Monaco qualifying: Sahara Force India

Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez

Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sahara Force India F1 VJM09. Monaco Grand Prix, Saturday 28th May 2016. Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Nico Hulkenberg

Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM09. Monaco Grand Prix, Saturday 28th May 2016. Monte Carlo, Monaco.

 

Sahara Force India delivered a strong qualifying performance in Monaco as Nico Hulkenberg qualified in fifth place ahead of Sergio Perez in eighth. With a grid penalty for Kimi Raikkonen, Perez is expected to start from seventh.

Nico Hülkenberg: “I’m very happy. We knew we had the speed to be inside the top ten today, but to qualify fifth is better than I expected. I’ve had good vibes since the start of the weekend and I’ve felt comfortable and confident since the start of practice on Thursday. We made a big step forward in Barcelona and today’s result shows that the car is working well, especially through the low-speed corners.

“My laps were clean and tidy in Q1 and Q2, and then in Q3 I was on the money and hit the sweet spot with my final lap. Of course, qualifying is only half the job and there is still a long race ahead of us with so many factors that can come into play tomorrow. In Monaco, nothing comes easy; you always have to work hard to earn your result, but I’ve put myself in a good position to come away with some important points.”

Sergio Perez: “We had very good pace today and we made some steps forward compared to Thursday, but I struggled to get heat into the tyres and that’s why I feel a better position was possible. In any case, seventh is a good place to start so we are targeting a strong result. Monaco is probably the most important qualifying session of the year so it’s good to be starting well inside the top ten, but at the same time we know how unpredictable this race can be.

“Anything can happen, such as a safety car or rain, and you need to react quickly and make the right calls. You also need a bit of luck. It will be crucial to start well, as we know that what really matters in Monaco is track position. Tomorrow is going to be a whole different story and I am looking forward to the challenge.”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: “The qualifying session in Monaco can make or break your weekend and so today’s results are extremely satisfying. It’s the first time we’ve had two cars qualify inside the top ten in Monaco and Nico’s fifth place is our highest starting position here, and also our best starting position of the year.

“We’ve looked competitive all the way through practice and Nico and Sergio have steadily built up their speed with each session. They kept their noses clean today, coped with the traffic, and delivered some fantastic laps when it mattered. To be lining up fifth and seventh means we are well placed for a good result tomorrow. Anything can happen in Monaco but I am confident we will be ready to make the most of any opportunity.”

 

Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez

Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg

Monaco qualifying: Williams

Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas

Monte Carlo, Monaco. Saturday 28 May 2016. Felipe Massa, Williams Martini Racing. Photo: Glenn Dunbar/Williams ref: Digital Image _W2Q3951

Felipe Massa

 

Valtteri Bottas qualified 11th and Felipe Massa 14th for the Monaco Grand Prix. Both drivers comfortably progressed into Q2 after posting times of 1:15.521 (Bottas, 12th) and 1:15.710 (Massa, 15th) on ultrasoft tyres. The team’s performance at Monaco has improved from last year, but both drivers fell just short of making it into Q3. Bottas will start 10th on the grid, due to a five-place penalty for Kimi Raikkonen following a gearbox change.

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: “This isn’t where we want to be, but it’s a step better than where we were last year. We managed to get the most out of the car. If we put our top sectors together, we’d be in the back end of the top 10. If you look at our times against the top cars, we can see that we have made progress and it’s now clear where we need to develop the car if we want to go faster in Monaco.

“We have worked very hard to get the set-up better around here and now this is a car that could have scraped into the top 10. We can have a reasonable race tomorrow. Valtteri will start from a point-scoring position in 10th with a free choice of tyres, and Felipe 14th. With the attrition we usually see and with a decent tyre strategy, we can definitely get both cars into the points and that is our aim.”

Valtteri Bottas: “Obviously we’re not happy to be out of Q3, but we’ve made progress, which is good. We just need to try to make more – and there’s a good chance to get my first points here. This is one of the busiest races in terms of what happens on track with safety cars, so we need to take that opportunity to get some good points.”

Felipe Massa: “It wasn’t an easy qualifying for us. We were fighting for one tenth the whole time. Unfortunately, without that one tenth we are down a few positions. It’s really a shame because it’s just so close. It wasn’t our day for getting the most out of the car with what happened with the red flags, however the car is behaving well. It won’t be easy to get points but we’ll try the best we can.

Monaco qualifying: Mercedes

Nico Rosberg will start tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix from second position, with Lewis Hamilton lining up third. A fuel pressure problem on both cars at the beginning of Q3 meant that Rosberg’s first run of the final session was delayed, while Hamilton was forced to stop at the end of the pit lane before being recovered to the garage and re-starting. Both drivers completed two runs in Q1 and Q2, with Rosberg completing two runs and Hamilton a single run in Q3 – all on the UltraSoft tyre.

Nico Rosberg: “I was really surprised when Daniel set his first quick lap in Q3. I thought ‘damn, that was really quick!’ I tried my best to top that and was able to come a bit closer – but unfortunately it wasn’t enough for pole. Red Bull and especially Daniel did a great job here today. Congrats to him on his first pole position – I’m sure it will feel special for him to have got it here in Monaco. But tomorrow there are still a few opportunities for us to win this race.

“At the start, Daniel is on the harder tyre with a lower grip level, so I hope to maybe gain something there. When I was on the harder compound in China, he caught me at the start – so I hope it’s payback time tomorrow and I can overtake him. I’ve been practising starts a lot over the weekend, so it could be exciting. I can’t wait to race again on this amazing track.”

Lewis Hamilton: “It’s hard to find the words right now. I was the quickest out there today – but unfortunately the problem at the start of Q3 meant I couldn’t use that pace. I did my best with the lap that I had and I’m really pleased with that. My final attempt was what should have been my banker lap, so at least I’m starting third when it could have been tenth. For tomorrow, Red Bull have done something different by putting Daniel on the SuperSoft. I’m not sure how that will play out – but the compounds are pretty similar so I don’t think being on the UltraSoft will give us an edge at the start.

“If Daniel can get into Turn One ahead he just has to sit there, make his car as wide as possible and make those tyres last while we’re all battling away scrubbing our tyres behind him, as it’s almost impossible to overtake here. Even the softest tyres are pretty hard, so it should be an easy one-stop strategy if it stays dry, which makes it tougher. Hopefully we’ll have some rain to mix things up a bit. The last time I started third here was in 2008 and I won that race. Starting from there I thought my chance was gone before I’d begun – but in the end it was a great race, so let’s see. Anything can happen.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “That was a messy session for us and we certainly didn’t get everything out of it that we could have done. But that doesn’t take anything away from Daniel’s performance. He was blindingly fast on Thursday and again today – well done to him on his first pole. We had a smooth session until Q3 when both cars suffered a fuel pressure problem just before their first runs. With Nico, we held him in the garage and this delayed him getting out on track, putting him out of sync with other cars.

“For Lewis, it happened in the pit lane, so we told him to stop, recovered the car and had to adapt our programme. That meant Lewis only had time to make one run in Q3 – so he didn’t have a banker lap time in place and we extended the final run so he could do two flying laps. All of those were compromises on his ultimate performance, so P3 was a great piece of damage limitation in the end. Nico did a great job to take P2 and made a good step between his two runs – but ultimately it wasn’t enough for pole.

“Now we need to look ahead to the race. If it stays dry and Ricciardo gets off the line well, then he will be very hard to beat because track position is everything here. But if it rains, as the forecast suggests it might, then we could be in for a very eventful afternoon – and there will be opportunities for us to take advantage of.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical): “A very tense qualifying session. We could see from FP3 that it was going to be close between ourselves, Red Bull and Ferrari. As it transpired, the balance swung between the three teams – with Sebastian quickest in Q1, Nico and Lewis in Q2 and Daniel ultimately taking pole in Q3. Our programme ran well until the beginning of Q3, when we experienced a fuel pressure problem on both cars – delaying Nico’s first run and unfortunately costing Lewis one of his two planned runs entirely.

“We eventually sent Lewis out with enough fuel to attempt two timed laps and he did a great job to recover third position with what became a single timed lap. Both drivers performed well throughout and we’ve been left wondering whether pole was a possibility with a smoother session. But our attention now turns to tomorrow’s race. It won’t be straightforward – but there are still possibilities to get the win and we’ll be working hard overnight to see where we can make the difference.”

Monaco qualifying: Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo during qualifying

Daniel Ricciardo during qualifying

 

Daniel Ricciardo – Pole (Practice 3 – P4, 1:14.807): “I’m happy! I put it together when I needed to. Qualifying just built up and built up and I found the rhythm, and then that first run in Q3 was the one I needed to do. I feel I’ve been qualifying very well all year, and it’s cool to get my first pole in Formula One, this place more than any is a great place to get it at.

“Hopefully tomorrow we can convert it to the win, that’s the plan. It’s the first pole for the team in a while too, it’s a very good feeling. Coming into the weekend I believed I could be here today and it’s nice to match that belief. The lap felt good. I knew once I’d done it, it would be hard to beat because we were competitive with Mercedes and I hadn’t yet put together the best lap. It was a pretty good lap on the supersofts in Q2 so we start on those tomorrow, it should give us a bit more option in the race when to pit.

“It seemed like a bit of a freebie for us if we could do it and make it work, so why not. Sitting here now it looks good, we’ll see tomorrow what happens but I think it should hopefully give us a bit more flexibility. Today the job was pole, I’ve done that so let’s see what happens tomorrow, I’ve done what I can so far.”

Max Verstappen – 21st (Practice 3 – P5, 1:15.081): “It’s of course not the way you want to start for tomorrow. I turned in a bit too early, clipped the inside wall, broke the inside suspension and then couldn’t turn anymore. I felt quite good, in my first push lap I felt more confident than all the other laps and also in terms of car balance it was better, because my second sector was nearly two to three tenths faster than I ever did.

“It was all coming together but then into the chicane, maybe I underestimated the grip I had and turned in a bit too early. Hopefully the weather will help a bit tomorrow but if you start 21st it will be very difficult. These things unfortunately happen and you have to learn from it and continue. Hopefully there will be a lot of action tomorrow, not only from me but from others. It will be very tough but I won’t give up. The car is great, we just have to find a way to get past the people in front. It will depend a lot on the strategy, what other people do of course and the weather, so hopefully we have some luck tomorrow. Congratulations to Daniel on a great lap and his first pole, it’s great for the team.”

Christian Horner: “Fantastic and thrilling to secure our first pole position since 2013, and especially delighted for Daniel in claiming his maiden pole today. Daniel drove a sensational lap and the team perfectly executed the strategy we set in briefing this morning. It sets us up nicely for the Grand Prix tomorrow and we hope we can capitilise on this sterling performance in qualifying.

“Max has had a tough day. He just clipped the barrier on entry into the chicane and it ended the session for him. It’s unfortunate for us but just demonstrates the margins on the tight streets of Monte Carlo. He’s naturally disappointed but he’s a level-headed guy and he will bounce back and be focused on getting the best out of tomorrow’s race.”

Monaco braking

More about qualifying in a ‘moment’. In the meantime good old Brembo has provided me with a little braking wisdom for the circuit. Now pay attention…

This is a historic city circuit that winds through the streets of the Principality and this can create many problems for the single-seater brakes. In fact, the winding track with poor grip often means the drivers need to control the car often using the brakes, with negative reflexes on the caliper and brake fluid temperature.

In the past this event has often been a theatre of problems connected to overheating and vapour lock of the braking system (a phenomenon in which the brake fluid reaches the boiling point inside the caliper), leading to a lengthening of the pedal in braking which has many times caused drivers to retire, if not crash.

In our day and age the progress made in cooling the brakes has held these problems at bay, although particular attention still needs to be given to managing temperatures during the race weekend. The braking sections are not particularly sudden, but the time spent on the brakes here is among the highest of the season at 26 per cent.

Oh, and by the way. Watch out for turn 10. It’s thought to be the most demanding for the braking systems.

Monaco

When you think Formula One, you think Monaco. As high-powered and sophisticated as the cars that will compete in Round 6 of the FIA Formula One World Championship, so too are the people and their accoutrements which descend upon the smallest and most densely populated country in the world. Yachts line the harbour and exquisite luxury and sports cars line the roads.

You may not know but organised racing within the confines of Monaco began in 1929 when Anthony Noghes, son of a wealthy cigarette baron, proposed a grand prix through the streets of Monte Carlo. On 14 April, the inaugural Monaco Grand Prix was held and it was won by William Grover-Williams in a Bugatti. In the 74th Monaco Grand Prix that will take place on 29 May, the same basic layout crafted by Noghes will challenge today’s Formula One drivers.

And challenge is the key word, for there is no more challenging venue than Monaco. The 78-lap race around the 3.340-km (2.075-mile), 19-turn street circuit features many elevation changes and the tightest corners on the series’ 21-race calendar. It also lays claim to having the only tunnel in Formula One which forces drivers to adjust their eyes from glaring sun to shade every lap.

Monaco is the shortest circuit in Formula One and it’s home to the sport’s slowest corner – the hairpin turn six – which drivers navigate at a pedestrian 50 kph (31 mph) while in maximum steering lock. It’s why three-time Formula One champion Nelson Piquet said racing at Monaco was “like trying to cycle around your living room”.

Despite being the shortest track, Monaco is the longest Formula One race in terms of time and, if hampered by wet weather, it will certainly go to its full, two-hour time limit. As result, the glitz and glamour of Monaco is juxtaposed by the gumption it takes to navigate a street circuit that is nearly 90 years old and lined with menacing Armco barrier.

Haas F1’s Romain Grosjean describes a typical lap:

“So you start on the straight, where it’s very bumpy hitting the brakes into turn one at Sainte Devote. It’s easy to make a mistake here, but then you need to make a good exit for the run up to Casino Corner. Up the hill, blind corner, braking just after the bump, fourth gear, and then third gear for the next one. Going down then you want to avoid the bus stop, which is bumpy, then you head to turn five. There’s always a bit of front-locking, the front inside wheel is in the air. Then the hairpin is a very slow-speed corner. You turn the steering wheel with one hand.

“After that it’s the two Portier corners. The second one is important because it brings you to the tunnel which is a straight line on the track. The tunnel is flat out before you have to brake big for the chicane, where there’s another bump. Then you have Tabac which is quite a high-speed corner, followed by the swimming pool complex, also very high speed. The braking for La Rascasse is tricky, again easy to front-lock. Then there’s a tricky exit for the last corner – it’s not so easy as it’s up a small crest. When you then go down, you can get wheel-spin, and then you’re back on the start-finish straight.”

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