Was Max’s Barcelona performance a one-off?
There’s no denying Max Verstappen’s win in Barcelona was impressive – but was it the start of something special, or did the circumstances that lead to the result flatter him a bit? Max confirmed in the drivers’ press conference he won’t be getting Renault’s upgraded power unit, so you’d have to back Daniel Ricciardo to lead the charge this time.
Having said that, Red Bull probably have the best chassis on the grid and now thanks to Renault, some extra horsepower to go with it. I wonder what odds you’d have got prior to Spain on back-to-back Red Bull wins?
How will Mercedes bounce back?
The Spanish Grand Prix was a disaster for Mercedes, and let’s be honest, had any other driver other than Max Verstappen won that race, Mercedes would surely have been the headline news story. A year ago Mercedes made the headlines for a monumental strategy error that cost Lewis Hamilton the win. This time round they can afford no mistakes. With their power advantage having less of an impact around Monaco, the spotlight will be on Mercedes to see how they bounce back.
Assuming Mercedes return to winning ways, the pressure is on Hamilton to make sure he’s on the top step this time. Rosberg is targeting a fourth Monaco Grand Prix win in a row – only Ayrton Senna has ever achieved that – but Lewis hasn’t won here since 2008. Game on.
Can Ferrari return to winning ways?
The pressure has been building in recent weeks, with rumours that Mauricio Arrivabene’s job could be under threat. Fiat chief Sergio Marchionne fuelled those rumours further by warning the team that the “clock is on” and that they must start winning soon. In Barcelona, they had a golden chance to do just that, but despite splitting their strategy, neither driver had the pace to beat young Max to the flag.
Ferrari historically perform well here, but in recent times the success they ultimately crave has eluded them. They haven’t won here since 2001, and I’d be surprised if they ended that run this weekend.
Will McLaren spring a surprise this weekend?
After the Spanish Grand Prix, a lot of people were commenting on McLaren’s pace through Barcelona’s twisty final sector. This is usually a good barometer for how a car might perform around Monaco as it’s not particularly fast and comprises a mix of medium and slow-speed corners.
Having set the third fastest time through that sector, McLaren have a real shot at securing a surprise result here, and will at the very least be aiming for a strong points haul this weekend.
Will the rain arrive as promised?
Judging by the weather forecast, we can expect bright and sunny conditions for qualifying before a band of rain arrives just in time for the race. Right now it doesn’t look like being too heavy, but the weather can change quite quickly here. The last time we saw a significant downpour at Monaco was in 2008, the occasion of Lewis Hamilton’s one and only Monaco win to date.
Rain at Monaco is always an exciting prospect and it has provided the backdrop for some memorable races here in the past – such as Rubens Barrichello’s emotional podium finish for the fledgling Stewart team in ’97 and Olivier Panis’s shock win in one of F1’s craziest ever races the year before.