It is standard practice to describe the Monaco Grand Prix as a lottery and it's even more of a cliche this year, as there does not seem to be a clear favourite going into the weekend. Adding a further element of uncertainty was the rain, which was the dominant feature of the second free practice session: right from the opening moments, the conditions were never ideal, neither for the slicks, nor for the intermediate tyres. This meant that practically no one was able to work through the usual programme relating to tyre behaviour over a long run. In total, the two F2012s completed 85 laps, 45 with Fernando Alonso driving and 40 in the hands of Felipe Massa.
Fernando Alonso: For we drivers, Thursday in Monaco provides the best opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with a very unique track. The more you go round, the more you gain confidence and the harder you can push to bring the lap time down. This morning, we were able to get through our planned programme without any trouble, but in the afternoon, the rain came to spoil our plans and those of the others too. We weren't able to even fit the Supersoft and only Button was able to find the right window to make the most of the Option, which is how he set the fastest time. Now, we must see what the weather will be like on Saturday morning: if it turns out to be dry then maybe we will do more laps than usual, but even if it rains we will have to do work aimed at the race. In fact, it's not as though we understood much more when on the Intermediates, given that the track was only damp in places and so it wasn't very representative. We can't control the weather, we can only adapt to it as it changes. As for the car, I would say the first impressions are quite positive: everything seems to respond as we would expect. We only made a few small modifications to the set-up, trying to improve it, but it's obviously too early to draw any conclusions. Let's say the weekend has got off on the right foot for us: now we must try and keep going down this path.
Felipe Massa: We weren't able to do as much running as we would have liked because of the light rain that fell this afternoon, but all the same, I am happy with the way things went on this Monaco Thursday. The car seemed to me to be okay right from the start of the first session, with a good balance in all conditions and with slightly better traction than we had expected. Even when we ran the Intermediates in the final part of the second session, the feeling was still positive. As for the tyres, we didn't even fit the Supersoft, therefore we can't say anything about their behaviour, while the Softs worked well, also in terms of their degradation. Sure, there is still plenty of work to do to fine tune all the set-up details, but we have an extra day to think about what to do to improve in this area. It's hard to make predictions about qualifying and, even more so for the race, but definitely we can say the first day of free practice can be considered a positive one.
Pat Fry: The rain upset our programme a bit in the second session, preventing us from getting through the usual FP2 work, centred on a comparison of the two types of tyre brought here by Pirelli. This morning, we worked mainly on the set-up of the car, which has no significant new parts apart from the usual adjustments typically required for this track. In the afternoon, we actually wanted to try both tyres over a short and a long run, but we didn't even manage a single lap on the Supersoft. In the end, we used a set of Intermediates with both drivers but, even in this case, the track conditions were not exactly ideal for this tyre. The same applied to almost everyone, therefore relatively speaking, we are not at any disadvantage. Clearly, we have less data available with which to define the best strategy for Sunday's race: a bit more improvisation will be called for and we will need to be even more ready to react to every eventuality. We have no had any problems of any sort on both cars, which is always positive on a track like this.
Check out our Thursday gallery, here.