Round Six of the 2014 Formula One World Championship brings Mercedes to Monte Carlo for the Monaco Grand Prix, held at the Circuit de Monaco.
Lewis Hamilton: "It's been a busy few weeks for me, both on track and away from it, but I'm pleased to be getting back to racing again next weekend. And what a place to get back to it! Monaco is just incredible to drive and any driver will tell you that's the race they want to win. So many great names become legends around this circuit. It's an honour to fight for your place amongst them and a real test of your skills behind the wheel. The last few races have been just incredible.
I honestly never expected I'd win four consecutive Grands Prix in my career and I'd love to continue that run here. I've had some work to do in terms of getting the car exactly as I want it after the weekend in Spain: it was so close between our cars at the end and I need to keep pushing to find any extra edge I can. The car has been strong at every race so far and I'm sure it'll be the same in Monaco, so we should be set for an entertaining weekend."
Nico Rosberg: "Monaco: my home town! Obviously, I associate many wonderful memories with this place. It's where I grew up and where I now live as an adult. But in sporting terms too, I have had some great moments there: in particular last year when I won there for the first time in my Formula One career. That was an absolutely incredible feeling. Driving a Formula One car there is simply fantastic and it's an event every driver looks forward to each year.
Overall I was quite pleased with the last race weekend in Barcelona. Disappointed, of course, not to have taken the win but happy that the team achieved another one-two finish. The Championship battle is very close and to re-gain the advantage at my home race would be fantastic, so I'll be pushing harder than ever to make that happen. I had a productive day of testing in Barcelona where we made some good progress with braking and starts: two areas that I feel are costing me time at the moment. Hopefully that will give me the extra edge next weekend. It should be an exciting weekend and I can't wait to get started."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: "We came away from Barcelona with plenty of positive points and the most encouraging was that our development package worked, which allowed us to maintain a healthy gap to our rivals on that circuit. But Monaco is a different story every year. It's a place that rewards driveability, confidence and a strong qualifying performance. Most of all, though, it's about avoiding mistakes: the drivers have no room for error and neither does the team.
We have been pushing hard since the last race and nobody will be backing off in our teams at Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart. We are heading to Monaco with our feet on the ground because it is a place that can bite you if you get over-confident. We have a quick Silver Arrow and Lewis and Nico are specialists around the streets. But we need to bring every piece of the puzzle together if we want to maintain our run of success next weekend."
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical): We're very pleased with the result in Barcelona. It's an amazing achievement to take five wins in a row and even more so to have four consecutive one-two finishes. It's a tremendous endorsement of all the hard work from everyone at Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart. Another highlight was to once more see a great demonstration of the level of competition between our two drivers. To be separated by just six tenths at the flag proves once again just how evenly matched they are. Monaco, of course, is a very different prospect.
It's a tough event both logistically and practically for the team and also highly demanding for the drivers. Building momentum through each session is crucial and the unforgiving nature of the track can make even the smallest mistake a significant one relative to your weekend as a whole. Any track time lost around Monaco is a missed opportunity, more so than at any other circuit, so it's crucial to get it right from the very first lap on Thursday.
We won there last year with Nico which was a fantastic result at the time and Lewis has also been impressive there in the past, including taking a victory of his own in 2008. It's a driver's circuit and both Lewis and Nico are on top form, so we're expecting an exciting contest. The circuit itself is so unique that it's difficult to predict which teams will be strong at this race. Certainly, we wouldn't expect to have the same margin of advantage as we enjoyed in Barcelona. But we're nonetheless hopeful of another good performance.
Circuit de Monaco: The Inside Line
Monaco is just incredible. As a kid you dream about racing through the tunnel and it's such a fantastic feeling to actually experience it first-hand. I won here in F3, GP2 and finally in Formula One in 2008. It's a real driver's circuit, a second home race for me after Silverstone and I'm excited about the prospect of another good weekend here.
You're then into Turn Four, Casino, which is really tight and again you have to pinpoint your markers so accurately to get it right. You can very easily brush the barrier through here and we see it happen almost every year at some point in the weekend. From there you jink right before heading down through Mirabeau and into the tight, twisting section of Turns Five, Six, Seven and Eight: all very low-speed.
Next up it's the tunnel, which is a seriously exciting and unique bit of track. It's flat out into the darkness and you really can't see where you're going: you just have to hope you've positioned your car in the right place to get a good run back out into the bright sunlight on the other side. From there you've got the tight chicane of Turns 10 and 11, the tricky Tabac corner at 12, then the Swimming Pool at 13 and 14 which is taken almost flat out. The next chicane at 15 and 16 is much tighter before you get hard on the brakes again into Rascasse. Both this and the final corner, Anthony Noghes, have really low grip levels and it's so easy to make a mistake on exit with all the power available from these cars.
An interesting feature of the circuit is that, because of the enclosed nature of the track with all the buildings surrounding you, there's really no wind effect. It's just you, the car and the tarmac!
Monaco represents an immense challenge for the drivers. As you negotiate all those narrow streets, it's extremely difficult to get the most out of yourself and the car without making a mistake as the circuit is very unforgiving. The slightest miscalculation can ruin the entire weekend and deprive you of a potentially excellent result. It may still be possible to salvage a respectable finish, but if you're aiming for victory or a podium then you really can't afford to make any mistakes. You're constantly driving at the limit and these new turbocharged Hybrid cars will make it even more of a challenge.
With the barriers hemming you in on both sides, you're driving at the limit all the time. You can't see very far ahead, which means you have to navigate most of the track from memory. You have to know which corners are coming up next. One of the key points is the hairpin: the slowest turn on the entire race calendar and an exceptionally difficult corner to get right.
The next unusual feature is the tunnel. The big difficulty here is that it's obviously much darker than the rest of the track. As you emerge, your eyes need to quickly readjust to the bright sunlight. This is quite problematic, because you have to prepare for the next braking zone which follows on immediately. At this moment every second counts: especially because the bumpy surface on the section leading down to the chicane can easily throw your car out of line. I always have a smile on my face at this point, as it used to be my route to school. The school bus used to take us through the tunnel each day but now I'm roaring along the same road in a 300 km/h Formula One car. That's quite a special feeling!
Mercedes AMG Petronas