05/23 06:59 CDT Ferrari looking to get back on track in F1 at Monaco GP
Ferrari looking to get back on track in F1 at Monaco GP
By JEROME PUGMIRE
AP Sports Writer
MONACO (AP) --- For Ferrari to win in Formula One, it needs to stop gifting
points to Mercedes.
Things could start to change at this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix. Ferrari
dominated the race last year, securing a 1-2 finish as Sebastian Vettel beat
Defending champion Lewis Hamilton has won the last two races with Mercedes this
season to move 17 points ahead of Vettel in their title battle despite trailing
by the same amount after Vettel won the first two. With both drivers chasing a
fifth F1 title to move level with Argentine great Juan Manuel Fangio, it is
shaping up as a thrilling season.
Providing Ferrari stops conceding points like an unplugged oil leak.
Vettel took pole position in Azerbaijan two races ago. But in that race he
found himself second after a botched pit stop. Then, he made a rash error of
judgment late on and dropped down to fourth, rather than consolidating a
position of strength against Hamilton.
Vettel struggles to contain his composure at times. Late last season, the
German driver threw away the chance to regain the championship lead from
Hamilton with a similarly brash move during the Singapore GP. It set the tone
for the remaining races, as his title bid spiraled out of control.
The lost points are not all down to Vettel, however. At the Spanish GP two
weeks ago, he lost track position after Ferrari called him in for an extra stop
for tires and finished fourth again.
Although Vettel defended his team's tactical decision, it seemed overly risky
and revealed a tendency to make panicky calls within the Ferrari team. There is
a nervous aura surrounding Ferrari. Last month, a mechanic broke his leg after
a botched tire change in Bahrain.
However, although Mercedes grabbed a 1-2 finish in Barcelona, it remains to be
seen whether it was a one-off.
Barcelona's track layout and surface suited Mercedes, whereas Monaco's is more
awkward. Because of the tight and twisty nature of the 3.4-kilometer (2.1-mile)
street circuit, whoever takes pole position on Saturday is favored for victory
in the glittering jewel in the F1 calendar.
After a poor race last year --- Valtteri Bottas finished fourth and Hamilton
was seventh --- Mercedes is understandably cautious.
"It was a painful lesson for us and we are determined to show that we have
learned it," Mercedes head of motorsport Toto Wolff said. "We don't head into
the weekend as favorites; they are Red Bull and Ferrari."
Red Bull has a good chance because the curvy track has less long straights,
thus negating the superior speed of Mercedes and Ferrari. Both Red Bull drivers
have shown good speed, although consistency remains elusive.
Daniel Ricciardo won in China , but teammate Max Verstappen is looking for his
first win after an incident-packed season.
The Dutch driver has failed to finish twice and has been embroiled in typically
controversial moments. Ricciardo crashed into the back of him in Azerbaijan as
they fought for position with a podium in sight, and both went out. It earned
both drivers a stern rebuke from team principal Christian Horner, but tensions
have apparently appeased.
A strong third-place finish in Spain reassured Verstappen heading to Monaco.
"Our car was very strong in the last sector there, which is mainly low-speed
corners and what we need for Monaco," said Verstappen, who lives in the tiny
Principality. "It should be a good circuit for us. It is a nice weekend in
general and also very good to sleep in your own apartment."
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