If you haven’t yet submitted your entry for our Monaco strategy competition (admittedly launched without fanfair yesterday and offering nothing more in reward than gloating rights for the winner) then today’s three hours of practice in the principality should make it easier.
You have two clear choices; either give us a plan on how to keep the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton in front, or give us your ideas on how the hell any other team will get by the Mercs, because they dominated today. Pole position and indeed the front row looks like it will once again be silver come Sunday.
Nico Rosberg was fastest in both the morning and afternoon sessions, his FP2 time over 1.5secs quicker than the FP1 time once four Pirelli supersofts had been bolted on. Lewis Hamilton was just over three-tenths behind, although the smart money suggests he was concentrating more on his race set-up. Then again he did that in practice in Spain and his car was even worse on Sunday than Rosberg’s.
Has Mercedes found a solution for its ‘Sunday Afternoon Syndrome’? Almost certainly not; although the team were running all kinds of cameras and data logging devices in the morning, there were no obvious changes to the car which nonetheless did look quite extraordinarily pointy and responsive between the barriers. When its tyres are working which, let’s face it, means when the W04 is not brimmed with petrol, it’s clearly a joy to drive.
Especially, it would seem, if you are Nico Rosberg. He wasn’t overawed by Michael Schumacher, so I guess there was no reason to expect different with the arrival of old-chum Lewis Hamilton. Does make you think though. If he is as quick as Hamilton, then maybe Schumacher wasn’t such an embarrassment during the comeback?
Anyhow, I digress. How then, if you are Ross Brawn, are you going to make this your race, and not just spend the afternoon getting in the way of everyone else’s. Entries below please.
Or you might want to imagine you are pitlane Eric Morecombe/Vic Reeves (delete according to your age) impersonator Stefano Domenicalli. His Ferraris were the best of the rest, despite lap after lap after lap of the kind of commitment from Fernando Alonso that had you peering at screen from between your fingers. Once again, on-board cameras on F1 cars at Monte Carlo provided some of the most astonishing viewing. Sky’s Martin Brundle was out and about today and his sense of awe was apparent as the drivers asked everything of their cars around ‘the swimming pool’ without really knowing whether they’d actually get it. Commitment is everything at Monaco.
And on the subject of commitment Brundle was adamant that you can overtake given an advantage (which might be mechanical or might just be psychological). Certainly the supersofts (this weekend’s option tyre and painted red) have a second at least on the softs (the yellow ‘primes’), so there’s Brundle’s required advantage straightaway.
So go on, how will Domenicalli get Alonso and Massa past the Mercs, given that the Ferraris might well start third and fourth unless Lotus can find an extra tenth or two? Grosjean hitting the wall at the bottom of the hill aside, it was another good day for Lotus, but Monaco does demand outright speed on Saturday at least, and the E21 doesn’t quite have that. Red Bull?
Webber was quicker than Vettel, so one assumes Sulky Seb will be in evidence this weekend, keeping grumpy Christian company who will not stop complaining about Pirelli.
Finally, we are happy to report Jenson Button made the top ten (just ahead of Vettel) albeit over a second behind the Merc. The MP4 28 finally had a new front wing and it seemed to suit Button who drives Monaco with half the effort of the other drivers. Class; he deserves better.
So go on. F1 is all about pre-planned strategies now and we’re not going to grumble about it any more, if you can’t beat them etc. Pick a team and tell us how you’re going to win…