Reaction round-up: Monaco Grand Prix practice
The iconic Monaco Grand Prix weekend kicked off – as usual – on Thursday, with two very different practice sessions. Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets in the morning, with Fernando Alonso setting the pace in the afternoon.
First practice was a busy and dry 90-minute session, while practice two initially took place in wet conditions. However, the track dried out and was good enough for a few laps on the slick tyres in the closing stages. Here is a round-up of the driver’s reactions following the first day of on-track action at the Circuit de Monaco:
“Obviously we’d love to run in the dry the whole time here, but of course if it’s wet it’s the same for everyone. Mercedes were very quick this morning and we see that usually, come Saturday, they are able to pick up their pace, so we’ll try to do the same.
“We potentially are a little bit closer here, but you know at the moment it’s all guessing. I think the big advantage on this track would be that there’s not that many straights, but we have to wait and see. We were obviously limited today on what we could learn in terms of pace and range, we know that it’s quite important to qualify in the front here so if there is a chance then we have to use it.”
“It was a shame we didn’t run so much this afternoon due to the conditions, but if it rains over the weekend then we’ll want to use the tyres, so there was a bit of waiting around, At the end the track still had a few damp patches, so we didn’t really learn that much this afternoon but I think the morning went well, so we’ve just got to try and get the set-up from that.
“The few laps I did this afternoon felt similar to the morning in terms of car balance and the things we need to work on, so I think the direction we’ve got to go is pretty clear. If we’re going to challenge the Mercs then I think this is the place for it, they don’t seem to have one sector at the moment which is blowing everyone away, but obviously it’s still early days.”
“That was a very good day. It seems that we are looking very quick here again, although our main competitors seems to be a little closer to us than in Barcelona. I still need to find my perfect set-up so there is still some work for us to do tomorrow to get ready for the weekend. The conditions weren’t great this afternoon so I didn’t take any risks as there was nothing to learn on the wet parts of the track.”
“The car is still a work in progress but it felt really good out there today. I had a good first session and was then really pleased to get those last few laps in the dry this afternoon which was a big plus. I’m feeling pretty set for Saturday, there is still some work to do but we have tomorrow to look into that and finish all our preparations for the weekend. I just love racing here; this track is one of the coolest ever, and it was great to see all of the fans here already enjoying themselves. It’s such a classic race, and I’ve been trying to win here again since 2008, so I’m hoping this is the year as we have such a great car.”
“Here in Monaco, the most important thing in practice is to do as many laps as possible, because it is a very special track and you need to have a good feeling from the car. Despite the rain reducing the amount of track time in the second session, we more or less managed to complete all our programme and, with or without a turbo, the complexity of this track remains the same, so doing well in qualifying will be crucial.
“The increase in grip we found over the few laps we did with the Supersoft tyres leaves us in no doubt that this will be the tyre to use on Saturday afternoon, while for the race there is still a lot to learn as no one has done a long run. So we might have to improvise when it comes to strategy.”
“Unfortunately, the bad weather affected this first day of practice and halved the possibility to complete the work we had planned. In the morning, on the dry track, we tried various set-up options, without encountering any particular problems, apart from a lack of grip at the front under braking.
“In the afternoon, we made a few changes to improve the balance of the car, but having waited almost an hour before being able to go out on track, a problem with the gearbox prevented me from completing the session. On Saturday we will try and make the most of the third free practice session to complete our programme for qualifying, which we know is the key factor here.”
“This morning was a learning experience as the tyres are pretty hard here so it’s difficult to find enough grip. This made things a little tricky today as there’s no space for mistakes here. Certainly the car is working well and we could run through a decent programme today, even with missing a lot of the afternoon session because of the wet track. We hope the weather will be better on Saturday and we will have found a better balance with the car too.”
“We didn’t have any issues today – we just lack overall downforce. When our aerodynamicists get on top of that, hopefully we’ll be able to maintain that good balance and make some good progress.
“We haven’t done enough set-up work yet to be able to fully gauge our progress, but I felt comfortable driving the car. Of course, there are things to improve, but we’re taking it step by step.It was good fun driving the track today – the electronics mean you don’t really feel the impact of the turbo, so it’s not really like the old days, but I’m really looking forward to low fuel and new tyres for qualifying on Saturday.”
“The wet weather did not give us an opportunity to run much this afternoon, but I feel we have made the most of the time available this morning. In terms of performance the car is feeling okay and we just need to make some set-up tweaks and work on the balance before Saturday. The focus has to be on qualifying here because it’s even more important than at any other track. So we just need to optimise the car to be ready for Saturday.”
“At the end of FP2, we were able to run a few laps on supersoft tyres, which worked out well. The car’s balance is decent. In general, we still have issues which we need to solve. The driveability needs to be improved. During acceleration and braking it is still difficult to keep the car under control. In FP1 I had a snap oversteer in turn 5, so I touched the barrier. The tyres were not up to temperature and it was difficult to keep the car under control. However, it was my mistake.”
“I enjoyed driving here in Monaco finally and it was a good day overall, in which I was able to learn the track quite well. Those were my instructions from the team, who told me to go out and do as many laps as possible. Of course, the rain that made the track wet for some of FP2 did not help so much, but at least I have tried the circuit in both dry and wet now. The results are obviously not very representative because of the tricky conditions this afternoon. We will now look at all the data between tonight and tomorrow to get the best out for Saturday’s Qualifying and Sunday’s race.”
“Today was a tough day. I had some issues this morning with the power unit sensor so that limited my running, or at least the amount I could push. This afternoon it was wet and so I only went out at the end of the session and then suffered with traffic. The car is quick and Valtteri has shown that, so qualifying on Saturday will be very important.”
“It’s been a tough start to my Monaco weekend, particularly the loss of track time in FP1 this morning. We were hoping to make up for lost time this afternoon, but the weather intervened and when we were able to get into the dry programme, of course everyone was taking advantage of the same improving conditions, so traffic was a factor. On a positive note, we seem to have carried through the good work from the test in Barcelona and the car seems to be performing well, so in many ways my weekend will start in FP3 on Saturday morning.”
“38 laps in FP1 meant we were able to complete a good programme and made some decent progress throughout the session. We started with a similar grip issue to what we saw in Spain, but we made a few mechanical changes and it definitely improved, particularly in the high speed sections. That also helped take out some of the understeer I had in the first couple of runs.
“Like a few of the other teams we waited to start our FP2 runplan until there was a clear dry line which meant we had to shorten the programme a lot, but it was safer to do that than go out on inters and risk damaging the car. That’s not ideal, obviously, but with about five minutes left of the session we went out on a set of supersofts and had enough time for a couple of timed laps which gives us some data on that compound that will be useful for Saturday and Sunday. Even with FP2 compromised like that it’s still been quite a positive day.”
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic
Jack Leslie is a freelance motorsport journalist. He has been part of the Richland F1 team since the very start and made his debut in the F1 paddock for the website at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix. Jack also writes for Car Throttle and RumbleStripNews, as well as running a popular blog.