The microclimate created by the mountains that look down on the Principality of Monaco did their worst today, delivering rain shortly before the start of Second Free Practice. At the one circuit on the calendar where lots of laps are a feature of every driver’s programme, this didn’t help.
However, the fears expressed in the media that the lack of grip from the 2014 cars compared to their predecessors would see a large number of cars crashing into the unforgiving barriers proved to be unfounded.
In the Scuderia Ferrari camp, the only technical glitch affected Kimi Raikkonen’s F14 T, which suffered from a gearbox problem. As it occurred in the afternoon, when no one did much running because the track was damp, the Finn did not lose out so much compared to his colleagues, with many drivers only completing under ten laps. Over the course of the three hours of Thursday track time, the Ferrari duo completed 81 laps of the street circuit, with Fernando Alonso doing the lion’s share, at 46.
Friday times mean little, even on a Thursday, but perhaps on a circuit where the ability of the driver is known to count for more than usual, the fact that Fernando was fastest this afternoon is not just happenstance. In fact, the top of the time sheet was quite different to the usual come the end of the day.
Fernando Alonso: “Here in Monaco, the most important thing in practice is to do as many laps as possible, because it is a very special track and you need to have a good feeling from the car. Despite the rain reducing the amount of track time in the second session, we more or less managed to complete all our programme and, with or without a turbo, the complexity of this track remains the same, so doing well in qualifying will be crucial. The increase in grip we found over the few laps we did with the Super-soft tyres leaves us in no doubt that this will be the tyre to use on Saturday afternoon, while for the race there is still a lot to learn as no one has done a long run. So we might have to improvise when it comes to strategy.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “Unfortunately, the bad weather affected this first day of practice and halved the possibility to complete the work we had planned. In the morning, on the dry track, we tried various set-up options, without encountering any particular problems, apart from a lack of grip at the front under braking. In the afternoon, we made a few changes to improve the balance of the car, but having waited almost an hour before being able to go out on track, a problem with the gearbox prevented me from completing the session. On Saturday we will try and make the most of the third free practice session to complete our programme for Qualifying, which we know is the key factor here.”
Pat Fry: “It’s a shame that we didn’t get the most out of today. Usually, you do a lot of laps in Monaco as it’s the only way to gain confidence on this very unusual track and that is even more the case this year, to learn how to manage the power delivery as well as possible with these new engines, keeping the torque under control, while trying to find the limit on a track that doesn’t allow for any mistakes. On top of that, for us engineers it is vital to understand where we can improve in terms of driveability and car stability, because with the walls this close, the drivers have to feel completely comfortable. With Fernando, because of the rain that fell in the lunch break, the afternoon session was reduced to around an hour, with just one run on Super-soft tyres, after a run on Intermediates. The softest compound in the range is harder than last year and took a few more laps to get up to temperature, so it was very important to try it with a view to qualifying. Unfortunately Kimi’s second session ended after four laps because of a problem with the gearbox on his F14 T, but we hope that, with an extra day’s work available this weekend, we will have the time to adjust the set-up of the car properly to suit the characteristics of this track.”
Subbed by AJN.