Monaco Grand Prix Tips And Preview By James Punt

May 22, 2019

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It has been a fast and furious start to the Formula 1 season and Mercedes are dominant. They look like cruising to the constructor’s title, while Hamilton looks nailed on for the driver’s championship. However, each Grand Prix brings new betting opportunities. James Punt has picked out some value bets for this weekend’s race. Check out his Monaco Grand Prix tips and in depth preview below.

Monaco Grand Prix Tips

Monaco Grand Prix Tips And Preview

Yet another 1-2 finish for Mercedes in Barcelona condemned the 2019 season to the dustbin in terms of a sporting contest. The season is over after just five races and the rest of the year will be about just how big a margin Mercedes will win by. Will they win every race? Will they come first and second in every race? It is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Mercedes have no competition. Ferrari have got themselves totally lost and the big Barcelona upgrade which was supposed to have stopped the rot failed. Red Bull is getting a little closer but the chassis isn’t as good nor do they have to power to compete. The rest of the teams are effectively in a different formula.

Monaco Grand Prix Tips: Mercedes Tough To Beat Again

This weekend we head to Monaco and a track which in recent years has given us some respite from the endless Mercedes domination. It is an idiosyncratic circuit which can throw up surprise results. The tight and twisty nature of the lay out historically hasn’t suited the long wheel base Merc’s.

That has allowed Red Bull and Ferrari to take wins here in the last two years and Red Bull should have had another win for Ricciardo who was leading in 2016 only to pull into the pits for new tyres only to find his team had the wrong tyres ready. The extra-long stop handed Hamilton the lead which he was able to hang on to.

So are we in with a chance of Mercedes losing out to Ferrari or Red Bull this weekend? No. Safety car deployments and pure luck could mean Mercedes getting a bad break. On purely form based analysis however there seems little or no hope for the other teams….and little has just left town.

Spanish GP Performance Bodes Well For Mercedes

The Spanish GP traditionally provides a very good form guide for Monaco race. The slow, twisty final sector in Barcelona effectively mimics the demands of the Monaco track. If your car is quick there, you should be quick here.

The bad news is that for once the Mercedes was the fastest car through S3 at Barcelona and by a huge margin. In qualifying Bottas was 0.444 seconds faster than the quickest non Mercedes, Max Verstappen. In the race the gap was 0.337, again to Verstappen.

Whatever Mercedes have done with this year’s car it has made a huge improvement in its cornering ability, especially slow corners which had been something of a weak spot for them. There is talk of the braking system being managed to effectively produce the characteristics of four wheel steering. Whatever it is, it works very well and isn’t illegal.

At Barcelona the Mercedes was over a second faster than the 9th quickest car through sector three. That is a whole second in just one sector. With Monaco being more like three sector 3’s at Barcelona strung together, it looks very much like being another walk over for the Silver Arrows.

Monaco Grand Prix Tips: Red Bull Could Perform Well

Red Bull would appear to be likely the 2nd best car for Monaco. Verstappen was comfortably faster than the Ferraris in S3 in Barcelona. Gasly was 0.01 slower than Vettel through S3 in the race but was faster in qualifying. So this is a great opportunity for Verstappen to get his third podium of the season? Yes, it is a great opportunity but he may not be able to take it.

Verstappen has never impressed around this circuit, regularly crashing heavily and as a result he has form figures of R/R/5/9 and that was the same time as his team mate at Red Bull, Daniel Ricciardo, was qualifying on pole and getting a win and two other podiums. Verstappen has yet to finish ahead of a team mate at Monaco.  He is said to be a changed man after crashing again here last year but this will be the acid test for his new mature character.

That might open up the way for Pierre Gasly to get his first podium. He is likely to have the second best car so no excuses. The problem is that he might not be good enough. He has struggled to settle in at Red Bull, finding the car difficult to drive.Gasly is getting a little better and has managed two top 6 finishes but he is the weakest of the ‘Big 6’. He performed well enough here last year, qualifying 10th and finishing 7th in the Toro Rosso. His 3rd best race result of the year. His record here in GP2 however was poor with one top 10 in a sprint race being his highest finish.

Leclerc Likely To Struggle For Ferrari

Ferrari looks likely to have the third best car but even the native Monegasque and keen street racer, Charles Leclerc may struggle. He was a lowly 18th in last year’s race for Sauber but qualified on pole position in his Formula 2 season. He retired from the race and also failed to finish in the sprint race. His real problem is that his Ferrari is poor in slow corners and its only real strength is straight line speed and you don’t get much time driving in a straight line here.

Vettel has won twice here and in the turbo hybrid era his form figures are R/2/4/1/2. Those are as good as anybody on the grid. Hamilton also has two wins here but to say he has been lucky here would be an understatement. Hamilton’s first win in a McLaren was helped by a safety car deployment coming just at the right time for him. He had had to pit after hitting a wall and there was an accident while he was in the pits.

He was able to re-join on fresh tyres just as everyone else was jumping into the pits. His other win was facilitated by Rosberg letting him passed and then Red Bull destroying Ricciardo’s race by not having his tyres ready for a pit stop. Rosberg had the measure of Hamilton here, winning three times while Hamilton’s team mate.

Bottas Looks Value For Pole

That could be good news for Bottas who is much closer to Hamilton this season. However the Finn has not gone well here in the past. Fourth and fifth places in the last two years are his best results. He says that he has never had a ‘good car’ for Monaco but he will have this year.

It is hard to see past another Mercedes win. Their Barcelona sector three performance puts them in a different league even to Ferrari and Red Bull. Hamilton has the better track record than Bottas and he is the favourite as a result. It isn’t his best track and he has never been hugely impressive here but he should only be racing his team mate.

Bottas has a poor track record but he is getting the better of Hamilton in qualifying. He has been on pole position in the last three races and Hamilton has been so rattled by that he has been at the factory this weekend going through everything he can think off to get better qualifying performance. He might well discover something and he might need to if he is to keep Bottas at Bay.

In the turbo hybrid era Hamilton has only out qualified his team mate here twice in five races and it is 1-1 between him and Bottas. Hamilton has only been on pole position once at Monaco. The Finn is on a qualifying roll and he looks to being underestimated once again. He is a different driver to the one we saw struggle last year and he looks to be the value call.

Monaco Grand Prix Tips: 2 points Bottas to be the fastest qualifier @ 3.75 with Boylesports

Monaco Grand Prix Tips: 2 point Bottas to win the Monaco GP @ 3.50 generally available

The Best Drivers Usually Flourish

Monaco is regarded as a driver’s circuit; somewhere a driver can make a difference. It has seen multiple race winners like Senna (6), Schumacher (5), Graham Hill (5) and Alain Prost (4) but there isn’t a driver on the grid who I would call a real Monaco specialist. Vettel comes closest with two wins and four 2nd places but given the fact that he has had good cars it isn’t a great return.

Carlos Sainz gets an honourable mention, finishing in the points on all four occasions he has raced in F1 here. However he is worried by the McLaren’s poor pace through sector three at Barcelona. There is a chance that the poor performance was a set up issue as the car had been good in the slow sector in Baku but there is a question mark as to the cars abilities in slow corners.

Ricciardo Loves It At Monaco

Daniel Ricciardo is arguably the best of the current drivers around this track. He finally got his win here last year despite driving a Red Bull that was suffering with an engine problem. He has been on pole position twice in the last three years and finished on the podium for the last three years. His problem is that he has switched from a fairly competitive Red Bull to an uncompetitive Renault. The French manufacturer is in 8th place in the constructor’s championship with just one 7th place each for Ricciardo and Hulkenberg. Ricciardo was 10th quickest through S3 in Barcelona, over a second slower than Hamilton. Just getting a points finish would be a good result for Ricciardo this weekend.

Who will be best of the rest is important to try and establish. The race can have high attrition even at the front of the grid and just being around to pick up any crumbs from the top table can be very profitable in Monaco.

Magnussen and Kvyat where the two drivers best of the rest through S3 in Barcelona, still a long way off the quickest car but they were heading the very tight midfield group. A midfield hasn’t really settled down into any sort of pattern despite having five races to establish one.

Haas Have Potential

The Haas definitely has the best potential when everything is just right for them. They bounced back to some sort of form in Spain last time out but that is a track which suits the car and its needs. They have been suffering with not being able to heat up their tyres on most circuits but Barcelona is one were everything was just right. Warm weather and enough high energy corners to heat up the rubber allowed them to be best of the rest with Magnussen finishing 7th. Grosjean got his first point of the season as well.

The bad news for them is that a slow speed track is not going to help heating up the rubber. Neither Magnussen or Grosjean has any form here that makes you sit up and notice and the best of the rest tag should lie elsewhere. The team are hoping that the softest tyres in the Pirelli range might help but they are not entirely confident.

Kvyat Could Go Well

Kvyat continues to put in some good performances with scant rewards. Just two points finishes from five races doesn’t tell the whole story. Kvyat has usually been up in the top 10 in practice sessions but the pace was disappearing in qualifying. With the Honda upgrade two races ago he has made Q3 in the last two races. He had tyre problems in Azerbaijan and was then taken out by a reversing Ricciardo.

In China he was sandwiched between two McLaren’s suffered damage and was then blamed for the crash and given a drive through penalty before the car was retired. He was having a good race in Spain only for the team to pit both he and Albon at the same time but with no tyres ready. That cost him two places and the team a double points finish as Albon was knocked back to 11th.

Pace Improving

So Kvyats qualifying pace is improving and the Toro Rosso is much better than the 6 points scored suggests.  His pace in sector 3 at Barcelona puts him just outside the top 6 so the car should be competitive in Monaco.

Operationally Toro Rosso is not bullet proof but they have often punched above their weight. Albon is settling in well now and his results are improving and consistent with the last four races showing him finishing 9/10/11/11. In Formula 2 he qualified on pole in one race and 2nd in the other which is an encouraging sign. He was 9th quickest through sector three at Barcelona.

Monaco Grand Prix Tips: 1 point Toro Rosso to have a double points finish @ 3.00 with Sportingbet

With overtaking virtually impossible around Monaco, qualifying is very important. Screw up on Saturday and your weekend is ruined. Get a good grid position and you have a much improved chance of a good result on Sunday. Bottas tops the qualifying averages with 1.80 and Hamilton 2nd on 2.00. Vettel is 3rd with 2.80, Verstappen 4.40, Leclerc 4.80. Gasly is just 13th on 12.00 but that was down to his struggles in the opening races and he has had two 6th places on the grid in his last two qualifying sessions.

So the drivers in the big three teams really should fill the front three rows. Next come Magnussen on 9.00 and Grosjean 9.60. The team is not sounding terribly optimistic due to the tyre heat up problems it has but Pirelli will be using the softest compounds available which may give Haas some hope. If they can get the tyres to work than they may well fill the 4th row but if they have a problem then Kvyat looks well placed to slot in behind the big six. He qualified 6th  in Baku and 9th in Barcelona.

Monaco Grand Prix Tips: 1 point Daniil Kvyat to finish in the top 6 @ 4.50 with Betstars, Sky bet, Sportingbet

Norris has had some good qualifying performances but McLaren are worried about their lack of pace in sector 3 in Barcelona. Ricciardo averages a respectable 10.40 and with his Monaco expertise he is a driver who should be able to reach Q3. Hulkenberg only averages 14.00 on the grid but his qualifying performances have been hampered more by the car than his abilities.

Hulkenberg has had two top six finishes in Monaco, both for Force India. In fact Force India were the most successful midfield team at Monaco in the turbo hybrid era, enjoying top 6 finishes in three of the five races. The only other was Sainz in a Toro Rosso.

Now called Racing Point the old Force India team even had a podium finish here three years ago with Perez. It is hard to say where they are right now. It was a slow start to the season, the car was behind on developments but bigger updates have started appearing on the car and they should be starting to be regular point’s scorers. However their pace in Barcelona’s sector 3 wasn’t great.

There was a post Spanish GP test last week and the teams will have worked on understanding the latest updates and preparing for Monaco. Racing Point know how to get the job done at Monaco and they are optimistic of scoring points but they will have needed to have found something to improve their slow corner performance at the test if they are to do so.

Perez has scored points in three of the five races so far and despite worries over their indifferent performance in Barcelona’s sector 3 he looks a decent price to finish in the top 10 to modest stakes.

Monaco Grand Prix Tips: 1 point Sergio Perez to finish in the points @ 3.50 Ladbrokes/Coral

The weather can play a big part in Monaco, like in ’96 when just 4 cars finished and Panis was the 300/1 winner. Sadly the weather looks set to be fair this weekend. Free practice starts on Thursday morning, not the usual Friday start, and that will be partly sunny, dry and warm. Saturday has a small threat of an afternoon shower but the percentage chance is receding. Race day again looks mostly sunny dry and warm.


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