The Event Monaco hosts its 64th Grand Prix this weekend in the glittering sovereign state, one of the premier social events on the international sporting calendar. The highlight of the season, and undoubtedly the jewel in Formula One's crown,...
Monaco hosts its 64th Grand Prix this weekend in the glittering sovereign state, one of the premier social events on the international sporting calendar. The highlight of the season, and undoubtedly the jewel in Formula One's crown, the Monaco Grand Prix is a very different proposition to any other encountered throughout the year, but one which every driver dreams of winning. Historically, Monte Carlo has proved somewhat of an enigma to Williams with Montoya's 2003 victory breaking a 20-year nemesis, so the team is working towards a competitive weekend in the Principality.
Between the races
The two week break following the Spanish Grand Prix afforded the team a four day test session in Vallelunga, Italy, last week. Webber, Wurz and Karthikeyan carried out an extensive programme, including the evaluations of aero and mechanical specifications in preparation for Monaco. Starts work, tyre compound testing, traction control development and brake work was also completed.
Over the four days, the trio covered nearly 2,500 kilometres. A quick trip to Santa Pod in the UK for starts practice with Narain Karthikeyan on Tuesday this week finalised the team's homework for the race. Both the team's race drivers made their regular trips to Grove between the races to catch up with staff, before consultations with their engineers ahead of the Grand Prix.
Making the car go faster
As part of the team's scheduled development programme, Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg's FW28s will take to the Monaco streets with further aerodynamic upgrades, while both will benefit from Monaco-specific devices developed to compensate for the loss of aero efficiency induced by the need for high downforce rear wings.
Monaco from a technical perspective
One of the few remaining traditional street circuits, Monaco is a tight, undulating track, characterised by an unpredictable nature, and one which poses continual set-up challenges throughout the weekend. To endure each of the 78, 3.340km laps, a high downforce set-up is a pre-requisite to generate traction out of the slow corners and under the many braking events, while a strong mechanical and aerodynamic package is critical to counter balance the low grip levels.
The low average lap speed (highest speeds are recorded in the tunnel where the drivers reach 290kp/h), combined with a modest full throttle ratio, mean engines do not suffer significant loads, whereas a durable gearbox is essential to cope with an average 3,300 shifts over the race distance, 500 more changes than a conventional circuit.
Precision engineering alone will not secure success, however, exacting standards from the driver are also key to prevent Monaco's trademark Armco claiming the car as a victim. Qualifying performance is disproportionately rewarded in the Principality, so, with opportunities to overtake rare and traffic a cause for concern, an astute strategy could take home the spoils.
"Monaco is certainly a very special race on the calendar for everyone involved in Formula One. It's an historic event and one we all want to do well at. We had a good result there last year and I hope we can improve on the previous race in Barcelona by quite some margin and get some solid points for the team."
"I love the challenge of Monte Carlo and, as a sporting event, the atmosphere is absolutely amazing. I really hope it will prove to be a turn in fortunes, and form, for the team. It can't come soon enough after the last race and I'm just looking forward to getting there."
"Monaco will be a special weekend for me. Racing in the town where I have lived all my life, and with all my friends supporting me on such a fascinating circuit, will be great. I had a great race here in GP2 when I finished third and, although the track will be quite different in a Formula One car, I'm going into the weekend with a strong belief that we can do well."
Sam Michael, Technical Director, WilliamsF1:
"Last week we were at the Vallelunga circuit, near Rome, where we spent the four days mainly testing tyres for Bridgestone, but also working on mechanical and aerodynamic set-up for Monaco's maximum downforce circuit. Because Monaco is a street circuit, the increase in grip levels over the race weekend is significant. Formula One tyres are very soft for Monaco and therefore a lot of rubber is laid down on the track. Also, as with any street circuit, there is a lot of oil and other contaminants on the road surface."
"Overtaking is extremely difficult in Monaco, but not impossible, as Williams showed in last year's race, so qualifying and race strategy are key to a good result here. We have an aerodynamic upgrade on the FW28 especially for this race to ensure we get the best out of this maximum downforce track."
Simon Corbyn, Head of F1 Race Engineering, Cosworth:
"Monaco presents a unique challenge for Formula One engines due to the nature of the circuit, it also places maximum demands on engine driveability and effective control strategies rather than outright engine performance. It is vital to qualify well here to maximise the opportunity of a good race result and the 2006 qualifying format will no doubt make Saturday afternoon pretty exciting."
"Both Mark and Nico are scheduled to start the event with fresh CA2006 Series 4 engines fitted with the latest performance and reliability updates. Cosworth had a good test last week in Vallelunga and we're looking forward to Monaco."