Monaco GP: McLaren preview

The 2006 Monaco Grand Prix marks the 40th anniversary of McLaren, with the team making its Formula 1 race debut at the event in 1966 with founder Bruce McLaren at the wheel of the M2B. Bruce, who had previously won the event in 1962, became the ...

The 2006 Monaco Grand Prix marks the 40th anniversary of McLaren, with the team making its Formula 1 race debut at the event in 1966 with founder Bruce McLaren at the wheel of the M2B. Bruce, who had previously won the event in 1962, became the youngest ever Formula 1 Driver/Constructor to enter a race, at the age of 29.

Since this time McLaren has won the prestigious race on 13 occasions, which is more than any other Formula 1 team. McLaren's first Monaco Grand Prix victory occurred in 1984 with Alain Prost and the team went on to win every single year, apart from 1987, until 1993. Ayrton Senna won the event a record six times, for which five of those victories he was driving for McLaren.

Since the partnership with Mercedes-Benz began, Team McLaren Mercedes has won the Grand Prix on four separate occasions. Mika Hakkinen in 1998 and David Coulthard in 2000 and 2002. Last year Kimi Raikkonen won the race with a dominant victory from pole position. As Juan Pablo Montoya took victory in 2003 (with BMW Williams), Team McLaren Mercedes is the only current team that has two drivers who have won the legendary race.

The Grand Prix round the streets of Monte Carlo, which is being run for the 64th time this year, is widely regarded as the 'Jewel in the Crown' on the Formula 1 calendar. From 25th -- 28th May, the glamorous Principality is taken over by the sport for a race, which is, considered to be among the most demanding for both drivers and teams.

Kimi Raikkonen:

"Monte Carlo is a completely different challenge to the Barcelona track we will be pushing hard for victory. To lay the foundation for a good result you have to perform well in qualifying. In Monaco overtaking is almost impossible as the track is so twisty and narrow. Because of this, I am sure we will see some interesting strategies from all the teams."

"Also Monaco is all about the car being responsive, particularly the front end. You are less aggressive under braking here into the corners because the barriers are so close and you need to be precise, and a responsive front end means the car is better in the mid corner and exit performance, allowing you to get on the throttle without having to wait for the car to turn the corner."

"At Monaco this is where you can find time, so the handling of the car and the mechanical grip are more important than other areas, such as aero efficiency."

Juan Pablo Montoya:

"Everything about the Monaco Grand Prix is great, it is such an historic track and this creates a fantastic atmosphere. It is a unique challenge to race at because of its short, tight layout and other factors such as the gutters and manhole covers, the camber as the road crowns and all the white lines. Despite all this, the ride height isn't massively high, instead we run with suspension that has more compliance than normal."

"It isn't very comfy for the drivers, as you really feel all the bumps, but you don't notice it because you are there to race. Also the corner loadings and pressures on straights are much less so it is not too tough physically."

"Cooling is another issue at Monaco, because there are no real straights. As a result we run with the maximum cooling package of the season and we spent time at Paul Ricard last week focusing on the Monaco spec for cooling."

"We covered over 3,000km in total at the test and in addition to work for Monaco, we also looked at specific components and set-ups for the much faster Canadian Grand Prix."

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, Team McLaren Mercedes:

"The Monaco Grand Prix is the most prestigious event of the year, this is partly the location but also the heritage. The race holds particular significance for the team, as McLaren made its Formula 1 debut at Monte Carlo 40 years ago."

"Whilst we are pushing hard to develop the performance of the MP4-21, we are aware we have a challenge ahead on the streets of Monte Carlo if we are to build on this record. Because there is such low grip we will run the softest Michelin tyres of the year."

"Team McLaren Mercedes conducted a four day test at the Paul Ricard track last week, where our work with Michelin focused on tyre selection for Monaco. The track was in a configuration to mimic as much as possible the street circuit and we were able to get some positive feedback with Michelin and other areas of the test programme such as the bodywork modifications for the race."

"Monaco will also see us use the maximum downforce configuration, good front end grip for exact turning into the tight corners, an engine with good torque and an efficient traction control."

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"Traditionally this Grand Prix is the highlight of the Formula One season, because the street circuit of Monaco today is as unique a venue for a Formula One race as during its premiere 77 years ago. Everything is different from all other permanent race tracks."

"The challenge for the drivers regarding concentration and precision is even bigger and therefore winning in the principality is most prestigious. Driving at the limit through the canal between the barriers it can happen easily that a driver hits the guard rails; this happened already to World Champions when they were in the lead without pressure."

"The new qualifying format with all competing cars on the track will cause a thriller we haven't seen before this season and in the last couple of years. To find a clear lap in these conditions won't be easy and we can therefore expect a mixed grid with some surprising positions."

"With 260 kilometres the race is the shortest of the season; not concerning the driving time, however, and when it rains it might happen that the Grand Prix will last for the maximum time of two hours. The team has good memories of Monaco. Including last year's race Team McLaren Mercedes have won there on four occasions since 1998."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Williams