Monaco may muddle Mercedes' momentum

© and F1 Pulse, 19 May 2014
© AP Photo/Claude Paris

Monaco could be the Grand Prix where Mercedes' dominant run could end - at least for one race. The unique layout and characteristics of the Monte Carlo circuit could provide its rivals their best chance to finally win a race this season. Here's why:


There's no doubt that Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg won't be heading into this race with odds not worth betting on. The German runs especially well round this track, picking up last year's win over his teammate. Hamilton too has won here, behind the wheel of his championship winning McLaren in 2008. The Mercedes has been more than dominant so far this season, with an engine superior to its competitors. Being kind on its fuel and with a punishing top line speed, the Silver Arrows have been unstoppable so far. But these characteristics could be why Monaco might not be such an easy ride for Mercedes.


The strength of the Mercedes engine won't be fully exploited around this sinewy track. Cars are set up for high downforce with all teams bringing in special aero components for the occasion. Red Bull and Ferrari have been more or less on par with Mercedes in the slower corners of certain race tracks; however they lose out massively on the straights. Fuel consumption should not be an issue around Monaco, which again could play into the hands of the teams using Renault and Ferrari engines, as they have been more thirsty with their fuel than the Mercedes.


It is a well known fact that Saturday's performance at Monaco is very influential for race position. It's a short run to the first corner and there are very few overtaking points. Again this will interest the teams in the chasing pack. We have seen Red Bull split the Mercedes pair in qualifying a couple of time this season. When that has happened, Mercedes would soon restore a one-two formation after only a few laps, but around the streets of Monaco, where overtaking is so rare, we are unlikely to see that happen.


Red Bull has made massive progress since its disastrous pre-season tests. It's the only team that has managed to split the Mercedes drivers in qualifying – and that too on three occasions. This has been helped enormously by the wet conditions encountered during the sessions as the RB10's power deficit was masked in the conditions while unleashing its superior aero advantage. Monaco offers similar prospects as strong aerodynamics takes helm at the wiry circuit over power unit supremacy. Moreover, the improvements in the Renault power unit, which has also focussed on driveability, could give the Red Bull drivers the edge.

Williams too could mix it up at the front. Powered by Mercedes, the FW36's gear ratios are shorter than the other Mercedes runners – including the factory team - that could provide it the opportunity to harness its consequent quicker acceleration, a plus in Monte Carlo, to potentially cause an upset.


Mercedes is on a dominant run this season, taking pole position and winning at all the five Grands Prix so far. But historically, a dominant team hasn't been able to fully capitalise to clinch the jewel in Formula One's crown. The following shows the last five drivers who dominated the season and their results at the Monaco GP that year:

Season Dominated by/wins At Monaco Teammate Race won by
2013 Vettel - 13 2nd 3rd - Webber Rosberg - Mercedes
2011 Vettel - 11 WON 4th - Webber Vettel - Red Bull
2004 Schumacher - 13 DNF 3rd - Barrichello Trulli - Renault
2002 Schumacher - 11 2nd 7th - Barrichello Coulthard - McLaren
1992 Mansell - 9 2nd 3rd - Patrese Senna - McLaren

There is no doubt Mercedes will be aiming for a sixth win in a row, and with Hamilton and Rosberg battling fiercely for the championship lead, neither driver is going to give an inch. But stranger things can happen around the streets of Monaco.

World champions Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button have won here before and will be more eager than ever to taste that champagne having won the Monaco Grand Prix.


*By F1 Pulse


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