As most F1 fans know, FP1 and 2 are really pretty useless to determining a pecking order for qualifying and the race without some more in depth analysis. Unfortunately, I do not have the time or the resources for this right now so I will resort, along with most other F1 journalists, to baseless speculation based on a few key highlights.
The first highlight of note is the relative lack of running done by Kimi Raikkonnen due to a steering swap done during FP1. Many are calling this a tragedy and thus writing the Iceman off for the race. I think, however, that this is a mistake. As all the drivers and commentators have been rattling all week, Monaco is the one place where a driver can make a real difference. I would also argue that a motivated Kimi Raikkonen is among the three or four fastest drivers on the grid (Vettel, Hamilton Alonso and maybe Button). There should be no doubt that the Iceman is motivated. There have now been two races that he believes he should have won and he loves Monaco.
The other highlight of note is the return of Sergio Perez to the site of his concussion inducing accident last year duing Qualifying. As everyone is saying, the barrier has been pushed back 14.6m, yada yada yada. Perez, however, has a unique combination of talents that mean that he may well enter the fray at the front. He qualifies better than his team mate and is a bit of a “tire whisperer,” whatever that means. Basically, he may enjoy track position and have to stop less come race time. As everyone is saying, that is the key for a track that is difficult to pass at (though not impossible, see Hamilton v Massa 2011) and with a very slow pit lane.
Predictions for the race? I am not stupid enough to try to guess a finishing or qualifying order, but I would beware of a resurgent Massa (see relative times in FP1 and 2), an extremely confident Maldonado (maybe too confident?) and a quietly confident Perez (see above).
That being said, at the end of the day, its going to be the main fighters. Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton, Button and Raikkonen are all going to be there or there abouts. We’ll see.