“We have a day of work ahead of us tomorrow, and we will only know where we really stand on Saturday” – Leclerc
Round 5 of the 2021 season is well underway at the Circuit de Monaco, with the track proving more favourable for a number of teams after Free Practice today.
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz topped the time sheet at the end of the second free practice session – marking a significantly good start ahead of a tough weekend.
Season favourites Red Bull and Mercedes haven’t quite shown their hand in Monaco just yet, however, it looks as if they’re in for a tussle with more than a few contenders at the top of the field this weekend.
Let’s see what this afternoon’s top ten have to say ahead of Saturday’s antics:
P1 – Charles Leclerc – Ferrari
“It was quite a surprise to have the day end so well, after we had a difficult start this morning.
“It’s important to do as many laps as possible, especially here in Monaco, and with the issue we had in FP1 I only completed 4 laps. In FP2, I felt at ease with the car and we may even have a bit of margin there to improve. But we shouldn’t get too carried away, because I am convinced that our competitors have more in hand.
“We have a day of work ahead of us tomorrow, and we will only know where we really stand on Saturday.”
P2 – Carlos Sainz – Ferrari
“It has been a very positive first day for the team here in Monaco, but we know it is only practice.
“Things can change a lot from Thursday to Saturday at this track, so we will stay focused. Despite being quite happy with the car, we’ll keep working hard over the next two days to understand where we can improve.
“I really missed driving around these streets. I enjoyed myself in both sessions, pushing the car little by little to try to find the limit.
“Lets’ fine-tune everything to put together a strong Saturday!”
P3 – Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
“The Ferraris look really strong, which is great, it means more competition.
“For me personally, this is a track where you need to walk before you can run but you’ve got to do that quickly, obviously. The grip on this track is really high this year, they’ve redone the surface so there’s a lot of grip.
“Whichever track you go to, the car never gives you everything you want immediately, you need to acclimatise. From a driver’s point of view, you’re experimenting – you’ve got to dial-in your driving style, figure out where you can and can’t push, where you’ve got to give up some time to get some, and you’ve got to really work with the car.
“The car is good, we’ve made some decent steps with the balance so generally I’m very happy. I’ve got some changes I’ll make this evening as we analyse today and it’s going to be close tomorrow, which is exciting.”
P4 – Max Verstappen – Red Bull
“It of course feels good to be back out on track in Monaco and although we did quite well in FP1, this afternoon’s session was tricky and I would have hoped that we could have been faster.
“We were too slow in FP2 and we really need to find some pace because everyone has traffic, you have to look to optimum lap times and optimum sectors and we were quite off.
“I usually feel quite comfortable in the car but that has not come yet this weekend. Luckily, we have a free day tomorrow to look at a few things to improve to make sure qualifying goes well on Saturday.”
P5 – Valtteri Bottas – Mercedes
“It’s nice to be back on this track after a two-year gap, it’s still so tight around here with very little space.
“It’s very demanding and I feel like we still have work to do with the cars – from my side, I’m lacking some front end on this circuit. We’ve had similar issues at other tracks, mainly in mid-corner but here, it’s all slow-speed corners and if you don’t have a good feeling at the front, you can lose time easily.
“Our car also feels quite stiff on the bumps and cambers in the corners which we’ll look into. It will be important to turn the tyres on quickly and get them working. Today for the first lap, I couldn’t get them to work immediately so we need to work hard on that for tomorrow.
“Ferrari look quick, as do Red Bull, so it’s not only about two teams which will be a lot of fun.”
P6 – Lando Norris – McLaren
“A decent day, I’m happy. I think we made some good progress between the sessions. It’s very tight, as expected, especially to the guys behind, but we also look not far off the guys ahead.
“We have a chance to capitalise on mistakes that they might make. I feel comfortable in the car but there’s definitely some more to unlock going into Saturday, and into qualifying.
“So, tomorrow we can spend the day looking over the data to see what improvements we can make for the rest of the weekend.”
P7 – Pierre Gasly – AlphaTauri
“It’s been a very good day for us. In terms of pace it was great and this morning was a strong way to start here in Monaco – I felt confident in the car and could push hard.
“This afternoon we finished within the top ten, so we’re still pretty pleased with that, but it was a lot harder in the car. Hopefully I can work with the guys over the next day to improve in the areas where we are struggling but generally, we are quite happy with it.
“Monaco is so unique – in terms of grip and it’s also very bumpy – so we need to find out what works best with our package to make it work well around here.
“We have a good baseline but hopefully we can continue to improve ahead of Qualifying, as we know how crucial it is to Qualify well around these streets.”
P8 – Sergio Perez – Red Bull
“It’s great to drive in Monaco again after not racing here last year. I’m enjoying it a lot as it’s such a fantastic track. We had a very good FP1 and the car was feeling strong, we made a few changes between sessions and I think maybe we took a step backwards but it’s hard to really know as I had traffic on my soft tyre run.
“I think we probably have work to do on our short runs but we have lots of information to look at now ahead of qualifying on Saturday when hopefully we can be in the mix.
“Even though he missed most of FP1, Charles still managed to end the session fastest so the Ferraris are looking strong but let’s see who sits where on Saturday when it counts.”
P9 – Antonio Giovinazzi – Alfa Romeo
“It has been a positive start to our weekend and I am very happy with the work we did today. FP1 was ok and already in FP2 I felt the balance of the car had improved.
“I am happy with P9 at the end of the day, but it’s qualifying when it really matters: we have to keep being on the pace.
“I think Monaco is such a unique track, hard to compare with anything else, and I think it really suits us: if we can improve a little more ahead of Saturday, we can be confident.”
P10 – Sebastian Vettel – Aston Martin
“I think everybody is happy to be back here at this special track and it is great to see fans in the grandstands, even though the numbers are still limited.
“The morning session went well, and I got into a rhythm quickly, but the afternoon was more complicated because I got something in my eye, which was quite uncomfortable and caused my eye to tear up.
“As usual, it is very close in the midfield, which means getting everything perfect on Saturday afternoon, and being lucky with the traffic, is what matters.
“I feel happy with the work we did today and if we can get everything together over the weekend, we can hopefully be near the front of the midfield group.”
FP3 kicks off at 11:00 am Irish time on Saturday, May 22.