Renault and McLaren occupied the top 10 in FP2 with both of their respective drivers; encouraging signs for Toro Rosso.
Nico Hulkenberg: “A standard ‘Friday’ for us today. There’s not much to say; we had a couple of front lock-ups, therefore my runs got cut short with some bad flat spots. This morning I was not so happy with the car as it was quite difficult but we made some very good progress over lunch and I was much happier in P2. I think we’ve got a pretty good baseline going forward into Qualifying on Saturday.”
Carlos Sainz: “Today was positive. We were always inside the top ten, always leaving a bit of margin here and there to improve on each lap, and to be honest it has been a positive day for the team. Both cars in the top ten again, Nico with the upgrade and it looks like it is working as we expected, so it’s good news from every side. In terms of where the others are…for example McLaren maybe had problems in FP1 and they still might be a bit behind – and they have a lot of margin for improvement for Saturday. But from our side I think we more or less hit the ground running and we are happy.”
Stoffel Vandoorne: “It’s been a pretty tricky Thursday, actually. The sessions didn’t go as smoothly as we’d wanted: FP1 was difficult, but we made a big step during FP2. That was when things came together, but I still think we can take another step forward for Saturday and be in a better position for qualifying. Confidence is everything around here. The car was a bit of a handful and a bit unpredictable today, so we struggled a little bit. Still, by the end, we managed to set some decent lap-times. The times are so close – you can’t leave anything on the table this weekend or else you’ll find yourself out in Q1. It’s going to be up to us to make the best out of it, do everything perfectly and do a proper job. Fortunately, I still feel there is a bit to come from us.”
Fernando Alonso: “A tough day. In the first session, I had an issue with the brakes and we lost most of the morning. That was quite disappointing because you need as many laps as possible around here to build up your confidence. The guys in the garage did a great job and the car was fully ready for the second session, when we were able to recover some of those lost laps. Due to the track evolution, you drive one car in FP1, a different one in FP2, and an entirely new one in qualifying, where you are two seconds quicker. So it’s important to adapt – we need to be flexible. Qualifying here is 99 per cent of the race, so once you put a good lap together on Saturday, the race becomes a little bit easier. There’s still more to come from us. Hopefully, we can put a good lap together on Saturday.”
Brendon Hartley: “It was a really positive day, it’s awesome to drive around Monaco for the first time in a Formula 1 car! It’s a special feeling around here, dancing from wall to wall. In terms of performance, I think straight away we were in the top 10 on the Hypersoft. We finished the morning P12, but running on the harder compound tyre which looked positive. In the afternoon, I was 11th on the Hypersoft which is promising, it’s very close to the cars ahead and also the cars behind. We’re definitely in the fight, and the goal has to be Q3. It’s tricky here with traffic, you have to be clever with strategy in qualifying – and a bit lucky too! I’m happy to get the new updated aero parts that Pierre was running in the first two sessions. The team has done a good job to bring some updates here and all of the emphasis now goes into getting us as far up the grid as we can!”
Pierre Gasly: “First day in Monaco, it’s really cool to be back driving these streets! The last time was in 2016, and it’s one of the most amazing tracks of the year, so it’s really good to be here. We tried a couple of things today, and at the moment I think it’s really close between P7 to the back of the field, so it will be super tight this weekend. I didn’t really find the right settings to feel fully comfortable with the car, so I’m a bit out of sync at the moment, but Brendon looks pretty good, so we’re probably going to work and analyse more tonight to try and find the best package. The car seems to be fast so if we manage to find two or three tenths I think we can fight to be in the top 10 – that will be the target for us to work towards tomorrow.”
Sergio Perez: “The general feeling with the car is good, but we need to improve the balance to find some more lap time before qualifying. It is going to be a very close battle in the midfield, but if we do a good job over the next few days we can battle for a place in Q3.”
Esteban Ocon: “It’s always awesome to drive here. It’s a special track and very technical, which makes it complicated to find the right set-up. The track evolved a huge amount during the day and you have to adapt to the conditions and not go over the limit. I kissed the wall gently this morning, but there were no other dramas and we built up our speed with each run. It’s all about getting your confidence up before Saturday and it was important to keep out of trouble.”
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