alpine as a factory team should of course always make it to Q3. We now suspect that Alpine has a pretty good chassis, but too little power. That is of course difficult to judge as no one else drives the Renault power unit anymore.
Nick de Vries
Alfa Romeo Racing
While the cameras (this year for the first time no longer the local amateur TV makers from Monaco) take a picture of renowned wide receiver Odell Beckham junior, we are especially curious about the fast men on the track. Verstappen takes the bull by the horns again with a ‘banker‘. Ocon bites into it, but Alonso dives four tenths under. Leclerc goes to P2, but is then quickly trumped by Sainz.
This is a different session than Q2. Indeed, Verstappen goes to P1, but is only half a tenth faster than Alonso. And then another spectacular development: Ocon goes to P1. No, you read that right and your reporter didn’t go on a beer spree. Ocon goes to P1.
Is it in the track, is it in the crazy round of the garlic peeler? A little bit of both maybe. Leclerc is now going to P1, but others are still on their way. Sainz has purple sectors, Alonso goes even faster. The younger Spaniard misses out in the first sector, but the old veteran…does it! Alonso to P1. Despite a somewhat lackluster final sector. Will that still be expensive for ALO?
Finally, Max can still hit back. He is faster than his own time in S1 and S2, but nothing is purple. That will not be. However? Yes! Verstappen makes up for everything in S3 and still goes to P1. No first pole since Germany 2013 for Alonso. Max grabs victory with one hand. Perez will scratch his head. Would a pole have been possible for him? We’ll never know now.
So that will be tomorrow. Earlier this year we saw that Alonso often lets Max go because he knows he can’t stop him anyway. But that will be different now, we think. With Leclerc on P3, Ferrari is not without a chance either. Hoping for a little rain and craziness tomorrow. But qualifying was worth it…
Red Bull Racing
Carlos Sainz Jr.
This article Qualifying Formula 1: Monaco Grand Prix 2023 appeared first on Autoblog.nl.
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