At one of the races where qualifying high up the grid is most important, Red Bull completed its dominance of the Monaco weekend so far by claiming pole position and a new track record with Daniel Ricciardo, on the debut for the new Pink hypersoft tyre.
Ricciardo became only the third driver this year (after Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton) to receive the Pirelli Pole Position Award, which on this occasion was presented by three-time Monaco winner Sir Jackie Stewart, having lowered last year’s pole time by more than 1.3 seconds.
Although the hypersoft showed some degradation during free practice as expected, one stop is still the most likely race strategy due to the importance of track position on this famously narrow street circuit.
Conditions remained dry and warm today and are expected to stay the same tomorrow.
Pirelli Racing Manager Mario Isola said: “The hypersoft is definitely a tyre that will be used extensively during the race, but the key to it will be to avoid graining, especially at the front, in order to keep degradation under control. The drivers who are able to do that will have an advantage. As usual those starting outside the top 10 have a free choice of tyres, and it will be interesting to see if they adopt alternative tactics at a race where the strategy has always been quite straightforward up to now, depending as always on safety cars: a reasonably common occurrence here. While Monaco is typical of nowhere else, the extra speed and therefore degradation of the new hypersoft has already added another dimension. Tomorrow we will see how this translates into a race context: it’s going to be particularly fascinating as well to see what Max Verstappen can do from the back.” – he concluded.
HOW THE TYRES BEHAVED TODAY
HYPERSOFT – Around a second faster than ultrasoft, so used for qualifying by most drivers.
ULTRASOFT – Used in Q2 by Mercedes and a possible start tyre for anyone outside the top 10.
SUPERSOFT – Depending on hypersoft degradation, a potential option for the second stint.