After recording his first win of the Formula One season in Spain two weeks ago, Nico Rosberg will hope to pick up further momentum with victory at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix (Race: Sunday, 13:00 BST, live on Sky Sports F1).
Rosberg led from pole position to record a comfortable win at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who recovered to second after losing track position to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the run down to the first corner.
Vettel came home third to record his fourth podium finish in five races, ahead of the Williams of Valtteri Bottas, the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and the second Williams of Felipe Massa. Daniel Ricciardo steered his Red Bull to seventh, with Romain Grosjean (Lotus), Carlos Sainz Jr. (pictured, Toro Rosso) and Daniil Kyvat (Red Bull) rounding out the top 10.
The newly liveried McLaren again failed to score. Fernando Alonso retired due to a brake failure, while Jenson Button finished comfortably outside the points in 16th. Pastor Maldonado retired early for Lotus for the fourth time in five races following collision damage.
Monaco is perhaps the most famous race on the Formula One calendar. The circuit snakes through the tight and twisty public roads of the principality’s harbour front, with the close proximity of the barriers punishing even the slightest of mistakes. Cars with good traction and low-speed downforce are usually those that prevail in Monte Carlo.
Pirelli have chosen their soft and supersoft tyres for this weekend’s event, which are the same two compounds they selected for last year’s Grand Prix. Current weather forecasts suggest that it will be a relatively mild weekend, albeit with a slight chance of rain on both Saturday and Sunday.
Rosberg’s victory in Spain was only the second time in the last 10 races that he had finished ahead of his team-mate Hamilton. The confidence boost provided by that win should serve him well this weekend at a track at which he has won from pole position in each of the last two years.
The final sector at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is generally considered a good guide as to likely performance in Monaco. Rosberg was over a tenth of a second quicker than Hamilton through that sector in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix and nearly half a second faster than the next closest competitor.
Tyre wear, which looks to be Mercedes’ main weak point, is not really an issue in Monaco. The difficulty of overtaking also means that it is easier to manage the pace of the race from the front if any minor technical problems occur. Rosberg is very quick in Monte Carlo and can be fancied to record his third consecutive victory in the principality on Sunday.
Ricciardo has brought home his Red Bull in the points in each of the five races so far this season, despite the team’s ongoing problems with the poor performance and reliability of their Renault power-plant. He has not been challenging for podium finishes as he did last season but has nevertheless shown good pace and outperformed his new team-mate Kyvat.
The Australian was the fourth quickest driver through the final sector during Spanish Grand Prix qualifying. The Renault engine has traditionally run well in Monte Carlo, where drivability and low-end torque are more important than top-end performance. Ricciardo qualified and finished third in Monaco last year and will again expect to run well this weekend.
He has finished in the top six on two occasions already this season and should be capable of doing so again on Sunday.
Sainz Jr. has made a very solid start to his F1 career. He has finished in the points in three of the five races to date and qualified in an excellent fifth place in Spain last time out. Toro Rosso’s lack of straight-line speed cost him and team-mate Max Verstappen places in the race, but their qualifying performance underlined the car’s solid pace.
Button has praised Sainz Jr. for his intelligent and mature approach in the build-up to this weekend’s race, and those attributes will be key if he is to again finish in the top 10. The Spanish driver placed sixth and fourth in his two races at Monaco in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, while he was the eighth quickest driver through the final sector in Spain.
Sainz Jr. has a good chance of again bringing home his car in the points on Sunday.