Science on the wall, “Mercedes” showed large-scale innovations. The highlights of the Monaco Grand Prix on Friday
Dmitry Zakharchenko May 26, 2023, 22:30 Moscow time Audio version: Your browser does not support the audio element.
It looks like Ferrari and Aston Martin have a chance to win.
Monte Carlo hosted the first two free practice sessions ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, round six of the 2023 Formula 1 season. The tight and slow street circuit is known for being almost impossible to overtake, and qualifying becomes more important than any other stage. And it seems that Red Bull is not as strong as usual this time, and the rivals may have options for pole position.
The main events of Friday at the Monaco Grand Prix – in the “Championship” review.
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Albon’s accident and the Hulk’s reversal
The main event of the first practice was Alex Albon’s accident in the final minutes. In the first corner, the rear of the Williams drifted to the side, the Thai driver tried to catch it with the reverse movement of the steering wheel, but ended up hitting the exit bump.
Consequences of the Albon accident
The impact was strong enough that the left rear wheel was perpendicular to the body of the car. In the second training session, Alex did not leave – the mechanics did not have time to restore the car.
No luck in the first session and Nico Hulkenberg. In one of the episodes, he hit the bump at the entrance to the chicane after the tunnel, the tire came off the disc, after which the car was instantly thrown across the track. The German ended up closing the protocols of the first session, leaving with the worst time of the entire peloton.
Sainz in the “Pool”
The second session was not without red flags either: 15 minutes before the end of the session in the “Pool” Carlos Sainz flew into the barriers. The Spaniard missed in the middle of the ski and hit the barriers with the wheel.
Sainz after crashing into the barriers
The suspension buckled, and already in the next corner, the Ferrari crashed into the fences in front. In general, the car did not suffer too much, but for Sainz the practice ended ahead of schedule. One way or another, this is not the best news for Carlos, who, according to rumors, is already unhappy in the team.
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New Mercedes sidepods
Mercedes eventually abandoned the “zero sidepods” concept and brought new sidepods to Monaco. The design looks quite simple, so it is logical to assume that while the engineers are working with the basic model, on the basis of which a new chassis concept will later be developed.
Mercedes with updated sidepods
At first, the updated car looked promising, although Russell experienced brake issues and was unable to properly prepare the rubber. However, in the second part, the German team rolled back to more familiar positions: in attempts for the “soft”, Hamilton was sixth and lost half a second to Verstappen. However, the team immediately warned that they did not expect a sudden transformation of the car from the new products and that Monaco was probably the worst place to look for updates.
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Problems with Red Bull
Before the start of the weekend, Red Bull admitted that they did not feel like the favorites of the race. Helmut Marko recalled that the main weapon of the Austrian team is high top speed, and there is practically nowhere to demonstrate it in Monaco. In addition, in confirmation of the words of the team adviser in the first training session, the engineers had problems with the settings – Verstappen even said that the car was uncontrollable and demanded to change the settings.
However, for the second part of the races, the Red Bull cars were already looking much more confident and in the “middle” they “led” the pack by 0.3 seconds. In the qualifying attempts, Verstappen was also the fastest, but in the “soft” the advantage over Leclerc was only 0.07 seconds, and Max was ahead of Alonso by 0.22. So the Austrians are still quicker, but the gap is not that big and therefore rivals Ferrari and Aston Martin may have a good chance in qualifying.
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For the Monaco Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc and his brother Arthur, who competes in Formula 2, prepared an “asymmetrical” helmet colored in red and white. According to the pilots themselves, the design was inspired by the coloring of his father’s helmet, Herve Leclerc, who died in 2017.
Charles Leclerc helmet at the Monaco Grand Prix
However, it seems that the new livery will not protect the drivers from the curse of the home race. So Arthur, who is spending his first weekend at home in his life, crashed his car in qualifying and will start both F-2 races from the back row. It seems that family corruption affects both brothers!
At the home race, Charles was always unlucky:
Ferrari’s leader in the home Grand Prix is a disaster: three accidents, five retirements
Main news of the week.
The main news this week was the announcement of the partnership between Aston Martin and Honda from 2026. The Japanese have confirmed that they no longer want to leave F-1, and Lawrence Stroll’s team has received factory support from one of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers.
What will happen to Fernando?
Qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix will begin on Saturday, May 27 at 5:00 p.m. Moscow time. The start of the race is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 28.