The Bridgestone-supported GP2 Series heads to the fabulous millionaires' playground of Monte Carlo for its third round, where Bridgestone's super soft compound will be used on the slippery streets of Monaco. There will be double the opportunity for today's budding F1 stars to excel as unlike previous seasons, this year two races will take place in support of the Monaco Grand Prix on May 23-24.
Given the slippery nature of the 3.34km street course in Monaco, Bridgestone's super soft compound Potenza slick racing tyre will be used, for the only time this season. Drivers and teams will therefore have to be on top of their game to master this tyre on the new GP2 / 08 car at this difficult track which is lined with potentially car breaking Armco barriers.
High downforce levels are required at Monaco, and mechanical tyre grip is also relied upon due to the numerous slow speed corners. Because mistakes are punished hard by the barriers, there are often safety car periods during races meaning that team tyre stop strategists will have to work just as hard behind the pit wall as the drivers are working behind the wheel.
In 2007, Pastor Maldonado (Trident Racing) took the race win after starting from pole position, finishing over eight seconds ahead of Giorgio Pantano (Campos Grand Prix). Timo Glock (iSport) finished third.
Heading to Monaco, Giorgio Pantano (Racing Engineering) leads the drivers' championship on 24 points, from Romain Grosjean (ART) on 19. Sebastien Buemi is in third place with 14 points. The teams' championship is led by Racing Engineering with 27 points, from ART on 19. iSport are in third position with 16 points.
Quote from Hirohide Hamashima - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development
"For the GP2 Series race at Monte Carlo Bridgestone will be supplying our super soft tyre and this will be the only time this compound is used all year. This is the same tyre we used last year, but we have renamed it from soft to more accurately reflect its grip characteristics. At Monte Carlo it is very difficult for drivers to overtake, so qualifying is important as the drivers need to start from a strong position on the grid to have a good chance of getting a good result. This season there are two races so drivers will have to be very focused over the weekend. Driver concentration is essential as the circuit is known for its limited amount of run off area."
Stats & Facts
Number & Spec of tyres for Monaco: 760 (super soft, dry and wets)
Pole position time 2007: 1m 20.820s - P Maldonado, Trident Racing
Fastest race lap 2007: 1m 22.584s - X Negrao, Piquet Sports
Top three 2007 race 1: P Maldonado (Trident), G Pantano (Campos), T Glock (iSport)
Bridgestone GP2 Series: Q&A with Pastor Maldonado
The Bridgestone-supported GP2 Series heads to the glittering port of Monte Carlo for the twists and turns of the Monaco Grand Prix, for many the highlight of the season. For young drivers wanting to make their mark, Monaco offers a superb opportunity as they dice for position in front of motorsport's decision makers. This season, for the first time, there will be two, rather than one, GP2 Series races at the Principality. Last year Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado won the Monaco race, driving for Trident Racing. Now a driver for the Piquet Sports squad, Maldonado hopes to score the double this time.
Q: You won the single race in Monaco last season - how will you be trying for a double victory in 2008?
A: The concentration needed in Monaco is the hardest part. You have to be physically and mentally at the top because you cannot make a mistake on track, because if you do, you will crash into the Armco. For this circuit you can look at the preparation of the driver, physically and mentally, and for sure you need a good car, but the most important thing on a street circuit is the driver finding the limit. I found the limit very easily on this circuit and I won my first GP2 Series race here, so I feel confident.
Q: Bridgestone brings the super soft compound Potenza slick tyre to Monaco - how different is this tyre from the other two compounds?
A: The super soft tyre is very different. In terms of warm-up, the super soft tyre is immediately ready and you can push. In comparison, the medium and hard compound tyres take around two laps to warm- up, and be ready to do its maximum lap times. In Monaco it's very important to have this compound because the streets here are always very slippery and it is not the same as a permanent circuit. So to have more grip the super soft compound is used and this is the perfect compound.
Q: What is the key to tyre management at this track?
A: It's very difficult to get the right strategy in Monaco, because of the safety cars and the yellow flags. In my last race there were two or three safety cars and I was just lucky to have a good strategy which took advantage of this. I pitted maybe two laps before a safety car and this worked out for me. For this year I'm very optimistic, but you can't say what will be the best strategy as it is very close and the circuit always has many incidents and, for sure, there will be cars stopped out on track.
Q: How beneficial is the GP2 Series for your career?
A: For sure, it's good to be in the Formula One paddock and alongside Formula One races. It's good to learn here as this could be my future. My objective is Formula One and now I am very close. These are the most important years in my career, and I need to be very focused, push very hard and continue like this at this level, at the top. It is very important to learn about the drivers and about the teams; this is important experience for the future.