With the F1 crown jewel that is Monaco looming ahead, McLaren must feel more confident after Hamilton’s triumphant display in Turkey.
Monaco has leaned towards the McLaren set-up and chassis with five wins in the past 10 years at the twisty street-circuit.
2007’s display from McLaren showed dominance with a one-two finish and pole position from Fernando Alonso—but the two-time world champion has returned to Renault and left McLaren with an almost all-rookie lineup.
Ferrari’s early dominance hasn’t come as a surprise, with their much larger budget than McLaren, and their huge $100 million fine last year—which could be the reason for a lack of pace since the opening race in Australia. The gap was put at five-hundredths of a second (a lifetime in F1) in Barcelona when Ferrari got their epic one-two, but McLaren’s blistering pace in Turkey has silenced F1 critics criticising the MP4-23.
Heikki Kovalainen must be feeling the pressure to perform, with some relatively low finishing positions of late, although he has had the pace in qualifying. If he is to have any chance of winning—or even coming close—to the drivers' championship and helping McLaren to close the 21-point lead Ferrari have in the constructors championship, he really needs to finish on the podium at Monaco.
McLaren won’t have an easy ride on Sunday. Neither will Ferrari. But they should both be confident of top-five qualifying positions.
However, the start of the Monaco Grand Prix is notorious for crashes in the first corner—and as we saw in Turkey, minor contact (such as between Raikkonen and Heikki) can spoil the race for any driver.
Will this open the door for a BMW attack or even a move from Renault/Red Bull? Who knows...