Jüri Vips began Round 5 in Monte Carlo on the backfoot after compromising his running during Practice, before turning things around to seal P4 in Qualifying earlier today.
The Hitech Grand Prix driver suffered a heavy front lockup and headed into the run-off area at Turn 1, sustaining damage to his tyres and severely impacting his plans during the opening session, leaving Vips at a disadvantage heading into the split Qualifying event. However, the Red Bull junior rebounded quickly to secure the second-fastest time in Group B.
Nevertheless, Vips says he’s left with mixed emotions – having been unable to capitalise on his pace due to the red flag brought out for Jake Hughes’ crash, which forced him to abandon his final attempt.
“It was always going to be a tough Qualifying for me because I didn't get any laps yesterday in Free Practice,” he noted.
“The second lap in Quali was the first time that I got to do the final two corners at speed. To be honest, with not having any references, I think that was the maximum we could do and I'm quite happy with the recovery.
“We never knew which group was going to be faster in the end because we didn't get the third push lap in. I think it was going to be quite equal because it was more rubbered in for us, but the track temperature was lower for the first group - the two would have probably balanced themselves out in the end.
“It was a shame we didn't get the third push lap in because I had more time in me than the others because I didn't have any references, while most of the others had cleaner Free Practice sessions than me.”
Starting from P6 on the grid for tomorrow’s Sprint Race, the Estonian driver is not optimistic about his chances to move up the order given Monaco’s extremely limited passing opportunities.
“The Sprint Race – (I can do) nothing, absolutely nothing! Last year, the dry Sprint Race was more like a test session for everyone because you can’t really overtake. In the Feature Race, there will be a fair bit that comes (into it) with the strategy and everything. Out laps and pitstops are very, very important, so that's where you can make the difference.
However, there is one source of encouragement for Vips – the weather. He was pleasantly surprised to discover that there’s a 30% chance of rain arriving in time for the Feature Race and the potential for that to switch up the order.
“I didn't know about that! That's actually good news - gives me more of a chance. Let's see. If that happens, I'll be happy.”