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What we learned from Friday free practice at the Monaco GP

It was Max Verstappen, who led FP2 after FP1 chart-topping Carlos Sainz crashed out in Session 2, to brag about Friday’s practice ahead of F1’s Monaco Grand Prix.

Despite none of the sectors being quality enough to make the timeboard purple, Verstappen, who clocked 1m12.462s, stitched together three consistent splits to show the Red Bull RB19’s ability throughout the lap. made it possible to maximize the This put him ahead of Ferrari’s Sainz and Charles Leclerc, but the former ended the session after colliding with the inside wall on the exit of the pool section.

Sainz set the pace by three tenths over compatriot Fernando Alonso in the opening session and was once again among the top runners before 2021 at the Principality with a near-carbon copy of team-mate Leclerc’s qualifying crash. Created. Red flag-mandated race simulations in the second half of the session were delayed, but quick cleanup work eventually allowed for 12 minutes of uninterrupted running.

Still, this affected the level of information the team could glean, but as is often the case in Monaco, winning qualifying was still the priority.

Here’s everything we learned from Friday’s practice in Monaco.

story of the day

FP2 pool shunt did nothing for Sainz

Photo credit: Mark Sutton / motorsport images

It may seem like a cliché, but Monaco is one of the toughest circuits on the F1 calendar, with its close walls and tight corners. Given that practice is an opportunity for teams and drivers to test the limits of a car’s adhesion to the road surface, it was not surprising that both practice sessions included red flags.

Many red flags were waved in FP1, when Nico Hulkenberg suffered an inside wall collision at the Nouvelle Chicane, first appearing to clear the rubble. The German removed the left rear tire from the rim and spun it. He crawled back to the pit with minimal damage, but was deemed to need a brief respite from litigation.

Alex Albon’s crash towards the end of the session did more damage as he crashed into most of Williams’ left side at Sainte Devote nearing the end of the session, ending FP1 slightly early.

Looking at the fastest lap on the soft tyres, Red Bull’s advantage over Ferrari was mainly evident on corner exits, particularly Casino Square and Portier.

Sainz was responsible for the only red flag in FP2. He broke his right-front suspension on the exit of La Piscine too close to the inside barrier and had no choice but to go into the wall. This cost him a chance to reclaim his role at the top of the timesheets, but when the session resumed the focus shifted to long runs, cementing Verstappen’s position at the top.

The Spaniard had just lost the second fastest time to team-mate Leclerc. Leclerc struggles to ‘jump’ in his Ferrari when tackling slow corners, hitting a curb and jacking up one wheel. Sainz looked more comfortable in the two cars during Friday’s session, but a crash cost him an opportunity to prepare for the race.

Verstappen’s headline time thus endured further testing, but the gap between Verstappen and Ferrari was very close. The Red Bull team was expected to lose some of its advantage in the low-speed environment of Monaco’s track. It actually came true, yet he kept his familiar table at the top of the order.

Why qualifying will be more important than ever in Monaco

Lining up for pole position at the Monaco Grand Prix can unscientifically be characterized as 95% of the work done in pursuit of victory. Even in an era of smaller, narrower cars, Monte Carlo’s claustrophobic roads are notoriously unsuitable for his F1 overtaking, but pole position has taken another level of prestige at this year’s event. would add

This is because the differences between the teams are very close this time due to the characteristics of each car on the grid and using race pace to predict races will ultimately create an unreliable narrative. It’s for Traffic negotiations in Q3 will be the most important and will be one of the key differentiators in determining the grid for Sunday’s race.

Looking at the fastest lap on the soft tyres, Red Bull’s advantage over Ferrari was mainly evident on corner exits, particularly Casino Square and Portier. SF-23 was a game under acceleration, and although they were able to stabilize their losses in time as the pace picked up, they were unable to reverse that disadvantage in certain areas.

Verstappen proves his corner exit strength by holding off Leclerc for the lead in FP2

Verstappen proves his corner exit strength by holding off Leclerc for the lead in FP2

Photo credit: Sam Bugnall / motorsport images

As has been the case throughout previous seasons, Ferrari are particularly strong under braking, instilling confidence for both Leclerc and Sainz to come off the throttle later than their rivals, but this hinders them slightly on the exit. seems to be But it was a close second, with Ferrari holding the advantage in the early stages of the circuit and the section from Mirabeau to Portier.

Aston Martin has been hampered by Fernando Alonso’s hopes of a surprise victory at Monaco, but has been trailed by rivals in the track’s two slowest parts, namely the Loews Hairpin and the Nouvelle Chicane. The AMR23 has strengths under traction, but drivers seem less confident in the slowest parts of the track. Throttle trails showed a small blip at the Nouvelle Chicane as Alonso tried to force his car’s behavior.

Mercedes is a bit behind the top three, but there is some cautious optimism in the camp about new upgrades. In Monaco, of course, many of the finer details of the new update will be obscured, but drivers report improved braking stability thanks to improvements to the front suspension. Struggling with understeer at the Mirabeau, Hairpin and Portier corners and a lack of confidence in the first corner left Lewis Hamilton and George Russell just behind Red Bull and Ferrari from the start, but overnight. This is an opportunity to reduce those symptoms that may improve with adjustment.

If drivers can avoid smearing the barriers with red paint, Ferrari have a very real chance of getting ahead before the end of Saturday’s session.

The medium tyre’s race run was brief, but Mercedes were able to shine even more in that context. Hamilton’s lap was within two-tenths of Verstappen’s, but the sample size is so small that there is little opportunity to compare beyond that. Alonso did a long run on a set of soft tyres, which does not seem to compare to the medium, which is expected to be the tire of choice for most of the Grand Prix.

The Alpine was surprisingly strong in a brief long run on the medium. Esteban Ocon’s time was better than Verstappen’s, but Gasly did the same on occasion. Traffic is likely to be a differentiator here as well, with the tendency for trains to form during races, the pace of long runs will be very situational.

With qualifying barring bad weather forecast over the weekend, Ferrari could have a chance to take the lead before the end of Saturday’s session if drivers can avoid smearing the barriers with red paint. Verstappen may ruin the party, but Ferrari’s fate is in Verstappen’s own hands. Perhaps that’s what even the most zealous Tifozo fears…

what the driver says

Can Leclerc fight for pole position?

Can Leclerc fight for pole position?

Photo credit: Glenn Dunbar / motorsport images

Verstappen: “I think FP1 was quite tricky. I wasn’t very happy with how the car was going on the curbs and bumps. In FP2 it was already a lot better and the car felt more competitive. The overall ride quality of the car is still a bit lacking, how it deals with curbs and bumps, especially when compared to the Ferrari.Lower camber.It’s something we still need to work on for tomorrow because they are very We know they are very close to 2019 and we know they are going to the limit in qualifying, so we need a little bit more to stay in front of them.”

Hamilton: “Overall a great day. I really enjoyed driving today and I think we got a lot of data. But the car felt generally good, which was obviously a bit disappointing, as at the end of the session we weren’t as close as we had hoped, but we definitely felt an improvement and more power out of the car. We have to keep working hard to see if we can squeeze it out.”

Russell: “Qualifying is the part of the weekend where we usually struggle. Looking at the last 18 months, we’ve always had better results on Sundays, so we’ll try to figure something out overnight. We definitely have some positive signs from the session, a clear improvement over FP1. It’s never going to be easy in this place.”

Russell realizes Mercedes improvement with upgraded W14 between sessions

Russell realizes Mercedes improvement with upgraded W14 between sessions

Photo credit: Simon Galloway / motorsport images What we learned from Friday free practice at the Monaco GP

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