At the foot of the Rock, Red Bull will once again be the team to beat this weekend in Monaco, the sixth race of the Formula 1 season and the scene of the hopes of double world champion Fernando Alonso.
At 41, the Spanish veteran, in search of his first success with Aston Martin, has never been so close to reopening his counter of victories, stopped at 32 since 2013.
“After 4 podiums, we obviously want more,” he said on the evening of the Miami GP in early May.
If he “may not” have the fastest single-seater on the grid, this weekend, the +Taurus of Asturias+ will have less to show the top speed of his car than his qualities as a pilot in the narrow and tricky streets of the principality.
But he knows it: in front of him, the overpowering Red Bull will still be very difficult to reach.
Wherever it goes, the bull stable has been making a name for itself everywhere since the beginning of the year: in five rounds, no victory has escaped it, placing its double reigning champion Max Verstappen three times on the top step of the podium and teammate Sergio Perez twice.
Last sign of Red Bull’s overwhelming domination: in Miami, Max Verstappen, who started in ninth position, made a superb comeback to win the GP… ahead of Pérez.
Before the 6th round of the season, the Dutchman is 14 points ahead in the championship (119 pts) over the Mexican (105 pts), winner last year in the streets of Monaco. Alonso, “the best of the others”, is in provisional third place, 44 behind the leader.
Improvements expected from Mercedes
The Monaco GP, a historic F1 event, will be an opportunity for several teams, like Mercedes, to test new improvements initially expected last weekend in Emilia-Romagna.
The sixth race on the calendar, which was also to be the flagship meeting of the season for the Ferrari team, – on “its” Enzo and Dino Ferrari circuit – could not be contested due to the floods which affected this region of northern Italy.
But whether at Imola or Monaco, Toto Wolff, the boss of Mercedes, currently 3rd provisional force on the grid behind Red Bull and Aston Martin, has few illusions: this new stage in the development of the W14 “does not won’t be a miracle solution.
Leclerc at home
Trailed by 146 points by Red Bull – but only 18 points by Mercedes -, Ferrari hopes for a happy surprise with the first victory of its driver Charles Leclerc, 7th in the championship (34 pts), right here on his land.
So far, “his” circuit has never really smiled on him since at home, the Monegasque always had to give up between 2017 and 2021, after technical problems or clashes.
Starting in pole position last year before a race which seemed (finally!) promised to him, the local of the event was the victim of the failed strategy of the Scuderia, failing at the foot of the podium.
“I don’t believe in the curse at all,” swept the Monegasque to the French-speaking press on Thursday.
“You just have to reset the counters, learn from previous years, where it didn’t work, to do the best + job + possible on Saturday, because qualifying is very important here”. On the Monegasque track, which is not conducive to overtaking in the narrow streets, the positions on the grid are indeed crucial.
At the dawn of his first Monaco GP at the head of the Prancing Horse team, the Frenchman Frédéric Vasseur is reassured for the time being with the past performances of his pilots in the streets of the principality: “Charles is on pole for two years and Carlos (Sainz, editor’s note) has always finished on the podium in Monaco since he joined the Scuderia “, in 2021.
Achieving an irreproachable weekend and benefiting from a rare faux pas from Red Bull, that’s all the harm we can wish Ferrari and company in an attempt to revive the Championship.