Monaco GP Strategy Analysis: The Undercut will be powerful

Luca Manacorda, Jaden Diaz
26 May, 2024

Charles Leclerc will start from pole position on the starting grid of the Monaco GP for the third time in his career. A new tasty opportunity to try to seize the victory – and the podium – which have always eluded him so far in his home race. The Monegasque at the start will have to watch his back, especially from Oscar Piastri. The Australian did extremely well to deny Ferrari a key strategic advantage in qualifying.

Carlos Sainz will start third. Both Maranello drivers established the importance of working together in today’s race. The Spaniard even specified that he would do everything possible to help Leclerc achieve victory.

Overtaking Piastri at the start would be perfect, although this will be very difficult. The Ferrari-McLaren battle is completed by Lando Norris’ fourth place, which gives the Woking team plenty of strategic options.

There is also curiosity about what will happen behind the leaders. Max Verstappen starts from an unusually low position. Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez face a nearly impossible mission to get points.

In Monte Carlo, strategy is always impacted by the Safety Car and possible undercuts.

The Monaco GP is the F1 World Championship event where the starting position is of the utmost importance. Starting in front of everyone allows you to set up the race according to your plans, and since overtaking is almost impossible, the pace can also be kept under control, at least until the stops for tyre changes begin. 

In Monte Carlo, the one-stop strategy is practically mandatory unless – as happened in recent editions – the rain comes to mix the cards on the table.

Therefore, the tyre compound chosen at the start is essential. Considering the possibility of a Safety Car, having strategic flexibility is key. The low-speed nature of this circuit, alongside the tendencies for trains to form, often allows drivers to extend their stints.

Starting with the Soft allows for a better start off the line and a half-chance to overtake into turn 1. The softer compound from 0 to 150 km/h guarantees a delta of 3.17 m on the Medium and 5.4 meters on the Hard. The pit lane is just over 300 m long, and the average travel time, including stopping, is around 20 seconds.

Obviously a lot depends on who will try to make an undercut – often decisive in Monte Carlo. Whoever stops first takes a great risk, whilst accepting it is the best chance to climb the field. The first stop also tends to create a chain reaction.

The situation between the leading drivers in terms of sets of tyres available for the race is quite similar. The two Ferraris have four sets of used Softs left and none new, similar to the other drivers who reached Q3.

Ferrari and Leclerc have a great opportunity to win the Monaco GP, but as the recent disappointments on this track teach us, we will have to make no mistakes in controlling the race.

Team principal Fred Vasseur also reiterated this:

“Winning the race is not a given, we will have to do everything properly.”

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