Mercedes-washed - This is the Monaco Grand Prix!

Yachts, models, casinos and money just a few words to describe Monaco. Crashes, barriers, historical and special are a few words to describe the Monaco Grand Prix.
There are many things to look forward to this weekend. The tyres, upgrades and of course, how well the drivers are prepared for the 78 laps around the most treacherous street circuit on the calendar.

Since the 'T-word' is highly inevitable when we talk about F1, Pirelli have decided to bring the Monaco usual soft and super-soft compounds and are expecting a 2 stopper, while we expect Lotus to make do with a single stop.

Following the Monaco tradition; Free Practice  and 2 got over on Thursday, and by the time I'm writing this, I'm sure few teams will be analyzing why they were lagging behind, and a few would be analyzing their unexpected super pace. 

Qualifying is 70% here. It's a track in which overtaking is not very possible and not impossible either, the narrow streets here, it's either make the move stick or the alternative, face the barrier head on. And since it's basically just a single lap pace that will determine the race, I would
say Mercedes have got this one all covered up. 

Free Practice 1 and 2 were thoroughly Mercedes-washed. In both the sessions, the recent qualifying king, Nico Rosberg comfortably set a time which none of his rivals were even near upon. The question still remains though, Mercedes have been the pole kings for the last 3 races. But how long before that pole gets converted into a win?   

Here are the full results of Practice 1
19Nico RosbergMercedes1:16.195
23Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:16.282

38Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1:16.380

44Felipe MassaFerrari1:16.394

510Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:16.469

616Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1:16.993

72Mark WebberRed Bull Racing-Renault1:17.020

85Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1:17.129

96Sergio PerezMcLaren-Mercedes1:17.378

 10         1          Sebastian Vettel                         Red Bull Racing-Renault                           1:17:380

Practice 2: 

19Nico RosbergMercedes1:14.759
210Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:15.077

33Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:15.196

44Felipe MassaFerrari1:15.278

52Mark WebberRed Bull Racing-Renault1:15.404

67Kimi RäikkönenLotus-Renault1:15.511

78Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1:15.718

85Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1:15.959

91Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault1:16.014

1014Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1:16.046

Team Review prior to Qualifying and Race 

RedBull Racing: Disappointing Thursday for both their cars. Monaco is the ideal RedBull track, records of the last 3 years speak for themselves. But this must be a bit of an eye opener for the champions as to they HAVE TO do something to the car before qualifying or the championship lead is no longer in their hands. All of RBRs rivals have either made the top 5 or are almost 0.5s ahead of them. 
Mark Webber showed reasonable pace, setting a time that's good enough to keep his 'enemy' Sebastian Vettel at bay. Meanwhile on the other side of the garage, there's some head-scratching to do. 1.1s off pace in FP1 and 1.2s off pace in FP2. 

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: No upgrade in china, not Barcelona, and finally! It's come here in Monaco. The revised front and rear wings have seemed to make the difference on the MP4-28. Both their cars made it to the top 10 in FP1, which was a delight to see. And in FP2 Jenson Button made it a double treat by finishing ahead of the Seb and in the top 10. As they say! McLaren Wings.. they're the real  deal. 

Ferrari: Ferrari have been unstoppable this season. When Fernando Alonso gets a god car, he makes sure it's in no position below the top 3. In FP1, Nico just nicked Alonso to get P1, which indicates there really is competition for Mercedes this weekend  On the other hand, his teammate, Massa who has been the season's best surprise made it into the top 5 in both sessions to keep Ferrari in the constructor's title hunt. 

Lotus: Lotus, they know what they're doing! Their pace on one lap seems pretty average. P7 and P8 in FP2 and P3 for Romain in FP1. The catch with lotus is, even if they qualify a bit low, say p7 or p8, they're sure to get a huge chunk of points on Sunday because while everybody suffers the wrath
of Pirelli tyres, they seem to happily cruise at their own pace to glory. Kimi Raikkonen who's just 4 points away from championship lead, can smoothly take it from Seb this weekend, if the RedBull dont up their game by FP3 and qualy. 

Mercedes: They've nailed the weekend up until now. Both sessions, they've got front row  Lewis seeming to catch up with Nico. It's all coming together for Mercedes. Usually, we'd see that on a Sunday Mercedes goes backward from pole position, but since we'd most likely see a 1 or 2 stopper, probably Mercs have a chance of winning here. Favorites coming into this weekend.. and still are favorites. 

Williams: Last year's Barcelona winners, now struggling to even get a point. Very very surprisingly Pastor Maldonado, most experienced of the Williams duo made it to P6 in Practice 1. I was going through the top 10 one by one and stopped at Maldonado's name and time for a few minutes. Is it just luck? or did they really modify the car that well to get a P6 result? We don't know. But all that we can say about his team's spurt of success is - it doesn't last for long. FP2 starts and Williams too go back where they started this season at.. somewhere down the grid. 

It's the 71st running of the Monaco Grand Prix this year, and the tagline has never changed since year one. A grand prix where name, fame and glory goes hand in hand with danger. Surpass the latter, and it's rewarding. Lets wait the long wait until FP3 and Qualy! 


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