Toyota's Mika Salo will be racing in his 100th GP at Monaco and shares his thoughts on the upcoming weekend. "Okay, we didn't score any points in Austria, but it was a good weekend for everyone at Panasonic Toyota Racing. My top 10 qualifying ...
Toyota's Mika Salo will be racing in his 100th GP at Monaco and shares his thoughts on the upcoming weekend.
"Okay, we didn't score any points in Austria, but it was a good weekend for everyone at Panasonic Toyota Racing. My top 10 qualifying position proved that we had the speed and our two-car finish proved our reliability in the race.
From a mechanical point of view I feel that we are now there or thereabouts. Yes, we still need more speed, but the preparation of the car is good. In Austria both myself and Allan could have been in the points but two appearances by the safety car prevented that.
Anyway, the A1-Ring is already ancient history in my eyes. I've just completed two days of testing at Paul Ricard, where we worked on aerodynamics for the Canadian Grand Prix in June. But it is Monaco next and I did some Michelin tyre tests and mechanical work at Ricard in preparation.
Monaco is one of the few 'old' races that still remain on the F1 calendar. By that I mean it was established long before the modern stadium-style tracks sprung up, which lack character and aren't as challenging. There is a real sense of history to Monaco and I find the place quite inspiring.
Mind you, I wouldn't want to live in Monaco because it would be difficult to lead a relaxed life there. But as a place to drive F1 cars, it's totally mega! The driver can make more of a difference at Monaco than at any other track because every single corner is blind and requires big commitment. Experience also counts for a lot, and I think I know the place pretty well:I have raced there six times and have finished in the points on four occasions.
The secret to getting a good result at Monaco is not to hit anything. Such is the proximity of the barriers that even the smallest error can result in 'game over'. So, if you keep the car away from the barriers and you have reliability, you have a chance of being in the points.
This year's race will be special in another way too: it's my 100th grand prix. I'll be the eighth driver on the grid to reach 100, which means it's a pretty exclusive club - and I must be getting old!
Truth be told, it seems just like yesterday that I was climbing aboard the Lotus at Suzuka in 1994 to start my first race. The last eight years have gone so fast, and I've loved every minute. So I'll certainly be raising a glass to many more GPs, although I can tell you now that there is no way I'm going to do anything like the 254 races of record-breaker Riccardo Patrese!
If there is one downside to Monaco, it's the lack of privacy. Everywhere you go there are people asking for your autograph or a photo and, if I didn't say 'no' occasionally, I wouldn't have time to drive the car. My way around the problem is to travel as much as possible by water. I'll be staying on a boat and I'll use a little dinghy to get between it and the paddock. Let's hope that the sea's not too rough!"