Speed and glamour combine this weekend as the teams descend upon the streets of Monte Carlo for one of the highlights on the world's sporting calendar, the Monaco Grand Prix. The jewel in Formula One's crown, Monaco is the smallest remaining ...
Speed and glamour combine this weekend as the teams descend upon the streets of Monte Carlo for one of the highlights on the world's sporting calendar, the Monaco Grand Prix. The jewel in Formula One's crown, Monaco is the smallest remaining sovereign state and hosted its first (pre-Championship) Formula One race in 1929, making it one of the longest serving venues in motorsport and perhaps the sport's spiritual home.
The two week gap between the Turkish and Monaco Grands Prix afforded the team a three day test at Paul Ricard in France last week. With the circuit's layout having been re-configured to replicate the Monegasque track, the team tested a new aero package which will be rolled out for this weekend's race. Nico and Kazuki benefited from a day's running each laying the ground work for a competitive outing at the sixth round of the Championship.
I am very much looking forward to racing in Monaco. Actually, I am very much looking forward to the next two races. Monaco is a true Williams track, and Canada should be as well. We'll certainly have a much better chance at both than we had in Turkey and I believe Monaco is the one race where we can, with a bit of luck, maybe get on to the podium again.
It will be a great weekend as it's also my home Grand Prix. My family and friends will all be there and, for once, the journey to the track will be a short one, just a 100 metre walk! I can't wait!
I think Monaco will be a big challenge for me. It's a track at which I didn't do particularly well at when I raced in GP2 last year, and this is my first race in a Formula One car there. It's not an easy track and to get it right takes great skill and precision, so it's a big test for all the drivers.
The team has always seemed to get the car to work well at Monaco, so I hope I can draw upon their experience and use it to my advantage. It's a really glamorous race and the atmosphere will be pretty special. As its Nico's home Grand Prix, it would be good if we can do well there. Sam Michael, Technical Director, Williams F1
Monte Carlo is such a great circuit for Formula One. The drivers and engineers have to deal with so many extremes that doing well there is a real achievement. As a street circuit, Monaco has typically very low grip levels at the start of the weekend, but that significantly changes as the Bridgestone rubber is laid onto the track by the cars during practice and qualifying. In fact, the circuit evolves so much from one run to the next, it's quite difficult to evaluate set-up changes.
Maximum downforce is the key, as well as the driver getting plenty of laps in during practice to get acquainted with the circuit. We will have some aero improvements on the cars for Monaco, which should improve our competitiveness and enable us to fight for points.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
It's the social event of the season, but Monte Carlo is also one of the most challenging destinations on the calendar. The two mile lap may be the shortest seen all year, but still places extreme demands on the car and requires a unique set-up. First and foremost, Monaco is a street circuit, so soft tyres and a high downforce configuration are pre- requisites to counterbalance the poor grip levels which play havoc with the track in the opening sessions. The lap itself is dominated by slow speed corners and undulations, so a solid mechanical and aero balance is key. Evocative corners, such as Lowes, Chicane and Rascasse are all taken in either first or second gear, so not only are the brakes worked considerably harder in Monaco than anywhere else, but the number of gear shifts made reaches over 4,000, approximately 500 more than at any other track.
With speeds dipping to as low as 28mph on the entry to corners such as the Lowes hairpin, good traction to power the car out of the exit is also crucial to set a competitive lap time. With just 45% of the circuit driven at full throttle, the longest period lasting just eight seconds through the tunnel where speeds peak at 180mph, drivers record the lowest average lap speed of all races at Monaco so engines are given a relatively easy ride over the weekend.
The tight, twisty nature of the track means precision is also paramount for the drivers, for the smallest of errors will be brutally punished by the unforgiving, and menacingly close, armco. Physically, the 78 lap race is also one of endurance as the drivers have to wrestle their machines round streets more suited to cruising convertibles. In summary, the playground of the rich and famous transforms itself into one of the season's greatest challenges, where only the best reap the reward. STATS & FACTS