NO MARGIN FOR ERROR While Formula One continues to explore new territories and embrace ever more spectacular racetracks, such as the recently opened facilities in China, Bahrain and Turkey, parts of the calendar's traditional fabric remain...
NO MARGIN FOR ERROR
While Formula One continues to explore new territories and embrace ever more spectacular racetracks, such as the recently opened facilities in China, Bahrain and Turkey, parts of the calendar's traditional fabric remain intact - and Monaco is a prime example.
The streets of Monte Carlo have changed little since the first Monaco Grand Prix took place in 1929 - although rising speeds have made them ever more challenging. This might be the slowest race of the season - Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren-Mercedes/Michelin) averaged 148.501kph/92.274mph to win 2005's corresponding fixture - but Monaco amplifies the speed and drama of F1 like no other circuit, because the cars constantly run within millimetres of the unyielding guardrails that line the track. At most venues a small mistake might cost a few tenths of a second, but here it is likely to spell the end of your race.
Monaco was one of seven events on the inaugural F1 world championship calendar in 1950 and has been ever-present on the schedule since it was included for the second time, in 1955.
This weekend Michelin is chasing its fifth consecutive Monaco GP victory, its eighth in all and its 98th in Formula One. Jody Scheckter (Ferrari, 1979), Gilles Villeneuve (Ferrari, 1981), Alain Prost (McLaren-TAG turbo, 1984), David Coulthard (McLaren- Mercedes, 2002), Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams-BMW, 2003), Jarno Trulli (Renault, 2004) and the aforementioned Kimi Räikkönen have all scored F1 victories in the principality for Michelin.
Nick Shorrock, Formula One director, Michelin:
"This weekend we move from the high-speed sweeps of Barcelona to the cramped confines of Monte Carlo - a very different challenge but no less demanding. The Monaco Grand Prix is unique in Formula One terms and an event every driver dreams of winning."
"To succeed here you need a blend of precision, concentration, technical excellence and absolute commitment - but even those aren't always enough. There is little run off area and the tricky, cambered roads sometimes produce unexpected results."
"Average lap speeds are not very high and the surface isn't too abrasive, but cars need to be set up correctly to make best use of the tyres and avoid excessive wear: wings are configured for maximum downforce and brakes are worked very hard."
"Overtaking is almost impossible and that makes a front-row grid position more vital than ever. It remains to be seen how the current qualifying format, which has not previously been deployed in Monaco, will influence teams' strategies.
"As usual, our pre-race tyre preparation has been very thorough. We have analysed the data accumulated during recent grands prix and adapted our tyres accordingly as we push ahead with a logical development programme."
"To meet the demands of our partner teams in a fair and equitable manner, we made every possible Monaco tyre compound available during a recent series of tests at Vallelunga and Le Castellet. Some of these will be taken to the race."
"In addition, we also have a new intermediate option for Monaco and are thus prepared for any fluctuations in the weather. I'm sure it will be another exciting and highly competitive weekend."
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, McLaren Mercedes:
"The Monaco Grand Prix is the most prestigious event of the year, partly through its location but also because of its heritage. The race holds particular significance for us, because our team made its Formula One debut in Monte Carlo 40 years ago, with company founder Bruce McLaren at the wheel. McLaren has traditionally been successful at Monaco ever since and our 13 victories make us the most successful constructor in the principality."
"While we are pushing hard to develop the performance of this year's MP4-21 chassis, we know a challenge lies ahead if we are to build on our proud record through the streets of Monte Carlo. The narrow, tricky track provides the teams with unique racing conditions and the low grip levels mean our Michelin tyre compounds will be softer here than at any other track."
"Team McLaren Mercedes recently conducted a four-day test at Le Castellet, in France, where the track was configured to simulate Monaco as closely as possible. Together with Michelin, we focused on Monaco tyre selection and obtained some very positive feedback."