Red Bull and Mercedes believe Ferrari’s front-running pace at the Monaco Grand Prix is genuine and that it will be a three-way fight for pole position on Saturday.
Carlos Sainz was second in the first practice session but Charles Leclerc managed just four laps before a gearbox problem ended his running. The Monegasque driver bounced back in impressive fashion though as he led a Ferrari 1-2 in FP2, and Max Verstappen wasn’t expecting to see such a strong performance from the Scuderia.
“I am surprised how competitive Ferrari is but I think it just shows that we are pretty weak,” Verstappen said. “They’re doing very well and we are very weak, so then the offset is very big. Luckily we have a free day tomorrow so we can look into things. A lot of things need to change, I think.
“Still, the gap they have is big around here. We need to improve a lot to match them.”
Sergio Perez agreed with Verstappen, adding: “Yeah, they’re pretty strong. I mean, Charles missed Practice 1 and still made it all the way to P1. They seem to be pretty strong out there.”
Both Verstappen and Perez said Red Bull has work to do with its own car — a feeling echoed by Valtteri Bottas, who also believes Ferrari is in the mix for pole in Monaco.
“I feel that, from my side, I’m lacking from the front end in the car on this track,” Bottas said. “We’ve had similar issues, a little bit, at some tracks, mid-corner. This is mainly medium- and slow-speed corners and if you don’t have the feeling on the front, if it’s going to turn in or not, you can easily lose quite a bit of time. Also, it feels like our car is a bit stiff — like all the bumps and the cambers on the corners, it’s quite upsetting — so it’s something we’ll have a look into.
“Ferrari looks really quick and Red Bull as well, so it’s not going to be just about two teams. It should be fun.”