Monaco is renowned for the tight, twisty layout of the circuit and the unforgiving barriers that punish the slightest lapse in a driver's concentration. The track is arguably the one where driver skill is the most important factor and there are...
Monaco is renowned for the tight, twisty layout of the circuit and the unforgiving barriers that punish the slightest lapse in a driver's concentration. The track is arguably the one where driver skill is the most important factor and there are few that haven't had an intimate moment with the Armco. Back in 1955, when hay bales and sandbags formed the barriers, Alberto Ascari crashed through the lot at the chicane and ended up in the harbour.
An unexpected swimming excursion is unlikely these days but Monaco is a circuit where errors are very costly. "The track punishes you for any mistakes because if you lose the car you end up in the wall," said Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya, who won the Monaco GP last year. "It is an art to learn how to push there!"
Jenson Button knows first hand how close the barriers are after a big crash at Monaco last year. "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," explained the BAR driver. "There is no margin for error."
Sauber's Felipe Massa has only had one Grand Prix in the Principality and it finished abruptly. "The only race I have ever done at Monaco was the 2002 Grand Prix, and I crashed out of that very heavily in a head-on accident at Ste Devote after a rear brake problem," said the Brazilian. "Despite that, I love the circuit!"
Aside from the barriers, there are other things that make life interesting at Monaco. The schedule has practices on the Thursday instead of Friday, which means the track conditions come Saturday qualifying can be very different. "We have an extra day between practice and qualifying, and the circuit changes a lot in that time," said Renault's Fernando Alonso. "You have to learn everything again on Saturday morning."