RACE DEBRIEF

    A round-up of the opening day's events from the Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monaco 2018 at the Circuit de Monaco...

    Red Bull

    Red Bull dominated proceedings in Monaco with Ricciardo topping both practice sessions. At a track expected to suit the RB14, Ricciardo led the way in FP1 with Verstappen briefly called to the stewards to explain a spot of reversing. The Dutchman looked the one to beat in FP2, breaking the track record twice before Ricciardo hammered in a supreme lap to be the first man in the 1m 11's. On this form, it is difficult to bet against Red Bull this weekend...

    Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:12.126, P1; FP2: 1:11.841, P1

    “This is a place I always love driving. It helps when you’re fast but regardless it’s just so much fun driving an F1 car around here. Having the hypersoft tyre gives us that little bit more grip and it’s pretty cool to be breaking lap records. I’m glad that was the fastest lap that anyone has ever done as it felt so quick, but I think on Saturday we will go even quicker again. Some parts of the track are just amazing, Tabac and Turn 12 in particular are a lot of fun. The intention this weekend is to try and win and be dominant. Both cars today ran really well in the sessions and Max and I were fighting for the top spot all day. I think come Qualifying the others will turn it up and I’m sure it will tighten up as you never know what the other teams are doing, but all we could do today was try and top the times, which is what we have done.”

    Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:12.280, P2; FP2: 1:12.035, P2

    “Today’s performance was good and the car seems to be working really well around here. It actually felt easy to drive with not too many setup issues which is nice, especially on a street circuit. We have a great car but it struggles when we have long straights, you can see as soon as we come here where the straights are not too long we have good pace. We still have to improve but throughout the entire lap we seem competitive, I didn’t quite manage to link all the sectors together but it’s only Thursday. The hypersofts seem to have a lot of grip and they appear to suit the car so this is encouraging for Qualifying. Again, the other teams’ engine modes will make a difference on Saturday but I think we can be a real challenger regardless and put ourselves in the best position to achieve a victory on race day.”

    Mercedes

    Hamilton and Bottas had largely trouble free sessions, but couldn't find the pace to match the dominant Red Bulls today. Hamilton was at least quicker than the Ferraris in FP1 and matched them in FP2, while Bottas has more work to do if he is to get in the mix come Saturday.

    Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:12.480, P3; FP2: 1:12.536, P4

    "It's been an okay day, we didn't suffer any damage which is a good thing. I said yesterday the Red Bulls were going to be quick which they were today. As expected, we struggled a little bit more. The car felt good in some places, in others it felt bad. So we have got some things to work on, but we're not completely in the dark; we're in a much better place than we were last year. We're closer to Red Bull and Ferrari than I expected, but we're still a few tenths off. So we've got some ground to cover and pick up if we want to be in the fight for the win. We've got to keep working on the set-up and try and see if we can pull out some more potential from the car. The hypersoft felt good, but it doesn't last very long. It looks good for qualifying but could be interesting in the race."

    Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:13.502, P7; FP2: 1:12.642, P6

    "As we expected it was quite difficult today. We thought that Red Bull and Ferrari were going to be quick here and they were. The car didn't feel great in FP1 and we struggled a bit on the HyperSoft tyres. In FP2, we got it to work better. The gaps between the three teams are not too big though, which is good. We know our car has a lot of pace, but it is difficult to find the right set-up for this track. If we can find a good set-up and get some good laps in for qualifying, we should be able to fight for the pole, but I think it will be the most challenging qualifying session we've had this year. I'm very proud to be driving with my special Mika Häkkinen helmet in Monaco this weekend. Mika has proven in the past that the helmet design and a Silver Arrow are a good combination, so hopefully I will be able to get a good result as well."

    Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

    "We've had pretty good sessions today with both cars. It's never easy in Monaco as the track is so short it's near impossible to put together more than two or three clear laps but both drivers have a good feel for the car and we have identified a few areas where we need to improve the balance. It's our first proper experience of the HyperSoft tyre which is giving good grip on single laps; however needs a bit of looking after on the longer run. In terms of pace it's difficult to know where we stand today, it does feel like Red Bull are the ones to watch in qualifying but we're in much better shape than we were this time last year and we've certainly got a car that is behaving more normally. The track is going to evolve a lot over the next couple of days and it can have a big impact on the balance of the car and how the tyres are working. As such, it's never easy to know how much to change for the final practice session but if we can improve a few issues in certain corners we should be in decent shape for qualifying and the race and be in a position to put some pressure on the others."

    Ferrari

    Both Ferraris struggled with their tyres, with Vettel locking up and Raikkonen complaining of excessive tyre wear. Nonetheless, they often don't reveal their true hand until qualifying, so it remains to be seen whether or not they can take the fight to Red Bull on a track where they secured a one-two last season.

    Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:13.041, P4; FP2: 1:12.413, P3

    “I think it was a decent day. In Monaco there’s always traffic, and today we had the red flag, so that it was a bit messy. It’s not that easy to get everything together in a lap here. I am not entirely happy about the second and the last sector. So, I think there’s something we can do better. I believe we got the best out of the tyres and on Saturday it will be very close. There isn’t more pressure on this track than on the others, but I think it’s more fun. The track is very challenging and you have no room for mistakes but it’s quite enjoyable. You think twice before trying something here. However, I have a good feeling with the car. Today I trusted my car and even if I was sliding a little bit, I knew I wouldn’t have touched the barrier. We still need to improve, but generally it’s good fun driving around”.

    Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:113.066, P5; FP2: 1:12.543, P5

    “This first day was not too bad, a pretty normal Thursday. The feeling with the car was not too bad, but this track is always quite tricky to start with, and we were trying many different things. The drive around the circuit is a bit more complicated than in other places; it’s easier to end up making a big mistake, while in a normal place you would just end in a run-off area. You need to be more careful and start pushing when you feel that everything is all right. For sure there are things to improve, but we were able to do what was planned and managed to stay out of trouble. It’s difficult to have a clear picture; in many practice sessions we have seen some cars being very fast on Friday and then in qualifying it’s a different case. Let’s wait and see what happens on Saturday”.

    McLaren

    Alonso was confined to the pits for much of first practice with a brake-by-wire issue. Once resolved, he looked relatively quick. Vandoorne managed a decent run in both sessions, coming home 0.038s ahead of Alonso in FP2 to give McLaren renewed hope ahead of qualifying.

    Fernando Alonso - FP1: 1:114.637, P17; FP2: 1:13.115, P9

    “A tough day. In the first session, I had an issue with the brakes and we lost most of the morning. That was quite disappointing because you need as many laps as possible around here to build up your confidence. The guys in the garage did a great job and the car was fully ready for the second session, when we were able to recover some of those lost laps.

    “Due to the track evolution, you drive one car in FP1, a different one in FP2, and an entirely new one in qualifying, where you are two seconds quicker. So it’s important to adapt – we need to be flexible. Qualifying here is 99 per cent of the race, so once you put a good lap together on Saturday, the race becomes a little bit easier.

    “There’s still more to come from us. Hopefully, we can put a good lap together on Saturday.”

    Stoffel Vandoorne - FP1: 1:14.291, P15; FP2: 1:13.077, P8

    “It’s been a pretty tricky Thursday, actually. The sessions didn’t go as smoothly as we’d wanted: FP1 was difficult, but we made a big step during FP2. That was when things came together, but I still think we can take another step forward for Saturday and be in a better position for qualifying.

    “Confidence is everything around here. The car was a bit of a handful and a bit unpredictable today, so we struggled a little bit. Still, by the end, we managed to set some decent lap-times.

    “The times are so close – you can’t leave anything on the table this weekend or else you’ll find yourself out in Q1. It’s going to be up to us to make the best out of it, do everything perfectly and do a proper job.

    “Fortunately, I still feel there is a bit to come from us.”

    Eric Boullier, Racing Director

    “You always think you’re ready for another Monaco Grand Prix weekend, but then you never fail to be awestruck by the sheer spectacle of Formula 1 cars racing at speed around these fast, narrow streets.

    “Today, we had a relatively pain-free pair of sessions – Fernando’s running was delayed this morning by a small brake-by-wire issue, but we ended the day with plenty of mileage under our belts, and lots to analyse tonight and tomorrow ahead of qualifying on Saturday.

    “There’s still plenty of work left to do: neither driver really felt that they had full confidence in their cars today, so we’ll be diving deep into the data to see if we can turn that feeling round for Saturday. Confidence is everything at a place like this, so it’d be hugely beneficial for us if we can address those issues.”

    Force India

    Force India were solidly in the midst of the midfield runners, with Perez narrowly pipping his team mate in both sessions. Perez has scored points in the past two races and will be looking to continue that run.

    Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:13.717, P8; FP2: 1:13.370, P12

    “The general feeling with the car is good, but we need to improve the balance to find some more lap time before qualifying. It is going to be a very close battle in the midfield, but if we do a good job over the next few days we can battle for a place in Q3.”

    Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:14.000, P11; FP2: 1:13.382, P13

    “It’s always awesome to drive here. It’s a special track and very technical, which makes it complicated to find the right set-up. The track evolved a huge amount during the day and you have to adapt to the conditions and not go over the limit. I kissed the wall gently this morning, but there were no other dramas and we built up our speed with each run. It’s all about getting your confidence up before Saturday and it was important to keep out of trouble.”

    Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer

    “It was a positive Thursday. We ran reliably in both practice sessions and completed our programme despite the red flag that cost us some time. We split the aero items between the two cars and evaluated some new parts. We had the chance to run the new hypersoft tyres for the first time and the feedback is positive: the grip is impressive and it’s an increase compared to the ultrasoft compound. We improved the car throughout the day but we expect the margins between teams in the midfield to remain very small. There is still plenty to do, but we did our homework today and gathered all the race tyre data we needed. This circuit is all about maximising track time, building the confidence and finding a rhythm. We did a good job today but the real work starts now.”

    Renault

    Hulkenberg was solidly 'best of the rest' in P7 in second practice, with Sainz also making the top ten. The German didn't have an error free session, flat spotting two sets of tyres while Sainz was guilty of kissing the barriers. With no major car damage, Renault look well placed ahead of the weekend.

    Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:14.134, P13; FP2: 1:13.047, P7

    “A standard ‘Friday’ for us today. There’s not much to say; we had a couple of front lock-ups, therefore my runs got cut short with some bad flat spots. This morning I was not so happy with the car as it was quite difficult but we made some very good progress over lunch and I was much happier in P2. I think we’ve got a pretty good baseline going forward into Qualifying on Saturday.”

    Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:13.456, P6; FP2: 1:13.200, P10

    “Overall it’s been an encouraging day for the team. A good baseline work from the beginning of the day helped to put in some good laps during P1. P2 was more difficult due to lots of traffic so I did not have the chance to get a clean lap, but the car is more or less where we want it to be and we will improve again for Saturday.”

    Nick Chester, Chassis Technical Director

    “Today was a productive day, despite the traffic we always experience in Monaco. The pace looks pretty good and we completed all our programme, getting in the laps and making the drivers comfortable. In the morning session Carlos was pretty happy with the car, although Nico wasn’t quite so comfortable so we made a fair amount of set-up changes on his car between P1 and P2. Both ended up fairly happy and it looks like we have a reasonable baseline for the rest of the weekend.”

    Williams

    Sirotkin was the first in trouble around Monaco's notoriously tight circuit, hitting the barriers and puncturing a tyre in FP1. Stroll meanwhile struggled with the set up of his FW41, complaining of oversteer and a lack of grip. Williams might be one team thankful of the extra long break before FP3, with some head scratching to do.

    Sergey Sirotkin - FP1: 1.13.962, P10; FP2: 1:13.547, P15

    "I would say today has gone quite well. FP1 was reasonable, FP2 could have been quite a bit better. With the traffic and everything, I didn’t have a clean lap. There was always something compromising my lap, I was not in the right spot or the right window for the tyres. There is room for improvement but it’s good. We’ve seen already position-wise we are better than in Barcelona, but it was not the best of what we could do. I would not say we are very optimistic but it’s looking quite good. It’s challenging but if it was easy anyone would do it. We don’t have the easiest car to drive here. It’s a very demanding car and track but I really enjoy this challenge."

    Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:14.782, P18; FP2: 1:14.011, P19

    "It was not the best day, but it is the first day, so I am just getting into it and Monaco is one of those places where you need to find the rhythm before you can really execute anything. We have been on the back foot for most of the day and I didn't really feel I had been on top of the car. However, at least I started to get there towards the end of the session, and especially on high fuel on consecutive laps I felt it was getting better and better. We will be piecing everything together and see on Saturday what we can do. For sure we are far from where we want to be, but there is still a lot of time to think about what we can do before qualifying and the race. We look a little bit better this weekend, and I think Sergey showed the car has a little bit more pace."

    Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer

    "I think the drivers have done a commendable job. We’ve had a couple of issues, but I think for two young drivers trying to get as much track time as possible we certainly haven’t been particularly penalised so that’s good. We purposely kept the programmes simple to maximise track time and that has worked quite well. In FP1 we were quite tactical in how we ran to give our drivers time when the track was quieter. FP2 was then focused on getting their low and high fuel runs in so they could understand the car. I think the car has been reasonably well-balanced, so the engineers have done a good job there. There’s some work for us to do overnight, but we’ve got an extra 24 hours to think about it. It’s amazing that we can get everything done in six hours elsewhere, yet we will take 30 hours in Monaco, but that’s engineers for you. Overall, I think on high and low fuel, the pace has been relatively better than Spain. With the circuit characteristics here, we would expect it to be kinder to us. We’ve done a reasonable job in exploiting the car to get the most out of this circuit."

    Toro Rosso

    Hartley kissed the wall but apart from that looked confident, out-pacing his team mate in both sessions. At one point Toro Rosso were solidly in the top ten, but as the track evolved others improved and it looks as if they will have their work cut out to make Q3 on Saturday.

    Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:14.240, P14; FP2: 1:13.410, P14

    “First day in Monaco, it’s really cool to be back driving these streets! The last time was in 2016, and it’s one of the most amazing tracks of the year, so it’s really good to be here. We tried a couple of things today, and at the moment I think it’s really close between P7 to the back of the field, so it will be super tight this weekend. I didn’t really find the right settings to feel fully comfortable with the car, so I’m a bit out of sync at the moment, but Brendon looks pretty good, so we’re probably going to work and analyse more tonight to try and find the best package. The car seems to be fast so if we manage to find two or three tenths I think we can fight to be in the top 10 - that will be the target for us to work towards tomorrow.”

    Brendon Hartley - FP1: 1:14.034, P12; FP2: 1:13.222, P11

    “It was a really positive day, it’s awesome to drive around Monaco for the first time in a Formula 1 car! It’s a special feeling around here, dancing from wall to wall. In terms of performance, I think straight away we were in the top 10 on the Hypersoft. We finished the morning P12, but running on the harder compound tyre which looked positive. In the afternoon, I was 11th on the Hypersoft which is promising, it’s very close to the cars ahead and also the cars behind. We’re definitely in the fight, and the goal has to be Q3. It’s tricky here with traffic, you have to be clever with strategy in qualifying - and a bit lucky too! I’m happy to get the new updated aero parts that Pierre was running in the first two sessions. The team has done a good job to bring some updates here and all of the emphasis now goes into getting us as far up the grid as we can!”

    Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer

    “The team enjoyed a successful day all round. Monaco is a circuit with a unique layout and very different requirements from the car compared to the other circuits we have raced at this season, so the setup is very different to the tracks that we’ve run before. It goes without saying that drivers are important at all track but in particular here there’s an awful lot to be gained from giving the driver a car that has good stability and one that he can build confidence. Since neither has driven here before in F1 the plan was to give both drivers as many laps as possible in both sessions, which we did generally on the whole. P1 was a very good session as both drivers completed the entire plan. We didn’t have too many mechanical setup tests to carry out as it’s very difficult to quantify tests here because the track evolution is so big. However, we did come here with new aero parts which we fitted to one of the cars. So throughout the sessions we were analysing the data and building on our knowledge. For P2, we did make some setup changes to the cars to try and improve the overall balance, it was more fine tuning because the drivers were pretty happy and we were looking quite competitive. The first low fuel runs were good - we were very happy - then we had a red flag for the issue with the track. Then obviously it becomes difficult, because everyone wants to go out at the same time, so it was hard to find a good gap in the traffic. We were one of the first cars out so we had clean out laps, but then we caught cars who were late going out which interrupted our timed laps. This meant our second runs weren’t as clean as they could have been, so I don’t think we’ve shown the true performance. I think the car is looking competitive here which is encouraging – on the short runs and the high fuel. We had an issue with Pierre’s car on the high-fuel run, it appears to be some kind of brake issue, so we need to understand what’s caused that, fix it, and ensure we have no issues going into the race - I’m confident we’ll get to the bottom of it. On the whole, it was a very positive day, and I think we’ve got some good confidence going into P3 and Qualifying.”

    Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director

    “As usual on the first day of practice, we have worked on tuning our settings step by step to suit this circuit. In today’s sessions, we took into account two factors, firstly the fact that the track will get much quicker over the weekend, as it gets cleaner and rubbers in and secondly, data from today did not correlate in every area to our simulation work, so we made adjustments accordingly. The mid-field looks very close, but the team reckon the car is working well here, so we feel we can have a good qualifying and race. One feature of Monaco is that we now have a whole day to study our data and prepare for qualifying in two days’ time.”

    Haas

    Haas were another team with technical issues, which lost Magnussen and Grosjean significant running in FP1. Come second practice and things weren't much better, with both cars coming in for significant set up changes. P16 and P18 is not where Haas expect to be after a strong start to the season, and with Grosjean facing a three place grid drop for the race at a track where qualifying is key, there is much work to do overnight in the Haas garage.

    Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:13.943, P9; FP2: 1:13.763, P18

    “We haven’t been able to find a sweet spot on the car and we haven’t found the grip we wanted to have for around here. Obviously, we’re not very happy with the positions. Hopefully, we’re going to get the tyres to work better, get the grip out of them, and then the performance should rise quite nicely. Right now, we’re not looking like we’d make it to Q3, but it’s about finding the grip on the track. I’m sure the engineers are going to work really hard and get everything in the window with the tyres, the temperature, and make sure we get the grip out of them. If we do so, the car’s been really good everywhere, so I don’t see why we shouldn’t be competitive.”

    Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:18.801, P20; FP2: 1:13.572, P16

    “Obviously, we’re not where we wanted to be today, in terms of pace, and also in terms of not getting much running in FP1. I’m hoping for a better day on Saturday. We’ve got lots of time to work on the car with having Friday off, at least from driving, and we can think a lot more about the setup. Hopefully, we’ll improve the situation for qualifying. The whole field is very tight, so even though it looks bad position-wise, we don’t have to find that much time to go quite a bit forward.”

    Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

    “It wasn’t easy for us. We had a few issues in FP1 and we didn’t get a lot of running. That always puts you a little bit behind here as the drivers need to get used to it and get laps. In FP2, we weren’t where we wanted to be, but I think we roughly know why. There is room for improvement and we know where to go.”

    Sauber

    Cautious optimism for Sauber at Leclerc's home race - the Monegasque driver was P16 and P17 in the two practice sessions and completed all his runs without any issues. Ericsson struggled to match his team mate for pace but did at least lay down a large number of laps to gather useful data for the team.

    Marcus Ericsson - FP1: 1:15.206, P19; FP2: 1:14.173, P20

    “It has been quite a good day. It is important to get in a lot of laps on Thursday in Monaco, so that is a positive for us. We struggled a bit of the hypersoft tyres, but apart from that it was a smooth day. We built up the speed and have a good base to work from for Saturday and Sunday. I look forward to the rest of the weekend.”

    Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:14.521, P16; FP2: 1:13.575, P17

    “It was a productive day for us. It ran quite smoothly overall. We know that this track is going to be a challenge for us, and we have used today’s practice sessions to start setting up our car in the best possible way. We will now look at our data and start working on preparations for tomorrow’s qualifying session. I look forward to being back in the car.”

    Pirelli

    Mario Isola, Head of Car Racing

    “We’ve seen a lot more degradation on the softest compound here – the new Pink hypersoft making its debut here – than we have in previous years, exactly as expected with our new compound. Having said that, you really can’t compare Monaco to anywhere else, which is why it was particularly important to collect as much relevant data as possible on the hypersoft today. We also saw some front-left graining, especially in the morning, which is also normal in Monaco. While the extra pace this year was clear with the track record broken today, a one-stop race on Sunday is still the most likely option due to the huge importance of track position at this race. Although Red Bull has been very strong today, again we’ve seen the top teams very closely matched.”

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