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F1 insight: Fastest ever lap of Monaco on the cards this weekend?

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F1 insight: Fastest ever lap of Monaco on the cards this weekend?
May 26, 2016, 4:26 PM

The pace of the first day's running in Monaco has been pretty hot, to the point where insiders are now talking about Saturday's qualifying session ...

The pace of the first day's running in Monaco has been pretty hot, to the point where insiders are now talking about Saturday's qualifying session potentially yielding the fastest ever lap of the street circuit.

It started in the first 15 minutes of Free Practice 1, when Lewis Hamilton matched the fastest lap from Q1 last year to the thousandth of a second. The pace increased through FP1 and then as more rubber went down in the afternoon and the grip level came up, Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull set a lap of 1m 14.607s.

Interestingly his fastest time was set on the fifth lap of an 11 lap run, meaning that he was carrying quite a bit of fuel, compared to what he would have for a qualifying blast. Fuel consumption is low at Monaco at around 1.2kg per lap, so he would have had about 2/10ths of a second deficit from the fuel load he was carrying and thus could have done a 1m 14.4s lap fuel corrected. Mercedes were second and third, but they tend not to use the maximum engine mode until the Q2 session, so it's hard to evaluate what they are capable of.

Kimi Raikkonen 2006

There have been some small track modifications over the last 10 years, but it's generally viewed that the fastest lap of this era of Monaco is Kimi Raikkonen's 101.607mph (163.520km/h) set in a V8 engined McLaren Mercedes on grooved tyres in 2006.

To beat that average lap speed this weekend a driver will need to set a 1:13.465 lap, according to the leading broadcast statistics and data service Virtual Statman.

Based on the track improvement figures we saw last year, whereby the pace increased from FP2 to Q3 by 2.094s. A similar improvement on Saturday would give a pole time of 1m 12.513s.

Monaco 2016 F1

There are some slight modifications to the second part of the Swimming Pool section, which have made it a little faster than last year. But certainly some of the pace increase is down to the softer tyre compounds that have been brought to Monaco this weekend by Pirelli, with the Ultra Soft making its F1 debut. It is considered to be just over half a second faster than the Supersoft that was used last year, so the rest is coming from the chassis and power unit improvements.

The Ultra soft was the most used tyre today; in total 2,273 laps were done on it, with 1,999 on the Super soft.

"As usual in Monaco, lap times are dropping dramatically as the drivers and teams dial into the track - and will continue to do so through the weekend. We've made a good start - but it's clear that qualifying will be a highly competitive affair," said Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe.
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Series Formula 1
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