What Monaco GP clues can we get from Spain's Sector 3 data

The unique tight and twisty nature of Formula 1's Monaco Grand Prix often makes it a pretty tricky track to try to predict form.

What Monaco GP clues can we get from Spain's Sector 3 data

It requires the maximum amount of downforce, a well-handing chassis, excellent traction and being good on the brakes.

And, whereas at other tracks, aero efficiency can be the name of the game as teams trim out downforce levels, at Monaco that does not matter. Power too isn't critical.

All these factors mean the competitive order can be very different at Monaco compared to other venues, which adds another layer of intrigue for F1's blue riband event.

But each year, there is one clue offered about how things are going to shape up.

It's the performance of cars through Sector 3 at the Barcelona circuit, for the low speed sequence of bends and the tight chicane pretty much mirror the demands of the streets of Monaco.

If you are quick through Sector 3 in Spain, then that's normally a pretty good sign.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

So how did things stack up at the recent Spanish GP? Here's the fastest Sector 3 times for each car in qualifying.

1. Red Bull 26.295s
2. Mercedes 26.400s
3. Ferrari 26.580s
4. Alpine 26.632s
5. McLaren 26.782s
6. AlphaTauri 26.827s
7. Aston Martin 26.923s
8. Williams 27.131s
9. Alfa Romeo 27.164s
10. Haas 27.311s

For Red Bull, after two races where it has lost out to Mercedes, the prospects look good with its car the fastest through S3.

Sergio Perez is certainly bullish about what could be on the cards for the RB16B around the streets of Monte Carlo.

"I'm looking forward massively to Monaco, especially with this car," said the Mexican. "I think we have a shot of winning the race."

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG W10

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG W10

Photo by: Joe Portlock / Motorsport Images

Mercedes also thinks that things are tipped in Red Bull's favour, especially as it appears its Milton Keynes rival has a downforce advantage.

Trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said: "On paper, I would probably say it would suit Red Bull more than us.

"We've been running our max downforce wing and we saw it on their car on Friday [in Spain] but they didn't race it there, so they can put a bit more downforce on. So on paper, it's probably for them."

The fight behind the top two also looks intriguing, with early season 'best of the rest' contender McLaren not appearing as comfortable in the low speed sector as Ferrari and Alpine.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz Jr reckons it was certainly a good boost for the Maranello team that they looked so strong in S3.

"Obviously having good downforce in the last sector gives you a good feeling and it puts you in a good state of mind going to Monaco because, for sure, you prefer to be quick in sector three in Barcelona," he said.

"But at the same time, Monaco then has a lot of specifics with car set-up, and tyre preparation for qualifying. The cars are so different in Monaco that it could change a bit the picture."

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL34

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL34

Photo by: Joe Portlock / Motorsport Images

McLaren certainly thinks the picture is not defined, and believes that there is scope for the competitive picture to change once the downforce is whacked on this weekend.

Lando Norris said: "The big difference between Monaco and sector three in Spain is obviously we run the set-up very different in Spain.

"It's a lot more focused to sector one and sector two, with the high speed turns. And it is quite the opposite in Monaco where there is a lot more low speed. We also run a lot softer the whole car because of the bumps and everything like that.

"I think the whole characteristic of the car is to change a lot. So it's quite an unexplored territory for this car and so on."

Read Also:

The other ultimate truth of Monaco is that it's a weekend where drivers being error free, not hitting traffic in qualifying, a well timed safety car and not being hit by bad luck can often be just as important in the fight for wins as having a good car.

As Shovlin says: "Even if you go there with the best car and you've got a great package, it's still an awfully difficult race to win."

shares
comments

Related video

Williams in "final throes" of adding updates to 2021 car

Previous article

Williams in "final throes" of adding updates to 2021 car

Next article

Brown: Hamilton and Verstappen crash is a "matter of time"

Brown: Hamilton and Verstappen crash is a "matter of time"
Load comments
French Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

French Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The French GP was a weekend decided by tiny margins both at the front of the field, as Red Bull inflicted a comeback defeat on Mercedes, and in the battle for the minor points places. That's reflected in our driver ratings, where several drivers came close to a maximum score

How Red Bull took French GP "payback" on a day of Mercedes mistakes Plus

How Red Bull took French GP "payback" on a day of Mercedes mistakes

The French GP has been a stronghold for Mercedes since Paul Ricard's return to the calendar in 2018. But that all changed on Sunday, as a clever two-stop strategy guided Red Bull's Max Verstappen to make a race-winning pass on the penultimate lap - for once leaving Mercedes to experience the pain of late defeat it has so often inflicted on Red Bull

The new age of sponsorship facilitated by F1’s relevancy push Plus

The new age of sponsorship facilitated by F1’s relevancy push

The age of the high-profile title sponsor is over, says JONATHAN NOBLE, but Formula 1’s commitment to technological innovation is attracting high-tech partners

Formula 1
Jun 20, 2021
How Britain’s lost Ferrari star epitomised a bygone F1 era Plus

How Britain’s lost Ferrari star epitomised a bygone F1 era

The 1956 Italian Grand Prix was over for Juan Manuel Fangio, along with his hopes of winning the world championship – until his Ferrari team-mate (and title rival) voluntarily surrendered his own car so Fangio could continue. NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls Peter Collins, a remarkable sportsman

Formula 1
Jun 19, 2021
The 'surprise' Mercedes time that puts F1's victory fight back on a knife-edge in France Plus

The 'surprise' Mercedes time that puts F1's victory fight back on a knife-edge in France

Red Bull led the way after the first two practice sessions for the 2021 French Grand Prix, but only just ahead of Mercedes. There was all the usual practice skulduggery complicating the performance picture, but one aspect seen at the world champion squad gave it a ‘surprise’ lift, as it looks to leave its street-circuit struggles firmly in the past

Formula 1
Jun 18, 2021
How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working Plus

How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working

After its worst campaign in 40 years, the famous Italian team had to bounce back in 2021 – and it appears to be delivering. Although it concedes the pole positions in Monaco and Baku paint a somewhat misleading picture of its competitiveness, the team is heading into the 2022 rules revamp on much stronger footing to go for wins again

Formula 1
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Plus

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
The figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again in F1 2021 Plus

The figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again in F1 2021

OPINION: An interloper squad got amongst the title contenders during Formula 1’s street-circuit mini-break, where Red Bull left with the points lead in both championships. But, as the campaign heads back to purpose-built venues once again, how the drivers of the two top teams compare in one crucial area will be a major factor in deciding which squad stays in or retakes the top spot

Formula 1
Jun 16, 2021