Monaco: A Lewis and Nico show?

2013-05-22 12:32

MONACO  - Words and hats may have to be eaten along with the usual canapes and caviar if Lewis Hamilton wins the glamour race of the 2013 Formula 1 season in Monaco this weekend (May 23-26).

The sceptics who doubted McLaren's 2008 World champion would stand on top of the podium in 2013 after his move to Mercedes will face a moment of truth with Hamilton's team arriving in the Mediterranean resort on the back of three poles in a row.


Mercedes has faded in races so far, unable to control its car's insatiable appetite for tyres on a Sunday afternoon, but Monaco's tight and treacherous streets are kinder on the compounds.

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Hamilton, a winner in what is now his home in 2008, loves the historic circuit that winds up through Casino square and blasts down through the echoing tunnel and out along the harbourside and the ranks of swaying yachts.

Champions Red Bull has won the jackpot for the past three years, with Australian Mark Webber triumphant in 2012 after also winning in 2010, but Mercedes' qualifying form threatens its run of success.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso said: "Mercedes will arrive as favourites for Monaco. Its been on pole position for the last three races, It was on pole last year with Michael's (Schumacher) lap, so it would be a surprise if it wasn't on pole position in Monaco. And it's more difficult to overtake in Monaco, so maybe it can keep good positions for longer."

Hamilton's team mate Nico Rosberg will be just as much of a threat with the German - who grew up in Monaco, the circuit part of his daily journey to school - chasing a hat trick of poles after Bahrain and Spain.

Red Bull's triple champion Sebastian Vettel leads the standings after five races, four points ahead of Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen and 17 clear of Alonso in third place.


The tyres should be less of a problem than in Spain, where four pit stops were the norm and a shocked Hamilton sank from second on the grid to 12th at the flag, although debris damage will still be a concern.

Supplier Pirelli has brought its softest tyres to the race and expects drivers to make no more than two visits to the pits.

Hamilton left Spain too stunned to focus on Monaco but a sponsored trip to the US and a visit to Le Mans to watch the French MotoGP race are sure to have revived his spirits. Monaco is the date on the calendar he has been looking forward to.

Hamilton said: "I was running around and I was thinking that last year's car must have been pretty good. So I really hope that's the same this year."

Although Schumacher, a five-times winner in Monaco, was fastest in qualifying in 2012 the German did not start on pole because he had a five-place penalty carried over from Spain where he had caused a collision.

Webber won the 2012 Monaco GP with Rosberg a close second after starting alongside the Australian. Just like 2012, the Red Bull driver arrives in Monaco hungry for his first win of the year - a situation he would have already resolved had Vettel not defied team orders in Malaysia.

Webber said: "It's always been a good track for me. It's still a daunting place, a very challenging venue. I'm not saying you are on holiday there but when I'm out there, I don't know what makes me feel as comfortable as I do."


Alonso and Vettel are the only drivers to have won twice so far in 2013 year, Raikkonen once, and Alonso can become the first to win at Monaco for three different teams, having triumphed previously for Renault and McLaren.

Raikkonen, the 2007 World champion who now has 22 consecutive scoring finishes to his credit and is closing in on Michael Schumacher's record of 24, can take the overall lead if events go his way.

The race also offers a chance for Williams, three times winner in Monaco, to score its first point of a so far dismal season; Pastor Maldonado is very much at home on the steel-fenced streets.

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