About time Ferrari won in Monaco – Vettel
Sebastian Vettel says it is “about time” that Ferrari took a race win in Monaco, as the team hasn’t won the race in sixteen years. The German set the fastest ever lap of the circuit during FP2 yesterday and was a second ahead of Lewis Hamilton who was eighth.
Ferrari last took victory in Monaco in 2001, but the team has had a strong start to the season which Vettel says means Ferrari is ready for a return to the top step of the podium in Monaco. Vettel told F1.com “Monaco is always special — if you could have the freedom to choose any race on the calendar that you would want to win, it would, without doubt, be Monaco.”
“You can ask up and down the paddock and you would get the same answer. I would say it is about time that Ferrari wins again here, as I think that the last Ferrari win here was quite a while ago — if I am not mistaken it was 2001. So yes, we are ready.”
Ferrari’s main rivals Mercedes finished well off the pace because of a setup mistake in second practice. But, Vettel says the reigning world champions to bounce back on Saturday. “I am not counting out Mercedes,” he said.
“They probably had a problem today, but I am sure they will be back to full force on Saturday. It is Thursday so there is plenty of time for them to sort things out.
McLaren Indy return – Brown
McLaren executive director Zac Brown say that Fernando Alonso’s Indy 500 debut could see McLaren return to the IndyCar series full time and Alonso’s presence could bring Formula One back to Indianapolis.
The McLaren name hasn’t been in IndyCar for thirty eight years and the Spaniard set to line up on the second row for Sunday’s race. Brown told Sky Sports “North America is a very important market for us. We’re a racing team but also have other businesses.”
“Our criteria for competing outside of Formula 1 is that it has to be commercially viable, we have to feel we can be competitive, it fits our brand, and it doesn’t detract from our Formula 1 efforts. Indy 500 and IndyCar tick those boxes.”
Brown says that IndyCar is something the team is definitely going to discuss and there is interest in competing in some way in the future. He also says that Formula One should also be looking at a return to “the world’s greatest racetrack.”
Indianapolis and the Circuit of The Americas are the only circuits in the United States to hold an FIA Grade 1 status, allowing Formula One races to be held.
Circuit President Doug Boles said “We’d have to figure out the economics. That’s why it wasn’t here after 2007. In order for it to come back here, the economics would have to make sense.”
He added when they renovated the course retained the Grade 1 status.
Additional races in the US have been targeted following F1’s takeover by American group Liberty Media.
McLaren optimistic about retaining Alonso
McLaren still has optimism that they can retain Fernando Alonso after his contract expires at the end of the season, despite their “slow and painful” start to the season.
Alonso isn’t racing in Monaco this weekend and is looking to win the Indianapolis 500 from fifth on the grid, but speculation about his future is expected to heat up when he returns in two weeks for the Canadian Grand Prix. Eric Boullier has already said the team must “deliver the impossible” to persuade the Spaniard to stay into 2018.
Sky Sports asked executive director Zak Brown if he remained hopeful of keeping the two-time world champion, he said: “I think we can. I hope we can. That’s the plan. Things are getting a little bit better. We know it’s going to be slow and painful, and it has been.”
“We saw a glimmer of hope in Spain and practice [on Thursday in Monaco] wasn’t too bad. So as long as we can demonstrate to him we’re on a path to success then I think he will hang in there because he really likes the whole McLaren team environment.”
Brown says that Alonso is “loving” his IndyCar adventure and the chance to fight for a place among the front-runners again. However admitted that Alonso was frustrated because of problems in qualifying.
Alonso has the prospect of a podium on Sunday, but any F1 podium will seem a long way off for the Spaniard.
Move to more old school venues – Wolff
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that Formula One needs to move away from circuits which are like ‘supermarket car parks’ and race at more old-school venues like Monaco.
The German says his perspective on what the sport needs to be changed last week competing in the famous Italian Mille Miglia road race. This has convinced him that the sport needs to do more to make sure aspects of it that are attractive for fans are embraced, like races taking place on challenging circuits.
He explained to Autosport “The DNA of F1 was about the best technology , with the best drivers sitting on a bullet and trying to drive that bullet.”
“Somehow [on the Mille Miglia] this became clear to me why I love this sport. It is about doing something that nobody else dared to do, and with the passion for cars. Motor racing is a life, and there is so much passion and so much emotion, throughout all the generation for cars and drivers.”
He says to drive modern F1 cars you need courage and in the old days missing a corner had serious consequences, including death. Wolff says that a solution would be to add more street venues to the calendar.
Largest fan survey gives mixed reading
The results from the largest survey of global fans by the Motorsports Network says that fans across the world are optimistic about the future of the sport. The survey launched in March in 15 languages and receiving fan feedback from 194 countries, the 2017 survey had 215,872 participants.
This makes the survey the biggest motorsport marketing research project ever conducted, and one of the biggest sports surveys of all time. The survey asked about the demographics of the sport’s audience, fan disposition and attitudes towards the sport, their affinity for races, teams, drivers and their consumption of racing as remote and live audiences.
FForty-fourpercent of fans believe that Formula One remains ‘the pinnacle of motorsport’, and a 43 percent improvement in the statement that the sports fields ‘the best drivers’. That is a rise of one percent on 2015.
The survey shows the average age of fans is falling with a rise in the number of women watching Formula One. However, some say the fall in the availability of free-to-air television coverage is having an impact with fewer fans are watching the sport regularly.
Lewis Hamilton has remained the most popular driver, with his support now being at the highest level since Micheal Schumacher. Ferrari also strengthened their position as the world’s favourite F1 team in the latest survey, with nearly one-third of the global fanbase ranking.
Tyres could lead to one stop race
Pirelli says the ultrasoft tyre will be capable of doing the whole Monaco Grand Prix, which gives the teams the possibility of only doing a one stop race.
The tyre manufacturers head of Formula One Mario Isola says that anyone who starts outside the top ten could pit on the first lap of the race and then run the entire race on the ultra. It would seem a good move, as the chances of an early safety car is very high.
Head of F1 for Pirelli, Mario Isola told Motorsport.com “We had zero degradation, more or less. In the second session, race simulations were very consistent. This was expected. We have a delta lap time between the ultrasoft and the supersoft which is around 0.7s. Probably during the race, this number is going to be smaller, but this is normal.”
Isola says that everyone is looking at a long ultra stint because the chances of a safety car is very high and anyone starting on the supersoft would switch behind an early on in the race.
This is because tyre wear and degradation wasn’t an issue during practice as the tyres didn’t degrade or have blisters or graining. Strategy options are varied for the race depending on the conditions. Also, the drivers starting outside the top ten, will not necessarily lose out.
He added “At the beginning in the traffic, it is something that is not going to penalise you. If you stay on the pace, you’re not losing position, and you keep the contact with the car in front of you, with the supersoft it’s possible to do that.”
This also gives the top teams the chance to only use the supersoft for Q2, but Isola believes that could be a risk because the times are very close at the front.
“If you make a mistake, or find traffic that in Monaco is always possible, there is a big risk that you don’t go in Q3, and then you start 11th, 12th, 13th. Overtaking is so difficult here that it is probably a big disadvantage,” he added.
Toro Rosso can’t get carried away
Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat says the team must not get carried away with the competitive form the team had during practice for the Monaco Grand Prix.
The Italian team had an impressive day on Thursday, with both Kvyat and team-mate Carlos Sainz being well inside the top ten in both of the practice sessions. Plus in FP2, Sainz was just over half a second off the pace in fifth.
Kvyat told ESPN “I don’t think we should try to be heroes or anything, we just need to try maintain this comfort zone for us.”
“Let’s not start with ‘amazing’ yet, I mean this was OK, we were doing our job and I think we were doing OK laps today and we were competitive so there was nothing we could have done too much better.” The Russian added the team needs to keep an eye on the rest as the pack is very tight, but says the car has potential.
Toro Rosso has made an encouraging start to the season and has only not scored in Bahrain. There form, yesterday suggested that team could be in with a chance of their best result of the season.
However, Kvyat is remaining realistic saying “We had a good Thursday, every lap was very coordinated and good quality, but there’s a lot work to be done. The car seems good, but as we know, we have to be extremely focused to stay in this window.”
The Russian says the team mustn’t be super clever and leave the car how it is because it works for him.
Tomorrow’s qualifying session will be again a three horse race between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. Yesterday during free practice we saw Mercedes struggle because they made a mistake in FP2.
Mercedes know how to win they have been dominated here since 2013. Qualifying in Monaco is one of the most important sessions of the season as overtaking is difficult anyway and this year’s regulation has made it harder to follow and overtake.
But throughout the session all the teams need to be wary of yellow and red flags meaning there could be a few surprises in store.
That’s all from F1 Today this week and Jason Fluhrer will be bringing you full coverage of the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend. F1 Today returns Monday 5th of June, with Notebook round up of practice here and preview here