The glam, the history, the speed. Formula 1 is back in Monaco for one of the oldest Grands Prix in the sport. Everyone is expecting another domination by Red Bull by the tight and unforgiving streets of the Principality will surely provide some exciting and unexpected action. The 2023 Monaco Grand Prix is the sixth round of the season three weeks after the Miami Grand Prix, the fifth race of the championship. Following the cancellation of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, the number of rounds for the championship is reduced to twenty-two, the same as in the previous season. After the first of three rounds of the championship in the United States of America, the World Championship moves to Europe with the first round of the season scheduled in the old continent. The Monaco Grand Prix is the second and final round scheduled for the month of May. It would initially have been the second round of a trio of races, the first out of two in the season, placed between the previous and canceled Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix and the following Spanish Grand Prix, scheduled for early June. This season, the Federation reverses the appointments of the Monegasque and Spanish races on the calendar, compared to the last championships. The calendar features the Monaco Grand Prix ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix for the first time since 1999. For the fifth consecutive race weekend, a Grand Prix is held on a street circuit. The contract for the inclusion of the race in the world calendar, also at the Monte Carlo circuit , was renewed in September 2022 until the 2025 season. The Grand Prix does not feature sponsorship in its official name, as it is managed by the Automobile Club de Monaco. Present in the calendar of the Formula 1 World Championship since the inaugural edition of 1950 and valid as a race for the category since the same year, the Monaco Grand Prix sees the dispute of the eightieth edition, the sixty-ninth valid for the World Championship, in the traditional month of May. The first edition, not valid for the world championship, was held on 14 April 1929 under the impulse of local sports manager Antony Noghès, founder of the Automobile Club de Monaco.
Together with the British, Swiss, Belgian, French and Italian Grands Prix, including an edition of the Indianapolis 500 valid for the World Championship, the Monegasque race is one of the races that characterized the calendar of the inaugural edition of the Formula 1 World Championship. The Monte Carlo circuit, venue of the race, has always hosted the event, on eight different configurations, the most recent of which has been in use since the 2015 season. The Principality circuit is behind only the National Autodrome of Monza with seventy-two, home of the Italian Grand Prix, for the highest number of editions disputed in the history of the category. It is the shortest of all the circuits currently used in the world championship with its 3.337m, and the one with the lowest speeds, due to the tortuosity of the course and the narrow carriageway, almost completely devoid of escape routes. The riders cover it 78 times, for a total of 260.286 km, compared to the usual 300 km foreseen for the other appointments. The Italian team Ferrari made its debut in the category on this track during the first season of the World Championship, in 1950, while the British team McLaren, which holds the record of Grand Prix victories, 15, obtained between 1984 and 2008, made its debut in this Grand Prix in the 1966 edition. The Monaco Grand Prix was not held in the 1951 season, not held due to budget problems and lack of regulations in the category, in 1953 and 1954, not held as the car regulations were not finalized in Formula 1, and in the 2020 season due to the problems dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic and for the preparation of the city track in a short time. For this Grand Prix, Pirelli, the sole tire supplier, chooses from C3, C4 and C5 compound tyres, the type of softer compound that characterizes the entire range made available by the tire supplier for the championship, for the second time this season after what happened in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Since the 2019 edition of the Grand Prix, Pirelli has always established the same type of tires for this event, given the characteristics of the street circuit which does not involve high tire degradation. The same compounds had been designated for the previous Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, a race canceled due to the exceptional bad weather that hit the region before the race weekend. The Italian brand, sole tire supplier, is introducing a new conspicuous wet compound from this appointment, following complaints from the riders and teams, making it more performing, without the need for the use of tyrewarmers.
The new specification was initially set to debut at the previous Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. Also in the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, together with another race yet to be defined, with the intention of making tire use more sustainable in the future, Formula 1 would initially test a reduction in the sets of tires allocated by 13 to 11. The use of tires in qualifying would have been made mandatory with hard compounds in Q1, medium in Q2 and soft in Q3, with dry weather conditions. With the cancellation of the race, the Federation chooses the Hungarian Grand Prix scheduled for the end of July as one of the two venues in which to test the new procedures. There was also speculation about the next Spanish or Canadian Grand Prix scheduled for mid-June. Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, declares:
"We're heading to a Monaco Grand Prix that's somewhat different to what we expected. It should have been the second race of a European triple-header but instead it's going to be the first due to the cancellation of Imola. Those images of devastation are still fresh in our minds and we want to express our solidarity once more with the families of the victims, as well as all those who have suffered such huge losses. Monaco has written its own chapter in the history of Formula 1. The characteristics of this unique circuit, largely unaltered for more than 60 years, make it a true one-off that has often sprung surprises. No other track can allow a driver to compensate for any technical shortcomings of their car in the same way, and just one incident can shake things up entirely. The difficulty of overtaking can sometimes detract from the spectacle in the race, but that only makes Saturday's qualifying all the more exciting, as grid position assumes a particular importance to the final result on Sunday. As is often the case on street circuits, Pirelli has nominated the softest tires in the range. One of the peculiarities of Monaco is the fact that the track is opened to normal traffic every evening, which means that it's very hard for rubber to build up on the racing line, making the surface even more slippery. With Imola having been scrubbed, Munich could now become the debut for the new Cinturato Blue full wet without tire blankets, obviously depending on weather conditions: another potential random factor this weekend".
Also from this appointment, the FIA introduces a speed limit in the event of the presence of double yellow flags with the use of the safety car or virtual safety car. The measure has been taken following a research, examination of some previous incidents and consultation with the teams and drivers, to increase the level of safety. The Federation establishes the traditional zone where the drivers can activate the DRS, as the one located along the main pit straight. The detection point, the point for determining the gap between the riders, necessary to allow the use of the device, is established after Turn 16. The Federation has also analyzed the DRS zones during the 2022 Grand Prix and has introduced some changes for this year, in order to make overtaking easier or more difficult in the circuits where it seems that in the DRS area was too easy or difficult to overtake. However, the Monte Carlo circuit is not one of the tracks subject to these changes. Since the introduction of the mobile device in Formula 1, during the 2011 season, the Monte Carlo circuit is one of five tracks to have been used at least once in the Formula 1 world championship calendar, together with Suzuka, home of the Gran Japan Prize, that of Mugello, home of the only edition of the Tuscan Grand Prix raced in 2020, that of Imola, home of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, and that of Lusail, home of the Qatar Grand Prix, where only one zone is used. DRS, established, in all five tracks, always on the starting straight. During the 2011 and 2012 seasons, the mobile device, according to the technical regulations, could be opened on the whole track in the free practice sessions and in qualifying, but in the case of the Monte Carlo circuit, the Federation forbade its use in points which they could have endangered the safety of the pilots, such as under the tunnel. Due to the logistics, on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, the curfew is reduced by a period of three hours, to a maximum of six, for the sole purpose of preparing the tires after fitting them from part of the supplier. For this appointment, the minimum speed to travel inside the pit lane is set at 60 km/h. The Federation establishes that, if the riders use the escape route of the chicane of Turn 10 and 11, the latter can only re-enter the track when the lights, activated on the spot by the marshal, have turned green. Compared to the previous edition, new asphalt pavement is present between the entrance of Turn 19 and the exit of Turn 1, between the exit of Turn 8 and the exit from the tunnel, at the entrance of Turn 10, and between the entry from Turn 15 and the exit from Turn 17. Pierre Gasly 's AlphaTauri is drawn among the top ten cars for the technical checks.
The inspections cover the air intake system, the heat exchangers as well as all the connected sensors, and the chassis and connections to other units. Also the documents of these components have been verified. All inspected components are found to comply with the technical regulation. Before the start of the first free practice session on Friday, the second turbocharger and MGU-H unit is installed in Zhou Guanyu 's car. The second unit relating to the MGU-K is installed on Bottas, Zhou and Kevin Magnussen’s cars. The second unit relating to the energy recovery system and the electronic control unit is installed on the car of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly. The third unit relating to the exhaust system is installed on the car of Zhou and Nyck De Vries, the fourth unit on the car of Logan Sargeant and the fifth unit on the car of Lando Norris. All drivers are not penalized on the starting grid as the new components installed are among those that can be used in the maximum number established by the technical regulations. Before the third free practice session on Saturday, the race direction announces that, in light of the weather conditions, the additional set of intermediate tires is not made available for each driver before the start of qualifying. The German team Mercedes present the new headquarters campus in Brackley. The project includes an investment plan of 70 million pounds, which consists of the creation of a completely pedestrian environment and the construction of marketing buildings, to which are added other structures that will house leisure activities and restaurants. The new site, powered entirely by renewable energy from external sources, will be completed in 2025. Furthermore, the team communicate the goal to be achieved together with their partner Petronas regarding carbon emissions, i.e. a reduction of the latter by over 60 % equal to 200 tons of carbon dioxide saved. The British manufacturer McLaren runs with a celebratory livery to pay homage to the victories achieved between 1974 and 1995 in the Indianapolis 500, the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, an award known as the Triple Crown, as part of the celebrations for the sixty years of the Woking-based team. The special livery will also be used in the following Spanish Grand Prix.
The Japanese engine manufacturer Honda signs a multi-year agreement with the British manufacturer Aston Martin for the supply of power units in view of the regulatory change scheduled for 2026. Local Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc could pull off the hat-trick with a third consecutive pole position at his home Grand Prix, equalling Niki Lauda's three pole positions from 1974 to 1976. In the last two previous editions of the race, he did not get the win after starting from first place. An accident in the final stages of qualifying for the 2021 edition, which led to damage to the gearbox, prevented him from starting the race on Sunday. In the 2022 edition he finished fourth. The Australian driver of McLaren Oscar Piastri, the US driver of Williams Logan Sargeant and the Dutch driver of AlphaTauri Nyck De Vries, debutants in the category in this championship, have already competed on this circuit in other categories. Piastri raced in the Formula Renault Eurocup in 2018 and 2019, and obtained two second places in Formula 2 in 2022. Sargeant raced in the Formula Renault Eurocup in 2018, and in Formula 2, where last season he obtained the best result on this track, the prerogative of the ninth position in the Sprint Race. De Vries raced in Formula 2, with his best result winning the 2017 Sprint Race and winning the 2019 Feature Race. The Dutchman also raced in Formula E in 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, on a different track layout. Haas is contesting the 150th Grand Prix in the category, after its debut in the 2016 season in the Australian Grand Prix, while Alpine, under this designation, is the fiftieth, together with the Japanese AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda. The latter made their debut in the 2021 championship during the Bahrain Grand Prix. Former Formula 1 driver, American Danny Sullivan, is appointed assistant commissioner for the race. It has also performed this function in the past, most recently at the previous Grand Prix in Miami. Initially it was designated the former Italian driver of the category, Emanuele Pirro, who was assistant commissioner for the last time at the 2022 Dutch Grand Prix. It is the English car manufacturer Aston Martin, as in the previous race, who provides the safety car and the medical car. At Alpine, Ocon takes advantage of the first interviews of the Monaco weekend to underline his proximity to Emilia-Romagna, an Italian region heavily damaged by the rains of recent weeks.
The flood, in addition to forcing the inhabitants of the region to abandon their homes by now in disastrous conditions, was also the cause of the cancellation of the 2023 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. The French driver declares:
"While our thoughts remain with Emilia-Romagna, our racing focus turns to Monaco. Like Miami, we need to ensure that we have a smooth weekend and bring home deserved points. We've had a couple of disappointing race weekends this year so the team is focused on execution better races across the board. We are eager to get back out there and show our pace and show that we can compete with some of the top teams. Munich is always an exciting weekend , one of the highlights of the season, and we will be looking to put on a good show for the fans".
Teammate Pierre Gasly declares himself impatient to get back to racing in one of the most important and prestigious races of the championship:
"I'm really looking forward to racing in Monaco as it's one of the biggest and most rewarding challenges of the season for us drivers. Without a French Grand Prix on the calendar, this race is as close to France as we get during the year and the support from the fans in Monaco is very special. The Monaco Grand Prix is world famous as it's one of the most prestigious races in the world of motorsport and a race every driver wants to succeed in during their career. As a team, we'll aim to keep improving and build off from ours promising performance last time out and aim to come away from Monaco with the best result possible, which, must be strong points from both cars".
At McLaren, Lando Norris always declares himself enthusiastic about returning to Monte-Carlo, especially this year on the occasion of the team's 60th anniversary:
"Firstly, I'd like to send my best wishes to everybody affected by the flooding in the Emilia-Romagna region . We all love racing at Imola, but safety comes first, and I support the decision for last week's Grand Prix to be cancelled. We'll be back, and I hope everyone remains safe during these difficult times. Circuit de Monaco is a historic track with great memories for both me and the team. My 2021 podium is a moment I am extremely proud of. This year, as McLaren celebrate their 60th anniversary, we'll be taking on the race with a special Triple Crown livery on the MCL60, which I'm really excited about. While results haven't been what we wanted so far this year, everyone at the track and factory are determined to push forward and score points over the double-header. We'll work hard, and our full focus is on developing race by race".
Oscar Piastri, like most of the other riders on the track, expresses his closeness to the population affected by the storms in Emilia-Romagna:
"The events in the Emilia-Romagna region have affected many people and my thoughts are with them during this difficult times. I hope everyone can stay safe and continue to receive the support they need. The safety of everyone is the main priority, and I look forward to racing at Imola for the first time in the future. I'm looking forward to this weekend's race as I return to Monaco for the first time since my double podium during the 2021 F2 Championship. It will be an interesting and enjoyable challenge to tackle to Monte Carlo circuit in an F1 car, and to be able to do that with McLaren in the MCL60's Triple Crown livery it is a very special moment. Preparation for the race has gone well with plenty of simulator work and I'm learning more and more in every session behind the wheel. As a team we are fully focused on making the steps forward to develop more performance out of the car and the May-June double-header is a great opportunity to do that".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, declares:
"I'd like to start by sending my deepest thoughts and sympathies to the people of Emilia-Romagna during such difficult and challenging times. It it was imperative that we put the safety of the residents, our team, our fans and F1 colleagues first, and that we did not further impact the local authorities and emergency services. As we return to racing this week at the Monaco Grand Prix, we will have all those affected by last week's events in mind. Our work at the factory has continued to develop well as we focus on preparing the next stage of upgrades, which we will be introducing in the coming races with the ambition of making the MCL60 more competitive. However, next stop is Monaco, a unique event and challenging track for the team and the drivers, with little margin for error. The historic settings of Monte-Carlo provide a great backdrop for racing and it's one we love to attend. This year, Triple Crown celebrations make the weekend even more special, and we look forward to it".
At Haas Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, regarding the cancellation of the Emilia Romagna GP declares:
"First of all, the most important thing is as many people as possible are safe. We have a lot of staff from that area so thank God our staff are safe, but they have their struggles to deal with now. We fully supported what was done by Formula 1, and also our people who were on-site setting up for the race. We flew them back to the UK to make sure everybody was safe as soon as possible but some had to stay and take the garage down and go on to Monaco, but everything is safe, and we keep on racing. At the moment though, Imola and its citizens are more important than Formula 1 racing there".
Regarding the imminent Monaco GP, he declares:
"Monaco to all of us means mixing glamor with racing. It 's an event which has been there a long time, a lot of people go there and a lot of people dream to go there one day because it's an outstanding location and an important one for Formula 1. We always go there being prepared for a lot of activities to show what the sport is about. In Munich, we all put a lot of effort into the free practice sessions and on to qualifying because it's important to qualify well. Overtaking isn't impossible but it's very, very difficult. You put the biggest effort into it and the drivers focus on it. communication is like always - trying to communicate to drivers when there is traffic because if you're on a hot lap and you find traffic, you're in a mess. It's very important to keep on top of it and to keep drivers as calm as possible. Already the stress of it is enough in Monaco because it's high speed through a lot of tight walls. Then, if you have to deal with traffic, that sometimes takes the driver the wrong way and they can't focus on theirs driving. It's the only thing you can do and sometimes you get en right, but sometimes you get en wrong - so that's where our main focus is throughout the sessions".
Kevin Magnussen reiterates the importance of qualifying, especially in a GP like Monaco, where overtaking is extremely rare and difficult:
"Qualifying is the most important part of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend. It's a very small track and traffic at the end of the lap before you start flying lap can often be a challenge. Communication with the team and trying to set yourself up with a little bit of extra tire temperature and brake temperature before having to bunch up in the queue before you start your lap is important. It's also a little random, so it's hard to fully prepare for, you've just got to be mindful and just try to make the best out of Turn 1 as you're often going to arrive there with cold tires and brakes so it's a bit of a compromise. You base your set-up fully for qualifying in Monaco. You're trying to get everything set up for that one lap because overtaking in the race is next to impossible. You make or break yours weekend in qualifying so it's really all about one lap performance and I think that's what makes Monaco unique as well. It's all about going fast on that one lap in qualifying. I think that's cool to have, there's almost no other place on the calendar that has that characteristic so I'm really looking forward to it. I see no reason why the VF-23 won't be strong there, it's been pretty strong at all of the races this year, and I don't expect any difference in Munich".
Also Nico Hulkenberg talks about the importance of qualifying:
"Communication is the key. In order to survive on this narrow track with no real straights, every team and their driver have to be prepared for the many imponderables at all times".
The German driver has been living in Monte-Carlo for years now and with a smile he comments on the good feeling of experiencing the city during the race weekend:
"This year's race will be my tenth grand prix in Monaco, and it's definitely a nice feeling to wake up in your own bed and get to the track in the morning on a scooter or bicycle. I also like the time before the race when all the preparations start and you can feel that Formula 1 is coming to town".
At Alfa Romeo, Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative, declares closeness to his compatriots:
"Calling off the Grand Prix in Imola was ultimately the right decision to make, given the difficult situation the Emilia-Romagna region endured. Our thoughts are with those who have been affected and who are dealing with the aftermath of the floods: and we are ready to join Formula One in contributing to the relief effort. We were of course looking forward to racing in Imola, and this is just giving us more motivation for this weekend's race in Monaco. The extra week we spent back at base in Hinwil was used to continue working hard on improving our car and its performance as we head to Munich. What has effectively become the first European race of the season will be where we bring the upgrades originally meant for Imola. With its iconic corners and scenery, the Monaco Grand Prix is easily the most famous Formula One race - and one where everyone wants to do well. Even more so than usually, the streets of the Principality are a venue that reward attention to detail and precision: we must build on the improvements shown in Miami at the start of the month and continue in that direction from Friday onwards".
Valtteri Bottas adds:
"As much as we were all very keen to race, not going ahead with the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix has been the right call. The sends all my sympathy and support to the affected populations, and I look forward to being back in Imola in the future. Monaco is a race that needs no introduction: it's just special, and it's also racing at home so I'm looking forward to being able to sleep in my bed. I'm very motivated to do well here, where you have to give en all and push your performances to the limit. The single-lap pace we showed in Miami was an improvement compared to previous races, and it could be crucial on a track where qualifying performance is so important. There is still some work to be done - and the team took the time since Miami to keep working on developing our car. We will keep pushing forward, aiming to further improve our performance, and add more points to our tally".
Zhou Guanyu concludes:
"The conditions to go ahead with the race in Imola just weren't there, and the commitment to safety must always come first. I wish all my best to everyone who has been affected by the floods - I spent a lot of time in Italy a few years ago, and I have very foundation memories of my time there. I am looking forward to the race in Monaco, it's the one Grand Prix where everyone wants to do well, and where every small detail can make the difference. We showed some progress in Miami, and we must keep up with the momentum as there are still improvements to make. We were set to bring upgrades to the C43 in Imola, and we will have them in Munich this weekend. Hopefully, they'll help us making a positive change and getting back in the points".
Nyck de Vries enthusiastically recalls his first Formula 2 victory, right here in Monte-Carlo:
"Monaco is one of the highlights of the season, something of a home race for me as I live there, and it's also very special in terms of the track itself and the atmosphere over the weekend. I am looking forward to it a lot, but naturally, for all of us in the race team, we will still be thinking about our colleagues back at the factory and everyone in the region affected by the terrible floods. Resilience seems to be very strong in the region and I have seen everyone working very hard, so I hope the situation will improve as quickly as it can. I've raced in Monaco before, in fact my first Formula 2 win came at the Sprint race there in 2017 and in 2019, I won the Feature race from pole position. It's very special, but now being part of the main event in Monte-Carlo is going to be very cool. When I'm driving normally around Monaco, I am reminded that for one week it's a race track, especially the part from turns 5, 6, 7 and 8, basically from Mirabeau Haute, through the Hairpin and then Mirabeau Bas, just before the entrance to the tunnel, as I turn left there to head for my apartment . It means I even get to sleep at home. One year, I thought en might help me feel the racing environment more if I stayed in the team hotel, but it just didn't quite work because then I only brought my toiletry bag on the scooter driving between my home and the hotel".
His stablemate, Yuki Tsunoda, declares:
"We have been living through a very difficult situation in Faenza and the surrounding area, and it was impressive to see how everyone in the community was pulling together to do something to help those people really badly affected, and to clean up the city. But now my job is to focus on this weekend's race and do the best I can. I had never raced at Munich until my first year in Formula 1 in 2021, and last year I qualified 11th. There's a very special atmosphere over the four days. I think it's an enjoyable and unique track to drive, especially in qualifying. It's all about confidence; how close you can get to the barriers and how much speed you can carry into the corners, and that makes Saturday very exciting from inside the cockpit. It's the most important day, as en it's so hard to overtake in the race. So, while I am preparing, I'm trying to find a set-up more suitable for qualifying, rather than over a long run . You need to have a lot of respect for the track, build up speed gradually and get as much track time as possible, while also considering that track evolution is quite big and the lap times usually improve significantly during each session. Overall, I think experience counts a lot in Monaco though and this will be my third race here, so I know how to approach it and I am definitely more prepared than I was the first time".
Toto Wolff expresses his closeness to the Italian people and comments on the Monaco appointment as the first European race:
"Following the cancellation of the race in Imola, our thoughts are still with the people of the Emilia-Romagna region that have been affected by the terrible flooding. We have been saddened by the images but inspired by the rescue work of the emergency services and the resilience shown by the communities. We look forward to returning to Imola in happier circumstances next year. The revised calendar means that Monaco is now the starting point of the European leg of the season. It is a unique event but will still provide an opportunity to learn about the upgrades to W14 - but we also need to be careful not to draw too many conclusions from this one event. We are introducing the first step in a new development direction. It won't be a silver bullet; from my experience, they do not exist in our sport. We hope that en gives the drivers a more stable and predictable platformer. Then we can build on that in the weeks and months ahead. F1 is tough competition and a meritocracy. We are not where we want to be but there's no sense of entitlement. It's just about hard work to get us to the front".
At Williams, Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, declares:
"It was disappointing not to be able to race at Imola, which is one of ours Favorite tracks on the current Formula One calendar. However, it it was clear that the race couldn't take place in the wake of the heavy rain and flooding that affected the Emilia-Romagna region last week. Our thoughts remain with the people of Imola and the surrounding area; we wish them well and look forward to joining them again to enjoy the spectacle of the Imola event as soon as possible. This weekend we take on the huge challenge of the Circuit de Monaco. Although the layout of the track is very familiar, it never fails to offer up a new challenge. The weather is currently forecast to be cool but dry, however, there will inevitably be cloud on the mountains, which could move over the circuit. Even if the weather remains fair, the sessions will be interrupted as drivers push the limits of their cars. The tyre compounds are the softest that Pirelli offer and are the same as we raced in Baku and the same as we would have had for the Alternative Tire Allocation event in Imola. they should work reasonably well in Munich by Saturday afternoon, but they may be a little trickier during Free Practice on Friday. Overtaking will remain very difficult and the drivers will be pushed to theirs limits during the 78 laps of the Grand Prix. Monaco remains a unique challenge for the drivers and engineers but in return offers potential reward to those that can best rise to that challenge. We always look forward to Monaco and this year is no exception".
The Williams team declare themselves enthusiastic about the idea of racing again in Monaco, and worried about the difficulty of the street circuit. Alex Albon claims:
"Heading into Monaco, it's a bit of a home race to some extent. I really enjoy driving around here; it's obviously at the weekend where Saturday is a bit more focused on than Sunday, which is a rarity. It's another street track and we've done a number of these this year already, however this one is much more about building up confidence throughout the weekend. As there's zero run off, you can't attack it the same way as a lot of the other street tracks we've been to. In terms of competitiveness, it will be interesting, however I'm hoping the weather might create a few surprises and make it a bit more unpredictable".
A similar thought comes from his stablemate Logan Sargeant:
"I'm super excited to be heading back to Monaco this weekend. It it was a very special racing feeling there last year and one that I will always look forward too. Another street track will be a huge challenge but I'm feeling motivated to get back in the car and be better than ever".
Fernando Alonso, who this year fights for the top positions in the standings, declares:
"It's a bit of a home race for me in Monaco, so it's a short commute to the track! It's good to be back racing after the Grand Prix cancellation last weekend, but we hope everyone is safe in Italy and in the end it was the correct decision to not race that weekend. Monaco is a race we always look forward to as Formula One drivers. It's such a thrill to race around these streets, there is nothing quite like it. We are curious to see how the car performs on a low-speed circuit such as this. Making sure we nail the car setup and getting into a rhythm early will be important. As overtaking is so difficult in Monaco, grid position is also going to be pivotal to the result on Sunday. If we can have a strong Saturday, that will set us up nicely for another good result this weekend".
Lance Stroll says to be happy to return to Monte-Carlo, calling it one of the most beautiful races of all the championship:
"While we're looking forward to going racing again, I know the thoughts of the team continue to be with the people affected in the Emilia Romagna region. Imola is a track we love racing at, but the safety of all those involved always has to come first and we recognize that the correct decision was made to cancel the race. The Monaco Grand Prix is really special; a Grand Prix like no other. It requires full focus and full commitment, pushing you more over one lap than any other track on the calendar. There are no long straights - only tight and twisty streets - so there's not really time to think. You just have to trust your intuition. It's been said before, but it's a real privilege to race on a track with so much history and I have many great memories of epic Grands Prix here".
In RedBull, the number one in the ranking Max Verstappen declares:
"I am excited to get back to racing this week. Not racing in Imola was the right decision and I know it was not taken lightly but some things are obviously more important than racing and this was one of those occasions. Looking ahead to Monaco, qualifying is so important there so we need to make sure we are as strong as we can be in that session. The circuit in Monaco is super tight, even more than other street circuits. So, nailing a quali lap here is extremely difficult but at the same time very exciting. The race is usually heavily dependent on the strategy as overtaking is almost impossible. And of course, I live in Monaco so it's nice to go home every evening during the Grand Prix weekend".
Teammate Sergio Perez concludes:
"My thoughts have been with everyone who has been effected by the floods in Italy. Sometimes racing is n't important and the safety of everyone becomes the priority. We 've had a weekend off, which means I feel very well rested coming into Monaco week. This is the race every driver wants to win growing up and I was lucky enough to achieve that last season. That has only made me more hungry to stand on the top step once again. The weather could be tricky again here, which means we have to maximize every moment we get in the car. It 's important we get our set up right and qualifying goes well to have any chance of winning on Sunday. I am massively looking forward to getting back onto this track, it 's a fun drive".
In the last two editions of the Monaco GP, the second step of the podium was occupied by the Spanish Carlos Sainz Jr., who declared in this regard:
"I always have a good feeling in Monaco. For the past two years, I 've finished second, so it 's just a case of going one better.In previous seasons, the team has always been strong here and now I want to get in the cockpit to see if that will also be the case with the SF-23. Of course, another team has to be favorite, but this season, we have always been pretty competitive on Saturdays .I definitely would have liked to race in Imola, but unfortunately, canceling the race was the only option given the level of devastation in Romagna With news of the cancellation coming on Wednesday, in Maranello, we immediately started preparing for this weekend, where the smallest detail can make the difference. It was just a bump. I took some painkillers and I ‘m absolutely ready to get in the car. The only way I’d miss this race is if I was run over by a truck".
Although seen as a home race by many of the drivers on the track, the only Monegasque on the grid, Charles Leclerc, declares himself extremely happy to go back to racing at his home grand prix:
"Obviously I'm very happy to be here. The team is ready to do its best because we want to do well in front of the fans, mine and Ferrari's, of which there are many here. The key will be prepared well for qualifying and the race and what happens tomorrow will be very important in that regard. Here in Munich it's important to do a lot of laps: it's like a kart track with one corner after another and you have to build your confidence to get close to the level of perfection needed to put together a lap that's good enough for pole position. Without a doubt, every year this track produces the most exciting qualifying of the season. In the past, Saturday has usually gone well. But as for Sunday, even if I don't really believe in good or bad luck, I feel I'm owed something on the good side. I hope we can do what it takes to put that right this weekend".
Still in Ferrari, Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal of the Maranello stable, declares:
“We go racing again, this time on Charles' home turf in Monte-Carlo. It will therefore be a special and particularly exciting weekend for him and indeed for all of us. Together with Charles and Carlos we have prepared this weekend in detail in order to make the most of every opportunity this tricky track could provide. Both our drivers love it - Charles has been on pole for the past two years and Carlos has always finished on the podium in Monaco since he joined the Scuderia Ferrari - and we will be giving our all to deliver a good result for our fans".
On Friday, under the shining sun of the French riviera, Carlos Sainz is the first driver to be closest to the limit. The Spaniard sets the fastest lap in FP1 with a time of 1'13"372, despite clipping (harmlessly) the guard-rail at the swimming pool chicane. However, Sainz is not as lucky in FP2, where he repeats the exact same mistake but hits the barrier harder, heading straight up to the wall and damaging the front-right suspension. He manages to finish third nonetheless:
"In general, I think the day was positive. We were fast in both sessions and the car feels okay on track. There are still a couple of things I want to try tomorrow on the set-up to try and improve, but overall we are quite competitive. Obviously, it was not ideal to finish the session in that way, after a small miscalculation trying to find the limit. Sorry to the team and the mechanics for the extra work".
According to Sainz, the feeling with the car is good, and his opinion is corroborated by the good performance. Despite showing a matching speed to his teammate, Charles Leclerc is not as satisfied. The Monegasque, who is wearing special red-and-white overalls for his home race, is convinced that the team needs to improve the set-up to be competitive. The balance issues are highlighted by a series of small mistakes, like a lock-up at the tunnel exit and a cut of the second swimming pool chicane, due to an unstable rear-end of the Ferrari SF-23. However, Leclerc manages to improve from 5th to 2nd from one practice session to another:
"It was a bit of a difficult day as the car is not doing exactly what it is supposed to do. So we need to take a good look at the set-up on my car and then work on it to ensure I have the right feeling with it tomorrow. Here it’s all about qualifying, so we didn’t do any race runs, just focusing on preparing for qualifying in the best way possible".
Of course, Monaco would not be Monaco without some accidents. The tight streets of the Principality are full of pitfalls ready to catch off-guard even the most cautious driver. The first big shunt on Friday involves Alex Albon, who loses the rear of his car at Sainte-Devote and hits the wall on the left, right at the exit of the corner, causing heavy damage to his Williams. The second red flag is brought out by Nico Hülkenberg, who clips the barrier at the chicane du port: the result is a left rear puncture, some minor damage and debris that has to be cleared out by the marshals, forcing the stewards to interrupt the session. Turn 1 catches Magnussen off-guard too, as the Dane runs wide in the small square before the church, which serves as a run-off area.
Apart from some inevitable traffic, the session ends smoothly and produces the following classification: Sainz, Alonso, Hamilton, Pérez, Leclerc, Verstappen, Norris, Ocon, Stroll, Albon, Bottas, Magnussen, Tsunoda, Gasly, Russell, De Vries, Piastri, Sargeant, Zhou, Hülkenberg. Fernando Alonso claims P2 in a wonderful session for him, showing the real capabilities of the Aston Martin AMR23. The Spaniard is in fine form and sees the Monaco Grand Prix as a great opportunity to clinch his highly anticipated 33rd victory. Alonso confirms the good sensations of FP1 by finishing 4th in FP2 and putting himself on the list of the most serious contenders of the race:
"We completed enough laps today and we were able to get a good understanding of our car here around Monaco. It was important to find a rhythm early this weekend and avoid any issues. In both sessions the car felt good and it's easy to drive which helps at this circuit. There are going to be lots of ups and downs for everybody this year, so we have to be ready to deliver every weekend. Some race weekends we will be quicker than our rivals and others it might be different, but I'm looking forward to tomorrow's qualifying session".
The pace is good, and Lance Stroll agrees with his teammate regarding the competitiveness of the car. The Canadian driver even provides some spectacular action as he brushes the wall at the exit of the last corner. However, he is struggling a little bit more and sets the 9th and 11th best time in FP1 and FP2 respectively, as he expresses the need for some more fine-tuning:
"Every lap mattered in practice today: it's such a short lap around Monaco, it's always tricky to pull everything together, but we got some good running in today and we learned a lot. The AMR23 is working well around here - it's definitely behaving itself - so tonight we'll focus on tweaking a few, final things. The pack has been tight all year - so getting everything right for qualifying will be essential. We'll keep working on the car tonight and see what we can do tomorrow".
Both drivers are given an extra boost for the weekend after the announcement of a partnership between Aston Martin and Honda (supplying the power units) starting from 2026, which will surely provide some interesting action after the scheduled change in the technical regulations regarding the engines. The currently Honda-engined team who is dominating the championship is actually finding some more difficulties than expected in Monte-Carlo. Especially Max Verstappen is unhappy with the balance of the car in FP1, urging his team to make drastic changes if they do not want him to end up in the wall. Evidence can be found in the several cuts that Verstappen makes when he has to drive through a chicane. And the team seem to deliver: the Red Bull RB19 behaves significantly better in FP2, allowing the defending world champion to post the fastest time (1'12"462):
"I think FP1 was quite tricky today, I wasn’t happy with the ride of the car but FP2 was much better, the car was a lot more competitive. Compared to Ferrari, I think the handling is still lacking on the curbs and the drops in camber. We need to work on that ahead of tomorrow because you can see that they are still very close, we’ll need more for qualifying tomorrow to stay ahead of them. I felt more confident in FP2 to push a bit more, we had a difficult start but a good end. I’m looking forward to qualifying tomorrow, let’s see what we can do".
2022 winner Sergio Pérez encounters similar issues and ends his Friday in P7, far from where he would like to be. However, the Mexican remains optimistic and thinks the team is heading in the right direction to fix his car:
"It wasn’t a great day today in terms of pace in the car, I think FP1 went a little bit better than FP2. After the changes we made in the car we have plenty of things to review before tomorrow’s quali. I will sit down with my Team and go through everything because every millisecond here is going to make a difference. They are just little things, nothing huge is standing out at the moment, so I am not massively worried. It’s going to be a real challenge heading into qualifying, it’ll be an interesting session. We need to make sure we get on top of the tyres and put them in the window at the right time to get the perfect lap around here".
Pérez is one of the drivers who has to deal with traffic the most on Friday, as he holds up Alonso at the Casino in FP1 and then is allegedly slowed down by Bottas and Sargeant at Massenet. However, the two drivers appear to be outside the ideal racing line: their presence must be more of a distraction for Pérez, who is involved in a ‘jam’ some minutes later: Hülkenberg has to squeeze through between him and Sainz, who are going slowly in the section before Tobac’s corner. Other close calls include Sainz being blocked by his teammate in the swimming pool section and Russell cutting the chicane du port to avoid a slower Alonso. Despite all the action, the only ‘accident’ recorded is Tsunoda’s: the Japanese driver clips the barrier at chicane du port, possibly lightly damaging his AlphaTauri. At the end of FP2 the classification appears as follows: Verstappen, Leclerc (just 0.065s behind), Sainz (the first three drivers being enclosed in a tenth), Alonso, Norris, Hamilton, Pérez, Bottas, Gasly, Ocon, Stroll, Russell, Zhou, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Tsunoda, De Vries, Piastri, Albon, and Sargeant.
Despite being an unusual circuit to bring updates to the car, Monaco sees the debut of Mercedes’ new sidepods. The Brackley-based team has abandoned the no-sidepod philosophy, which has proven quite unproductive, and has opted for a more conventional design, which will hopefully benefit both drivers. Lewis Hamilton approves, but obviously more work has to be done. The British legend, like others, makes some mistakes (like cutting the chicane du port) and feels some more can be extracted from the car to be closer to the ones in front:
"I've had an amazing day and I really enjoyed driving out there. I want to send a big thank you to everyone at the factories. To build, design and develop a car is not an easy thing. Everyone's put in so many hours of hard work to get us here. We got a lot of data today; it's not a place to ultimately test an upgrade but the car was generally feeling good. It's a shame we weren't as close as I'd hoped at the end of the last session, but I felt some improvements. We've got to keep chipping away at it and see if we can squeeze some more juice out of the car".
George Russell is encountering more problems than his teammate. The young Brit is unhappy with his break set-up in FP1 but seems to find better pace in FP2, finishing 12th:
"Monaco is such a unique track so it's not an ideal place to be evaluating updates, but we knew that coming into the weekend. We're just trying to focus on improving around this circuit and qualifying is obviously the most important part of the weekend. We generally do better on Sundays and struggle more on Saturday, so we need to try and flip that here. There were positive signs to take from today's sessions but it's never easy around this place. We made a lot of changes throughout the day, and the car felt improved in FP2. We'll work hard tonight to see what we can do tomorrow".
Trackside Engineering Director Andrew Shovlin shares his thoughts on a busy Friday for his team:
"We've had a busy day but ran decent programmes with both cars and managed to cram in plenty of set-up compares along the way. It's difficult to evaluate the update at this track from a lap-time point of view, but from what we can see it's all working as expected. George seemed to have a better afternoon session which is good news as he was lacking confidence in FP1. Lewis has been pretty happy with the car all day but there are a few things we may have done for the second session that cost a bit of pace. We'll look at that overnight. We've also got a good programme running in the simulator to try and find a bit more performance; hopefully we can find a step as even a tenth-of-a-second can be a big difference in qualifying here".
Alpine is in the mix. The Anglo-French team manages to put both drivers in the top 10 at the end of the day and should not be underestimated for the excellent work they have done. According to Technical Director Matt Harman:
"It's been good to have a smooth Practice day today where we've been able to assess some new upgrades on the car including the new sidepod, which is a very good step from the previous version. It's been equally important not to face any issues on Friday - just like in Miami - for us to learn and validate our new parts as well as gearing up for the rest of the weekend. Both drivers have been sharp today, bringing their speed and confidence up around this tough track in a sensible manner. We'll keep looking to make improvements on set-up to be well placed ahead of tomorrow's important Qualifying session".
Esteban Ocon claims a P8 and P10 in FP1 and FP2 respectively, and receives good feedback from his car:
"Driving here in Monaco is a very special experience; there's really no place like it. On our side, I think it's been a smooth day, where we've run through our programme, tried a few different things and, importantly, did not take any unnecessary risks. I think we have a few more things to go through and test to be really up to speed and ready for Qualifying tomorrow, so I'm sure Free Practice 3, for everybody, will be important. The car feels good, and we're in a strong place looking ahead to the rest of the weekend".
Pierre Gasly is a bit less consistent than his teammate but manages to beat him anyway in FP2, where the Frenchman claims P9 behind Valtteri Bottas:
"It's always great to be here in Monaco and driving around this iconic Formula 1 circuit. It's been a reasonably solid day for us with some upgrades on the car and it was good to build up an understanding on those and, in general, ease ourselves into the weekend. The car felt much improved between Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2, so I'm happy with our work today and we're in decent shape looking ahead to the rest of the weekend. Tomorrow is Qualifying day, an exciting experience at this place, and we'll be giving it our best to be up there on the grid".
Yuki Tsunoda is concerned with the possible consequences of his contact with the barrier. The Japanese driver has not an ideal Friday around the streets of Monaco, finishing FP2 in 16th place and fears that Q3 on Saturday will be out of reach:
"I enjoyed driving around Monaco, but there is still some pace to be found for qualifying, and we have to focus on this as it's going to be really important. We have quite a few big upgrades on the car this weekend, but it’s hard to say how well they work because Monaco isn’t an aero-efficient track. As usual, we will put it together tonight so we can make it through to Q2 tomorrow, as Q3 seems a bit difficult, but let’s see".
Nyck de Vries enjoys his first time in Monaco as an F1 driver. The final result is P17 and the Dutchman agrees with his teammate that some work needs to be done to improve overall performance:
"I’m enjoying this track. I raced here in Formula 2 and Formula E, but coming here as the main series is definitely different. I think it was a solid Friday, in which we made progress throughout both of the sessions. We are slowly chipping away and getting more comfortable with the car on track, but there is still some work to do for the balance. The Monaco track isn’t an aerodynamic-sensitive track, so we will need to find more performance elsewhere from the new upgrades. We’ll do our homework tonight and we will need to keep it clean tomorrow when there will be a lot of cars on track during Q1, so getting a lap together will be challenging".
Chief Race Engineer Jonathan Eddolls reflects on the team’s busy schedule. The cancellation of the Emilia Romagna GP has forced Alpha Tauri to bring the aero upgrades to Monaco, which is a far from ideal track to conduct testing. Plus, the balance of the car needs some changes so that De Vries and Tsunoda can climb the ranking a bit:
"Having missed the Emilia Romagna GP last week, it’s been three weeks since the drivers had been on track, so coming here to a tricky track, it was a case of building up the pace lap by lap. We carried over the new aero package that was planned to be introduced in the last event, but it’s always very difficult to draw conclusions at Monaco. So far, there seem to be no surprises, so both cars will retain this for the rest of the weekend. FP1 was mainly focused on the drivers and covering the most laps possible to get them used to the car at this track. The balance was quite close already from the beginning, which means it was just a case of tracking the changing track conditions throughout the day. We made a further step in improving the balance for FP2, but it’s clear there is still more that we can do for tomorrow, so we will continue to work on the setup overnight to tackle the main weaknesses. Yuki's session ended prematurely after just brushing the apex barrier at Turn 10 and damaging the rims, so he missed out on his long run, but at least this won’t have a big impact on his qualifying preparation for tomorrow".
Alex Albon starts his Friday well. The Thai driver sets the 10th fastest time in FP1 but his crash forces him to miss the final part of the session and compromises his participation to FP2. However, he is still able to go out and run some laps. It turns out that Williams’ mechanics have a lot of work to do as they change the gearbox, the front suspension and both wings. With his car finally repaired, Albon finishes FP2 in 19th place:
"It was a great job from the team to get the car ready for FP2, despite being a bit compromised in that session. We need to take a look tonight to see if we can improve the car, however it is tricky out there, but I think it's tricky for everyone. It feels like it always does around Monaco, like you're on a knife edge but that's because you're always on the limit. Ultimately, I think we need to find a few more tenths to fight for Q2 but we'll try do that".
His teammate Logan Sargeant also has a difficult Friday, as he encounters drive issues in the first free practice session. Not the easiest way to start his first Monaco Grand Prix as an F1 driver. The lack of experience and a not-so-ideal set-up result in him being last on the time sheets at the end of FP2:
"The first day here in Monaco is done and it's always a privilege to drive this track. We're not exactly where we want to be and we're missing some pace but, from a driving standpoint, I think I was driving well and that's a positive to take. We'll look to see how we can improve the car for tomorrow and we go again".
Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance Dave Robson talks about a day that could have gone better for the British team:
"Today was a bit mixed with Alex showing some decent pace in FP1 but then damaging the car at the end of the session. Until that point, he was making steady progress and we were investigating the new parts on the car. Although his team did an excellent job to get the car ready for FP2, there wasn't enough of the session left for Alex to really understand the evening conditions and the Soft qualifying tyre. If we can recover to the pace we had in FP1 then we can still mount a useful challenge in Qualifying. However, missing much of a session in Monaco is very costly and we will need to work hard overnight and through FP3 to make up for the lost time. Logan drove well throughout the day; although he has driven here before, tackling the streets of Monte-Carlo in an F1 car is a different challenge. He kept the sessions clean and progressed his learning and understanding of the setup throughout the day. His pace was a little bit off where he wanted it to be, but with a little bit more work tonight, he can have a strong day tomorrow and build on his solid start to the weekend".
McLaren is sporting a fascinating new orange-black-and-white livery which honours the team’s participation (and victory) in the three races of the Triple Crown of motorsport: the Indianapolis 500, the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Monaco Grand Prix. Lando Norris is satisfied with his Friday. Two productive free practice session have led him to him to finish the day in 5th position, showing very good pace. The Brit is however forced to spend the final minutes of FP2 back in the garage as the team prefers preserving the car as a precaution:
"A reasonable day - it's just lovely to be back. Awesome to be back in the car here in Monaco. Feels insane, as always. Good fun out there and got comfortable very quickly, which is always important here. We made a few changes from FP1 to FP2, which were in the right direction, and we definitely got a bit more out of the car, so we'll continue to try to explore that direction, see if we can improve a little bit more into tomorrow. A decent Friday, and I'm probably feeling a little bit more comfortable than I have been the last few weeks".
Oscar Piastri suffers his inexperience at the wheel of an F1 car around the streets of Monaco. The young Aussie, who finishes the day in P18, talks about his learning curve:
"First day in Monaco in an F1 car. It was a bit of a tricky day, it's such a challenging circuit and I've got a bit of work to do on my side, but that's what happens when you're getting up to speed. I think I've got the best out of each corner at least once, I've just got to put them all together on a lap now. We'll keep working overnight and see what we can do. The car looks to be in a reasonable place, but the field is so tight again, so small improvements can have a big impact. We'll keep pushing and look to unlock more pace tomorrow".
McLaren Team Principal Andrea Stella sums up the on-track activity which has involved his team:
"We've had a decent first day of running in Monaco, despite a couple of issues on Lando's side which ate into his track time in FP2 and high fuel laps. That aside, we worked through our programme as planned. Lando found a good rhythm relatively soon at low fuel. Oscar, making his first visit to Monaco in an F1 car, was rightly learning more and more run after run. From here, we'll do all the usual Monaco things: keep optimising all the details with the drivers and on the car, do our best to execute our plan smoothly and put good laps together for qualifying and the race".
Kevin Magnussen laments the bumps typical of a street circuit like Monaco. The Dane is 14th at the end of the day and precedes his teammate:
"It was a decent day and it looked good in FP1, we lost a little bit in FP2 I think with the changes we made to the car. It’s very bumpy out there for us in the low-speed, not like the typical high-speed porpoising stuff, but just dealing with the bumps at the apex of the corners. It’s Monaco and everything is tight together and you only need to find a little bit then you move up a lot, so it’s still all to play for tomorrow".
Despite an accident and some traffic problems, Nico Hülkenberg enjoys the speed of his Haas around Monaco. Being the first time for him here in this new generation of cars, Friday has been useful to collect data and prepare the rest of the weekend the best way possible:
"It was good fun but challenging at the same time. It’s mega fast around here now and it’s the first time I drive this new generation of car around Monaco, and I have to say it’s probably the fastest thing I’ve driven around here and it’s only Friday, so there’s more to come. In terms of running, it wasn’t ideal in FP1 with the little kiss coming out of the tunnel. FP2 was okay, we collected a lot of data, and we have some new parts on the car that we need to analyze and see what else we can find".
At the end of the day Magnussen and Hülkenberg are 14th and 15th. Haas team is in the mix and Team Principal Guenther Steiner sets the goals for Saturday, as here in Monaco qualifying is very important:
"It wasn’t a perfect day, not bad, but we learned a lot. We need to get a bit further up to qualify well because that defines the race weekend here, so we still have some work in front of us, but everyone knows what we need to do and we’ll try to achieve it for FP3. All in all, not a bad day except for the little incident from Nico but it wasn’t bad. We need to work a little bit on the set-up of the car so that the drivers feel a bit more comfortable in it".
Friday in Monaco yields a very tight grid, especially in front, where Ferrari’s strong pace becomes evident after the simulation on soft tyres, where the red driver are bested only by Verstappen. However, other teams have probably not shown their full potential and Saturday becomes even more interesting, as there could be other contenders for pole position. Pirelli Chief Engineer Simone Berra analyses the situation from the point of view of the tyre supplier:
"It is always a great spectacle to see Formula 1 cars hurtling around a track as fascinating and unique as Monaco and today was yet another confirmation of that. In terms of tyre behavior, we had no particular surprises. All three compounds were used on a track that sped up significantly from the beginning to the end of today's running. The differences in performance between hard, medium and soft are quite in line with the simulations and, in their evaluation, one must take into account the relatively short length of this circuit and its evolution. Usually the gaps here are small, but this year they seem to be even smaller, because in the hybrid era we have never seen a gap of only seven tenths between the first and tenth fastest drivers in FP2. It will therefore be even more important to be on track at the right moment to be able to push hard and, with this in mind, it is worth pointing out that today we saw that even the softest compound allows for more than one fast lap if properly managed in terms of grip recovery. It is a tyre characteristic that we introduced last year and which has already been highlighted recently at other circuits, such as Baku".
Saturday, May 27, 2023, is time for the last session of Free Practice before getting really serious with the qualifying for the seventh race of the season at 4:00 p.m.. One of the most important qualifying of the seasons, as the position on the grid accounts largely for the chances to win tomorrow’s race. Weather is good. 24 °C is the air temperature and track temperature are 49 °C. No rush within the boxes. All the teams are getting ready slowly since it is a long session and there is enough time to test the cars. Within Sainz’s box, mechanics are making the last set up and everything seems to go smoothly. Within the Red Bull’s boxes, mechanics are setting up the last adjustments before leaving the stage to the two drivers. It seems that the two cars exhibit a difference on the front spoiler, specifically on the flap. In the meantime, the two Aston Martin cars and Tsunoda’s Alpha Tauri start to warm up their tyres but without trying any best yet and coming back. Slowly, Perez slips on the track and starts his first lap on soft tyres. He loses a bit the rear at Sainte Devote and scores 20.074s in the first sector, 55.074s in the second, and start to dictate the pace with 1'15"641. Suddenly, yellow flag appears in sector 2. It’s Esteban Ocon’s who has some electrical issues and his car stopped on the tunnel. He manages to turn it again and says to his team:
"I bring it back".
Gasly tries his first best on soft tyres. He scores goes second (+0.349), getting the fastest third sector (20.102s) at 10 minutes from the start of the session. While, his teammate De Vries puts his car in P3 (1.242s). Zhou on soft tyres scores +0.164 in the first sector, +2.158 in the second, and goes fifth (+3.145). Bottas scores a purple first sector (20.047s), gets +0.336 in the second, and makes the two AlphaTauri slip in P3 and P4 (+0.305).
"Track is a dry slippery".
Says Bottas to his team, complaining about the current track conditions. Leclerc starts his first on soft tyres. Compared to Perez’s best, he scores +0.192 in the first sector, +0.335 in the second, and goes second (+0.433). However, his teammate Sainz, manages to take P2 from Charles in +0.066. This last a few as, in the meantime, Bottas is crossing the finish line again and goes third in (+0.297). It is Stroll’s turn though and the Canadian scores a fastest first sector (19.705s) and definitely takes P3 (+0.078). Tsunoda goes sixth in (+0.525). Suddenly, Norris climbs to P1 in 1'14"905 and becomes the new reference point for the other drivers. Albon scores +0.391 in the first sector, +0.729 in the second, and goes eleventh (+0.694), getting the fastest third sector (19.850s). Leclerc tries again and goes second at +0.006. Stroll scores a purple first sector (19.560s), -0.217 in the second, and goes first in 1'14"763. However, it lasts a few because Perez takes again the lead. The Mexican scores a purple in the second sector (19.522s) and in the third (35.085s), and goes first in 1'14"567. Finally, Max Verstappen starts his first best. He makes the unplan as he gets the fastest first sector (19.251s), the fastest second sector as well (34.882s), and also the third one (19.661s), taking P1 in 1'13"794. Albon tries again and climbs to P8 (+1.108). Finally, Russell starts his first lap. He just gets +2.193 in the first sector as he gives up his best before completing second sector. Alonso scores a purple first and second sector and goes first in 1'13"697.This lasts a few as Perez takes again the lead in 1'13"587. A race between the two Red Bull starts, as the two drivers from the Austrian team start to alternate each other on the top of the rank and improve their best at each lap. Sainz decides to try again. He scores +0.344 in the first sector, +0.414 in the second, and goes fourth in 1'14"129. Verstappen improves his previous best and takes P1 from Checo in 1'13"583. There is no such a big gap between the two Red Bull cars. Ocon climbs in P5 (+0.711), while Russell goes fourth (+0.422). Ocon tries again and only improves his best but no position, keeping P5 (+0.448). Perez tries again and scores fastest first sector 19.065s, fastest second sector 34.487s, and goes first 1'12"898, followed by Carlos Sainz (+0.391).
"Can you see what’s happening in to turn just before the first S of the swimming pool? I think we are bottoming like crazy there".
Says Leclerc to his team after he tried again a put his car in P4 (+0.577). At 30 minutes from the start of the Session, Verstappen is in P1 1.12.898, followed by Perez (+0.391), Sainz (+0.481), Leclerc (+0.577), Alonso (+0.799), Russell (+1.107), Ocon (+1.133), Stroll (+1.479), Bottas (+1.491), and Devries (+1.512). Gasly (+1.544) is in P11, followed by Tsunoda (+1.596), Albon (+1.609), Norris (+1.691), and Sargeant (+1.749). Hamilton is in P16 and is completing his new best, followed by Piastri (+1.871), Magnussen (+1.895), Zhou (+1.986), and Hulkenberg (+1.996). Hamilton completes his lap and goes fifth (+0.654), while Sargeant takes P12 (+1.544).
"We need to change the car like this. I mean I need to lift in the S of the swimming pool because I have no control of the car".
Says Leclerc to his team, complaining again about the uncontrollability of his car. Leclerc comes back to the box and the mechanics start to work on the rear suspensions after he flagged out the struggles. Meanwhile the two Red Bull are crossing the finish line. Perez goes first in 1'12"849 but again only for a few as Verstappen scores 18.954s in first, -0.114 in the second, and goes first in 1'12"776. Gasly goes sixth in (+0.901), while Bottas scores +0.528 in the first sector, +1.008 in the second, and goes ninth (+1.085). Stroll tries again and scores +0.192 first sector, gets the fastest second sector (34.726s), and goes third (+0.166). Sainz improves his time but not the position. He scores +0.210 in the first sector, +0.246 in the second, and goes fourth (+0.485). Alonso, on a new set of soft tyres, scores +0.577, +0.731, and goes P14 (+0.921). Verstappen improves his time and keeps P1 (1'12"776). Suddenly, another yellow flag in the first sector. It’s Magnussen who went long at the Sainte Devote at 10 minutes to the end of the session.
Yellow flag is moved then to the second, as Kevin’s car stopped suddenly after having turned on again:
"I have no power".
The team responds:
"Stop the car, stop the car".
At 8.30 minutes to the end of FP3, it’s time for the virtual safety car, which ends at 6:40 minutes. Sainz Jr. tries a new best and climbs to the top of the rank Hamilton decides to try again. He scores a purple but, unfortunately, goes long in sector 2 and hits the wall. It’s now turn for a red flag and time freezes because his car is stuck into the wall in turn 5.
"Damages to the side".
Says Lewis to his team. Session will not be resumed and Hamilton leaves the track with his hands behind his back. Sainz Jr. is in P1 (1:13.379) with 26 laps done, followed by Alonso (+0.338), Lewis Hamilton (+0.663), Pérez (+0.666), Leclerc (+0.721), Verstappen (+0.872), Lando Norris (+1.095), Ocon (+1.213), Stroll (+1.281) and Albon (+1.294). Bottas is in P11 (+1.346), Magnussen (+1.353), Tsunoda (+1.448), Gasly (+1.494), Russell (+1.694), de Vries (+1.711), Piastri (+1.820), Sargeant (+2.185), Zhou (+2.312), and Hülkenberg (+2.413). It’s time for Monaco qualifying. The unpredictability of this moment raises the hype and also the stress for the drivers, who know that getting the best position on the grid will determine largely the chances to win the race. Threats and tricks are many and everything can happen now, here in Monaco. The Green light turns on and drivers slowly reach the circuit. 18 minutes to get through Q2. Everyone is on the track but none has tried any best. Suddenly, at 16 minutes to the end, Verstappen scores a purple second sector (54.254s), and goes first (1'13"784). Hamilton on soft tyres starts his first best. He scores 19.592s, 54.815s, and goes fifth, 1'14"433. Russell on soft tyres scores 19.476s, 54.589s, takes P3 (1'14"331). Perez scores a purple in the second and puts his car behind Max’s one (1'13"850), followed by Stroll (1'13"927). The two Ferrari end in the middle part of the rank with Sainz in P13 and Leclerc P15. It’s Alonso turn and he scores a purple in the first sector, a purple in the second (53.930s), but he loses a bit of pace in the third sector and goes third in 1'13"884, making his teammate slip in P4. Sainz becomes the reference time for drivers at risk elimination from Q2. Tsunoda goes eight fastest compared to Sainz time (-0.519), while his ex-teammate goes fifth fastest. Incredibly, Zhou goes fastest and climbs the rank in 1'13"776. Norris and Piastri are about to complete their bests when yellow flag suddenly waves in sector 1. It’s Perez grounded in the middle of race track just at the exit of the pitlane. If a few, the yellow turns into red and countdown stops at 11.12 minutes. He hit the wall and heavily broken his front wing. The side of his car seems to be destroyed as well:
Says a sad Perez. He just slipped straight to the barriers in turn 1, as he got much speed. His car is quickly removed from the track and session is resumed at 4:17 p.m.. Ten minutes to go. Norris is in P1, as he managed to climb the rank to the top (1'13"485). Drivers at risk are Hamilton on P16, de Vries, Sageant, Sainz, and Albon. Hamilton from P16 scores -0.110, -0.276, and goes seventh (+0.532). Albon climbs up to P1 in 1'13"327.
It lasts a few as Verstappen gets a purple first sector (19.024s), scores -0.161 in the second, and goes fastest in 1'13"038, followed by Russell. It’s Ferrari turn. Both drivers have used red tyres. Sainz scores -0.164 in the first, -0.419 in the second, and goes sixth (+0.495). Leclerc puts his car in P4 (+0.303). Alonso manages to take the lead from P1 in 1'12"886, followed by his ex-teammate (+0.133) and Gasly (+0.147). Hamilton tries to put distance between himself and bottom five drivers and goes 12 at 5 minutes to the end. Verstappen conquers again P1 from Alonso (1'12"644) and Leclerc goes third in 1'12"912. At the bottom 5, Zhou (+0.941), Sargeant (+1.150), Perez (+1.206), Magnussen (+0.807), and Hulkenberg (+0.848). The two Hass try again, with Magnussen going 11th fastest (+0.628), followed by Hulkenberg. Tsunoda goes fastest overall 1'12"642 at 2 minutes to the end of session. Hamilton tries again as he is still at risk but he locks the front right side and goes straight out in the middle of chicane and gives up outside the tunnel. His teammate Russell is trying his last best and goes third fastest (+0.127). Verstappen has no intention to renounce to P1 and pick up his pace and goes first in 1'12"386. Hamilton tries again and manages to take P7. The last driver to try a best is Albon who goes into the top 3 (+0.320). Time ran out. Max Verstappen is in P1 1'12"386, followed by Tsunoda (+0.256), Albon (+0.320), Sainz Jr. (+0.331), Stroll (+0.336), Russell (+0.383), Hamilton (+0.486), Norris (+0.491), Alonso (+0.500), and Leclerc (+0.526). Ocon is in P11 (+0.581), followed by Piastri (+0.620), Gasly (+0.647), Bottas (+0.652), and De Vries (+0.668), the last driver to qualify. Logan Sargeant (+0.727), Magnussen (+0.884), Hulkenberg (+0.893), Zhou (+1.137), and Perez (+1.464) are eliminated.
"It's my first time driving an F1 car in Monaco this weekend and I've loved every bit of it so far. Every lap on this track keeps you on your toes".
Says Sargeant about his first experience on this track.
"It's my first time driving an F1 car in Monaco this weekend and I've loved every bit of it so far. Every lap on this track keeps you on your toes. The build-up has been great; tomorrow is going to be a long day but we'll make the most of it. This afternoon in Qualifying was probably the most relaxed I've been this weekend, I've been driving well in the Free Practices and I was happy with my qualifying lap; coming from the FP sessions, I didn't think we would be as close as we were and I felt like I got everything out of it. Alex's [Q1] lap was pretty impressive, I'll have to see what he did! We got the car in a good window. There were a few bits that could have been better, but it's tough to accommodate for all the different types of corners here. Starting 16th isn't ideal around here but I want to execute a full, clean weekend, so if I can go out tomorrow and have good race pace then that would be a nice way to round out the weekend and then move on to Barcelona which is a track that I love".
Kevin Magnussen did not expect this result as he thought the team could have made through Q3. Unfortunately, he finds that the 2 push strategy undermined their chances to qualify to Q2:
"All week we thought we were a little better than this. We opted to do two push laps on the second set of tires in Q1 and everyone else did three and improved a lot. The team did a fantastic job to get the car ready after the issues in FP3, they always do, so I was confident we’d get running but I was also confident we could maybe even challenge for Q3, so I got that wrong. We’ll see, hopefully the weather will play its part and we’ll have a fun race".
Nico Hulkenberg is disappointed:
"A disappointing qualifying as we all know how important it is in Monaco. We had the option of two runs after the red flag which would mean using three sets of new tires or, as planned, two runs of fast- slow-fast. We opted for the latter thinking that would’ve been enough. Other people went out immediately after the restart of the session and stayed out, but for us the tire is really only the best in the first lap. I also thought we were a bit faster than it turned out in the end and we would be into Q2, but ultimately, we were missing pace".
Guenther Steiner, Haas’ Team Principal, recognizes that the team would have expected more from today:
"It’s not where you want to start in Monaco, but in the end, we need to look into why we ended up where we ended up. Now we have to deal with the situation and that’s trying to find the best place for tomorrow to be in, should something happen. We need to keep our heads up as there are still some chances that somewhere, some mayhem happens".
Zhou Guanyu has mixed feelings about today’s performance:
"Our performance in FP3 had made me confident in a place in Q2, and I believed with a small improvement we could even get to Q3. However, it turned out to be a tricky afternoon: the good feeling I had in the first run of Q1 disappeared and, as the track improved, I couldn’t find any extra grip. I was sliding around too much and, although I improved in my final run, this wasn’t enough in such a competitive field. Starting from the back will make our job very difficult tomorrow, but we owe it to the work of everyone in the team, and to our fans, to go out there and give everything in the race".
Finally, Sergio Perez feels really disappointed:
"I am really disappointed with myself today. It was going well; I was happy with the balance and in Q1 naturally you are progressing and finding new limits. Going into the corner I just lost the rear end quite late, which caught me out and I had nowhere to go, I could not cut the corner or get out of the corner. Unfortunately, that meant I ended up touching the wall and I cannot believe what I have done. This mistake is too difficult to digest right now, I don’t know what to say, I am just sorry for my Team, they don’t deserve this. We will assess the car and see how the damage is, then we can make some decisions ahead of the race. We would have been in the mix for sure today, so it is doubly disappointing, it was a big opportunity for us. It’s a big hit in the Championship for me and I have probably lost a lot of points. If it’s a normal race it will be hard to do anything tomorrow, I have a fast car but it’s nearly impossible to pass here with these wide cars, it is going to be tricky to make progress, but we will try everything".
Q2 starts and Mercedes cars are among the first cars to get to the track. Verstappen scores fastest first sector (18.804s), and second (53.952, and goes first (1'12"038), followed by Russell +0.771 and Hamilton +0.777, the latter getting third fastest sector (53.462s). Leclerc manages to take P2 from Russell (+0.309) for a few as his teammate manages to take P2 from Charles (+0.265). Suddenly, Alonso gets the fastest first sector 18.787s, crosses the finish line and goes second fastest (+0.184). This lasts a few as well, ad Gasly gets P2 with a gap to Verstappen of +0.131. Stroll scores +0.019 in the first, -0.006 in the second, and (+0.281) in P12, until Albon put his cat at +0.016 to the P10 and makes Stroll slip to P13 (+0.016).
Russell goes 10th (+0.054). however, he slips to P11 after a few because of Bottas’ 1'12"755, while Hamilton takes P9 (+0.711). Alonso gets a second purple sector (34.055s), and goes second fastes (+0.069). Verstappen improves his time in 1'11"908 and Bottas goes ninth fastest (+0.776). Russell at 6 minutes to the end, he scores fastest first 18.697 and goes third fastest overall. Hamilton takes P10 At 5 minutes to the end. Leclerc from P7 can get a fastest clear lap because none is in front of him. He scores +0.043, +0.085, and goes second +0.195. At 2 minutes to the end, Norris hits the barrier, ruining his lap and damages the front left and breaks the suspension. 1 minutes to the end and Hamilton tries his best. He scores 18.983s (-0,029), 53.285s (-0.193), and goes fifth. Q2 ends and Max Verstappen is again on the top ('11"908), followed this time by Charles Leclerc (+0.195), Alonso (+0.199), Russell (+0.243). Hamilton (+0.248), Gasly (+0.261), Sainz (+0.302), Ocon (+0.340), Tsunoda (+0.341), and Norris (+0.469). Drivers eliminated are Piastri (+0.487), De Vries (+0.520), Albon (+0.619), Stroll (+0.715), and Bottas (+0.717). Oscar Piastri is sad that he missed out Q3 for a tiny margin:
"P11. Shame to have missed out on Q3 by so little but, happy with the improvement I made. We struggled through the practice sessions, so to get so close to Q3 in quali, I'm quite happy with. Only one spot out of the top ten and anything can happen tomorrow. We'll work hard this evening and see what we can do to work our way in to the points tomorrow".
Nyck de Vries finds today was tricky:
"It was a challenging session, and we knew already before going into Q1 that it would be messy because of traffic. Of course, we always want more, but it has been a solid weekend so far. If we repeat the good work we have executed so far in tomorrow’s race, we can be satisfied with ourselves and the weekend in general. The track evolution is big here and you could see the track was only coming alive during qualifying when it counts, and the team did a good job of constantly improving with the changing circumstances. I have raced here previously, but it’s another level in a Formula 1 car, and I am excited for tomorrow".
Alex Albon is overall satisfied although the team was aware of today’s challenges and car’s weakness:
"It was a good day today; we were on the back foot all weekend but, with this track, we knew it was going to be difficult and the weaknesses in our car were going to be challenging around this circuit. We made a lot of changes from FP3 to qualifying and they worked, so that's always a positive thing. These changes made the car much more drivable for Qualifying but we did use three sets of tyres in Q1 to get through. I was happy with my lap but I lost too much time in the traffic whilst the tyres warmed up so, despite this, I feel like our car was better than the results today. Let's hope for some rain tomorrow".
Dave Robson, Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance, underlines that:
"Qualifying in Monaco is always a difficult session, but we coped with the situation reasonably well. Both drivers had solid FP3 sessions and went into Q1 knowing that it would be tight, but aware that a good lap could see them into Q2. Logan did an excellent job but fell agonisingly short of the cut-off. Alex, meanwhile, had some newly found confidence in the car following some setup work after FP3, and was able to comfortably make Q2. If we had got everything right with Alex and given him a completely clean outlap, then he could've been very close to a place in Q3. The race will be tough tomorrow with overtaking still extremely difficult here. However, with both drivers comfortable with their cars then we will be looking to make progress".
Lance Stroll finds today was frustrating:
"A frustrating qualifying session - the potential was definitely there: in Q1, I finished fifth and I was feeling good in the car. Then things went downhill in Q2: I didn't get my tyres prepared properly on my out-lap, then I got caught at the weighbridge, there was traffic, and then I lost a few tenths at Turn 18 on my final run. When the margins are so tight, those things just compound the situation. Tomorrow is another day, we'll roll the dice with the strategy - either going long or pitting early and undercutting people. Hopefully, a bit of rain will mix things up, let's see".
Valtteri Bottas complains about the traffic jam that did not allow him to have a clean lap:
"We looked capable to get into Q3, and with a clean lap we could have been in the top ten, but I found traffic in the final sector on my last run and that cost us dearly. I lost a couple of tenths, probably, and this was enough to knock us out and put us 15th - with these tight margins, we can’t afford to lose that much. Overtaking won’t be easy tomorrow, and it can be a long day at the back, but we will try our best. We can also take some positives: we did better this weekend, until qualifying; the car feels improved so we can hopefully build on this for the future".
Says Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative:
"We had looked solid during practice, with both drivers arguably in with a shout for at least Q2, and to qualify in the positions we did shows just how tight the field is. We couldn’t replicate the performance from earlier in the weekend, and we’re aware of how difficult our task will be tomorrow. Still, the race will be long and can be unpredictable: we will need to be sharp and execute every part of it well, ready to pounce on every opportunity that may arise. It’s important we keep our heads up: today may have been difficult, but we have made another step forward and there are positives on which we can build for the next rounds".
One minutes to the beginning of Q3 and Verstappen is on the pit lane already ready to start. Indeed, he has clear track and can try his flying lap. He scores 18.886s, 53.122s, and goes first in 1'12"102. Alonso manages to improve the standard and scores 18.660s, 52.558s, and goes first in 1'11"706, followed by the two Ferrari cars, Sainz in P2 +0.029 and Leclerc in P3 + 0.053.
"Good man I pushed like an animal".
Says Alonso to his team.
"I can see".
Verstappen slipped to P4 (+0.396). Russell scores goes fourth (+0.258). At 5 minutes to the end, Alonso is P1, followed by Sainz (+0.029), Leclerc (+0.053), Russell (+0.258) and Verstappen (+0.396). Verstappen tries again. Compared to Alonso, he scores +0.138 in the second sector, gets fastest third sector (18.957s), and goes first in -0.052. Hamilton takes P3 (+0.071). It’s Norris turn and he gets +0.164, +0,550 and goes ninth (+0.712) ahead of Tsunoda. Ocon goes fastest overall 1'11"553, getting fastest third sector (18.922s). It’s Ferrari last chance to take the best spots. Compared to Ocon, Leclerc scores -0.077 and -0.110, so getting the fastest second (33.870s), and goes first in 1'11"471, temporarily in pole position. It could be his first pole position of the season. His teammate Sainz +0.064, gets second purple sector, and goes third. Alonso tries again and scores -0.232, fastest first sector so far (18.496s), -0.181, and goes first in 1'11"449. But it is not over yet as Verstappen is completing his lap. He scores +0.204, compared to Alonso’ second sector but he pushes as fastest as he can in the third sector (18.821s) and scores -0.084, taking pole position.
It’s pole position for Max Verstappen. He makes the difference in. the final sector and breaks the hearts of Aston Martin mechanics who were already celebrating Alonso pole position after years. Tomorrow the top 10 will see Verstappen one more time in pole position 1'11"365, followed by an Alonso that recalls everyone who is still and what he can do (+0.084). Leclerc is in P3 (+0.106), followed by Ocon (+0.188), Sainz (+0.265), Hamilton (+0.360), Gasly (+0.568), Russell (+0.599), Tsunoda (+0.717), and Norris (+0.889).
"Oh my god what times".
"What a third sector, unbelievable. Good done mate".
Says Christian Horner. Max Verstappen jumps out of his car and then gets ready to his interview. Max is overall satisfied with today’s results, taking into consideration the whole weekend:
"We knew it was going to be a bit of a struggle this weekend, but everything came together in the end. Yesterday wasn’t the best start but I think we kept on improving and getting better. My final lap today wasn’t ideal, I gave it everything I had and risked it all in the third sector, as I knew I was behind. I clipped a few barriers but I’m happy to be on pole here for the first time. Tomorrow we need a clean start, it’s a short run to turn one and in Monaco a lot of things can happen. Race pace wise the car is quick so hopefully we can have a positive day".
Fernando Alonso is pleased with today’s results:
"We have to be happy with this result. This year, we've tended to perform better on Sundays - but starting from the first row in Monaco is a really positive achievement. Job done today. It was a great final run, but when the team told me I was in P1, I already knew there was a chance I'd get bumped to second. I pushed the limits to uncomfortable levels - I risked a lot today. Our pace in the final sector is a bit of a weak spot, so we need to take a look at that for future races. Tomorrow, I'm aiming to finish the race and take the maximum possible points. If it's a straightforward afternoon, we'll hopefully finish on the podium; any more opportunities and we'll be there to take them".
Mike Krack, Team Principal finds that:
"This was an intense session for the whole team. Fernando drove superbly; he nailed his final lap and will line up on the front row for tomorrow's Monaco Grand Prix. That's an incredible achievement for the whole team and we can be proud of that. Lance had the pace to graduate into Q3. But a combination of factors - traffic, debris on the track, a delay at the weighbridge - meant he didn't get a clean Q2. In particular, he ran over a large piece of debris at the exit of Tabac, which damaged his floor and affected grip in the final sector. The aim for tomorrow is to score the maximum points with both drivers".
Charles Leclerc explains today was a bit tricky and he had some difficulties with his car:
"It was a very tricky qualifying on a weekend where I have struggled quite a lot with the car. I think our SF-23 is not handling the bumps so well but in qualifying it was a bit more alive and we managed to secure P3, very close to the pole position time. A qualifying lap here is like nowhere else on the calendar and it feels really good to drive. So all in all I can be happy but I would of course have preferred to be first. For tomorrow, I need a bit more luck than in the past years here. The forecast says there is a chance of rain and if that is the case anything is possible. I will go for it anyway and then we will see where we end up".
Carlos Sainz Jr. is not happy with today’s result:
"Honestly, I’m not happy with how things ended in Q3. Having to pass three slow cars during the last push lap is far from ideal especially when things were so tight. I’m disappointed because the weekend had been quite positive up to this point. Anyway, we still have a chance to do well in the race tomorrow, so we’ll aim to use our good pace and the strategy to try and make up some places".
Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal, finds today was frustrating since Leclerc was just at one tenth of a second off pole and two hundredths off the front row:
"Of course, it’s a bit frustrating to find yourself P3 just one tenth of a second off pole and two hundredths off the front row. Today it was quite difficult to give the drivers a car they were comfortable with, which at Monaco is always key, since being quick on this track is a matter of having the right feeling with the car, avoiding the walls and gradually picking up the pace over the weekend. We were able to improve the car after FP3 for qualifying and in the end the result is not that bad as we are the only team with two cars in the top five. That means we can look at how we can play with the strategy with our two drivers to move up the order in the race, given that it’s almost impossible to overtake. Now we will look at the data and prepare for tomorrow, bearing in mind that the weather could also play its part".
Esteban Ocon is satisfied with his performance and thanks his team:
"What a day. First of all, a big well done to the entire team, both at the track and at the factories in Enstone and Viry. Our result really shows that hard work pays off. I felt comfortable right from the beginning in Qualifying and I gave it my all on that last lap. Starting in third place on the grid in Monaco is great spot to be in and while I'm very happy now, we know we cannot settle for that as there's a long way to go this weekend. We worked incredibly hard to get ourselves in this position so we will stay focused to bring home some good points for the team. Bring on tomorrow's race".
Pierre Gasly finds today was a very intense Qualifying:
"That was a very intense Qualifying and it's good that we've come away with a great outcome for the team. I'm relatively satisfied with seventh but there was definitely more on my side so I do have bittersweet feelings in that regard. The car felt strong and we were obviously up there and competitive, with Esteban doing a really good job to be in fourth place. I just didn't quite get it together in Q3 with some rear sliding on my push lap. Even so, to start seventh in Monaco puts us in a very good place for tomorrow's race where we must aim for a big haul of points from both cars".
Says Alan Permane, Alpine’s Sporting Director:
"We are very pleased with today's Qualifying in Monaco with Esteban claiming a very impressive fourth position - third on the grid - with Charles' [Leclerc] penalty and Pierre in seventh. The car has looked strong all weekend - comfortably inside the top 10 - and today was all about good communication between drivers and engineers, clean execution from the team and staying composed amongst three very busy and intense sessions. It's always a great feeling to be in the mix for pole position, with Esteban running on a quiet track to go into provisional pole with an outstanding lap. Pierre also did a good job and we'll look into what could have gone better on his side in Q3. Still, there is a long way to go this weekend. We know it's a tough race around this track and we must be ready to seize any opportunities ahead of us. And with such good grid positions, we have to target big points from both drivers".
Lewis Hamilton is satisfied particularly with today’s final lap, since the team has some difficulties throughout the weekend:
"The car was feeling good throughout yesterday, particularly in FP1. We then worked overnight and made some changes after FP3 to refine the set-up. It improved the car in the middle of the lap, but it wasn't good in the first and last sectors. It was tough today therefore and difficult to progress from Q1 and Q2, but we just managed it. Given that, I was happy with my final lap, and I think that's as good as we could have managed. I'm also hopeful that the set-up we have will work well for the race. I love being on this circuit and the challenge is immense. It's very difficult to overtake but we'll work as a team to make sure we're prepared to capitalise on any opportunities that present themselves tomorrow. I'm grateful for where we are, and I'll keep pushing".
George Russell finds that they did not achieve the right car balance today:
"We were often strong in sector one but from there, the lap just went away from us. We also seemed to struggle more as Qualifying progressed. In Q3, that was more down to my part as I didn't get it together. Naturally we're disappointed as there were moments where we looked quick, but I think the maximum wasn't much more than what we got today. It's going to be a long Grand Prix tomorrow. Monaco is a unique circuit and historically as a team, it's not always suited our car or been our best race. We also know you're likely to finish where you start, but we will be doing everything we can to move forward".
Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal & CEO, explains that P6 and P8 is not ideal in Monaco as it is difficult to overtake on this circuit:
"We know starting sixth and eighth for tomorrow's race makes it a challenging Grand Prix for us. Overtaking is notoriously difficult here, but we will be doing everything we can to move forward. Despite our starting positions, we can be motivated by the size of the gap to the front. If you had told me ahead of the weekend that we would be three tenths off pole position, I would have taken it. We also didn't execute our final laps in Qualifying as well as we could have so there was possibly a little more lap time to be found. After FP3, we went slightly more aggressive on the set-up. If we had been more conservative, we may have found a better balance with the car. Nevertheless, we're hopeful those changes will stand us in good stead for tomorrow. It's been a big team effort to get our update to track. The hard work and dedication of everyone at Brackley and Brixworth is inspiring and we're looking forward to racing it tomorrow".
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director explains that they focused on tyre temperatures to get ready to start the flying lap:
"It's not ideal to be lining up sixth and eighth, but we were having to work hard to get the tyre temperatures in the right window to start the lap. That was particularly difficult in Q1 and Q2 as it was impossible to get a clean out lap due to traffic. Ultimately, that meant Lewis had to use an extra set of soft tyres in Q2, that we were aiming to save for Q3. George had a slightly more comfortable journey through the first two sessions, but the grip just wasn't there when it mattered for his final two runs. It's never easy to move forward in the Grand Prix here but we'll be working through the scenarios tonight. It's often an unpredictable race and it looks like it might be tough on the tyres. We'll make sure we do everything we can to be ready to capitalise on any opportunities that come our way tomorrow".
Yuki Tsunoda is satisfied and thanks the team for today’s results:
"A big congratulations to the team. We struggled a lot yesterday during both practice sessions but made a big step forward overnight. I felt a positive change in FP3 straight away and we were able to find extra performance on top of it for qualifying. The massive work done by the mechanics and engineers showed; I felt confident immediately, especially during the last run in Q1. From then on, I enjoyed it a lot. It was my first Q3 appearance in Monaco and it was definitely special. I am happy with my performance, which allows us to start the race in the points position, so I will give it my all and extract everything possible to be able to score points tomorrow".
Jody Egginton, Technical Director is of the same mind:
"We are very happy with our qualifying today. Both drivers did a great job, the car behaved well, and the update we had planned for Imola that we introduced here - although it’s hard to say a lot about it - seems to be behaving well and we can say it’s close to our expectations. As for tomorrow, with Yuki and Nyck qualifying ahead of our main competitors, it’s a good start for the race and hopefully, we can maintain our positions and score points".
Lando Norris is disappointed because of his minor incident:
"Disappointing qualifying for two reasons. One through my own fault, hitting the wall, I messed up on my side. The mechanics did a mega job to put everything back together, so a big thank you to them. Unfortunately, we then just got blocked completely in my fastest lap in Q3, which wasn't our fault. It was a bit up and down, and sadly not the result we wanted. We probably wouldn't have achieved a lot more, but maybe a P8 was possible, which around Monaco means a lot. Frustrating, but we did many things well, so we'll hang on and try to get some good points tomorrow".
Andrea Stella, Team Principal describes today’s qualifying as intense and eventful, like most of the times we go racing in Monaco. He hopes that both drivers can progress over the race:
"Our qualifying session was intense and eventful, like most of the times we go racing in Monaco. We're starting the Monaco Grand Prix in P10 and P11 and go into the race hoping to make progress with both cars. Oscar made a really good step from his practice performance, progressed through Q1 comfortably, and was only a fraction away from Q3. Lando's session was disrupted by a contact with the barriers in Q2, after which his mechanics did a fantastic job to repair the car in time for a run at the end of Q3. Unfortunately, he hit traffic during his fastest lap and couldn't improve his time. That's a little disappointing but regardless, we're in a decent position to score points and will be working hard this evening to ensure we can maximise our chances".
Finally, Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, analyses the teams’ strategies:
"We witnessed one of the most spectacular and unpredictable qualifying sessions in the recent history of Formula 1 today in Monte-Carlo, which was closely fought from the first to the last minute. We already saw yesterday that the gaps on this track would be very small, and this was confirmed again this afternoon. In Q1, the top 15 riders were within 0.652s, while in Q2 there was a 0.469s gap between first and 10th. In Q3, we had the top four drivers, with four different teams, separated by 0.188s. Congratulations to all the drivers on track today, who put on a great show at the absolute limit. From a technical point of view, we confirmed the versatility of the soft compound, which made it possible to do several flying laps with cool-down laps in between. The track evolved significantly throughout the day and during each session, which added even more uncertainty. Usually one of the highlights of the Monaco Grand Prix is Saturday but after today we can't wait to find out what comes next. We don't expect many strategic surprises: a single stop is the way to go, with the hard tyre as the main choice. However, which tyre to start the race on is more uncertain: the soft tyre certainly offers more grip at the start, but the medium has a wider window of use, with a better chance to make the most of any safety cars".
After qualifying, the stewards drop a communication which sees Leclerc fall from third on the grid to sixth position for his home race, after having impeded Norris in Q3. Everyone is however looking at the front row, with Verstappen and Alonso ready to fight for the first position, after the Aston Martin driver declared on Saturday that his Red Bull rival’s starts so far this season had been inconsistent.
Sunday, May 28, 2023, at 3.00 p.m. everyone is ready on track: Verstappen, Ocon, Hamilton, Tsunoda and Norris the top 10 runners opt for the medium compound, while Alonso, Sainz, Leclerc, Gasly and Russell are on hards. The rest of the grid is split between mediums and hards, with Zhou the only driver to go with softs, hoping to make up ground from the 19th position. Lights out and Verstappen slips away and maintains his advantage over Alonso into the first corner, with Ocon holding third from Sainz, Hamilton, Leclerc, Gasly, Russell, Tsunoda and Norris. In the back, Hulkenberg locks up under braking for Mirabeau, while Stroll is caught between Albon and the right-hand side barrier at the hairpin and loses some carbon fibre. After a contact, Hulkenberg and Zhou pit for hard tyres, and the same does Perez, trying a one-stop strategy. Stewards immediately give Hulkenberg a five-second time penalty for a move on Sargeant, while they note also a potential incorrect starting position for Russell, but decide to not take any further action for it. At the front, Verstappen is still in the lead with a two-second detachment from Alonso on lap 10, while Ocon is 10 seconds behind the Spaniard, followed by Sainz, Hamilton and Leclerc. At this point, another incident occurs: Sainz hits the rear of Ocon’s car exiting the tunnel and leaves him with a damaged front-left which seems loose. Alonso complains on the radio as he slipped five seconds away from leader Verstappen, but the Aston Martin pit wall reassures him that all looks well in the data, and there is no need to pit for a new set of tyres. At the same moment, the Ferrari mechanics place themselves in the pit lane with a new front wing, but Sainz stays out on track between Ocon and Hamilton, with the stewards showing him a black and white flag as a warning for the incident. In the midfield, Magnussen cleares Sargeant into Mirabeau, before Stroll goes past the Williams driver on the inside of La Rascasse and Perez also passes ahead at the exit. This is a bad moment for Williams, as Sargeant loses other places to Hulkenberg and Zhou, and Albon falls behind Bottas, so the Grove team pit both drivers. However, they have to box Sargeant immediately again for softs thanks to a puncture. Norris is told that rain could arrive on lap 35, as clouds begin to fill the sky. Verstappen on the radio reports that his front-left:
"Really isn’t pretty".
And expresses concerns about some drivers at the back he has been fast approaching, including team mate Perez. Hamilton pits on lap 32, swapping his mediums for a set of hards, and Ocon does the same one lap later, while Stroll and Perez bang wheels at the Nouvelle Chicane as they squabble for position after giving way to Verstappen. Even Sainz pits, for mediums, and emerges between Ocon and Hamilton; this gives him frustration over Ferrari’s strategy and he complains on the radio:
"Exactly what I talked about".
The leader Verstappen has to fight with more traffic and tyre troubles, so tells Red Bull to consider their strategic options, but the answer is clear as his engineer says:
"If we pit now, we fall behind Fernando".
because the Spanish driver is on hard tyres. Perez’s statery fails due to his incident with Stroll, which makes him pita gain for a new front wing. On lap 40, Verstappen’s advantage over Alonso is up to almost 10 seconds, with Leclerc, Gasly and Russell also stretching out their first stints as the teams talk on the radio about the approaching rain. A few laps later, the reigning world champion says:
"I don’t see how long I can keep this up".
While Leclerc and Gasly swap their starting hards for mediums, leaving Verstappen, Alonso and Russell as the only front-runners yet to pit. “Maybe drops of rain around Turn 6 to Turn 8,” the Red Bull team say to Verstappen, while Russell reports that it is indeed:
"Spitting at Turn 3".
"Raining more and more".
The middle sector of the track seems now particularly slippery, so Bottas and Stroll pit for intermediates, but the remaining cars stay out on slicks. On lap 54, Alonso comes into the pits and, rather than switching to intermediates, he goes from hards to mediums, a decision that make him lose him some positions as the rain intensifies and starts to cover the entire circuit. A flurry of pit lane activity follows as most drivers go in to take the intermediates. Verstappen tags the wall at Portier while going to the pit lane but manages to make it around and emerge with his lead intact. After the stops, the Dutchman leads Alonso by more than 15 seconds, with Ocon third ahead of Mercedes pair Hamilton and Russell, Leclerc in sixth, Gasly seventh, Sainz eighth, Tsunoda ninth and Norris rounding out the top 10 positions. Magnussen, the only driver to stay out on slicks, hits the barriers at La Rascasse, followed by another off-track excursion at Sainte Devote despite pitting to put on the full wet rubber, which Hulkenberg and Perez also swap to. Russell is given a five-second penalty for rejoining the track in an unsafe manner: he took to the run-off at Mirabeau, backed out and then banged wheels with Perez as he resumed, losing spots he had gained over Ocon and Hamilton. Stroll loses his front wing at the exit of the hairpin, so is forced to retire, while Perez tags the wall at the exit from the Swimming Pool. While the conditions start to get better, Verstappen continues to keep the lead, brushing away a question from his engineer about the conditions being:
"Anything other than inter".
And building up his margin to almost 30 seconds by the chequered flag. It is a great victory for the championship leader, who is now 39 points clear of Perez in the drivers’ standings, as his team mate has been unable to climb higher than 16th after starting from the back. Great result for Ocon, who gets the final podium spot for Alpine, followed by Mercedes pair Hamilton and Russell. Gasly is between the Ferraris in seventh, with Sainz, Norris and Piastri completing the points. The two McLarens overtake Tsunoda in the final laps before the AlphaTauri man runs off the road at Mirabeau. Bottas crosses the line in 11th, followed by De Vries, team mate Zhou, Albon and Tsunoda, while Perez is 16th. Hulkenberg finishes in P17 when his second time penalty takes effect, with team mate Magnussen and Stroll the only DNF of the day. Verstappen built his lead immediately after the start and was still on his first set of tyres when the rain arrived, so easily swapped to the inters and ran straight to the victory:
"It’s super nice to win here again in Monaco! It was actually quite a difficult race, we were on the medium to begin with and Fernando on the hard compound, so we didn’t want the first stint to be that long but we had to stay out. The rain also made it quite complicated, we made the call for inters, the first few laps on them were incredibly slippery. I clipped the walls a few times again, but that’s Monaco! When you are that far in the lead, you don’t want to push that hard but also you don’t want to loose too much time. We managed to stay calm and bring it home and we scored a good amount of points for the Team. I of course will celebrate this evening with my friends and family but tomorrow we focus on Spain".
Worse day for Perez, who pitted on the first lap for hards hoping to go to the end. But he crashed with Stroll and needed another stop for a new nose. After this, he swapped for inters early, so then had to change to to full wets and then to inters again:
"It was the worst weekend I can remember in a while; everything went wrong and today we paid the price for a poor mistake from myself in qualifying. I am really sad about the performance, not just today but the whole weekend. I knew yesterday would be extremely costly and ultimately it was 25 points. The conditions were tricky out there and there was some hope that when it started raining we could get things right but we didn’t, it was a shame. I don’t think there was much we could have done differently; all the damage was done yesterday. I only want to move on from this race because it was a terrible weekend. I still have hope in the Championship but I know I cannot afford another zero in a race, so I really hope I can be back to my normal level in Barcelona. I need to be perfect in the next few races, I need to get victories and get them soon. I am happy we are racing in a few days".
Christian Horner, Red Bull’s CEO and Team Principal, is satisfied with this magical victory and is sure of Checo’s future recovery:
"Winning here is special, it always means just that little bit more, every driver wants this one on their CV. And for us it’s our third in a row for the Team and our seventh in total here in Monaco. We knew coming into this weekend that this would be our biggest challenge of the season so far and Monaco threw everything at Max today. He managed the medium tyre and then the changing conditions well, made the switch to the intermediate tyre and saw it home. Another fantastic drive. Unfortunately, it was a difficult weekend for Checo. Despite his best efforts, there was very little he could do after yesterday's qualifying. Knowing Checo though, he will learn from his mistakes and respond quickly in Spain. What we are seeing here at track though is just the shop window to everything that is happening on a daily basis back at the factory. The win here today is representative of the performance and dedication by the Team as an overall on a wider scale. A brilliant win with many lessons but one we will certainly savour".
Another podium for Fernando Alonso, despite the strategy who made him probably lose the victory:
"I'm really happy with this result. The race was not easy - and the rain made it difficult for everybody, and very risky strategically. I don't think the extra stop [first Mediums, then Intermediates] affected the result. It's always hard to read the race fully from the cockpit, but on the lap I stopped, the track was completely dry apart from Turns Seven and Eight - so why fit Inters, especially when it felt like a small shower and we had plenty of margin behind us? So it was the right decision, and extra safe: but a minute and a half later it was a completely different situation! There was no chance to win today - wet or dry, but we raced aggressively and tried to win it. We were hoping Max [Verstappen] would suffer greater degradation on the Mediums, but he did 50 laps at an amazing pace. But we're getting closer – let's not forget that. Now to Spain".
Lance Stroll hit the wall on the first lap and bounced into Sargeant, and later on made contact with Magnussen. Then, he hit the barriers damaging his front wing and retiring:
"In all honesty, this wasn't a race to remember. The first lap was pretty eventful - a lot of crashing; a lot of carbon-fibre flying everywhere! Those clashes left the car with a fair amount of damage but I was still able to have a go at some of the cars in front. And I pulled off a couple of passes, which was fun. But I was struggling a little to get the car slowed down even before the rain; then when it started raining the brake issues meant I just couldn't stop the car. I think I hit the wall about five times out there, but it just wasn't my day. Congratulations to Fernando for an excellent result - I'll be aiming for a points finish at Barcelona next weekend. I'm already looking forward to Spain".
Mike Krack, AM’s Team Principal, explains why this race was really hard to manage:
"Starting from the front row and finishing second with Fernando in the Monaco Grand Prix is a tremendous result for the whole team - and a significant marker for how far we've travelled together. This was a difficult race to manage: we fitted Fernando with the Hard compound, hoping to use the strategy to jump Max later in the race. Then the rain came! Initially, the downpour wasn't too heavy, and we fitted Mediums because an old, worn Hard tyre is incredibly difficult to manage on a wet track. The rain immediately increased, and switching to Intermediates was the logical choice just a lap later. That made no difference to the result - we wouldn't have caught Max anyway. Fernando drove magnificently in treacherous conditions to equal AMF1 Team's best-ever result - bravo. Lance struggled with damage after a couple of hits on lap one, but he drove with a good amount of verve, overtook a couple of cars and was battling hard. That was great to see. He correctly judged the switch to Inters but was managing the brakes in the wet and lost his front wing after a tangle with the barriers. Starting 14th, it was always going to be a tricky race for Lance - but he kept his head up throughout. Now we go to Spain - with the aim of getting both cars in the points once again".
Great result for Esteban Ocon! The Frenchman started third due to Leclerc’s penalty and managed to mantain the place for all the race:
"What a feeling. I'm so happy for the team for this amazing achievement of finishing third on this fantastic circuit and legendary event in Monaco. Thanks to the entire team both at Viry and Enstone and here at the track for what we have achieved together. Everyone has been working so hard and this result is for them. This must serve as motivation to keep progressing as a team and keep updating the car throughout this season. We have another race next weekend in Barcelona and that has to remain our focus to deliver another good result. For now, it's a great feeling and the team and I will enjoy the celebrations".
Pierre Gasly managed to earn points:
"Congratulations to the entire team and to Esteban for the podium today, it's been a really strong day for the team and a great reward for everyone's hard work. On my side, of course it's good to score important points but we know it could have been more had things gone our way. We will review everything to see what can be done better for next time. Right now, though, we will focus on the positives and that's the fact the car has been very good all weekend, our upgrades are working and we look forward to Barcelona next weekend where we must aim to back up our performance from here in Monaco on a more conventional circuit".
Otmar Szafnauer, Alpine’s Team Principal, is satisfied with the drivers‘ performance and hopes fort he team to have always these results after a bad start of the season:
"What a brilliant day for the team here in Monaco. Congratulations to everybody today, from those trackside, to our staff members across Enstone and Viry for their hard work in delivering a car that has proved its capability to fight for the podium. Today was all about staying composed under pressure - notably for our pit crew, engineers and strategists - in dealing with some challenging circumstances with the varying tyre strategies and unpredictable weather. It was also about two world class race drives from both Esteban and Pierre to deliver such a strong team result. Well done to everyone and this result must serve as motivation for more results like this during this season".
Hamilton is satisfied and congratulates the team for all the work done:
"I'm really happy with today's result. We moved forwards in the race and that's not an easy task here in Monaco. Coming into the weekend, I didn't know where we would stand. To come out with fourth and fifth is great points for the Team. I want to say a huge thank you to everyone back at the factories for pushing and bringing these upgrades. It's been so much work to bring those here. We managed to keep it in one piece today and brought it home. It was difficult to know here in Monaco how the upgrades were performing. There's lots of bumps and the car feels very stiff so it's tricky. Barcelona, though, is probably the best test circuit we could ask for in order to learn more about our package. I'm looking forward to seeing how the car reacts".
Russell was handed a five-place grid penalty for returning to the track unsafely after pitting, but that didn’t cost him a place:
"I'm very disappointed with myself. After the pit stop, I was ahead of Lewis and Esteban (Ocon) and I made a mistake, completely by myself. What's even worse is that I wasn't even pushing. I touched the brake and locked up; that's cost the team a podium. One third of the track was extremely wet, another part was quite dry. If you touch the white line when it's wet, it's like ice. But ultimately, it's the same conditions for everyone. We cannot judge the upgrades from this circuit. Barcelona will be the first real examination of it and it will be exciting to see how we perform. No matter what happens in Spain though, it will be interesting to learn and move forward from there".
Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ Team Principal & CEO, admits that the team worked well and looks forward to the next race:
"This was a solid result and good points for the team after a race where it would have been easy to make mistakes or move backwards through the field. The strategists called it exactly right today in terms of switching to the intermediate tyres, and that's what jumped us ahead of Ferrari to get P4 and P5. Lewis stayed cool throughout the race - even when his medium tyres went off in the opening stint, we were able to protect position and then take advantage of the rain. George shouldn't be too hard on himself, either - he drove a nice first stint to have the opportunity to capitalise on the rain and then the conditions were just so tricky to drive, that a small mistake cost him quite dear. But this was an afternoon where the team worked well, and our drivers showed their quality, too, and that shows in the points scored. We brought a big package to this race, and it has performed well. We have seen some positives in Monaco, which we know is not a representative circuit, and it will be next week in Barcelona when we get a more precise idea of competitiveness. We don't want to get ahead ourselves, and I think we're all looking forward to learning more about the car, and to seeing if we've made a step in performance against our immediate competitors".
Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, concludes:
"Considering our pace this weekend, fourth and fifth isn't a bad result. Ultimately though, we weren't quick enough and we've got work to do if we want to see our drivers standing on the podium. The race itself was well handled by the Team. There were points where our options were getting limited. We didn't have the pace to undercut Ocon or Sainz with Lewis, so they all emerged from the first stop in position order. With George, who was in a similar race with one Ferrari and one Alpine, we decided against the undercut and were waiting for rain, a safety car, or a red flag. That came but the transition was tricky. Only half the track was wet, but where it was, it was really damp. We seemed to make the switch at the correct time, but George got caught out with a lock-up during the warm-up phase. Luckily, he continued but our chance of a podium had evaporated. He did a good job to build enough of a gap to the Ferrari of Leclerc that his penalty didn't affect his position when it was added after the race. We now shift our focus to Barcelona immediately".
"We're looking forward to seeing how the car works around a more normal track; we're expecting to have more work to do but it's going to be useful to understand where we must focus our efforts. We're in a good fight for second in the Constructors' Championship and while that's not our goal, it looks like we're going to be able to have some fun racing with Ferrari and Aston Martin as we work on closing that gap to Red Bull".
Charles Leclerc, on his home race, talks about his strategy:
"We were on the backfoot from the moment we got the penalty yesterday. When it started to rain we could have gone onto the Inters early, but we decided not to as there were still a lot of cars on slicks and so we decided to wait in the hope of a Safety Car which 90% of the time you would expect here in those conditions. Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, you might take a different decision but at the time it seemed like a good opportunity to make up a lot of places. I have no regrets about the decisions we made regarding our strategy. It is what it is, but it’s really the grid penalty that worked against us. In the second stint, it was all about keeping the car on track and bringing it to the finish. There are still a lot of races left this season and we have several updates coming which I hope will let us get closer to the Red Bulls".
Carlos Sainz collided with Ocono during the early stages, damaging his end-plate. He continued to race, but with a lack of downforce; then a half-spun dropped him behind his team mate:
"It was an eventful race in Monaco today. The final result is not what I was aiming for because I had good pace with every compound and P8 is frustrating. Pit stops were key today but they were all difficult calls, especially the change to Inter tyres, as the rain picked up very quickly and the spin with the slicks obviously made me lose some positions. I leave Monaco with a bitter taste, but next up is my home race and we need to keep focused".
Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal, lookks forward to the next races as the team will try some updates on the car:
"In the first stint of our race the pace was okay: Carlos tried to push a couple of times to get ahead of Ocon who was slow in front of him, allowing Verstappen and Alonso to get away at the front. Then when the rain came, we were P5 and P7 and we decided to take a risk and try for P3. The conditions were very difficult to manage because the rain turned out to be worse than forecast, so you cannot really blame Carlos for the mistake, but we need to look at why our pace was not so strong in the wet. Looking at the weekend as a whole, our qualifying pace was good and we have to aim to repeat that next week in Barcelona. The field is so tight you have to put everything together and the slightest mistake is costly. We will have some updates on the car which should be a step forward in terms of performance, so let’s wait and see what we can do in Spain".
Lando Norris is happy about his result:
"That was a pretty good race! Perhaps not perfect, we stopped just before the rain which lost us about 20s of race time having to pit again for the Inters because the rain was stronger than expected, but unfortunately the stint wasn't long enough to make the most of the good pace we then had. It was very tough out there today, tricky in these conditions. Our pace was good, one of the best on track. We'll see what we can learn, try to keep improving and do a better job if we can in Barcelona next weekend".
Oscar Piastri continues:
"I'm pretty happy with P10 and a point today. There's not a great deal you can do in Monaco on Sunday but I think we made a good strategy call to start on the Hard tyre. When the rain began to fall, the communications were very good as we decided if and when to go onto the Intermediate tyre. Of course, we'll have a look to see if there was anything we could have done better today, but it feels like we did a good job, and I'm very happy that both of us finished the race in the points".
Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, concludes:
"Two cars in the points at the end of a dramatic Monaco Grand Prix is a very positive outcome. We executed the race well; our drivers ran smart races, staying out of trouble in difficult conditions, and our pace looked very strong in the final third of the race on the Intermediate tyres. It was a shame that portion of the race wasn't a little longer to allow us to capitalise on the pace both Lando and Oscar demonstrated. I would like to praise, in particular, the work of our garage crew this weekend. Yesterday, the mechanics did phenomenal work to get Lando out in Q3, and today they executed clean pit-stops, including a difficult double shuffle in awkward conditions. There's a depth of talent there, of which we are immensely proud and will keep building for the future".
Bottas was one of the first swap to intermediate tyres, but didn’t manage to finish in the point area:
"We had a solid race and probably got as much as we could out of the day. When you make up four places in Monaco, it’s not a bad result and it’s only a pity we couldn’t get any points from our efforts. The rain helped us a bit by mixing up the race, but we had to take some important decisions and we made all the right calls. It was not easy out there, even on inters, as the track was very wet in places and drier in others, but we chose to play this card before everyone else and we gained ground as a result. The car felt better with the upgrades we brought in, and we will hopefully get more performance out of it in Barcelona, a faster track where our package should work a little better. I’m looking forward to it".
Zhou started on the softs but pitted immediately for a set of hards before rain ruined his plans:
"We had a good race in very difficult conditions and, considering where we started, we can be pleased with the progress we were able to make. We made the call to pit on lap one, an aggressive choice that would have meant finishing the race on just one set of hard tyres. The pace we had on those was quite good and I made up a few places, holding off cars on fresher tyres before the rain started. The rain reset everything, we had to do another stop and deal with really difficult conditions: the track was really tricky, every corner could catch you out and I had to be very careful. In the end, we made up six places and it was quite good fun. Most importantly, our race pace was good and a good indication going forward to different tracks and other conditions".
Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Alfa Romeo’s Team Representative, describes the team’s race:
"The team executed a good race to recover as much ground as possible, and in the end no other team made up as many places as we did. We knew we had a big job on our hands after yesterday’s qualifying, so we chose to be aggressive with our calls: we pitted Zhou on the first lap, to switch him to hard tyres and try a strategy that would allow him to move forward. When the rain came, we were the first to switch to the intermediate tyres, with Valtteri, and in the end we were able to make up quite a few places. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to get into the top ten, but we cannot fault ourselves for the work we did today, especially on a track where overtaking is so difficult. We can take heart from today’s performance and the way we rebounded after yesterday’s struggles: now we have to focus on Barcelona, where we must make a step forward as we keep extracting performance from our upgrades".
De Vries scored his best result of the season so far:
"It was an extremely difficult race with very challenging circumstances. We could have managed the first stint better because I had a huge drop-off in pace and suddenly recovered a lot of speed in the last seven laps on the Mediums, before it started raining. Perhaps we could have pushed less on Oscar (Piastri) at the beginning, nevertheless, it was a solid race. The Intermediates initially didn’t have any temperature or grip, but we kept our nose clean. Overall, I am satisfied with my weekend, no major mistakes in tricky conditions. It was encouraging to see that we were so close to the top 10, and we worked well as a team throughout the weekend to put the cars where they were on the grid, so we’ll take those positives to Barcelona".
Tsunoda was running ninth for much of the race, but started to struggle with brake late on, losing places:
"It’s a tough result because we showed good pace and were in control, especially in the dry. With the rain starting, the timing of our pitstop from the Mediums to the Intermediates was perfect, so the team did a good job with that. The issue with the brakes I had all weekend amplified in the rain, and it was difficult to control and manage the situation. I felt like a passenger from then until the end of the race. Of course, I am frustrated, and so is the team, because points were possible today. It’s hard to accept it, there are still things which need to be improved, but there are certainly positives to take from this weekend. We will now reset ourselves and focus on Barcelona".
Jody Egginton, AlphaTauri’s Technical Director, is disappointed with how things went:
"It was a super frustrating end to the race. Everything was going to plan for Yuki, his pace was good and he was able to manage tyre graining. Nyck was in a similar situation and, although he struggled a bit longer with graining, his pace was also good and he could move away from the pack behind once the tyres came back. So in the dry portion of the race, both cars were reasonably well placed regardless if it rained or not. The rain came and we boxed both cars on the same lap for Inters, which was the right call. However, Yuki immediately struggled with his brakes even with multiple adjustments to try and bring them in. They remained inconsistent, meaning he could not push the braking phases, hence his lap times suffered, both McLarens got past and he went off. Nyck was less affected by this issue and could achieve a good lap time progression on the Inter tyre, but even with the rain it was not possible to get him into the points today – it’s never easy in Monaco. Overall, the car showed good pace in qualifying and during the dry part of the race here, which is promising, but not being able to finish the job and score the points which were there to be taken is very disappointing, especially on a day where we had one car ahead of all of our closest competitors. We now must understand the issues with braking, there is still much to learn about the aero update, and we look forward to taking the next step with the car in Barcelona".
Sargeant had an accident with Stroll and another with Hulkenberg, before a puncture made him pitting two times. After a third pit due to the rain he slide into the barriers, but continued to race:
"Definitely a tough one. It started okay with the first ten laps or so then I had a lot of degradation on the Medium tyre. Once we did get on the Hard we had a puncture within a couple of laps and so had to box for the Quali tyre and take that long, so that was far from ideal. Once the rain came it was about learning about the Inter tyre. I had a couple of small lock-ups in the wet which I need to clean up so, all in all, not a great day but we'll take what we can from it and move on. There are positives; I've driven the car in the wet now so I know what it's like and I don't think it was too bad at times, just suffered with a lot of deg. It would have been interesting to see how that Hard stint went so it was unfortunate to pick that puncture up. I'm on the sim Tuesday so we'll reset and go to Barcelona. I'm good around there, I love it, it's a track I know well and we'll aim to get things going in a better direction".
Alex Albon had a quiet afternoon but didn’t have to pace to recover places:
"It was a boring but tough race; the rain was fun and created something but it didn't really change our result or shake things up as much as I thought it would. A lot of drivers started on the Hard tyres which created a bit of a train but the Hard tyre was so much better than the Medium tyre. It was basically a race you wanted to be on the Hard tyres as soon as possible. We tried to hold onto it a little bit and grained massively on the Mediums. The pace was good for a short time but once the tyres overheated, it was difficult to do anything more".
Dave Robson, Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance, looks forward to Barcelona:
"A tricky race with some graining on the slicks early in the race for both cars. This was worse than we expected and so we need to understand why that was. Logan suffered a puncture shortly after fitting his only set of Hard tyres and so it became a difficult day for him, but he got some very valuable experience, especially of driving in the wet in Monaco. Once the rain started, it was difficult to generate temperature in the tyres and brakes but once we were able to push a bit harder, the grip improved quite quickly. Our pace wasn't too bad, but with overtaking difficult, we weren't able to make any more positions. Attention now turns to Barcelona and the revised track layout".
Magnussen stayed out on the slicks when the rain came. He crashed on his way back to the pits, needing a new front wing and then hit the barriers again before retiring:
"We tried everything. We tried to do the opposite of everyone, and it didn’t work out. Initially, in the dry, it was looking interesting but then when the rain came, I stayed out hoping for a safety car or a red flag, but that didn’t happen of course. We ended up last, put the full wets on but we couldn’t get them started at all, so the race was over by then. There are a lot of incentives to take risks when you’re outside the top ten and that’s what we did today, but it didn’t work out. Next week is another race week".
Hulkenberg had a contact with Sargeant on the opening lap which costed him a five-second time penalty. However, he forgot to serve the penalty when pitted and was awarded a second time penalty:
"The weekend hasn’t been too good but still, the race was fun going through all the different stages with different tires and conditions. I’m happy I got through it and came through quite well. I feel the pace was actually pretty decent when I had some clear track but for most of the race, I was stuck in traffic like you are in Monaco. To some extent, I feel the problems we had have been Monaco specific, so I’m quite hopeful in Barcelona we should be in a better position, so I look forward to that".
Guenther Steiner, Haas‘ Team Principal, concludes:
"We tried everything possible today to get into the points. There’s no point in finishing twelfth, thirteenth or fourteenth so we decided to take a gamble at the end staying out and then pitting for full wets as you never know what can happen, but it didn’t work out. The race was lost yesterday in qualifying, and we knew that if something special doesn’t happen, we cannot get into the points. We tried, everybody was working hard to get it done. We got a penalty - we don’t know what for on lap 1 - again, inconsistency from the FIA there, but it seems to be what now is normal".
Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, comments on the race and the strategy put into place by the teams:
"The Monaco weekend was filled with emotions, both for the people watching the race in person and those following it at home on TV and online. Just like a year ago, all five types of tyre brought to Monaco were used, with the new specification of wet tyre - which doesn't require blankets - making its debut. First impressions of its performance seem in line with expectations, although you obviously can't really compare Monaco with anywhere else. When it was dry, the race was a chess game between those who started on the mediums and those who opted for the hards: actually, a bigger number of drivers than we had anticipated heading into the race. Just one person, Guanyu Zhou, went for the softs at the start. As is often the case in Monaco, it was at first a question of seeing who made the best of the traffic to find the right time to make the decisive move and pit. But then there was the uncertain weather, with the rain that everybody knew was coming but nobody expected to be quite so heavy. All this added up to a race that was extremely difficult to manage without making mistakes. The first stint on the medium was much longer than expected: not only did Verstappen complete 55 laps on this compound, but both AlphaTauri drivers did 53 laps, while Lando Norris did 50. On this track in particular, tyre management, even with graining, had to be carried out according to traffic and weather conditions - as was definitely the case today".
Max Verstappen wins his fourth Grand Prix of the season and, taking advantage of Sergio Perez's slowdown, stretches his lead in the World Drivers' Championship standings. After six Grands Prix, all won by Red Bull Racing, it is quite evident that the Anglo-Austrian team can not only win the World Championship, but also dominate it. Aston Martin also confirms itself in a slow circuit like Monte-Carlo, and now it is called to a feat in Spain. Fernando Alonso managed to put pressure on Max Verstappen, but there is still something missing in terms of performance to be able to pass the Dutch driver and hope to win a Grand Prix. Scuderia Ferrari, on the other hand, confirms its tire management problems. And at the moment there is no telling when the Maranello team can get out of this difficult moment. Alpine rises again, after a period of tarnishing. Laurent Rossi had recently given the team a real shake-up, and indeed the response was outstanding, as Esteban Ocon managed to take third place. After Monaco, the F1 paddock will head to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix, which is scheduled to run from June 2-4, 2023.