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Formula 1 Monaco GP

McLaren insists it can win F1 Monaco GP without crucial pole

McLaren insists the processional nature of Formula 1’s Monaco Grand Prix does not mean all hope of winning is lost because it did not secure pole position.

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38

With overtaking so difficult around the streets of Monte Carlo, the biggest advantage comes from track position.

Poleman Charles Leclerc is the clear favourite to win if he can pull off a clean getaway against front-row starter Oscar Piastri and lead out of the opening corner.

The relative ease by which drivers can keep hold of their places means they can manage their pace and extend stints – so there is little risk of degradation triggering a tumble down the order.

Further adding to the processional nature is the fact that the undercut is not so powerful, as the low-energy circuit means it takes a while for the hard tyre – which most will switch to – to come up to temperature.

As Pirelli’s chief engineer Simone Berra said about the undercut: “It’s not really powerful honestly.

“Because with the C3 [the hard], it takes some corners, around half a lap, because the energy is quite low to get the tyres into the window.

“So even if you pit one lap later, you can still stay in front of the car that stopped before you. So, it's not really powerful.”

With a likely pitstop window for the medium that most will start on being around lap 25 to 35, Berra does not see much opportunity for a strategy play.

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Asked if there was anything a pursuing team could do against the race leader, he said: “No, really not here, there's nothing you can really invent.

“Track position will lead to the decision. Unfortunately, in terms of strategies here, we know Monaco is quite a unique circuit.”

But despite the lack of options, McLaren team boss Andrea Stella reckoned there were some factors that could give it a chance even if Leclerc stays in front at the first corner.

“We always think about it as a procession, but actually there are safety cars and we could have a red flag,” he said.

“Also, the tyres seem to be pretty delicate. Last year we saw phases where people went through the graining.

“It’s not necessarily that this leads to [on-track] overtaking, but you need the pace at a certain stage because the gap to pit may open up.

“And if you’re graining at that time, then your race starts to be altered. So there are a few variables that may determine the result of this race.”

One other factor that could help it is the fact that, with Piastri second on the grid and Lando Norris two places back, the team is able to play strategies with two cars near the front.

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren F1 Team

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren F1 Team

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

He added: “Certainly having two cars close to the lead will give us some more possibilities, but at this track you would never take these possibilities if it meant that you would end up in traffic.

“There are not as many possibilities as normal, but still the race can be quite eventful.

“So rather than approaching it like it will be a procession, we approach it like there can be many scenarios, and we need to be ready for them.”

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