Despite Mercedes securing a one-two finish in Spain two weeks ago, it is Ferrari and Red Bull who look best placed to contest victory at this weekend’s Formula One Monaco Grand Prix (Race: Sunday, 9:10am ET).
Lewis Hamilton comes into the race on the back of two consecutive victories that have seen him ascend to the top of the drivers’ championship standings, but neither he nor his Mercedes team seem particularly confident of securing another success this weekend.
Mercedes were unable to challenge for victory in Monaco last year. Valtteri Bottas qualified third and finished fourth, while Hamilton qualified down in 14th and was only able to recover to seventh on a circuit on which it is notoriously difficult to overtake. Team boss Toto Wolff has said that he is “bloody worried” ahead of this weekend’s Grand Prix.
It is difficult to judge just how much of that is the team intentionally downplaying expectations, but all indications are that Ferrari and Red Bull will have a slight edge over Mercedes. Pace through the final sector in Spain is traditionally considered a good measure of likely performance in Monaco, and both teams showed very well by that measure.
Ferrari also dominated last year’s F1 Monaco Grand Prix, locking out the front row of the grid and recording a one-two finish in the race, with Sebastian Vettel leading home Kimi Raikkonen. After a disappointing weekend in Spain, where Vettel finished fourth and Raikkonen was forced to retire with turbo problems, they are in need of a good result.
Red Bull feel that they are solidly placed to challenge Ferrari in Monaco. They are not as quick in qualifying trim but have shown pretty good race pace this season and have a package that should be very well-suited to the tight and twisty streets of the principality.
While they haven’t won the Monaco Grand Prix since 2012, Daniel Ricciardo has finished on the podium in three of the last four years and should again be at the sharp end of the field this time out. Despite Max Verstappen’s podium finish in Spain, where Ricciardo came home fifth, it is Ricciardo who is likely to be their strongest driver this weekend.
Vettel is favorite with the USA bookmakers to take pole position, but Ricciardo is very much worth backing for the race victory and a top 3 finish. If he isn’t able to overcome Ferrari’s likely advantage in terms of initial track position, he can at least be fancied to finish on the podium.
The result of the Spanish Grand Prix again made clear just how close and varied the midfield battle is in F1 this year. Kevin Magnussen came home sixth for Haas, followed by the Renault of Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, the Force India of Sergio Perez, and Charles LeClerc, who secured a second consecutive points finish in his Sauber.
It does, however, seem that Renault and McLaren will be the two teams fighting for fourth in the constructors’ championship – the virtual ‘best-of-the-rest’ trophy. Just one point currently separates them in the standings and both have had at least one car in the points in each of the five Grand Prix to date.
Monaco is just the sort of circuit at which both teams will hope to pick up a strong result. Even with the impediment of their now-discarded Honda power units, McLaren were able to pick up points there in 2015 and a fifth-place finish for Alonso in 2016, in addition to seeing both their cars qualify in the top 10 last year. While Renault haven’t gone particularly well there over the last two years, their 2018 car looks well-suited to its peculiarities.
Renault also have a bit of a Monaco specialist on their books in the form of Sainz. The former Toro Rosso driver has qualified and finished in the top 10 at the circuit in each of his three years in Formula One to date. Last year, he qualified and finished sixth. After a slow start to the season, he has achieved good results in each of the last two races and has a solid chance of securing a top-six finish in this Monaco Grand Prix 2018 on Sunday.
Our Preview’s F1 Monaco Grand Prix Predictions, Betting Tips & Picks
- Bet on Sebastian Vettel to qualify on pole position @ +175 with Bovada.
- Bet on Daniel Ricciardo to win the race @ +458 with Bookmaker.
- Also take Ricciardo for a top 3 finish @ +120 with Bovada.
- With the top 6 odds not on offer with the US sportsbooks, instead back Carlos Sainz to finish in the top 10 @ -275 with Bovada.