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My Monaco Grand Prix predictions

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Jonathan Legard | 15:21 UK time, Friday, 22 May 2009

Monaco is the circuit that demands the most out of Formula 1's drivers; it is all about concentration, consistency mixed with a dose of aggression.

If you look at the people who have won this race - Juan Manuel Fangio, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Fernando Alonso - they are all smart drivers who became world champions.

They all knew how to maximise their ability and performance around the streets of Monte Carlo.

Here are my predictions for who I think will do likewise on Sunday:

brawn_monaco_blog595.jpg

1. Jenson Button (Brawn GP)
2. Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
3. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
4. Rubens Barrichello (Brawn GP)
5. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
6. Fernando Alonso (Renault)
7. Mark Webber (Red Bull)
8. Nico Rosberg (Williams)

I am, once again, predicting that championship leader Jenson Button will call on his resources to take the chequered flag in Monaco.

The Brawn Grand Prix driver has always been praised for his smoothness and sensitivity behind the wheel, but sometimes people have questioned whether he has the necessary bite to mix it and charge when he needs to.

If you listen to Jenson Button in recent weeks the one word he has used repeatedly is "aggression".

He knows he has to maintain his title challenge now and keep rolling forward with the momentum, that is so key for him.

Button's doesn't have a great record here, the only time he has picked up any points in Monaco is when he finished second to Jarno Trulli in 2004.

I have picked Button but I am also aware that his Brawn team-mate Rubens Barrichello could be a big threat.

The Brazilian is determined to prove any doubters wrong, after a disappointing race in Barcelona saw him finish second to Button when he lost time on the second stint of his three-stop strategy.

Barrichello was saying earlier in the week that there are three races that he really wants to win - Monza (and he's done that with Ferrari), Monaco and Brazil - and he knows his chances of fulfilling those ambitions are diminishing all the time.

The Brawns looked stunning in practice, they held the track like no other car.

The only other car that came close was Ferrari and that is why I've picked Felipe Massa to collect second.

It's taken a long time for Massa to get in tune with this track and I think he is in the groove right now.

The way he was performing in practice, where he finished second in first practice and fifth in the second session, makes me wonder if he can pull something out of the bag.

Lewis Hamilton's McLaren also looked good during practice in Monaco. The world champion was regularly quite ragged but he was still driving impressively.

Success in Monaco hangs an awful lot on confidence and self-belief; knowing you can put the car where you want it but that you're still in control.

Hamilton has that in spades, he is always talking about how much he loves this track and the buzz of Monaco.

He has been on the podium in his two visits here as an F1 driver; finishing second to his then McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso in 2007, in a race he feels he should have won, and winning it last season.

The Red Bulls had a troubled practice as Sebastian Vettel had to change his engine while Mark Webber was ruffled by a drive-shaft problem.

I still think both Red Bulls will still go well here but I am wondering whether they are still feeling their way after fitting a double diffuser to their car for the first time this season.

It is not just a question of taking one diffuser off and putting another one on and suddenly it's a magic car.

I wonder if their time will come at more high-speed tracks which turn up next on the calendar in Turkey and Britain.

Alonso will do everything he can this weekend to make something happen for Renault.

He is confident he will get into the top five and I am picking him to come home in sixth place. Renault have a new front wing coming in Turkey but don't have any significant updates here and that could make a difference.

Nico Rosberg is also feeling confident and nicked a point last time out in Spain and so I am banking on his Williams to get in the mix too.

Qualifying could be very dramatic indeed - it could be the most closely-fought session of the season so far.

The race itself will hinge on qualifying, the start and then how clever people can be with their strategy. Once again we await with interest.


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