Monaco GP: Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull on the battle for victory
"This track is unique and anything can happen this weekend," says Vettel as Ferrari and Red Bull look to counter Mercedes' winning run
By James Galloway in Monaco and Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 23/05/19 9:33am
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel insists "anything can happen" at this weekend's Monaco GP - with favourites Mercedes staying "cautious" about their chances at F1's most-famous street race.
Mercedes arrive in the Principality on a record run of five consecutive one-twos from the start of the season and, now armed with a car that is excelling in slow corners, are considered the team to beat here.
However, Monaco has not proved the happiest of recent hunting ground F1's five-time champions.
Mercedes last claimed pole in 2015 while their last victory, Lewis Hamilton's in 2016, was fortunate after a Red Bull pit-stop blunder.
Mercedes have since seen Ferrari dominate in 2017 and then Red Bull lead from the front with Daniel Ricciardo last year, leaving Vettel to believe quirky Monaco could change 2019's early-season formbook.
"This track is unique and anything can happen this weekend," said Vettel, who trails championship leader Lewis Hamilton by 48 points.
"It's probably irrelevant what the paper might say or the form of the last five races might suggest. Coming here anything can happen."
It is a wait-and-see stance also being adopted by the world champions themselves.
"We are still a bit cautious because it is a very unique track," Valtteri Bottas told Sky Sports F1.
"Last year we had a one-two in Barcelona but we were unable to do that here.
"I think we've again learned lessons and hopefully made the car better. I look forward to and it's a race where I really want to do well."
Red Bull and the Verstappen factor
Meanwhile, what of last year's impressive victors?
Red Bull have often been the team to beat in Monte Carlo with their high-downforce package - with now-Renault man Ricciardo claiming pole and victory last season - but this year it appears the Honda-powered team now have a stronger engine, but weaker chassis.
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Instead, Max Verstappen believes Mercedes, who have frequently struggled in Monaco, come into this year's showpiece with the quickest car for a narrow circuit.
"Mercedes is clearly the favourite," Verstappen said. "I don't think we are as good as we were last year.
"I'm confident we can fight for the podium but we have to find out which step of the podium."
He added to Sky Sports: "Personally I don't think [we can fight Mercedes]. We should target a podium.
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"Of course I want to fight for victory but at the moment I think the package they have is just a bit too strong. We'll give it our very best and hopefully find a good setup, and then you never know."
Verstappen's own Monaco record is strangely underwhelming, with a fifth-place finish his best result in four attempts. Instead, it has been the Dutchman's crashes into the barriers - two in 2015, one in 2016 and one in 2018 - which have instead made the headlines here.
"I've done four, hopefully I'll do another 20. So I have a lot of chances to have a good result," insisted the Dutchman, currently in a rich vein of form.
"Sometimes you have to make mistakes to become a better driver. This was one of them."
Sky F1's Monaco GP schedule
Thursday, May 23
8.10am: F2 Practice Live! (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
9.45am: Monaco GP Practice One build-up (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
10am: Monaco GP Practice One Live! (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
12.15pm: F2 Qualifying Live!
1.45pm: Monaco GP Practice Two build-up (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
2pm: Monaco GP Practice Two Live! (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
4pm: The Story So Far Live!
Friday, May 24
10.20am: F2 Race One Live!
Saturday, May 25
10.45am: Monaco GP Practice Three build-up
11am: Monaco GP Practice Three Live!
12.10pm: Paddock Walkabout Live!
1pm: Monaco GP Qualifying build-up
2pm: MONACO GP QUALIFYING LIVE! (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
3.30pm: The F1 Show Live!
4pm: F2 Race Two Live!
Sunday, May 26
12.30pm: Monaco GP Pit Lane Live! (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
1.30pm: Monaco GP On The Grid Live! (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
2.10pm: THE MONACO GRAND PRIX LIVE! (simulcast on Sky Sports Main Event)
4pm: Monaco GP Paddock Live!
4.30pm: THE INDY 500 LIVE! (Race starts at 5.45pm)
9pm: Monaco GP highlights
10pm: Monaco GP best bits
10.30pm: Monaco GP race replay
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