Fernando Alonso, Ferrari

Monaco GP – Rain ruins Thursday’s plans
Monte Carlo, 24 May – Ferrari’s Felipe Massa (1.16.602) and Fernando Alonso (1.16.661) set the third and fourth fastest times in the second free practice session round the Monaco street circuit – but it was disrupted by rain which appeared shortly after the start of the session.

The two F2012 cars finished just behind the McLaren of Jenson Button, which set the fastest time in 1.15.746 – on Supersoft tyres – and the Lotus of Romain Grosjean (1.16.138). Like the rest of the grid, the Ferrari drivers had to settle for one run on Soft tyres followed by a long pause in the garage because of the rain. That increased in intensity, meaning they both had to rejoin the track on intermediate tyres. There were no long runs for Fernando and Felipe, who finished the session with some practice starts on the grid and will now prepare for tomorrow’s day without any track activity.

The protagonists of this round of the championship will return to the wheel of their cars on Saturday at 11am for the third and final session of free practice, after which comes the all-important date with qualifying.

Monaco GP – Monaco gets off on the right foot Rain is the same for everyone
It is standard practice to describe the Monaco Grand Prix as a lottery and it’s even more of a cliché this year, as there does not seem to be a clear favourite going into the weekend. Adding a further element of uncertainty was the rain, which was the dominant feature of the second free practice session: right from the opening moments, the conditions were never ideal, neither for the slicks, nor for the intermediate tyres. This meant that practically no one was able to work through the usual programme relating to tyre behaviour over a long run. In total, the two F2012s completed 85 laps, 45 with Fernando Alonso driving and 40 in the hands of Felipe Massa.

Fernando Alonso: “For we drivers, Thursday in Monaco provides the best opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with a very unique track. The more you go round, the more you gain confidence and the harder you can push to bring the lap time down. This morning, we were able to get through our planned programme without any trouble, but in the afternoon, the rain came to spoil our plans and those of the others too. We weren’t able to even fit the Supersoft and only Button was able to find the right window to make the most of the Option, which is how he set the fastest time. Now, we must see what the weather will be like on Saturday morning: if it turns out to be dry then maybe we will do more laps than usual, but even if it rains we will have to do work aimed at the race. In fact, it’s not as though we understood much more when on the Intermediates, given that the track was only damp in places and so it wasn’t very representative. We can’t control the weather, we can only adapt to it as it changes. As for the car, I would say the first impressions are quite positive: everything seems to respond as we would expect. We only made a few small modifications to the set-up, trying to improve it, but it’s obviously too early to draw any conclusions. Let’s say the weekend has got off on the right foot for us: now we must try and keep going down this path.”

Felipe Massa: “We weren’t able to do as much running as we would have liked because of the light rain that fell this afternoon, but all the same, I am happy with the way things went on this Monaco Thursday. The car seemed to me to be okay right from the start of the first session, with a good balance in all conditions and with slightly better traction than we had expected. Even when we ran the Intermediates in the final part of the second session, the feeling was still positive. As for the tyres, we didn’t even fit the Supersoft, therefore we can’t say anything about their behaviour, while the Softs worked well, also in terms of their degradation. Sure, there is still plenty of work to do to fine tune all the set-up details, but we have an extra day to think about what to do to improve in this area. It’s hard to make predictions about qualifying and, even more so for the race, but definitely we can say the first day of free practice can be considered a positive one.”

Pat Fry: “The rain upset our programme a bit in the second session, preventing us from getting through the usual FP2 work, centred on a comparison of the two types of tyre brought here by Pirelli. This morning, we worked mainly on the set-up of the car, which has no significant new parts apart from the usual adjustments typically required for this track. In the afternoon, we actually wanted to try both tyres over a short and a long run, but we didn’t even manage a single lap on the Supersoft. In the end, we used a set of Intermediates with both drivers but, even in this case, the track conditions were not exactly ideal for this tyre. The same applied to almost everyone, therefore relatively speaking, we are not at any disadvantage. Clearly, we have less data available with which to define the best strategy for Sunday’s race: a bit more improvisation will be called for and we will need to be even more ready to react to every eventuality. We have no had any problems of any sort on both cars, which is always positive on a track like this.”

First session Second session
Driver Pos. Time Laps Pos. Time Laps Chassis
F. Alonso 1st 1.16.265 22 4th 1.16.661 23 295
F. Massa 6th 1.16.843 19 3rd 1.16.602 21 294

First session: air 22/21 °C, track 28/30 °C. Sunny.
Second session: air 21/22 °C, track 31/27 °C. Covered skies, rain at times.

Monaco GP – A busy “day off” in prospect
Monaco, 24 May – Water is always a feature at the Monaco Grand Prix, with the Mediterranean sea framing one side of the track and the Swimming Pool chicane being one of its most famous corners, but today the water fell from the skies. The first free practice session this morning was run in the dry, although as usual on a street circuit the track surface was greasy and dusty, so not too many laps were completed by the 24 drivers. Then, in the afternoon, the traditional time for upping the pace, evaluating tyres and generally getting to terms with the unique challenges of racing centimetres from the barriers, a light shower put paid to everyone’s plans.

Nevertheless, the Scuderia Ferrari duo of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were relatively satisfied with their day’s work and, with the usual proviso that free practice times don’t mean much, the two men were in the top six on the time sheet in both sessions. Fernando, quickest in the morning, when he rattled off 22 laps at the wheel of the F2012, then did a further 23 in the afternoon, ending the day fourth fastest. Felipe Massa settled for just 19 laps in FP1, going sixth fastest, but in the afternoon, he finished one place ahead of his team-mate, doing 21 laps. Pirelli has brought the Soft and Supersoft tyres here, the latter making its first appearance of the season, or not in the case of the two Ferrari men: normally the tyre comparison would have taken place in the afternoon, but the rain scotched those plans, as Softs and Intermediates were the only appropriate choice when Fernando and Felipe were on track. Jenson Button did manage to pop out on the Supersoft when track conditions were suitable and this contributed to the McLaren man setting the fastest time of the day, the only driver to go under the 1m 16s barrier. He was followed by the Lotus of Romain Grosjean, while behind Felipe and Fernando was the winner from two weeks ago in Spain, Pastor Maldonaldo, fifth in the Williams, with Nico Rosberg completing the top six for Mercedes.

This being Monaco, tomorrow is officially a “day off” for the Formula 1 circus. That name might have been true many years ago, but in the high pressure world of modern Grand Prix racing, the Scuderia and the other eleven teams will be on duty, with engineers and drivers studying all the data in an effort to compensate for today’s lack of track time, prior to a final hour of free practice and qualifying on Saturday.