Monaco GP: BAR/Honda preview

Arguably the most famous street race in the world and without question the jewel in Formula One's crown, the Monaco Grand Prix is much more than a race. It is a premier social event and it's where Formula One gets its glamorous reputation. The...

Arguably the most famous street race in the world and without question the jewel in Formula One's crown, the Monaco Grand Prix is much more than a race. It is a premier social event and it's where Formula One gets its glamorous reputation. The cars run through the impossibly narrow, Armco-lined, millionaire's playground of Monte Carlo with every driver on the grid looking for victory in the most prestigious event of the year.

The circuit itself is a low-grip, bumpy, twisty and narrow challenge for the drivers and the teams. Cars need to run maximum downforce and have exceptional mechanical grip to master the track with such famous names as Rascasse, Loews and Casino. Many of the teams' garages are in a multi-storey car park, a long and arduous trek from the pit-lane, especially when pushing an F1 car. That's the irony of Monaco: the working conditions are tough, the track is the anithesis of today's modern F1 circuits, but Monaco remains a firm favourite for everyone.

The Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda team had a great result in Austria with Jenson Button's storming drive to fourth place, matching his best ever result. This result was bitter-sweet however as his team-mate, Jacques Villeneuve had electronics problems that hampered his progress in the race.

The team completed a four-day test (20-23 May) at the tight and twisty Valencia track in preparation for this race. Concentrating on the ongoing aerodynamics development programme, tyre and engine testing, the team put in four days of hard work with the full driver line-up taking part.

Jacques Villeneuve got his best ever Monaco result with B.A.R in 2001 when he crossed the line in fourth position. Neither driver finished in 2002, Olivier Panis' race coming to an abrupt end after a collision with a young Briton in a Renault!

Jacques Villeneuve:

"Monaco is an extremely glamorous race and the fans have a great time, but from a driver's point of view it is a difficult track to race on. The track is very narrow and has a lot of corners, but the actual layout of the circuit is fun."

"Qualifying is very important here as it is extremely difficult to overtake during the race. If you are further down the grid at the start, the pit-stops play an important part in making up positions. It's a very exciting track but there is no room for error. You can't make any mistakes because you are surrounded by guard rails instead of kerbs and grass and there are no run-off areas. This brings new stress levels psychologically which do not happen at any other races."

"The car has been competitive all season, so it should be competitive in Monaco as well. It's fun to race there, but if we continue to have reliability problems, then I will not be looking forward to the race."

Jenson Button:

"If Monaco goes as well for me as Austria I'll be happy. I really enjoyed the race there as we could challenge the top teams. It was great to be competitive and score some points."

"As far as the Monaco race itself goes it's a tough one. The circuit is really twisty and bumpy and it takes it toll, especially on your arms, because of all the tight turns. Most of the corners are blind so you have to take a leap of faith and hope nothing has happened on the track in front of you. I read that someone once said it's like 'riding a bicycle in your living room' and they weren't wrong!"

"Of course it's nice to race in the place where you live as it means no travel and no hotels for a whole weekend. It's an extremely busy race off the track as there are always many sponsor and media commitments but, having said that, the Monaco Grand Prix is a really exciting event."

David Richards, Team Principal:

"Monaco is a great occasion for everyone: the teams, the sponsors and the spectators. As always it will be a tremendously busy race for us and we will be working hard to continue the steady progress we are making. The team here are working on an ongoing aerodynamics development programme and Honda continue to give us evolutions so we are pushing hard."

"We still have reliability issues as Jacques' car had an electrical problem in Austria. We have addressed this and are hopeful for a two-car points finish in Monaco. The first step though will be to secure good qualifying positions. Overtaking is impossible in Monaco so I expect the final qualifying session will be more fraught than ever with a lot of strategic thinking taking place."

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:

"After the strong performance at the A1-Ring, the team have a completely different challenge this weekend in Monaco. At the last race we showed our chassis performance and the strength and power of the latest Honda engine. At Valencia we have been testing new parts for the next race; aero parts, including front and rear wings."

"Monaco is a very bumpy circuit with a lot of adverse cambers, which means that you can never get a car set-up perfectly but mechanically the track is not so hard on the chassis. The transmission can take some punishment from the bumps, but the traction control system helps cut out a lot of the stress of former times. The soft-chassis set-up also relieves much of the stress from riding the bumps."

"The impact of tyre performance is also critical at Monaco as tyres represent a bigger overall percentage of performance than usual, owing to the slippery surface. We've done a great deal of testing with Bridgestone in recent weeks and have confidence in their strategy for Monaco."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:

"Building on our competitive weekend in Austria we have further upgraded the engine, which we have been testing at Valencia in preparation for running at Monaco. After a strong and encouraging race at the A1-Ring I'm really looking forward to seeing what we can do."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , David Richards , Shuhei Nakamoto