Monaco GP: Renault preview

Jarno Trulli Monaco is a race that demands physical preparation. What is your approach for this? Since the weather is always good at Monte-Carlo, we have being performing with the team trainers a five-day session involving lots of cycling and...

Jarno Trulli

Monaco is a race that demands physical preparation. What is your approach for this?

Since the weather is always good at Monte-Carlo, we have being performing with the team trainers a five-day session involving lots of cycling and jogging out in the open. Then we also have being doing gym work with special exercises to strengthen the arms, which is the part of the body that is put under the more strain than usual because of the unique characteristics of the street circuit. At Monaco, the drivers use the steering wheel a lot which, when you add in how bumpy the circuit is, means the arms suffer quite a pounding. As well as the physical exercises, the trainers also get us to do mental exercises to get us to improve or even increase our level of concentration during a race. At Monaco you need to concentrate even more than for other circuits, and it'll punish the slightest mistake. So you need to be constantly working on your concentration!

What is your favourite part of the circuit?

For me Monaco is kind of a home circuit, because I used to live there. That is how I got to be familiar with it and enjoy it, but my favourite part is definitely the swimming pool area. It is quite a fast section, and this year they've made some changes to it. I haven't seen it yet, which is why Thursday is test session will be even more important than usual, because that's when we'll be familiarising ourselves with the changes to the circuit.

Fernando Alonso

Do you like the Monaco circuit?

Monte-Carlo is a really special circuit for all the drivers, and can rightly be considered a reference in the Formula One Championship. I don't think Monaco is very technical ñ there are more technical circuits than this one ñ but when it comes to concentration, Monaco is the most demanding. You can never let up for a moment, and you've always got to be giving over 100%! The slightest mistake can be very costly for the car. I've only raced at Monaco in Grand Prix twice in my life: once when I was in Formula 3000 and the other time was two years ago now when I was with Minardi. But I had gearbox trouble and couldn't finish the race! My favourite part is the second section after the tunnel. This is a pretty fast section of the track and the most beautiful and spectacular.

The Monaco Grand Prix is traditionally a huge media affair. What kind of state of mind do you approach it with?

Personally I'm not very jet set, but I do think that because of its history, the great sporting moments and atmosphere it has witnessed, Monte-Carlo is one-of-a-kind. I feel that winning at Monaco means more than winning anywhere else. Monte- Carlo is part of the legend of motor sport, which makes me want to do well here even more. And I'm confident the car will be competitive. Last year it did well and I'm optimistic we'll do well again this year.

Allan McNish - Test driver

Allan, how are you going to use the extra two hours to fine tune the cars?

At Monaco the extra two hours will be very beneficial for both the chassis and tyres as well as for the drivers. It's a street circuit so it takes time for it to get the right level of grip. The two hours of testing will give us a good idea of what we need, particularly concerning the tyres. Also, for the drivers, all additional testing in Monaco is vitally important.

As a resident of Monaco this is a home Grand Prix for you. How do you feel about that?

For me, Monaco is a unique experience. It's where I live and I see all the changes to the town throughout the two weeks leading up to the Grand Prix, during the Grand Prix and after the event. It's weird how you can drive the same route as the F1 cars during the race weekend. For example, I'll be driving my Renault MÈgane through the same Monaco streets the day before the race. It's one of those situations that's perfect and paradoxical at the same time!

What will the track conditions be like?

Usually the circuit is slippery because it's in the city of Monaco and used every day. This year they've just changed the route ñ which means it's good to have an extra two hours!! Before you went past the swimming pool then left before sweeping round into the Rascasse turn, which was really hard. Now it's been changed and everyone's going to have to learn the modifications by heart. Every time I drive at Monaco, I feel like Aim driving in a tunnel: the barriers are so high and the cars so low that you always feel you're in a tunnel, only at speeds of up to 280km/h! It's really like a video game!

Mike Gascoyne - Technical Director

Monaco is traditionally a circuit where your cars work well ñ do you think they'll be competitive again this time?

Since the start of the season we've been aware that this circuit should suit our cars well. Last year we were very competitive here and we hope that will be the case again this year. To do well on this track, there are two key elements: chassis behaviour and downforce. We've made a lot of aerodynamic changes to the cars for this race, which have made me pretty confident about the level of performance we'll be able to reach at Monaco.

The R23 is known to be aerodynamically very effective. Is this an important factor at Monaco? In what other areas of the car is the track demanding?

At Monaco, aerodynamics is essential to get the maximum downforce, and that's where you can leverage the maximum effectiveness. This was already the case at Barcelona where, with the right aerodynamics, we managed to get very good downforce. And, of course, you need a chassis that's mechanically effective.

How would you sum up last weekend's Austrian Grand Prix?

The race at Austria was both hard and, in terms of the end result, disappointing. Throughout the whole weekend we were pleasantly surprised by our level of competitiveness, given that the track didn't really suit us. Having said that, it was a tough weekend because we didn't manage to get out cars in the right shape to complete the race. So it was a Grand Prix to forget, but also one that's made us even more raring to succeed in Monaco!

Last week you did another round of testing at Paul Ricard. What work were you carrying out on the cars?

We mainly tested tyres ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, but we also tried the new aerodynamic package we'll be using for this Grand Prix.

Pat Symonds - Executive Director of Engineering

And so the Monaco Grand Prix has come around again. How will the extra two hours of testing on Friday be used?

These two hours will definitely be vital. Monaco is such a unique, special circuit that even though the drivers love racing here, they still need to spend as much time in the car as possible. The drivers often use the free-test sessions at Monaco to get in as many miles as they can in order to familiarise themselves as much as possible with the track. But despite that, I think the advantage of the extra two hours on Friday morning will be on the one hand that our drivers will be able to get more used to the track and adapt to it, and on the other hand it will give us the chance to fine-tune the race strategies we might use.

This is a circuit that's very demanding on the transmission and gearbox. Will you be making any special changes to them, or just adapting them to the circuit so they can cope with the enormous stresses?

Yes, you could say these two elements are highly stressed at Monaco and are both essential. Especially the gearbox, because the surface of the circuit is bumpy and slippery, and that's a problem for an automatic gearbox. As you shift up the gears you have to be careful the engine doesn't over-rev on the bumps. Then as you shift down, the gears have to change smoothly so they don't lock up the rear wheels making the cars hard to handle for the drivers. Usually we bring special gearboxes which are as smooth as possible. Then the circuit's really hard on the transmission, which is why we reinforce certain components against the stresses they'll be put under.

What impact do the tyres have on the overall performance of the cars on this circuit?

Monaco is a tough circuit insofar as it's totally unique among all the other circuits in the calendar. Because it's a street circuit, it's really slippery, dirty and extremely bumpy compared with a normal track. Over the weekend, track conditions change so quickly it's hard to get the most out all the data we collect on the tyres and the car. The tyres best suited to this circuit are the ones with the softest rubber compound in the range, even if sometimes it's hard to make the right choices.

Monte-Carlo is unique not only because of where it is but because it poses the biggest problems of the season when it comes to deciding on the right strategy. This year this problem will be even bigger given the new regulations. Overtaking at Monaco is virtually impossible. In the past there have been plenty of times when fast cars were held up by much slower ones and you could do nothing about it. Which is what makes the qualifiers so decisive, because a car that's in a good position on the starting grid has a better chance of being in a good position at the end of the race. That means the strategy you use and the tactics you choose are absolutely key to success in the race. There are lots of strategies you can use, but only one winning one. All this has an impact on the way you work, too. Good lap times don't necessarily mean that the car is set up right, it could just mean it's the driver whose found the better line. So it's going to be very interesting to see which team makes the best choices.

Remi Taffin - Engine Race Engineer Car n 8

Engine preview

Owing to its unique layout, Monaco is not a circuit where the most powerful engine represents a significant advantage. A light, compact engine design represents a much more significant help.

It's a very slow circuit, with an extremely small amount of the lap, about 35% spent at full throttle, explains Remi Taffin, engine race engineer for Fernando Alonso. Engine revs can drop as low as 5.000 rpm on this circuit, notably at the Loews hairpin (taken at 45 km/h), yet comfortably exceed 17.000 rpm at the exit pf the tunnel (300 km/h). Furthermore, the race is the shortest of the season, just 260,52 km, with a significantly reduced level of fuel consumption.

The race therefore demands a flexible and driveable engine. Flexibility in an engine is defined as the availability of power from low revs, increasing progressively rather than suddenly. Driveability indicates that the engine works well under all conditions, meaning the drivers can avoid certain risky gear- changes on the twisty circuit.

We also have to change the engine's intake configuration at Monaco, continues Remi Taffin. Instead of maximum power at very high revs, we look to create torque from low revs. It's the only circuit where the engine revs drop so low so often.î


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jarno Trulli , Allan McNish , Fernando Alonso , Mike Gascoyne
Teams Minardi