Monaco Grand Prix: Thursday Analysis

As Formula One made its poignant arrival to the streets of Monte-Carlo, Nico Rosberg once again underlined Mercedes spectacular single lap performance by topping both the FP1 and FP2 sessions. Lewis Hamilton reiterated the strengths of the W04, maintaining within close proximity of his teammate throughout the day. What remains a mystery however, is Red Bull. While the team are famous for sandbagging in the early stages of a weekend, both Vettel and Webber visibly struggled throughout today, which raises question marks regarding the overall speed of the RB9.

FP1

The first session of the day brought about an expected conclusion, as Nico Rosberg led the way for Mercedes. His lap of 1:16.195 edged out Fernando Alonso who finished P2. The Ferrari seems to have emerged from the European development phase as the fastest overall package, with Alonso once again impressing. However, with Mercedes once again proving their raw speed, it could be a traffic jam come Sunday afternoon, unless they can drastically improve their single lap performance.
Grosjean was another driver who impressed during the opening session and managed to finish P3 on the timesheet. The Frenchman has recovered from his early season struggles in recent races following Lotus’ upgrades. Now that he has a car which is of similar specification to Raikkonen, Grosjean is showing his pace. 
Both McLaren’s finished a promising session within the top ten, with Jenson Button leading the way over his fiery young teammate Sergio Perez, who has been proving to be more of a match for the elder statesman recently. Interestingly, McLaren are running their new front wing this weekend and using a fully extended flap angle. This configuration shows the curvature of the front wing as the team attempt to channel more airflow towards the floor which has been the source of their balance issues. 
FP1 Timesheet
01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:16.195 30 laps
02 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:16.282 +0.087s 26 laps
03 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:16.380 +0.185s 20 laps
04 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:16.394 +0.199s 22 laps
05 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:16.469 +0.274s 27 laps
06 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:16.993 +0.798s 26 laps
07 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:17.020 +0.825s 26 laps
08 Jenson Button McLaren 1:17.129 +0.934s 28 laps
09 Sergio Perez McLaren 1:17.378 +1.183s 24 laps
10 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:17.380 +1.185s 22 laps
11 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1:17.509 +1.314s 25 laps
12 Paul di Resta Force 1:17.548 +1.353s 26 laps
13 Adrian Sutil Force 1:17.625 +1.430s 20 laps
14 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1:18.193 +1.998s 25 laps
15 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:18.454 +2.259s 24 laps
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:8.754 +2.559s 27 laps
17 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:18.830 +2.635s 27 laps
18 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:19.067 +2.872s 24 laps
19 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:19.203 +3.008s 20 laps
20 Charles Pic Caterham 1:19.438 +3.243s 27 laps
21 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:19.773 +3.578s 19 laps
22 Max Chilton Marussia 1:20.225 +4.030s 20 laps

FP2

In FP2, it was a similar scenario for Mercedes, who managed to secure a fabulous 1-2 domination at the top of the timesheet, led once again by Nico Rosberg. After Hamilton had completed FP1 cautiously, the Brit displayed his pace, while mounting pressure on his teammate. The likelihood is that Rosberg and Hamilton may be fighting each other for Pole Position on Saturday afternoon, judging by Mercedes’ superior one lap pace, perfectly demonstrated throughout today. They are clearly confident ahead of qualifying as they focused most of their attention towards long run performance in the second session.  
Rosberg managed to improve his FP1 time significantly, (as would be expected), posting a 1:14.759. Ferrari once again asserted their position of strength, with Alonso proving to be the biggest threat to the Mercedes stranglehold of the front row. The Spaniard finished P3, with Felipe Massa just behind. 
Red Bull failed to improve on what was a slow start to the weekend in FP2. Sebastian Vettel spent the early phases in the garage, as his engineers worked frantically to complete an intricate set-up change on the front suspension. Meanwhile, Mark Webber had to return to the pits after colliding with a bird out on track. Evidence of the collision was the smattering of feathers on the front right suspension.
Romain Grosjean was unable to sustain the performance he demonstrated in FP1, as he became the first man to fall victim of the Monaco armco this season. The Frenchman made the easy mistake of carrying too much speed into Ste.Devote, locking up and careering into the barriers.

FP2 Timesheet
01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:14.759 45 laps
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:15.077 +0.318s 50 laps
03 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:15.196 +0.437s 37 laps
04 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:15.278 +0.519s 38 laps
05 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:15.404 +0.645s 41 laps
06 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1:5.511 +0.752s 38 laps
07 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:15.718 +0.959s 10 laps
08 Jenson Button McLaren 1:15.959 +1.200s 39 laps
09 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:16.014 +1.255s 32 laps
10 Paul di Resta Force India 1:16.046 +1.287s 42 laps
11 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:16.349 +1.590s 43 laps
12 Sergio Perez McLaren 1:16.434 +1.675s 40 laps
13 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1:16.823 +2.064s 42 laps
14 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:16.857 +2.098s 40 laps
15 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:16.935 +2.176s 44 laps
16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:17.145 +2.386s 37 laps
17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:17.184 +2.425s 42 laps
18 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:17.264 +2.505s 46 laps
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:17.892 +3.133s 40 laps
20 Charles Pic Caterham 1:18.212 +3.453s 43 laps
21 Max Chilton Marussia 1:18.784 +4.025s 40 laps
22 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:19.031 +4.272s 30 laps
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