Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe
Formula 1 Monaco GP

Why risk still trumps tyre temps in Monaco's F1 pole fight

With so little to choose between Formula 1’s top cars in qualifying trim, the key to pole position recently has increasingly come down to hitting the peak of tyre performance.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB20

Getting the front and rear Pirellis into their perfect grip window can help unlock those extra hundredths that can make all the difference between pole position or even being dumped off the front row entirely.

But as F1 braces for perhaps its most critical qualifying day of the year in Monaco, with the race all but won if you can lock out pole position, there is a factor that drivers agree stands out far greater here than anywhere else: risk.

When it comes down to those dying moments of qualifying that will decide who starts up front, there is more to be won by being willing to take it as close to the edge as you dare.

As Kevin Magnussen said after practice: “You're just finding lap time all the time. The track is so bumpy and it's just that much more intimidating driving around here.

“You don't just go straight on the limit, you work your way up to it, and it requires bravery to really pull everything out of it.

“I don't think anyone's really done that yet. It's very easy to go over the limit. And if you do that, it's very costly.”

That aspect of building up to the best lap is something that Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz has suggested is critical: that the key to success isn’t just putting everything on the line for the final run in Q3.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-24

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-24

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Drivers need to work their way up to that final all-out effort where, he suggests, they begin operating in a completely different world to what they are normally used to,

“I still think that the fastest car and driver combination ends up putting it on pole when it comes to Q3, and there's no miracles in F1,” he said.

“Also, because it's not like you can hang around in FP3 or Q1 and Q2. You need to build up, and normally by building up it means still taking some decent risks in those sessions to see where the car is and where the tyre is over one lap.

“I think there's special cases always, and random cases. But I believe more in the build-up than in someone suddenly going for a banana lap, however you want to call it.

“I believe more in the build-up and the confidence building and definitely taking 100% risks in Q3.”

Sainz then offered a fascinating insight into how, for those final seconds of qualifying around Monaco, the approach has to be one of ignoring the dangers posed by the closeness of the barriers.

“That's the beauty about Monaco - that suddenly for two laps in Q3 you forget that there are walls and you're driving like there's literally a kerb and grass and gravel rather than a wall,” he said.

“This is what makes the driver so excited in the car. You’re literally driving next to walls thinking they're not there.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“I truly believe if the track wouldn't have any walls, the lap time would be the same. This is quite crazy when you think about it.”

For McLaren’s Lando Norris, who feels his team is in the fight at the front, Monaco Saturday is a day where drivers’ chatter will not end up being about tyre temperatures and falling in and out of operating windows.

“I think by the time you get to Q3, it shifts definitely more just towards risk and who can put together the best lap,” he said.

“When you see the pole laps from previous years, it's not because the car's been way quicker, or someone's been on pole - it's because they've been closer to every wall, and they've just got on power that one meter earlier.

“It's more about commitment, confidence in the car and that kind of thing, rather than saying you just missed the peak of the tyres.”

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article F1 discussing new team $600 million dilution fund formula
Next article F1 Monaco GP: Leclerc fastest in final practice from Verstappen and Hamilton

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe