Monaco GP data reveals Red Bull’s main weak spot as another pole contender emerges

Pablo Hidalgo
Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz.

Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz have a chat on the grid

Charles Leclerc is the favourite to take pole position in Monaco. The Ferrari driver has looked very comfortable all weekend on the streets of his home country and all indications are that it is up to him to take P1 and end Max Verstappen’s unbeaten qualifying streak.

Even so, Max Verstappen has already closed the gap after a worrying Friday. The Dutchman is already close to Leclerc and the gap in qualifying may be minimal. Where does Verstappen need to go next? Is it a gap that can be closed or is the SF24 far superior to the RB20 on the streets of Monaco?

Picking apart FP3 in Monaco

As we can see, Verstappen is level with Leclerc until the arrival at the tunnel area.

The Dutchman loses traction at the exit and the Ferrari recovers on the straight. Further on, the gap remains constant throughout Sector 2 at approximately a tenth and a half and finally, in the last corner, Leclerc takes off and gets a final advantage of +0.197s. It will undoubtedly be a very tight fight.

Nonetheless, it is clear that the Red Bull is struggling from the second half of the lap onwards. Especially in Sector 2 with the tunnel straight and the hard braking at the back. Verstappen will have to work his magic to compensate for the losses of the RB20 compared to the SF24.

Verstappen is not the only one who could be in the fight with Leclerc. Carlos Sainz, the other Ferrari driver, is also one of the favourites to surprise and fight Charles Leclerc for pole.

The Spaniard has got into the mix at the last minute and joins two legends in Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, who undoubtedly have good chances to fight for the top three.

Aston Martin and Mercedes have come back to life and should maximise their opportunities in Monte Carlo. The two teams have been left behind somewhat so far this season by Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari but the unique characteristics of this circuit and the lack of importance attached to the engine power, they could factor into this fight too.

McLaren, meanwhile, is a little out of sorts ahead of qualifying. The car works best in fast corners and on a circuit as special as Monaco with very slow corners and few areas where to extract the straight line advantage of exiting the corner well, the MCL38 is suffering.

Breaking down the best sector times so far in Monte Carlo