Jenson Button returns and Mercedes chase five in a row: Things to look out for at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix
The sixth round of the Formula One season begins Thursday with two practice sessions. Here are some things to watch for ahead of the 78-lap race in Monte Carlo on Sunday.
Mercedes go for win No 5
Mercedes-GP arrive in Monaco on a high after Lewis Hamilton’s hard-fought win in Spain to cut Sebastian Vettel’s advantage at the top to six points. The German marque have been the winning team around the tight streets of Monte Carlo the past four years and are bidding to be the first team since McLaren (1988-93) to win the race five times in a row. Hamilton prevailed 12 months ago for his second race win in the principality, the previous one having come in 2008 when he was with McLaren.
Given they are the most successful team in the sport’s history, it is something of a surprise that you have to go back to 2001 for the last time Ferrari won in Monaco, with Michael Schumacher triumphing that day. Sebastian Vettel, despite four world drivers’ titles to his name, has won the race only once, in 2011, but he has been in superb form this season and will be confident that he is well placed to end his team’s drought on Sunday.
Button’s low expectations
Given the McLaren has not exactly been rapid, or reliable, this season, little can be expected from Jenson Button as the 2009 world champion steps in to replace Fernando Alonso while the Spaniard takes part in the Indianapolis 500 this week. The fact Button has not actually driven an F1 car competitively since the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November, getting through the first part of qualifying and finishing the race will be an achievement for the Briton.
Saturday is critical
Qualifying is important at the best of times but in Monaco it is usually race defining. Only once in the past 30 years (Olivier Panis in 1996) has a driver won the race starting lower than third on the grid. Saturday’s session is usually one of the highlights of the season as the drivers push to the limit on a track which has no margin for error with the barriers so close to the racing line.
Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE
Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport
Updated: May 24, 2017 04:00 AM