June 7th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Nico Rosberg won the Monaco Grand Prix two weeks ago, after dominating every session of the event. This weekend, Mercedes are out to prove that Monaco was no fluke. And so far, they can be well satisfied with the on-track results. Nico Rosberg spent much of the first practice session at the sharp end of the lap times, looking quick and confident in the wet conditions. In the dry in FP2, Lewis Hamilton posted the second fastest time, just a whisker behind Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was alwasy going to suit Mercedes. The circuit places a heavy emphasis on traction out of the slow corners, which is a strength of this year's Mercedes. So it comes as no real surprise to see Mercedes high up the dry weather lap times. What remains to be seen is just how well Rosberg and Hamilton can hold their tyres together in Sunday's race. Among the top four teams - Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus - the winner could be the team and driver who makes the fewest pit stops. In that regard, Mercedes do not have a good track record.
But despite their season-long tyre management issues, the mood at Mercedes is positive after Friday practice. Both drivers are feeling comfortable in their cars, and the car appears to be reacting well in changeable conditions. Saturday is expected to be wet, which could make the damp first practice session all the more important when tomorrow afternoon's qualifying session rolls around.
This is what the team had to say after Friday practice:
Lewis Hamilton: "Today has gone pretty well for us and I'm pleased that it dried out this afternoon so we could get some decent running in. The track is definitely not at its full potential yet but we were able to start analysing the tyres over longer runs and work on getting them up to speed for the first lap. The car felt pretty good today and I tried a couple of different things over the two sessions which made me feel a little more comfortable so that's positive. Hopefully it will be dry for qualifying tomorrow and we can have a strong day."
Nico Rosberg: "The first session was interesting and we learned a lot when the track was drying out. This afternoon, we wanted to learn how the new development tyre works: I had some problems warning up the fronts and also flat-spotted them on my run. All in all, it was a decent day, although I need to see how the long-run pace compared to the others. The track was very cool today and pretty challenging, but I felt very comfortable in both conditions. So hopefully this will be a good weekend for us again."
Ross Brawn: "It was nice to get back to racing today and we had a good session this afternoon in particular, completing the work we wanted to do. Fortunately, the circuit dried out this afternoon which allowed everybody to run the development tyres, and our first impressions were positive. We ran our normal programme when the conditions allowed, although it was somewhat abbreviated because we had to pack our work into a single session, and like our rivals we got some good high-fuel running done towards the end of the afternoon. Of course, today's running was not entirely representative because the conditions were cool and the track green, so that makes it an added challenge to extrapolate what we will need in terms of set-up for Sunday. That will be a nice engineering challenge, especially if it turns out wet tomorrow, as predicted."
Toto Wolff: "We showed a solid level of performance today on both the short and long runs. The first indications are good for the weekend, although we should also be realistic that the cool temperatures probably suited us, too. A positive first day overall, which we need to build on overnight to ensure we are competitive in both qualifying and the race."