I got back home to Monaco on Monday morning, after a very disappointing weekend at the Spanish Grand Prix. We had hoped to do much better than this in performance terms and also I suffered our first technical failure of the season. We had expected our main rivals to be strong in Barcelona, given the fact our car is not quite as efficient as theirs in terms of aerodynamic downforce. However, what we had not expected was to suffer so much on the new Hard compound tyre that Pirelli had introduced for this race. We had already found life difficult on the original version of the Hard and we had seen that we struggled a bit more than the others on these. Then with these new hards we discovered we were having an even tougher time to get them to work properly and I would say we lost two or two and a half seconds when compared to our lap times on the Soft. You could see the effect clearly in the race. Myself and Fernando were both able to fight at first with him doing better than me as he was actually at the front thanks to his start, while I was fighting with the Mercedes guys, passing them to move up to sixth. But after that, once I fitted the hard tyres, it was almost impossible to drive the car. I ended up losing all the places I had gained, then I had a spin and eventually with a few laps to go, I had to park the car at the side of the track as I could not select any gears. Meanwhile Fernando went from leading the race to being one lap down within the space of about 40 laps which is an unbelievable situation. I would say that in Spain, it looked as though Red Bull and McLaren were the only teams able to exploit the hard tyres properly.
Staying on the subject of tyres, starting with free practice this Thursday at Monaco, we begin a run of three Grands Prix using Pirelli’s Soft and Super Soft and that should work better for us. They will definitely suit the characteristics of our car which is a positive factor. We have seen this year that the biggest factor when it comes to passing another car is the tyres and we will have overtaking this year, even in Monaco, because of that. When a car in front of you is struggling with worn tyres, it will have very poor traction and even in places such as the exit to the chicane after the tunnel, if you don’t have traction, you will lose position before Tabac. I believe degradation will play a significant role on this track.
I enjoy the whole Monaco weekend and it is an important event on the calendar, but when I’m there I don’t walk to the track in the morning thinking about it being the most famous motor race in the world. It’s another race to concentrate on and it has a unique challenge because of the track itself. Nothing compares because even if Singapore comes close, that track is much bigger. So Monaco is just another race where you have to work hard and try to do your best. It’s nice to be home and I’m very lucky as I think I’m one of the few drivers to have two real home races, not just races that take place in the country you come from. Both here and Sao Paolo I actually get to sleep in my own bed in my own home and then have a short trip to the track. It’s another very nice aspect of this weekend, during which I hope we can make up for the disappointment of Spain.
At least we don’t have long to wait to be on track again!