Hamilton banking on good qualifying in Monaco

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Lewis Hamilton is keen on continuing Mercedes’ good form in qualifying at next weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, but he has underlined the importance of improving his race pace on Sunday after a reason run of poor results.

The team has failed to convert any of its three pole positions so far in 2013, but Hamilton is sure that the team is moving in the right direction.

“Perhaps more than at many other tracks, qualifying and getting the best possible track position is crucial in Monaco, but we have to keep our focus on Sunday as well and keep working to improve our race pace,” Hamilton explained in a team statement. “Everyone is working really hard and I know we can get there. We just need to keep motivated and work it out together.

“Whilst there hasn’t been a lot of time since Barcelona, we’ve been working hard to put the disappointment of the last race behind us and focus on the opportunities ahead.

The Monaco Grand Prix is a favorite of Hamilton’s, with the British driver winning the event in 2008. Although the street circuit may pose an extra challenge to the drivers, this only adds to the excitement for Hamilton.

“Monaco is one of my favorite races of the year and I love driving the streets there. As a driver, you know that you have to perform on every single lap and it’s a challenge that I really enjoy. It’s a real experience to see the barriers flashing past at high speed and I love the fact that the fans can get so close to the track making for a great atmosphere.”

Due to their recent form, it would be brave to bet against Mercedes claiming pole position in Monaco. However, with their race pace still lagging behind that of Ferrari, Red Bull and Lotus, the team will need to have made some improvement over the two week break if they are to end their winless streak in Monaco.

Hartley to make F1 debut from back of grid after penalty

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Brendon Hartley’s hopes of a points finish on his Formula 1 debut took a hit on Friday after the FIA confirmed the Toro Rosso driver will start the United States Grand Prix from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty.

Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso as a surprise replacement for Pierre Gasly in Austin, with the Frenchman tied up with Super Formula duties at Suzuka this weekend.

Hartley took to the track in an official grand prix session for the first time on Friday in Austin, marking his first run-out in an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 20120.

However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer confirmed in his pre-race report that changes had been made to the power unit on Hartley’s Toro Rosso car since the last race in Japan, triggering a grid penalty.

Toro Rosso elected to take a new internal combustion engine, MGU-H, energy store and control electronics on Hartley’s Renault power unit, totaling a 25-place grid drop that will be applied after qualifying. Confirmation of the penalty is set to follow later today.

The penalty comes as a setback for Hartley, but was necessary as Toro Rosso found itself short on engine elements to get to the end of the season.

Hartley is not the only driver to have a penalty confirmed, with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne also taking new engine elements, also confirmed in Bauer’s report.

A new ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H for Hulkenberg will see him drop 20 places on the grid, while an eighth ICE of the year for Vandoorne will trigger a five-place drop.