The Morning After: Mercedes’ Weekend Already?

With Mercedes enjoying a dominant Thursday in practice, it appears the only question this weekend is who will join them on the podium.

As if there was any ever doubt: Mercedes are the team to beat this weekend in Monaco.

Finishing 0.763s up on their closest rivals courtesy of Lewis Hamilton, it seems that the only thing that will stop the Silver Arrows from recording their sixth consecutive 1-2 in 2019 is themselves.

Certainly Ferrari in their current state can’t offer a challenge – we knew after Barcelona the SF90 was significantly lacking in low-speed corners, and that was inevitably going to hurt them here, regardless of whatever improvements they claim to have made.

However, it is something of a surprise to see Red Bull similarly off, Monaco usually being where the strength of their chassis comes to the fore. Maybe Max Verstappen can close that gap with some clean running on Saturday, but considering both the size of the deficit and his own shaky history around here, that’s far from a certainty.

In any case, with Valtteri Bottas a mere 0.081s off Hamilton, the fight for that all-important pole is very much alive, and with it, the potential for another twist in the championship tussle.

Thursday Figures (doesn’t have quite the same ring to it…)

€1000. Combined amount Hamilton (€400), Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc (€300 each) were fined for speeding in the pit lane, which considering their collective salaries are somewhere upwards of €90 million, I’m sure they’ll really notice.

1:12.031. Lap time from Alexander Albon, good enough for P5 in his Toro Rosso. The young Thai seems very strong round here, and it would be no great shock to see him finish best of the rest come Sunday.

P16 & 17. FP2 positions of Renault in an absolutely abysmal showing, being outpaced by all but Lance Stroll and the Formula 2 cars of Williams. If this is a “solid base”, I’d hate to see what a weak one looks like.

Quick Hits

A shockingly clean Thursday considering all the mishaps. Carlos Sainz, Robert Kubica, George Russell, Pierre Gasly, Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel all had their moments, and yet nary a bit of carbon fibre left on track! I just hope they haven’t used up all their luck before Sunday.

Great to see all the Niki Lauda tributes flowing on Thursday. In particular, props to Sebastian Vettel for his helmet design, which in his words, is to give Niki “a few more laps around here”.

It seems Kimi Raikkonen still hasn’t gotten used to the Racing Point moniker – I wonder if he calls his own team Sauber?