MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Monaco GP

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It’s the big one, folks. The Monaco Grand Prix is unquestionably the yearly highlight on the Formula 1 calendar, mixing the glitz and glamor with one of the most exciting races of the year.

Monaco is widely regarded as the litmus test to see whether or not a driver is made of champion material. To firmly establish yourself as one of the greats in the sport, this race is one that you need to win. Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel all have, but unless you’re driving a Mercedes, it’s unlikely you’ll be tasting the winner’s champagne this year.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race winner: Nico Rosberg. I still maintain that Nico will win the title, and Monaco is the perfect place for him to stop Lewis’ winning streak. He won here last year, and if he can stick it on pole on Saturday, I see no reason why he can’t do it again in 2014.

Surprising finish: Jules Bianchi. Perhaps it’s the optimist in me, but if we get a crazy race and a number of retirements, Jules could yet better Max Chilton’s current top result of P13, or even nick a point. Maybe a bit of a longshot, but if it is going to happen anywhere, it’s Monaco.

Most to prove: Sauber. They’ve been dreadful this year, and really could do with a result in Monaco. Adrian, Esteban, just keep it out of the walls and you should be okay. Seriously in need of points, though.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. Although the track occasionally throws up a surprise – teammate Nico Rosberg winning last year wasn’t an obvious pick, and guys like Jarno Trulli and Olivier Panis have won here in the past – I don’t see the weekend shaping up as anyone being able to beat the Mercedes. Hamilton’s roll is hard to stop at the moment, as is the W05 chassis.

Surprising finish: Romain Grosjean. Lotus seems to have turned the corner performance wise starting in Spain and as my colleague Luke wrote over the weekend, this is a big weekend for Romain to show what he can do at a track where he has a checkered past. If a top-five is possible for Lotus, it’s going to be via “RoGro,” and not Pastor Maldonado (even though he’s run well here in the past, too, he’d be a bigger surprise finishing well to me).

Most to prove: McLaren. This is the marquee event. This is a marquee team. You haven’t scored in three races lads. Get on with it. 

Christopher Estrada (@estradawriting)

Race winner: Lewis Hamilton. Mercedes will triumph once again in Monte Carlo, but this time, it will be Hamilton drinking the champagne after his fifth consecutive Grand Prix win.

Surprising finish: Romain Grosjean. Lotus and Grosjean finally got on the board last time out in Spain, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Frenchman put his 2013 Monaco crash with Daniel Ricciardo behind him with another points run.

Most to prove: Felipe Massa. As I wrote on Monday, his 2013 visit to Monaco for Ferrari was dreadful and he’s trying to get himself sorted at Williams. A good finish here should boost his confidence considerably.

Jerry Bonkowski (@JerryBonkowski)

Race winner: Nico Rosberg. It’s getting harder and harder to pick against the Mercedes juggernaut of Rosberg and teammate Lewis Hamilton. So as the old saying goes, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Look for another 1-2 Mercedes finish with Rosberg crossing the finish line ahead of Hamilton.

Surprising finish: Kimi Raikkonen. Old habits die hard. We’ve been waiting all season thus far for Kimi to get moving upward in the standings, but he just seems to have hit a wall (literally, not figuratively). Will Monaco be Kimi’s breakout and breakthrough race? We hope so. We’ll keep riding this horse until it finally gets to galloping to a podium finish. With teammate Fernando Alonso doing so well, there’s no reason Kimi why can’t follow suit.

Most to prove: Felipe Massa. Sitting 12th in the standings and with only 12 points thus far this season, we would have thought Massa would be ranked a lot higher than he is heading into Monaco. Massa is far better than his ranking indicates. While we’re not expecting a miracle such as a win, a podium finish would do wonders. The problem is he has a number of other drivers ranked ahead of him that will likely beat him to the podium.

Alonso enjoys maiden Toyota LMP1 test, ends as second-fastest rookie

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Fernando Alonso took his first step towards a possible entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2018 by testing an LMP1 car for the first time with Toyota in Bahrain on Sunday.

Two-time Formula 1 world champion Alonso has made no secret of his desire to race at Le Mans, having signed a deal to race in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January as preparation for a possible entry at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Toyota confirmed after Saturday’s FIA World Endurance Championship finale in Bahrain that Alonso would be testing its TS050 Hybrid LMP1 car in the traditional rookie test on Sunday.

Alonso was given the car for the bulk of the five-hour test day following an initial shakedown by Sebastien Buemi, completing 113 laps in total – more than any other driver – and posting a best lap time of 1:43.013.

“It was a great day,” Alonso said. “Testing an LMP1 car is always a nice thing for any racing driver because these cars are amazing to drive. They are very consistent throughout a stint which is a positive thing.

“I have wanted to test a car like this for a long time now and today I could achieve that, so I am happy.”

However, Alonso did not finish as the fastest rookie, with that honor instead going to Pietro Fittipaldi, who was the final driver to drive the Porsche 919 Hybrid ahead of the closure of the German marque’s LMP1 program.

Alonso is now set to head back to Europe before a test in United Autosports’ LMP2 car on Tuesday as part of his Daytona preparation, before then returning to the Middle East for the F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi next weekend.