May 23rd, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Mercedes were expected to be quick at Monaco, and the prediction is proving true. Nico Rosberg set the fastest time in FP1 and repeated the feat in FP2, finishing up 0.318 seconds ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton. The Ferrari pair of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were third and fourth.
Mercedes have been strong in qualifying all season, with 3 pole positions from the first five races of the season. But in the races, the Mercedes car has been unable to keep its tyres together, which has cost Rosberg and Hamilton the chance to win races. At Monaco, tyre wear does not seem extreme - Hamilton completed 51 laps on just 1 set of soft tyres and 1 set of supersoft tyres in FP2, which means Mercedes might have a real chance of triumph on Sunday.
But just behind are Ferrari and Lotus, who both look like they could make use of one-stop strategies in Sunday's race. Mercedes are likely to require two stops to get to the end of the race, and could therefore find themselves vulnerable to being passed in the pits.
Romain Grosjean provided the drama in FP2, by clouting the barrier on the exit of turn 1 with the left front corner of his Lotus. The Frenchman locked his inside front tyre on the approach to the corner and could not get his Lotus to turn in enough to make the corner. Although he had managed to slow down quite a bit by the time he hit the wall, the impact was big enough to tear the front left wheel off his car. He missed out on more than half of the session, which could prove costly in Saturday's qualifying session. Until that point, however, Grosjean had looked quite competitive and he ended up 7th in the session despite not setting a competitive supersoft tyre time.
For all of the teams, the session was about comparing tyre life and performance between the two compounds on heavy and light fuel, and there was also a focus on mechanical setups, with suspension compliance crucial around the tight bumpy streets of Monaco. Saturday morning's FP3 session will be more of the same before qualifying determines the grid order in the afternoon.
Full results from FP2:
|5||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:15.404||0.645||42|
|9||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:16.014||1.255||33|
|10||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:16.046||1.287||43|
|11||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:16.349||1.590||44|
|22||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:19.031||4.272||31|