2014 Monaco Grand Prix – Free Practice Report
"The possibility of an unpredictable race is a welcome one"
Circuit de Monaco, Thursday May 22
Monaco – no circuit is as evocative or as emblematic of grand prix racing as this narrow, winding strip of Tarmac through the streets of Monte-Carlo. Thursday’s practice day was effectively one of two halves: the (dry) morning enabled both drivers to familiarise themselves with the track; the (damp) afternoon session one of gradual acclimatisation as the track slowly dried, enabling a switch to slicks in the dying minutes.
Both Jenson and Kevin were happy with their cars, finding them balanced and predictable, although the lack of dry running this afternoon means there’s an increased workload on the drivers and the engineers ahead of Saturday’s final practice session.
JENSON BUTTON, MP4-29-04
|FP1||1m20.033s (+1.762s)||35 laps||11th|
|FP2||1m19.721s (+1.297s)||16 laps||8 th|
"It’s fantastic to be back at Monaco – it’s such a crazy circuit, and always a lot of fun.
"In the dry, these turbo cars actually feel nice around here, although there’s not too much mechanical grip, which makes it more difficult. The Supersoft is a reasonable tyre, but it’s trickier in the wet – the Intermediates aren’t really working, even when the circuit’s almost dry. You’re wheel-spinning in fifth gear, which is an unusual feeling.
"Yesterday, I said that the new asphalt in the middle sector might lack grip, but I’m really pleased to be able to say that the organisers have done a fantastic job with the fresh surface. A lot of circuits could learn from the job they’ve done with the asphalt here: considering it’s brand new, it’s really good – there’s so much grip.
"I just hope we can get some some dry-weather running on Saturday morning – I think everyone needs a little more track time to complete their set-up work."
KEVIN MAGNUSSEN, MP4-29-01
|FP1||1m19.789s (+1.518s)||29 laps||9th|
|FP2||1m20.230s (+1.748s)||16 laps||10th|
"We didn’t have any issues today – we just lack overall downforce. When our aerodynamicists get on top of that, hopefully we’ll be able to maintain that good balance and make some good progress.
"We haven’t done enough set-up work yet to be able to fully gauge our progress, but I felt comfortable driving the car. Of course, there are things to improve, but we’re taking it step by step.
"It was good fun driving the track today – the electronics mean you don’t really feel the impact of the turbo, so it’s not really like the old days, but I’m really looking forward to low fuel and new tyres for qualifying on Saturday!"
ERIC BOULLIER - Racing director, McLaren Mercedes
"When both your drivers report that the car feels predictable and easy to drive around a tricky street circuit such as this, it gives you some encouragement for the rest of the weekend. After all, even the tiniest of mistakes can have very damaging consequences around here, so it’s reassuring to know that the car offers our drivers a stable and reliable platform upon which to develop.
"While we gathered some useful initial data during the morning, the rain between the two sessions meant that few teams opted to run when the track was at its wettest at the start of FP2. That was unfortunate for the fans – however, both Jenson and Kevin ventured out earlier than most, and were able to get some good exploratory laps on the Intermediate tyre under their belts.
"Running a shorter Friday programme than usual means that there’s still a lot of work to be done on Saturday morning – particularly as we weren’t able to do all the set-up work or gather the long-run data that we ideally need.
"Still, the possibility of an unpredictable race is a welcome one – and we’ll be doing our best to capitalise on any opportunity this weekend."