Monaco Grand PrixView

By on Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

After a Spanish Grand Prix which re-ignited the title battle, Formula 1 now heads to the ‘jewel in the crown’ for the annual glamour event in Monaco. The prestigious race is the one the drivers all want to win and for the last two years it’s been Nico Rosberg who has emerged on top – albeit after a controversial qualifying session in 2014.

But form can go out of the window around the narrow streets of the Principality and is the one race of the year where anything could happen.

The circuit

The Monaco Grand Prix was held for the first time in 1929 and has been part of the Formula 1 World Championship since 1955, with the circuit layout remaining almost unchanged across history. The drivers race around the Monaco harbour, through the districts of Monte Carlo and La Condamine, completing the 3.3km circuit in around 85 seconds.

Confidence is crucial for a driver around the streets of Monaco and when someone finds the sweet spot they can be impossible to beat – such as Mark Webber in 2010. Conversely, the close proximity of the barriers and difficulty in overtaking – allied to the chance of wet weather – can sometimes lead to a surprise victor, as in 1996 when Olivier Panis claimed his sole win.

“Racing at Monaco is an incredible challenge – being precise on turn-in, hitting the apex and balancing the throttle, while being as patient as possible to get the best exit, is a real art,” says 2009 victor Jenson Button.

“The flow of corners in the middle sector – from Mirabeau, into the Hairpin and on to Portier – is particularly tricky, as it’s so easy to go a foot off the racing line and end up in the wall. Monaco always produces great drama, which just adds to its legendary status as one of the best Grands Prix on the calendar.”

The race

Scuderia Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari

Lewis Hamilton leads Mercedes team-mate Rosberg by 20 points in the championship, though the Briton has claimed just a sole podium in Monaco since his lone 2008 triumph. In the Constructors’ battle, Mercedes holds a sizeable 70 point advantage over Ferrari; the Italian team has not won in Monaco since Michael Schumacher’s last triumph in 2001.

The low average speed allied to the twisty nature of the circuit means that mechanical grip is crucial – 60% of the track has also been resurfaced since 2014 – and for that reason Pirelli will bring the two softest compounds from its tyre range – the red-banded Super Soft and yellow Soft.

As is traditional, the weekend has a slightly different structure, with practice taking place on Thursday, before the lead junior series – GP2 – takes centre stage on Friday. The usual weekend format for Formula 1 resumes on Saturday morning. This leads to different track evolution to usual, while it means drivers have to adapt to the altered timetable.

There will be just one DRS zone in Monaco, located along the pit straight.

Timetable (GMT +2):

Williams Martini Racing

Williams Martini Racing

Thursday 21 May

  • Practice One: 10:00 – 11:30
  • Practice Two: 14:00 – 15:30

Saturday 23 May

  • Practice Three: 12:00 – 13:00
  • Qualifying: 14:00 (60 minutes)

Sunday 24 May

  • Race: 14:00 (66 laps or two hours)

 


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