Monaco GP: Michelin preview

Street life The Monaco Grand Prix's format differs from other races because the opening qualifying session takes place on Thursday, rather than Friday: that's because the event coincides, as usual, with the Ascension Day festival. Michelin ...

Street life

The Monaco Grand Prix's format differs from other races because the opening qualifying session takes place on Thursday, rather than Friday: that's because the event coincides, as usual, with the Ascension Day festival.

Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier says: "We are used to practising on Thursdays in Monaco. It will be nice to go back there but, for the first time in many years, the Automobile Club de Monaco has significantly modified the track.

"The uphill stretch through Beau Rivage was resurfaced last season, but this time the swimming pool section, between Tabac and the boulevard Albert 1er, has been remodelled and encroaches into what used to be part of the harbour.

"The shape of several bends has changed and the sweep from La Rascasse to the Virage Anthony Noghes has almost become one big corner. Despite all the changes, though, we plan to press on with our plans to use ultra-soft compounds at a track that is generally very kind to tyres -- certainly more so than recent venues such as Barcelona.

"Michelin partners McLaren Mercedes, BMW Williams, Renault and Jaguar Racing all performed extremely well during the last race in Austria -- and McLaren driver Kimi Räikkönen continues to lead the world championship, as he has done since the start of the season. We look forward to seeing whether he can keep up his good form on June 1."

Olivier Panis (Panasonic Toyota Racing driver):

"At Monaco, it is very important to have a good balance on the car for one lap. Qualifying is important on all circuits but it is absolutely essential at Monaco because it is almost impossible to overtake. Normally it is a one-stop strategy so you need to choose constant tyres for the race. Good track."

Pierre Dupasquier (Michelin motorsport director):

"Monaco is the slowest circuit on which we race in F1 -- and it allows us to use some of our softest compounds.

"The cars tend to take quite a toll on their rear tyres, because drivers are constantly accelerating fiercely out of slow corners. You need a well adjusted traction control system to limit the extent of rear tyre wear. We are confident that our chosen compounds this weekend will suit the track very well.

"It's worth noting that this circuit is more tolerant of heavy fuel loads than most. An extra 10kg costs less than 0.3 seconds per lap."

Technically speaking, with Pascal Vasselon (F1 project manager)

TESTING, TESTING -- 1,2,3,4
"We have conducted several test sessions since Austria and these have allowed us to finalise our options for this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix. The scenario is similar to the one we had in Barcelona. We have two new constructions, each of which is available with two previously unraced compounds, so that gives us four options in total."

WHY ARE YOU ABLE TO USE RELATIVELY SOFT TYRES IN MONACO?
"There are two reasons for this. Tyres have a fairly high contact ratio and average speed is the lowest of the season."

HOW DO YOU GOVERN THE RATE OF REAR TYRE WEAR?
"Although a lap of Monaco does not place too much strain on tyres, it is true that there are many parts of the circuit where drivers are fighting for traction as they come onto a straight. When developing our tyres we had to strike a balance between outright performance and longevity."

GIVEN THAT YOU CAN'T TEST ON STREET CIRCUITS, WHAT CAN TYRE MANUFACTURERS DO TO MAKE SURE THEY PREPARE AS THOROUGHLY AS POSSIBLE FOR A RACE LIKE MONACO?
"It's true that it's hard to find a circuit that allows us to replicate the type of conditions we encounter in Monaco. It has a character like no other track and you can't recreate that elsewhere. We always have to theorise about speeds and the nature of the track surface, for instance."

STOP ME AND TRY ONE
"We don't yet know how long mid-race refuelling stops will take because the track changes have altered the pit entry and exit points. Teams will have to make their own calculations during free practice."

-michelin-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Olivier Panis , Kimi Raikkonen
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Williams , Toyota Racing