Circuit de Monaco
Light at the end of the tunnel
Monaco, 26 May – Fernando Alonso set the fastest lap of the day come the end of the first two free practice sessions for the Monaco Grand Prix. That statement has not been possible in any other session in any of the five previous race weekends.
It’s a good sign and on the only circuit that boasts a tunnel, maybe the Spaniard’s performance could be seen as the light at the end of the tunnel that Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro has been searching for, for some time now. In the other 150º Italia, Felipe Massa also went well to post the sixth fastest time, just 65 hundredths slower than Fernando. In Monaco, everything is spectacular, even the free practice action and Felipe in particular had his car dancing sideways at times, perilously close to the unforgiving barriers that claimed a few victims today.
Given that the cars have just had a few days rest since racing in the Spanish Grand Prix, the reasons behind this apparent increase in competitiveness, even allowing for special Monaco set-ups adopted on the cars, are more down to the nature of the circuit and the type of tyres available from Pirelli this weekend.
As the Ferrari drivers and management have explained endlessly, the main problem with the car is a lack of aerodynamic downforce, but this becomes less significant as the speed drops. On the twisty streets of the Principality, there are no fast straights or corners and therefore the weakness of the Ferrari is less on display. Add in the fact that it is far more suited to the soft and super soft Pirelli tyres and the reason for this sudden increase in performance is self-evident.
However, after a day away from track action tomorrow, the picture might not be so clear on Saturday come time for qualifying. Red Bull has dominated the season so far and there is no reason to think its cars won’t work well at all types of track. Lewis Hamilton was second fastest for McLaren, ahead of Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes, while Jenson Button was fourth for McLaren ahead of Sebastian Vettel.