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The Monaco GP form suggested by F1 2023’s closest comparison

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In just one race, the power of having a ‘GP2 engine’ wasn’t insurmountable, as the drivers only spent 43 percent of their laps at full throttle – the fewest of any track on the calendar. Likewise, McLaren doesn’t have to worry too much about the MCL60’s excessive drag, as the average speed is just 105 mph. Imperfect aerodynamic efficiency was not brutally punished in the Principality either. This historic venue is an outlier.

As the focus shifts to mechanical grip around raw, hosed streets, the Fast needs to be able to brake confidently into 19 corners, find a well-behaved chassis at the apex, and catapult out the other side with good traction.

Fernando Alonso believes it takes a bad pit stop, an unreliability or a crash to knock a Red Bull driver off the top of the podium this season. Perhaps this weekend’s rain forecast can also step in. But for all the praise being given to the RB19’s powerful DRS, straight-line speed and stability in high-speed corners, if there’s any track this year that could leave Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez vulnerable, Monaco might be it.

In previous seasons, much had been read of the last tedious stretch of the last Spanish GP – with its vicious curbs and defined chicanes – as it indicated the form guidelines heading into Monaco. But the rejiggered running sequence now places the Barcelona round directly after 78 laps around the French Riviera, meaning the comparison is outdated this year. However, the bias towards the street circuit at the start of the term has seen running around Azerbaijan to fill the void.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23

Photography: Andy Horn / motorsport pictures

The second part of the Baku lap sees drivers starting with a 90-degree left at Turn 5, passing through the dangerously narrow Castle section, and returning to the entrance to the crucial Turn 16, which will be a full-on sprint to the line. The middle part of the lap is dominated by low speeds, second- and third-gear corners and staccato acceleration. For comparison, several longer sections will simulate a charge through the Monaco tunnel. Other than being a corner or two away from Australia and Miami, this is by far the most fitting doppelganger.

In isolation, two divisions gained from qualifying for the full Azerbaijan Grand Prix looked good for Ferrari. Saturday sprint and Sunday pole winner Charles Leclerc leads Red Bull by 0.15 seconds. That bodes well for the Monaco racer’s success at home. But the Scuderia also conceded that its race pace was lacking compared to its MK Dons rivals, who sapped some of their lap performances.

Ferrari driver coach Jock Clear said: “We need to be fully aware of how to get race pace. We have to tip our hats off to Red Bull and say they’re doing something very, very smart. That car is very, very good at race pace. We might as well Would conclude that in doing so they probably gave up some qualifying pace. That’s why we can compete with them because they are not the best in qualifying.”

So if Leclerc is to avoid extending his unpopular record of crashes at home and instead lead from pole, Baku’s dry race pace is an indication that he has a Red Bull breath or two on his neck.

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying twice

With Aston Martin 0.3 seconds slower than Red Bull in the middle of Baku, Silverstone appeared to face an uphill battle to bring Alonso the win – a prospect that seemed more viable than any other team this weekend. However, the green machine may still stand out.

More accurate GPS data is a positive for the AMR23, although the header sector time leaves something to be desired. Alonso put in the quickest effort of the race on Friday afternoon and, along with their respective team pacesetters Leclerc, Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, Aston looked strongest under initial acceleration .

After turning 5, on the road between the castle and the stone tower, he set the pace as the rear axle hooked up neatly. Although Aston struggled on the straights in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, given that the Spaniard was fastest on the time line and Saudi Arabia pointed to a setup that favored aero efficiency. Monaco’s low-speed prowess should come together nicely if the team backs off in this attack in favor of its earlier configuration, with Alonso being the last braker in the opening round.

Sticking with the Baku telemetry, the Red Bull proved to be the quickest from entry to exit with slower directional changes – even if its exact top speed was consistently 2-3 mph lower than the competition. Ferrari then came out on top at the end of the straight. Meanwhile, Mercedes was just one step ahead at Turn 15. But the red and silver cars may be more prominent in Monaco.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Photography: Andy Horn / motorsport pictures

Ferrari postponed its upgraded rear suspension to Spain in anticipation of heavy rain at Imola, while a revised floor and diffuser and further tweaks to the rear at Monaco should lead to lap times in Miami. Changes being contemplated to make the chassis milder should integrate well with the twisty Monaco laps. Especially when the rear wants to loosen up under acceleration and any wet weather does come your way.

Likewise, Mercedes is an unknown. Azerbaijan’s revised sprint schedule punished its slow start to the weekend. Unable to optimize the setup in FP1, it is at a disadvantage in the following rounds. Thus, the gap to the Ferrari through the middle zone is close to 0.5 seconds.

A more traditional format should help. So is the arrival of its first major upgrade. The W14 will feature conventional side pods, a revised floor and new front suspension to appease drivers unhappy with the car’s balance. While not optimized for Monaco, if these revisions are linked to wind tunnel simulations that improve performance, this will be demonstrated to some degree this weekend.

Hamilton and George Russell should still expect less Half a second gap.

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Alpine enjoys after: 'Monaco proves what we can achieve'

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In the end, Alpine had something to celebrate this season. In Monaco, the French team took an equally well-deserved podium. Esteban Ocon has shown that the Alps have pace after all, and in a year in which chief executive Laurent Rossi has ramped up the pressure considerably. The latter demand immediate results. In Monaco, that wish came true.

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Sainz hopes for clarity on his contract at Ferrari soon

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Carlos Sainz still has a year-and-a-half remaining on his Ferrari contract, but the Spaniard is curious to see what the Italian team plans to do with him after that. Sainz spoke about this in a conversation with Sky Sports. So while he previously said he wasn’t worried about all the rumors surrounding him personally, he wanted clarification soon.

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Ferrari introduces updates: 'We expect to make progress'

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Last week it was Charles Leclerc’s turn and next weekend it was Carlos Sainz’s. Soon, both Ferrari drivers will be competing in their home races. The race in his hometown of Monaco didn’t go his way for Leclerc, with Sainz clearly hoping to please his fans with the best results.

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