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Tight midfield in Monaco: Ocon beats Alonso and Sainz

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Narrow midfield in Monaco
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A t Thursday it looked like that Renault is the fourth force on the narrow street circuit in the Principality. In the third training session, there were signs of a trend reversal. Suddenly both Toro Rosso sat in front of Carlos Sainz's nose. A good three hours later it was Esteban Ocon's Force India and Fernando Alonso's McLaren.

Hulkenberg blocked front tires

The first six were out of reach for the midfield teams. It separated them more than six tenths of a second from Valtteri Bottas in fifth place. Between positions six and ten, however, it was the little things that made the difference. The gap between the sixth placed Ocon and the slowest car in qualifying round three, driven by Pierre Gasly, was just 0.160 seconds.

Let's start with Renault. The French factory racing team lost Nico Hülkenberg in the second round. “The tires blocked when braking into turn ten. That's why I didn't hit the line. That cost me two tenths of a second, ”reported the 2015 Le Mans winner. Two tenths in the chicane after the tunnel that prevented the jump in Q3. After all, Hülkenberg is the first driver to have a free choice of tires at the start. That can be an advantage. Depending on whether he is driving counter-cyclically and whether safety car or VSC phases are favorable for him. Hülkenberg assumes a one-stop race. “It'll either be boring or crazy. Just like always in Monaco. ”

Teammate Sainz is getting better and better after losing training at the beginning of the year. Participation in Q3 was successful for the sixth time in the sixth race. Until then it was a difficult road. “The fight began with the first round in qualifying. I had to conjure up a few crazy laps to get that far. ”The first attempt in the final phase even brought him to sixth place for the time being. “We don't belong there in terms of speed this weekend.” In the final sprint, the Spaniard fell two positions back.

Sainz reduces the strength of the opponents to a standstill in his own camp. “Our balance in the car has been the same since Thursday. The route has evolved. The others with her. Our opponents were simply able to improve. ”The new bargeboards are barely noticeable in the cockpit. “Barcelona and Monaco are simply too different to make out these little things,” says Hülkenberg.

Pessimism becomesJoy

Force India missed the top 10 in the second and third practice sessions. The team leadership was pessimistic about the chances of making it into Q3. At the crucial moment, however, the racing team with the strikingly colored racing cars was there. “Small changes to the setup got us going. The balance was right, the drivers got more and more confidence, ”said team manager Andy Stevenson. Ocon disenchanted Alonso and Sainz, although “it wasn't my best lap of the weekend. But the time was right ”. Sergio Perez cost the middle sector a better starting position for the battle over 78 rounds. “I got perfect laps in Q1 and Q2. In Q3 I lost the feeling for the car a bit. ”

Fernando Alonso kept his clean slate at McLaren. The double world champion from 2005 and 2006 defeated Stoffel Vandoorne for the sixth time in the sixth qualifying. It hadn't looked like that after the training. Only a radical change in the setup helped. “The balance wasn't right in the third training session. I lost half a second even though I drove flawlessly. In the qualification it was then true. With every lap, I felt more grip, ”said Alonso, summing up his 60 minutes. McLaren has to put up with critical questions given the backlog on Red Bull. The leader of the team knows that too. Alonso: “We have to be measured against Red Bull. They drive the same engine. We have to look where they are better and draw the right conclusions. ”

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