Will Red Bull’s 100 per cent win record in 2023 come to an end at the Monaco GP? Sky Sports F1’s Simon Lazenby thinks four teams are in contention for pole position on Saturday; Ted Kravitz tips Fernando Alonso for win on Sunday; Watch the Monaco GP live on Sky Sports F1
Last Updated: 25/05/23 7:10pm
The Monaco GP this weekend looks set to have the first four-team battle at the front of the 2023 season, according to the Sky Sports F1 pundits.
Red Bull have dominated the year so far, winning all five grands prix plus the Baku Sprint, but Formula 1’s arrival in Monte Carlo may see that about to change.
The unique characteristics of the historic Circuit de Monaco’s narrow streets can see the form book go out the window, and this year may be no different as Red Bull’s straight-line speed advantage is somewhat negated while Aston Martin and Ferrari can capitalise on their strength in slow-speed corners.
Mercedes will also arrive in Monaco with their big upgrade package for the first time, following the cancellation of the Emilia Romagna GP, which they hope will put them back in race-winning contention and adds more intrigue to the weekend.
With Saturday’s qualifying session arguably the most important of the year, Sky Sports F1’s Simon Lazenby feels the battle to claim pole position will be closer than ever.
“I think there are four teams in it,” he said on the latest edition of the Sky Sports F1 Podcast.
“If we take Monaco to be, let’s face it, all about Saturday these days. Things can happen in the race – maybe we’ll get some rain or something will happen clever strategically or strategic failures – but I think there are potentially four teams in it on Saturday around those streets.
“Mercedes have struggled in a straight line but they seem to be OK in the slower-speed corners and this is obviously a high-downforce track.
“Ferrari’s issues have not been about rotation, it’s been rear instability in high-speed corners.
“Aston Martin know they’re strong in low and medium-speed corners and again not in a straight line.
“And the RB19 is going to be strong.
“I love qualifying Saturday, it’s one of my favourite days of the year, because you just know that everything is geared towards it.”
Monaco’s short lap – at just 3.337km long – could also exacerbate one of the very few weaknesses Red Bull’s RB19 has in that it struggles to get its tyres up to working temperature to optimise one-lap performance.
Sky Sports F1’s Ted Kravitz also expects Red Bull to come under more pressure this weekend.
“Arguably Red Bull lost out from not having Imola because now they’re going to Monaco and they’re faced with the Fernando Alonso threat,” Kravitz said.
“He is well motivated and yes Aston Martin are going to need everything to go perfectly for them in Monaco in order to beat Red Bull because the RB19 will still be a good car in Monaco.
“And then you’ve got the Mercedes upgrades which they are bringing to Monaco. Everyone says you’ll be crazy to bring upgrades to Monaco but a) they don’t have any choice because they’ve already redone the car with all the radiators and everything and b) you still need a good car around Monaco!”
Alonso to end 10-year win drought? Verstappen spurred on by 2022 fallout?
After picking up four podiums in his opening five races for Aston Martin, Alonso has named Monaco as one of the tracks he can pick up a win this year.
The Spaniard has been stuck on 32 wins since the 2013 Spanish GP and Kravitz is tipping the two-time world champion to end that drought.
“I’m going with the 33rd win for Fernando Alonso. I’m going to get aboard the hype train,” Kravitz said.
“I know he’s invested a lot into it, it’s a bit of a draggy car but it’s got great tyre performance and he’s such a clever guy who knows how to win around Monaco. I know Max does and I know Lewis does, but I just think it’s the result he’s after and I think it’s kind of the result Formula 1 needs after Imola.”
However, championship leader Max Verstappen has added incentive to win in Monaco again after the events of 12 months ago.
It was Sergio Perez’s qualifying crash in Monaco that allegedly sowed the seeds of a rift between the Red Bull team-mates during the latter stages of 2022. Perez crashed at Portier on his final lap in qualifying which denied Verstappen the chance of beating Charles Leclerc’s pole time as the Red Bulls lined up third and fourth on the grid. Perez would win a wet-dry race on the Sunday while Verstappen would finish third behind Carlos Sainz.
Verstappen would then refuse a team order to let Perez past at the Brazilian GP, citing an incident between the pair earlier in the season as his reason for doing so.
Lazenby said: “It’s all been smiles between the Red Bull pairing this year considering how it finished last year but let’s not forget how it started. It started in Monaco with Perez’s little ‘park’.”
“That’s the other reason why Verstappen wants to win and why I’m completely wrong on Alonso winning Monaco,” Kravitz continued.
“Verstappen will want to win Monaco because of the disappointment of last year.”
Sky Sports F1’s live Monaco GP schedule
Friday May 26
10.05am: F3 Qualifying
12pm: Monaco GP Practice One (session starts 12.30pm)
2.05pm: F2 Qualifying
3.45pm: Monaco GP Practice Two (session starts 4pm)
5.30pm: The F1 Show: Monaco
Saturday May 27
9.55am: F3 Sprint
11.15am: Monaco GP Practice Three (session starts 11.30am)
1.30pm: F2 Sprint
2:30pm: Monaco GP Qualifying build-up
3pm: Monaco GP Qualifying
4.45pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook
Sunday May 28
7.15am: F3 Feature Race
8.45am: F2 Feature Race
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday Monaco GP build-up
2pm: THE MONACO GRAND PRIX
4pm: Chequered Flag Monaco GP reaction
5pm: Ted’s Notebook
5.30pm: The 107th Indy 500
Formula 1 now heads to the streets of Monaco for the sixth Grand Prix of the 2023 season – watch all the action on Sky Sports F1 from May 26-28. Get Sky Sports