Vettel looks to end Fer­rari’s 16-year Monaco wait

New Straits Times - - Sport -

CHAM­PI­ONSHIP leader Se­bas­tian Vettel will this week­end seek to in­crease his ad­van­tage and in­flict a de­mor­al­is­ing blow to his ri­vals by se­cur­ing Fer­rari’s first win at the Monaco Grand Prix since 2001.

The four-time cham­pion leads Lewis Hamil­ton of Mercedes by six points af­ter five of this season’s 20 races, but heads into the clas­sic 78-lap contest on the un­for­giv­ing streets of the Mediter­ranean prin­ci­pal­ity know­ing a vic­tory could prove de­ci­sive in their tight ti­tle fight.

He knows also that there is some con­cern at Mercedes that their car, with a much longer wheel-base, could strug­gle to match Fer­rari’s agility on the fa­mous tight and twist­ing track where Hamil­ton, who loves the chal­lenge, won last year.

The three-time cham­pion will be seek­ing his third Monaco win af­ter tri­umph­ing also in 2008 while Vettel, who won for Red Bull in 2011, is chas­ing his sec­ond win and, learn­ing of Mercedes’ wor­ries, will fancy his chances.

“At the mo­ment, Fer­rari have cer­tain ad­van­tages there,” said Mercedes team chair­man Niki Lauda.

“We will have our prob­lems with our long­est wheel-base through the tight cor­ners. It will be even worse than in Sin­ga­pore.”

De­spite win­ning ev­ery race in Monte Carlo since 2013, Mercedes ap­pear to be truly afraid that they will start with a dis­ad­van­tage.

Valt­teri Bot­tas, who has re­placed re­tired world cham­pion Nico Ros­berg as Hamil­ton’s team­mate, warned: “A car with the long­est wheel­base on a track with so many slow cor­ners — we could be slower than them.”

Daniel Ric­cia­rdo, who lost a near-cer­tain vic­tory last year due to a Red Bull tac­ti­cal bun­gle, will also be a threat to the lead­ers in what is ex­pected to be an in­trigu­ing scrap in qual­i­fy­ing and the race.

“Last year was dis­ap­point­ing for me as I felt a win was on the cards,” said Ric­cia­rdo.

“But I am old enough and ma­ture

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