Friday in Monaco: The journey

Friday in Monaco: The journey

Can Alonso win the Monaco GP for Ferrari, Dark horse Robert Kubica, and Motorhomes from another planet. Can Alonso win the Monaco GP for Ferrari? The last time Ferrari won the Grand Prix of Monaco was in 2001, when Michael Schumacher won the...

Can Alonso win the Monaco GP for Ferrari, Dark horse Robert Kubica, and Motorhomes from another planet.

Can Alonso win the Monaco GP for Ferrari?

The last time Ferrari won the Grand Prix of Monaco was in 2001, when Michael Schumacher won the race The question is of course: can they win the race this year after a nine-year drought? Fernando Alonso has so far showed to be in great shape, and was on top of the time sheets during the free practice sessions on Thursday. Felipe Massa seems to be a bit off the pace compared to his team mate, he has put the 4th and 5th quickest time on the clocks. Alonso has now been tipped to win the race, he won the race in 2006 for Renault, and in 2007 for McLaren. Alonso was quick on both the hard and soft tyre compound, and hinted he would be able to improve his lap time with another few tenths of a second during Saturday's qualifying.

Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari.
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However, Alonso remains cautious about his chances now that he has become the favorite to win the race. Alonso about this weekend: "Pole position is still far away. There has only been Thursday practice and we have seen many sessions this year dominated by McLaren and we were also high up, and then Red Bull surprised everyone in qualifying." The Red Bull team, dominated qualification this season by scoring five pole positions, but the streets of Monaco are completely different from the previous five races. Mark Webber's times were disappointing, he was 4th and 10th, Sebastian Vettel did a lot better, he was 2nd and 3rd.

All drivers are hoping for a dry qualifying and a dry race, and they are all wary of the Ferrari and Red Bull team, current world champion Jenson Button: "The Ferrari looks very quick, and I'm pretty sure Red Bull are hiding their pace." Lewis Hamilton is looking for a more aggressive approach and said he was prepared to take risks during the race: "It's in my nature to take more risks than others. You have to have serious guts to try to pickup speed here." But all drivers agree about one thing, the real test is on Saturday during qualifying, and it will be important to get a few 'traffic free' laps, make no mistakes, and take nothing for granted, the circuit in Monaco is always a place full of surprises.

Dark horse Robert Kubica

Robert Kubica and the Renault team again surprised in- and outsiders with yet another excellent performance, Kubica finished 6th and 3rd during practice and Vitaly Petrov ended on 11th and 14th place, leaving Torro Rosso, Williams and BMW-Sauber behind them. Kubica has shown over the years that he is a hard worker and a tenacious fighter, never gives up, and is capable of motivating his team and engineers to constantly improve the pace of the Renault. The Renault team had a lot of problems making it into the 2010 season, and with a limited budget, no one thought the team would be as strong as they are now.

Kubica is not a show man, he doesn't like the glitter and glamour that is part of his job as a Grand Prix driver, and likes to spend his days with his engineers, trying to find a way to make his car faster. His comments about Thursday practice were as usual very modest: "The car felt good in practice and there were no real big surprises. There are a couple of things to be improved, but we have a lot of time here on Friday to work on them and find a solution."

And about traffic during qualifying he remained honest and very mild: "I believe for the guys who are driving the new cars it is not easy to keep the cars on the track and additionally moving out of the way where the track is narrow is not easy for them - just as it is not easy for us. But we shouldn't do too much talk about it - it is how it is." And about his chances he remains upbeat: "In Monaco anything is possible, things can change very quickly."

Motorhomes from another planet

Like is the case with the boats and yachts moored in the harbor of Monaco, there is a similar race of "who has the biggest and most impressive motorhome" going on in the Formula One paddock. Motorhome isn't really the correct word for what the top teams brought to Monaco to impress their competitors, sponsors and VIP guests. Teams like to refer to them as 'hospitality units', and some of them look like a spaceship from an unknown planet that just has landed in the paddock. These pre-fabricated and temporarily buildings are a long way from the modest motorhomes from the 80s and 90s, when a motorhome was still a sort of a camper with a steering wheel and an engine, had a simple pantry, and certainly didn't look like a downed spaceship.

Bigger is always better, McLaren motorhome.
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This year it was a race against the clock to get them in time to the south of France, some teams brought old motorhomes to Spain, and are now showing off their latest multi-story hi-tech hospitality units in the glitter and glamour city of Monaco. Again the main theme is 'bigger is better' and over the years the designs have become more and more extravagant. Some of them take three days to build, and on Monday the first crews already arrived to assemble the huge structures.

The famous Red Bull four-storey Energy Station is now floating on a barge in the harbor, it has become even bigger, has a new bar and bigger principal's offices. It's the fanciest and most visited motorhome of all, and during the race in Monaco it hosts many celebrities and it seems there is a 4-day 24 hour party going on. Mercedes revealed a new motorhome in Monaco, it is a two-storey structure with a tinted glass fa?ade, and has a hi-tech metallic Silver Arrow's look.

Ferrari also has a hi-tech multi-storey motorhome, painted in the familiar scarlet Ferrari color, the ground floor serves as a conference and meeting area, while on the upper floors sponsors and VIP guest are pampered. McLaren also thinks big and has a very extravagant motorhome, with round glass facades, and McLaren chooses to call it their "Brand Centre". Indeed, it has nothing to do with a motorhome, it takes a special crew two days to build, and the whole thing is transported on 12 trucks.

But it is not all glitter and glamour for other team's motorhomes, Renault saved a lot of money and bought the Toyota 2009 motorhome, which nevertheless looks spectacular as well. Even HRT have an impressive two- storey hospitality unit, Lotus has a very modest motorhome, and the interior was designed by the girlfriend of Nico Rosberg, Vivian Sibold, and it is in fact the only motorhome, that still looks like a motorhome.

Price tags? Teams are not too keen on revealing the price of their motorhome, but Mercedes said it cost them 2 million Euro, apparently very cheap because Norbert Haug claimed: "We have not wasted one more Euro than we needed to spend on this." He also commented it cost them seven times less than the Red Bull motorhome, and if true, would mean Red Bull spend 14 million Euro, just for a 'motorhome'.

See also: Thursday in Monaco: The adventure

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About this article
Series General , Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Fernando Alonso , Norbert Haug , Lewis Hamilton , Felipe Massa , Nico Rosberg , Robert Kubica , Sebastian Vettel , Vitaly Petrov
Teams Sauber , Williams