QUALIFICATIONS : "I arrived at the circuit early this morning, at around 7am after walking from the port of Fontvieille where the boat is moored. It's a really nice walk which takes about fifteen minutes at a brisk pace. The sunshine was lovely...
"I arrived at the circuit early this morning, at around 7am after walking from the port of Fontvieille where the boat is moored. It's a really nice walk which takes about fifteen minutes at a brisk pace. The sunshine was lovely and the morning air was really pleasant. What a place this is!
During the second practice session, which kicked off at 9am, it was such a thrill again driving through the streets of Monaco and my car felt perfect. I went out right at the beginning of the session with the intention of putting in a lot of laps in order to collect as much data as possible for my engineers. I ran on old tyres for about ten minutes, which was a bit hard to begin with because grip wasn't fantastic.
The session was interrupted after 13 minutes following an accident involving BCN Competicion's Hiroki Yoshimoto (J) at the Swimming Pool where the kerb is so high that it's quite easy to hit the rail as you come out of the corner. Hiroki hit the barriers and destroyed the right side of his car, so that's probably that for him today.
I personally then changed to fresh tyres with which I posted the fastest lap up to that point and I stayed at the top of the timesheet for some time. In the closing laps, three cars managed to go quicker and I ended up with the fourth best lap with a time of 1m 21.957s after a small mistake through the Swimming Pool complex prevented me from doing any better in my final lap. It was nothing serious though, and my tyres lasted well.
I felt quite hot and sticky after the session, but I had no dry underwear to change into in the pits. And, with only half an hour to go before the start of qualifying, there was no time to fetch any from the Pêcheurs underground car park where our cars are parked during the Monaco Grand Prix.
The qualifying session was interrupted by red flags on two occasions, once for Giorgio Pantano (Petrol Offisi FMS International) and the other for Fairuz Fauzy (MAL) -- Super Nova Int. Hamilton profited from the only clear lap at the very start of the session. The rest of the time, there was always lots of traffic about and, towards the end of the session, I had six minutes left to improve my time and ensure a good position on the grid.
I put in three laps under the 1m 22s mark: a 1m 21.543s on my 15th lap, a 1m 21.320s on my 18th lap and a 1m 21.227s on my final lap. I was making very good progress and, with six minutes to go, I was 6th. Two minutes before the end of the session, I went out for one final flying lap. Zuber spun just in front of me, although it didn't affect my lap. But I did hit traffic and came across Hernandez ahead of me. That cost me maybe 8/10ths. As a result, I missed the apex at Turn 10 and my best lap (1m 21.227s) finally put me 4th on the grid, which means I will start tomorrow's race in the splendid setting of Monaco from the second row. That's quite comforting because I was faster than my team-mate through the first two sectors.
The team is looking strong for the race. My team-mate is on pole (1m 20.430s), with Franck Pereira (1m 20.717s) in second spot and Trident Racing's Gianmaria Bruni (I) in third (1m 21.155s).
Tomorrow will all be about getting off to a good start. My car feels good and really competitive, but we have no intention of just sitting back and relaxing now. Along with my engineers, we will work out our race strategy this afternoon and, after that, I have been invited to appear on French TV TF1. Only after that will I be able to return to my boat and relax after a few meetings with my sponsors Superfund and Brainforces.
Tomorrow's race promises to be long and physically tiring, with a total of 45 laps to cover. That's quite long when you consider that the Formula 1 race lasts 78 laps."
RACE: A PODIUM FINISH AND FURTHER POINTS !
What a superb race that was! I'm so happy to have finished on the podium in Monaco alongside my team-mate and Frank Perera (FRA, Dams). It really was a special feeling to go up to the Prince of Monaco's lodge to receive my trophy. I was handed my prize by René Clerissi, the vice-President of the ACM. It was a huge cup which I had difficultly carrying back to the podium.
I knew the race result was pretty much decided by the results of qualifying. Even starting from the second row, it was always going to be difficult to challenge for victory. That said, had I not suffered from bad oversteer during the first ten laps and then picked up a flat spot on my front right tyre in the second part of the race after my pit-stop, I think I could have gone for a more aggressive race. Along with the team, however, we thought it was important to hold position in order to finish on the podium.
My team-mate managed to hold on to his advantage at the start of the long 45-lap race, but I took it cautiously because there was a bit of drama when the race of Trident Racing's Gianmaria Bruni (I) ended practically before it had even started. He wasn't the only one to fall foul of the start. Jose Maria Lopez (ARG, Super Nova International), Adam Caroll (GB, Racing Engineering), J. Villa (Racing Engineering), Nicolas Lapierre (F, Arden International), Thierry Gommendy (Isport International) and Alexandre Negrão (BRA, Piquet Sports) all saw their race come to an early stop at Sainte Devote.
I was very worried when I saw the medical car stop for Lapierre who was my team-mate last winter in the A1 Grand Prix series, hoping it wouldn't be injuried
As for me, I managed to hold on to 5th place, despite Clivio Piccione (MC, DPR Direxiv) passing me from 6th. To keep up the pace despite my oversteer problem, I chose to pit relatively early, on Lap 8. My stop was very quick and I re-joined in 12th spot. It was a good decision because one lap later I was already making up ground and up to 11th. 17 laps later, I posted a 1m 24.064s and moved into 3rd place when Trident Racing's Andreas Zuber (UAE) went in for his stop. I also noticed around Lap 15 that I had picked up a flat spot on my front right tyre, so I decided to play it safe behind Frank Perera (F, Dams) who was 2nd. It turned out to be a rather uneventful race and a bit of a procession. It was almost too easy and too uneventful for me, but that gave me a chance to fully enjoy this track and save my tyres and brakes to make sure I stayed out of trouble until the flag.
The points I scored today mean I stay 3rd in the Drivers' championship standings, just 6 points behind Nelson Piquet Jr (BRA, Piquet Sports). It also means I'm in a strong position as we head for Silverstone which is a circuit I love and I can't wait to be there. But for the moment, I just want to celebrate my team's fantastic double podium and I'm looking forward to a good party! Tomorrow, I go to Paris where I will be a guest on RMC Radio, so that will be a good chance for me to share my Monaco weekend with my fans.
Friendly, and see you soon !