After 3 hours of running on Thursday to get to grips with the streets of Monte Carlo, it was a day of calm in Monaco. Drivers had little to do apart from interviews and PR whilst a couple of familiar faces made an appearance in Kimi Raikkonen and Flavio Briatore. Raikkonen has been competing in the World Rally Championship this year while Briatore left Renault after the crashgate scandal. Raikkonen drives for the Red Bull Citroen team and has been linked with Mark Webber's seat for 2011 though Webber could be hard to shift after his win in Spain. The challenge for the Australian is to be consistent and sustain a championship challenge. It was a sunny day and dry conditions are expected for the rest of the weekend with only a small threat of rain for qualifying and the race.
It's hard to call the pecking order after Thursday action due to a number of factors. Traffic meant only some drivers got to show their full potential. Light spots of rain and cloud cover during the running of the soft tyres also muddled the picture. Ferrari, like last year, went well with Fernando Alonso topping both sessions. Red Bull were not far off either. Don't expect them to blitz the opposition with the same devestating effect last week but they are still the team to beat. Mercedes were also in the mix. This is a track that Nico Rosberg has been quick at before and of course Michael Schumacher has won the race 5 times. Robert Kubica showed impressive speed on the harder tyre in the Renault. The car should suit the track with its good traction and short wheelbase. McLaren seemed to have some issues, particularly in getting the tyres switched on for a flying lap. Perhaps they didn't show their full hand but it seems that Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button could struggle to make the front rows tomorrow.
Sebastien Buemi and Adrian Sutil were 2 others who impressed while Lotus were comfortably leading the new team battle. Jarno Trulli has never been out-qualified by his team mate in 13 Monaco sessions but Heikki Kovalainen has pegged him so far this year so Trulli may need to pull out a special lap like he has done many times before. HRT were going slower than the leading GP2 cars and whether they go out at the end of Q1 could determine how much havoc and annoyance there will be when it comes to the crunch.
Perhaps on Sunday, the long runs will bring more for McLaren. Last year many drivers, most notably Sebastian Vettel, struggled on the super-soft tyres. So far this season we've seen most cars use the softer tyre in Q3. To compete at the front will require this tyre but could the harder compound offer an avenue of points on Sunday? The ability to run a long first stint, coupled with the possibilty of a Safety Car period could see some take this option. It'll be very interesting to see if anyone tries that and I will analyse the grid and potential race scanieros tomorrow. Before that though, the teams will want to navigate through the 24 car jam that will be Q1 safely. Free practice 3 is at 10am British Summer Time with qualifying beginning at 1pm. Analysis and Assessment on the blog over the weekend with the latest news and updates on Twitter