Round 6 of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship takes the Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda team to the millionaire's playground of Monte Carlo for the Monaco Grand Prix - without question the jewel in Formula One's crown. This is more than just a...
Round 6 of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship takes the Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda team to the millionaire's playground of Monte Carlo for the Monaco Grand Prix - without question the jewel in Formula One's crown. This is more than just a race however; it's a premier social event featuring an abundance of stars and cars, and is largely responsible for F1's glamorous reputation. Every driver on the grid comes here looking for victory in the most prestigious race of the year.
The 3.3km street circuit presents a unique challenge for the drivers and engineers alike. For one, it is impossibly narrow, twisty and bumpy. The track is heavily Armco-lined with very little in the way of run-off areas and the track surface provides little grip. There is no margin for error and, perhaps more than any other, this track demands bravery and concentration in equal measure. In short, it's a circuit that sorts the men from the boys!
By way of additional luxury, no longer will the teams have to endure a long and arduous trek from the pits to their makeshift garages in a multi-storey car park. For 2004, the Monaco circuit will feature an all-new pit and paddock area on land reclaimed from the famous harbour, so the teams will be able to enjoy the comforts of their more familiar motorhome community.
The Monaco Grand Prix is almost a home race for Jenson Button, who spends much of his free time in the principality. Last year, he made a thrilling start to the weekend, but it was brought to an early and dramatic conclusion as a result of an accident at the Nouvelle Chicane.
This year the team is optimistic that it can continue to challenge the competition at a circuit which is well-suited to the B*A*R Honda 006. The objective is another two-car points finish and, hopefully, another trophy to add to its burgeoning collection.
"Monaco is very different to any other circuit. There are big barriers all the way around and it is very fast - it also seems faster to drive because the barriers are so much closer to the track. There is no margin for error and that's why you normally see people building up to a good lap time - some taking longer than others."
"It's obviously going to be very important to get plenty of mileage on the car and so hopefully Anthony will be able to do plenty of laps during Thursday's running. It's a circuit I enjoy and I think that we are going to be very strong there. Ferrari obviously remain the dominant force but it would be nice to get a good result and get back on the podium, especially after the accident I had here last year. All in all, I'm really looking forward to it."
"I am very excited to be racing in Monaco next week. It is a very special Grand Prix in the calendar. This is the first time I have raced there since 2002 and I am very interested to see all the changes to the circuit and the paddock area since then. Having had a strong weekend in Barcelona, I think we are looking very positive for the race and personally I am looking forward to it. We have been testing at Paul Ricard this weekend and hopefully the development work we have conducted there will give us a good boost."
David Richards, Team Principal:
"This time last year, we might well have considered a two-car points finish in Barcelona to be a good result, so it's a measure of how far we've come that we all left Spain feeling slightly disappointed. Nonetheless, a solid result for both drivers enabled us to maintain 3rd in the Constructors' standings and Jenson remains third in the Drivers' Championship, so we are on target against our season objectives. There is no doubt that we now feel we belong on the podium and Monaco will be no exception."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:
"Putting the slight disappointment of our performance in Barcelona behind us, we have analysed the issues and are taking steps to improve for the next round at Monaco, which presents some unique challenges. The circuit has a low grip level and the track surface characteristic changes rapidly over the weekend as the tyre rubber is laid down. The tight, low-speed nature of the circuit layout and the undulations in the road profile put a premium on mechanical and aerodynamic grip."
"With the highest downforce settings required and a mechanical set-up that has to balance the natural understeer a circuit like Monaco induces, against the low speed traction required out of the corners. With these factors in mind, we have been using part of our testing in Paul Ricard to finalise with Michelin the very soft compounds required for Monaco. We have also evaluated some further aerodynamic tweaks."
"With the change in pit-lane layout and speed, the race strategy will also require significant evaluation to determine the best overall strategy, taking into account qualifying position, race pace and dealing with traffic, which is a major problem in the tight confines of Monaco."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"The handling of the car and skill of the driver make a big contribution to a team's performance at Monaco, but we are also doing all we can with the engine to gain an advantage for B*A*R Honda. We have tested a more powerful unit at the Paul Ricard test and are aiming high as always for the race weekend."