Defending champion Jenson Button says he feels that drivers can't afford to back off in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix in the hope of securing a clear run on track – without running the risk of making an early exit from the session.
The expanded grid for the 2010 season – and the slower pace of the three news teams – had led to calls for Q1 to be amended for the Monaco weekend to give drivers a better chance of having a clean lap during the session, although teams were unable to agree on a proposal.
It means that the first part of qualifying in the principality could be the most important Q1 session of the year to date as drivers look to find a clear lap, with qualifying being vital to a good race result due to the lack of overtaking opportunities.
The issue of traffic was one raised during the pre-event press conference for the race, and while Virgin's Timo Glock was quick to point out that the GP2 field is able to qualify without problems, Button admitted that the session could well cause problems for some drivers.
“There's obviously a bigger time difference between the cars in F1 than in GP2 but it's going to be tricky for all of us,” he said. “Normally, if you're on a flying lap and you find traffic, you want to back out of it and try and find space for the next lap but I think we've got to just keep hammering it around. I don't think we can back off. We've got to just try and stay on it, because that might be the quickest lap we do.
“I think it's going to be pretty tricky in Q1 but we'll cope, I'm sure. A few of us will be angry at the end of Q1 and not happy but we've all got to deal with the same situation.”
Ferrari's Felipe Massa agreed that finding a clear lap would be far from straightforward, but said that drivers simply had to live with the decision taken.
“When you are qualifying and you cannot do your lap it's always not nice,” he said. “Here it is the worst track for that. I think we've done a good job until now in qualifying: Q1, Q2 and Q3 but here will be a big problem, I think, especially in Q1. It would be nice to have a little bit different qualifying. At least you can make it more real, to give the possibility for every driver to do his best. I think to find a free lap here will not be easy. But anyway, the decision has been made and so we need to try to do our best.”
Having been one of the drivers in the slower group of cars, Glock has seen his season so far littered by blue flags as he is forced to yield to quicker cars behind, and he admitted that being off the pace of the frontrunners was going to make things more difficult on the streets of Monte Carlo.
“Qualifying will be difficult,” the German said. “For us we have to find a way to get two runs in with a clean lap. But the race is another point. We had a lot of blue flags coming up in Barcelona and Barcelona is a really easy track to have a look at your mirrors and see and judge where the others are. That will be a bit more challenging here.
“But the team is doing a really good job on that and try to inform me as much as possible. We will see how we get around it.”