Monaco GP 2021 - AlphaTauri preview
“Looking back to Spain it was quite a tough weekend, especially as Qualifying was not straightforward. I missed out on Q3 by just two hundredths of a second, which is not very much at all, and meant it was the first time this season that I’ve not been in the top ten on the grid. I was disappointed, partly because it shows that some of the other teams are evolving and improving, the gaps are really very small now. We know we really have to optimise everything to be in the midfield fight. Then the race saw us lose seconds here and there and I was as low as 15th, but the final stint was encouraging, overtaking quite a few cars. One more lap and it could have been ninth, it would definitely have been doable without the penalty. There are some positives and the potential is there, but with a couple of teams making a step forward we know we have to work hard if we are going to continue to fight with them over the rest of the season. It’s impossible to be faultless in any form of motorsport, but we need to try and do things perfectly and to find more speed if we want to score bigger points each weekend.
As for Monaco, it’s a circuit that I really like a lot and I’m very happy to be going back there, after we were unable to do so last year. It’s a very special track, absolutely nothing like the first four we have raced on this year. The street circuit presents several unique challenges, starting with a lack of grip, so I hope we will get to understand how our car behaves as quickly as possible, working out what we need to do to be quick and to continue our run of points finishes.
In Monaco, it’s important to get as much track time as possible, but I don’t feel the shorter Friday practice sessions will be a problem because this year we are now used to doing as many laps as in the past, by spending less time in the garage. Of course, at Monaco you always need a little bit of time to adapt, to play with finding the limits of your car and getting as close as possible to the walls, then gradually building up your confidence levels through each session. And then you give it everything on Saturday afternoon because we know that Qualifying is 95% of the race result.
They are allowing a limited number of spectators for this race, which will be great, but the overall weekend will not have the same hectic schedule we always had to deal with in Monaco in the past. So, I’m hoping I might get some time to relax and maybe play a bit of Paddle Tennis with Charles on Friday morning, if we’re not too busy, although we will have the usual engineering meetings that afternoon.”
“I’m looking forward to Monaco, particularly as Spain was a difficult weekend for me. I was not happy with my driving in Qualifying and made a mistake, but I must learn to accept that these things can happen and move on. I have only done four race weekends in F1 so far and now I am just resetting my mind. I am focussing on my driving and adapting as much as possible to the car. A couple of days after Spain, it was my 21st birthday but I didn’t do anything special: a Covid swab in the morning, followed by a gym session - a normal day in the office!
I’ve never raced in Monaco in any category, but I have raced in Macau for example, so I have quite a bit of experience on street circuits. They’re okay. You need a very different approach on a street circuit like Monaco, especially considering I have never been there before. Track evolution is a big factor there, with very low grip at first and then it changes with every session. The key will be not to make any mistakes in FP1 or FP2 in order to maximise my time on track.
There are many unusual factors about this weekend and it was only while we were in Spain that I learned that you practice on Thursday with no track time on Friday. I will have to make sure I do not lose focus or concentration, but I’m sure I can adapt. I have spent a lot of time on the simulator to prepare. Our car has not always been at its best in the slow corners, which is what we will face in Monaco, but I think that even if the car is obviously important, the main factor will be how much I can adapt to the track. During practice I will be trying to give the engineers as much good feedback as possible to help them set up the car, while I focus just on my driving. Qualifying will be about having confidence in the car, because that is even more important than usual on a street circuit.”