There are 18 Grands Prix on this year's F1's World Championship calendar and they all count for the same amount of points, but one race stands above all the others in terms of pure spectacle, glamour and prestige: the Monaco Grand Prix. Racing...
There are 18 Grands Prix on this year's F1's World Championship calendar and they all count for the same amount of points, but one race stands above all the others in terms of pure spectacle, glamour and prestige: the Monaco Grand Prix.
Racing is, however, what it's all about come Sunday afternoon, and the challenges of the twisty, bumpy 3.34km track are unique in the F1 world. Run through the hallowed streets of Monte Carlo in the south of France, the track cuts through the famed Casino Square, down via a sequence of turns and hairpins into the tunnel and then skirts round the harbour jam-packed with yachts, rounds the Rascasse before roaring down one of Monaco's main streets and uphill back towards the casino.
Both Force India drivers have strong experience of the challenges of the circuit and have enjoyed good performances there throughout their careers. Adrian Sutil has held the F3 lap record round the Principality, a feat he achieved in 2005 when he was team-mate to McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, and was a spectacular fastest during last year's Saturday free practice.
Giancarlo Fisichella has meanwhile competed in every Monaco Grand Prix since 1996 and will celebrate his 200th race start at this event. The Italian has finished on the podium twice in 1998 and 2000 and last year came home in a morale-boosting 4th position.
Dr. Vijay Mallya, chairman and managing director
We intend to put on a good show in Monaco, both from a sporting and commercial aspect. Monaco is a race that is so famous world-wide that almost everybody knows it and wants to come to it, so it is not only important from a team point of view, but from a sponsors' point of view as well.
I think glamour and sport go together and I think the glamour and the entertainment that we have emphasised since we have been in F1 is much appreciated. If we have, in turn, contributed in any way to the glamorous aspect of F1, then I think we've done a good job. It promotes the team, it promotes the sponsors of the team, I think it promotes F1 in general. We intend to persist!
As important as the glamour and panache is in Monaco, the greatest show there is is the race and we are on stage and have to perform. This track should suit us better than Istanbul, but having acknowledged that, the objective of the team is to get up to a level where we can race competitively on any circuit.
Turkey might have seemed disappointing from the outside, but I did not leave the track feeling down at heart. We were certainly no further back from the opposition than we have been in previous races and, in fact compared to the fastest time of the weekend, we were the closest we have been all year. Our position is now just a measure of how competitive F1 is this year. There are no inefficient teams: you just have 10 professional teams, and we are undoubtedly the smallest, newest kid on the block.
I am sure however that Monaco will be a different story. It's a real driver's track and I have every confidence in both my drivers here - just look at their track records. Giancarlo - who reaches a great career milestone this weekend - has achieved some fantastic results here against expectations, while Adrian posted the fastest time in practice on Saturday morning last year. That tells a story of its own.
Colin Kolles, team principal
After a disappointing Turkish Grand Prix we should be in a position to be more competitive in Monaco and have both cars reaching the finish line.
For Adrian and Giancarlo it's one of their favourite circuits and I am expecting a good result.
Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer
Monaco is a very unique track due to its nature and it was actually one of the tracks that we were closest to getting into Q2 last year. Both our drivers love the circuit and have some good experience - Adrian was an F3 lap record holder round there and went quickest in one of the practices last year, plus Giancarlo has been very quick there in the past. I believe there will be some races where we will spring surprises and I think Monaco will be one of them. We just have to concentrate on doing our job and get two cars to the finish.
As most of the teams will be doing, we have a new aero package that is designed specifically for this race. In Monaco, which has no real high speed parts on the track, you tend to run items that produce high levels of drag that you wouldn't run on other tracks, simply because they are inefficient on long straights. That's not the case in Monaco however, where you need as much grip as possible to get round the tight hairpins and corners.
The new package includes updates to the wings, additional winglets and further modifications that will give more downforce. It has been tested in Paul Ricard last week, and gave some good results.
For Giancarlo, it's his 200th race and, at a circuit he very much likes, I am sure he will want to put in a good performance. Similarly that should be a spur to Adrian as now he is growing in confidence and needs to start showing that in terms of results. It was very important for him to get that race finish in Turkey: he has been gaining in confidence throughout the last events, understanding the tyres a bit more and getting more pace out of the car to match Giancarlo.
Monaco will be my 200th race start, and it feels a long way away from my debut that's for sure, but I still feel as good and as confident as I did back then. Rubens' record of 257 starts will be hard to beat, but there is definitely a feeling of satisfaction to reach this milestone that only a handful of other drivers have got to. Even more satisfying is to know that I have a lot more to give and am still motivated to do well.
To celebrate this at Monaco is fantastic as it's the best track in the world, one of my favourites, as the twisty track itself is phenomenal, the fans are so close to the cars so you get a real atmosphere, and the surroundings are so beautiful. It's certainly the best place for a celebration - I have to hope that we can celebrate a good result on Sunday too!
Monaco has given me some good results, but last year was particularly good as I came home 4th when no one was expecting it. It was a result the team desperately needed too. Realistically this year we can't hope for 4th, but one point is my target - everything else that comes on top of that is a bonus. We have a new aero package that will for sure help us, but the whole race is a lottery so you've got to be lucky too.
Monaco is one of my favourite tracks as it's the first real street circuit we go to this year. It's such a special place, with a unique atmosphere, there's a lot going on and the track is just fantastic.
I'm really looking forward to it as, even though we didn't finish last year, it was actually one of my best weekends. It was such a great feeling when I saw my name in P1 on Saturday - no one expected it! For me it was important as that stage in the season as it gave me a lot of good feedback and made people realise we are serious about what we do.
We have a better car this year and I hope we can do well. It can be tricky if it rains, but I don't mind as we saw last year! It was important for me to finish in Turkey as we could get a lot more mileage and also for my confidence to finish a race. Now I think we need to stay concentrated and get more finishes, do a good job and get a good result.
Monaco Grand Prix information
The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the most famous, and most historic, races on the calendar. The tiny Principality bordered by France has hosted 54 F1 races since 1950 and, despite its anachronistic nature, is a real classic that is universally popular with teams and drivers.
Monte Carlo was for many years the only street race on the calendar, until this year's addition of Valencia and Singapore. It's a unique challenge from an engineering perspective and setting up a car for this event is almost completely without compromise. Teams go for maximum downforce, maximum mechanical grip, the softest tyre compounds, and the longest race strategies. Most teams will also run an aero upgrade tailored to this event combined with some suspension modifications to give maximum grip to negotiate the myriad of turns.
Qualifying for this race is even more important than at other tracks since overtaking is practically impossible given the tight, narrow nature of the track. It also doesn't allow for any mistakes, with its jungle of corners, kerbstones and guardrails just inches from the sidepods.
Uniquely in the F1 world, free practice will take place on Thursday, with Friday being a 'day of rest' for the teams. Preparations will continue, however no running occurs from Thursday afternoon to Saturday morning.
-credit: force india