by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

Monaco F1 Grand Prix 2013: Complete Report - Troublesome stage for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

I. Thursday's Free Practice Report - Assessment day turns out to be a tricky affair

- MP4-28A-03
- FP1: 1m17.129s (+0.934s), 29 laps, 8th
- FP2: 1m15.959s (+1.200s), 40 laps, 8th

“We struggled in the morning when the circuit was still fairly ‘green’ – we couldn’t get any temperatures into the tyres, but I think that affected everybody, not just us.

“Our pace on a long run looks surprisingly good, although we’re not quite there with our qualifying pace yet. Still, I feel happier with the car here than I have the past few weekends. There are some areas in which we’ve struggled before that now seem a little bit better, and that’s obviously positive.

“We may not be setting amazing times out there, but I’m happy that we’re heading in the right direction. And hopefully we can improve on Saturday from where we are today.”

- MP4-28A-04
- FP1: 1m17.378s (+1.183s), 25 laps, 9th
- FP2: 1m16.434s (+1.675s), 41 laps, 12th

“We tried a lot of things during today’s practice sessions. Not everything worked; some of the things we tried made it difficult for me to feel confident with the car, especially through the faster corners. So we’ll come back on those changes before Saturday’s practice. Still, we had no nasty surprises either, which was positive.

“I’m hopeful we can make it into Q3. I actually think Saturday will be the most important day of the weekend – everyone will be trying to save tyres so as to have as few stops as possible in the race. It’s likely to be a slow race with low degradation, so we need to give it our all on Saturday.”

MARTIN WHITMARSH - Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“I always view getting two cars home unscathed after a day’s running around the tortuous streets of Monaco as a positive. It’s a circuit that takes no prisoners; where a moment’s late-braking, or an over-enthusiastic squeeze of the throttle, can easily wipe a corner from the car.

“Happily, both Jenson and Checo immediately found their groove so that we were able to conduct positive evaluative work during this morning’s session. The car is responding positively to set-up changes and we’re making progress.

“More encouraging still was our long-run pace in the afternoon session. However, of course, it’s clear that our toughest challenge of the weekend will come during qualifying, wherein our car’s pace is still too far from that of the pace-setters.

“Nonetheless, in Jenson and Checo, we not only have two excellent race drivers, but two men who know how to get the best from their cars when the stakes are high. They’ll go into qualifying with the utmost focus and determination to do their best for the team.”

II. Saturday's Qualifying Report at Monte Carlo - Seeking for the desired pace

- MP4-28A-04
- FP3: 23 laps, 1m15.958s (+1.580s), 11th
- Q1 (on Intermediates): 1m24.682s, 10th
- Q2 (on Options): 1m17.748s, 10th
- Q3 (on Options): 1m15.138s, 7th overall

“It’s not great to cross the finish line, feel like you’ve just done a mega lap, and find that you’re only seventh.

“Still, I put in a really strong performance here today, and I felt like I’d really maximised the full potential of the car.

“We know we’re not quite there yet performance-wise, so we need to keep pushing. But the team has done a fantastic job so far this weekend, and I hope we can keep the momentum going tomorrow and score some good points.

“Anything can happen at Monaco on Sunday.”

- MP4-28A-03
- FP3: 19 laps, 1m15.976s (+1.598s), 12th
- Q1 (on Intermediates): 1m25.108s, 5th
- Q2 (on Options): 1m17.621s, 8th
- Q3 (on Options): 1m15.383s, 9th (overall)

“I’m not sure what happened on my final lap in Q3. We had an issue with the car right at the end – I didn’t have any power, so I couldn’t post a quick lap.

“It’s a pity because, apart from that problem, which we also saw a sign of at the end of Q2, it had been a great qualifying session for me. The team did a great job in terms of putting me out on the right tyres at the right time, while I felt I was driving well, making the most of the conditions.

“Tomorrow’s race will be difficult, starting from P9, but on this occasion there’s absolutely nothing I could have done about it.”

MARTIN WHITMARSH - Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“Today’s qualifying session was tricky for everyone, as it always is here at Monaco, but Jenson and Checo both drove faultlessly.

“Meanwhile, for our part, we generally managed to get them both out on track at the right times, with the right tyres fitted.

“Checo did an excellent job to qualify seventh-fastest, but Jenson was disappointed to end up only ninth, disadvantaged as he was by a power loss that prevented him from essaying a final quick lap in Q3.

“We don’t yet know for certain what caused that power loss, but we’d already seen signs of it at the end of Q2. We’ll investigate.

“It was a pity because, as he always does at Monaco, Jenson had been driving really well. That being the case, I’m sure he could have qualified quite a bit closer to the front had he had another lap in which to do so.

“Looking forward, then, tomorrow’s race will be long and hard – and, although overtaking will be as difficult as ever, mistakes will inevitably play a part in the race’s unfolding drama, and both Jenson and Checo will be trying their hardest to drive faultlessly again in an effort to score as many world championship points as they possibly can.”

III. Sunday's Race Report - Hot 'n' cold performance from Jenson and Sergio

- MP4-28A/03
- Started: 9th
- Finished: 6th
- Fastest Lap: 1m18.720s (+2.143s, 8th)
- Pitstops: One: lap 26 (3.14s) [Opt-Pri. Restart: Opt]
- Points: 25 (10th)

“Things weren’t looking very good initially, but the Monaco Grand Prix is one of those races where you need to hang in there until the very end, because anything can happen – and today it did.

“My opening laps were good – I overtook Adrian [Sutil] and tried to have a go at Fernando [Alonso] at the hairpin. I tapped his rear wheel, so I wasn’t really paying attention when Checo put a really good move on me out of the tunnel under braking for the Harbour Chicane.

“After the restart, Adrian also made a really good move on me into the hairpin – I didn’t actually think it would be possible because I’d tried it on Fernando earlier and it didn’t work.

“Then, in the last few laps, Checo and Kimi [Raikkonen] tangled, and suddenly there was a battle behind them because they were circulating slowly in their damaged cars. So I took the opportunity to jump up the inside of Fernando at Rascasse, which was quite fun, and came home sixth.

“It was a pity that Checo’s late-race retirement meant we couldn’t score more heavily today – that would have been a big boost for the team – but I bagged a decent number of points, and our pace in clear air was good, so there are positives we can take away from today.”

- MP4-28A/04
- Started: 7th
- Finished: Ret – overheating front brakes
- Fastest Lap: 1m19.530s (+2.953s, 14th)
- Pitstops: One: lap 29 (2.91s) [Opt-Pri. Restart: Opt]
- Points: 12 (12th)

“I’d had a great race – I’d been overtaking cars through the afternoon – but in my opinion Kimi didn’t leave me enough room when I tried to pass him as we exited the tunnel, and as a result I got squeezed into the wall on the entry to the Harbour Chicane.

“That was a real shame – I’d overtaken both Jenson and Fernando there, and Jenson had overtaken me there too, but I couldn’t have avoided the crash with Kimi. Of course, any passing manoeuvre at Monaco is risky, but, at the end of the day, you have to leave each other a little room.

“As a result of our contact, my car’s brake ducts were affected and my front brakes overheated – in fact I basically ran out of brakes.

“It’s particularly frustrating to retire from a grand prix in which you’ve driven hard and fast, especially when you’re so near to the finish. So, all in all, I’m extremely disappointed – for the team as much as for myself.”

MARTIN WHITMARSH - Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“Jenson drove well all afternoon to finish sixth and thereby score a useful eight world championship points.

“Checo would also have claimed a decent haul of world championship points but for a coming-together with Kimi that compromised the efficacy of his brake ducts and eventually caused him to lose his braking.

“He’s disappointed, understandably, but the up-side is that he was combative and entertaining on almost every lap – and, more important still, he was very quick.

“McLaren has won the Monaco Grand Prix 15 times in the past – considerably more often than any other marque – so of course we’re disappointed not to have been able to notch up win number 16 here today. But we were in the mix throughout, and it’s clear that MP4-28’s developmental trend is positive.

“Our next race will be the Canadian Grand Prix, which we’ve won 13 times in the past, which puts McLaren first-equal in the all-time Canadian Grand Prix win tally alongside Ferrari. We’re not predicting Canadian Grand Prix win number 14 for McLaren in a fortnight’s time, but undoubtedly we’ll be giving it 100% between now and then in our efforts to make ourselves as competitive as we possibly can.”

~ Official photos and reports courtesy of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes ~

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