2016 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix, Preview

20 May 2016

Renault Sport Formula One Team previews the sixth race weekend of the 2016 Formula 1 season, the Monaco Grand Prix.

Drivers Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen share their thoughts on the challenges of the Monte Carlo street circuit, while our management and technical staff give the latest on the team and on the R.S.16-R.E.16 package.





Cyril Abiteboul


Monaco is a special race for everyone in the paddock, but particularly for Renault. We consider it our ‘home’ race in the absence of the French Grand Prix; we have a long-standing relationship with the ACM; the Formula Renault 2.0 runs alongside us in F1 and we have several high-level guests joining us. Naturally we hope to be able to put on a good show in this setting. We definitely have reasons to be positive heading to this race: our race pace is improving and we had a successful test in Barcelona where we trialled a range of mechanical and aero upgrades that worked well. Alongside this we explored big upgrades to the power unit in particular and we need to capitalise on everything to maximise our performance now.



Q&A with Fred Vasseur


Encouraging and Motivating


Fred Vaseur looks forward to Monaco and back over Barcelona


What are you hoping to see from the team in Monaco?

We need to stay on the level of what we saw in Barcelona. Getting into Q2 – and trying to get both cars into Q2 – was a good step forward for us and I think that it would show the team’s performance level. Having said that, the results are also dependent on what’s happening during the races and we’ve seen that at the last GPs. For Monaco, if we can get into Q2, having both cars in the points is a real possibility.


What’s the assessment of the Spanish Grand Prix?

It was certainly a race where we were the best in terms of performance for both drivers so far and on Saturday we were only a few tenths off Q3. Unfortunately Kevin’s incident on the first lap ruined his race. The race result probably didn’t mirror the performance level we had in Spain. There is potential there and we look forward to showing it in Monaco.


What do you do when your drivers manage to make contact with each other on track?

For our incident I didn’t have to say anything at all, not to one nor the other! Kevin and Jolyon spoke to each other in a very open and honest manner afterwards and it was good to see them do that directly between the two of them. In my mind it’s the best way to manage situations like these. We didn’t lose anything as a team. The incident is firmly closed, there is nothing more to talk about.




Are you happy with the progress made at the test?

We are very pleased with the progress made. We had two important aspects we worked on. The first was on the power unit side of things. We were pleased because we did 227 laps without any reliability issues. Additionally, we made progress on the driveability, an important aspect also. Performance-wise, we are equally happy with the steps made.


Looking at the chassis, we had a good list of things to test and that was in itself encouraging. These tests were very constructive and it was good to see the work done at the factory put on the car and be very positive on track. That’s encouraging and motivating for all. We now need to introduce these evolutions as soon as possible starting in Monaco and Canada and hope that they’ll enable us to make steps up in the pecking order.


Esteban ran on the first day of the test. Are you satisfied with the work he did?

After a difficult start to the weekend with limited running in FP1 on the Friday, he did a very good day’s work. Even though the test programme meant that the objective of the day was to follow the team’s instructions, instead of setting a fast lap. He did a great job and the team were very pleased with Esteban at the end of the 105 laps he completed.



Q&A with Jolyon Palmer




Thinking of Monaco…

I love it! It’s tight and twisty and the barriers are so close meaning there’s no room for error. As a race track it’s the craziest one I’ve ever driven, not just because it’s a street course, it’s a street course like no other; it’s a proper road that’s used by the public every day and it wasn’t designed to be a race track, it’s very bumpy and it’s very easy to make a mistake and end up in the wall. It presents a really exacting challenge to deliver a fast lap time as you need to be practically brushing the walls everywhere. To put everything together and to win in Monaco is the biggest challenge in Formula 1.


How do you overtake?

With a lot of commitment! It’s very difficult: firstly you need a good pace advantage on the guy in front, and preferably you want him to make a mistake! There are a couple of places: Ste Devote is one, and there’s a DRS zone there too, and then into the chicane is the most obvious opportunity. Everywhere around Monaco takes a lot of commitment. Any overtake attempt you make could end up in contact with your competitor or the wall so you really have to balance the risk and reward. You have to get your move right and hope the other guy sees you; even if you do everything right, if your rival doesn’t see you it’s likely there’ll be contact.


Monaco memories…

One race I remember really well from watching when I was young was when Olivier Panis won. I watched this as a little boy – at about five years old – and it was a crazy Grand Prix, seeing Panis win in a Ligier! It just shows what can be possible. It’s a difficult track to overtake but there have been so many legendary races there!

I won twice in the GP2 Series in Monaco. My first win in GP2 was in Monaco in 2012 in the Sprint race where I nailed it off the start, took the lead at Ste Devote after a messy first corner then controlled it to the chequered flag. Then in 2014 it was pole, fastest lap and race win.


Glamour and parties…

I love it. That’s part of Monaco and what makes it so special. The circuit is a great circuit by itself, but put it in the context of where it is on the harbour front and add the whole atmosphere of the weekend where you have a great party ambience and the whole buzz of the place makes something really special. It’s a race that each and every fan needs to experience at some time in their life. It’s Formula 1 with a festival atmosphere.



Q&A with Kevin Magnussen




Kevin Magnussen looks to the glitz and glamour of Monaco


On Monaco…

Monaco is always a nice experience, the circuit is awesome to drive and the event is one of the most spectacular of the season. There’s a great history of Formula 1 there and the whole experience is great.


On the Monaco parties…

Of course you’re aware of all the parties going on but when you’re there to race that is where your focus is. You can’t go mad over a race weekend, you just have to go to bed and know that there’s plenty of opportunity to party other times when you’re not at a race. I’ll happily miss a great party if it means I get to race a Formula 1 car around Monaco.


First experience of Monaco…

My first experience of driving Monaco was in a World Series by Renault car and I was so excited. It’s just awesome – there’s no other word – as it amazes you how narrow it is and busy you are over the course of a lap. I felt like I knew it so well from watching Formula 1 on television so many times before driving it myself, but there’s nothing like driving Monaco.


Previous results…

I’ve always been fast there but I haven’t had the results to show it. The best is yet to come.


On the Spanish Grand Prix…

I was pretty gutted as I was pushing so hard for the entire race and yet the performance wasn’t coming. There was a good opportunity after the crash on the first lap to move forward through the field, yet we weren’t able to do so. We couldn’t see anything on the data that was wrong with the car, so you start asking if the tyres aren’t in their working range or is there some other issue? After the race the team discovered that the steering rack was damaged from contact with the kerbs which meant the handling was unpredictable and explained why I wasn’t able to get the performance I expected. I didn’t stop pushing though, especially after we made a late stop for a fresh set of tyres.


On pushing right to the end…

You need to keep pushing right to the end of the race, even if it looks like you’re a long way from the points. You never know what could happen ahead; someone could fail to finish, there could be an accident between your rivals or a driver could get disqualified. Every position counts.


On Testing

It was interesting being part of the team when Esteban was driving as I spent time with my engineers and listening to the radio. It was more interesting when I was in the car and it was fabulous to have over 120 laps to enjoy the latest specification power unit and help the team understand so many new parts for the car. We made good progress on many fronts so I’m looking forward to seeing these developments on the car in the coming races.





What do you need?

Monaco’s less about what’s needed from the car, it’s more about what’s needed from the driver who needs to keep it on the track, keep away from the walls and let the circuit get faster and faster. The main focus is ensuring the drivers get as much time as possible to build their confidence on the circuit and learn from the track surface evolution.


Three tyres and a seriously evolving track means lots to do?

It does leave us with a little more work to do as there is an extra compound to be thinking about, especially at a track where the surface evolves – and therefore how the tyre compound works with the surface changes. Monaco is prone to massive evolution and that is a big factor in set-up and strategy considerations.


Car setup?

It used to be a circuit where you’d bolt on a lot of high downforce elements to the car but now a high downforce configuration is de rigueur in a lot of circuits so this isn’t something we’re so concerned with as a team anymore.


We do use revised suspension to give additional lock for Loews, but that’s the same every year – it’s not as if it’s a surprise. As it’s a low speed track, aero is of less relative importance, all we have to do is ensure the car is reasonably well balanced, the braking is good, the traction is strong, cooling is under control. It’s really more about managing the car and giving the driver a predictable car without any surprises.


Test progress?

105 laps on the first day, 122 on the second gave us plenty to be working on. We ticked off everything we had planned to do. We weren’t looking at particular headline-grabbing times, it was all about assessing the upgrades we had in a methodical manner.


Q&A with Rémi Taffin




A chassis and engine that is really dialled together can pay dividends in the overall lap time.


What kind of challenges does the Monte Carlo circuit present for the R.S.16 and R.E.16 package?

Monaco is the slowest circuit on the calendar so the demands on the car and power unit are very different to the previous event in Barcelona. We will work on providing good mechanical grip for the chassis, with high level wings and relatively soft suspension settings, while on the engine front we need to work on driveability in the lower rev range. It’s not necessarily an ‘engine’ circuit, but getting the right set-up and a chassis and engine that is really dialled together can pay dividends in the overall lap time.


We heard that Renault was introducing a B-spec power unit in testing in Spain. What are the main differences to the power unit used since Australia?

The power unit we have used since the first race in Australia was really a continuation of the work started in the ‘Spec D’ power unit we introduced at the tail end of 2015. We explored some concepts in that earlier iteration and the 2016 unit took them further, for example in the turbo. This new spec goes even further down the line and also includes significant modifications to the combustion system. It will make the ICE more powerful but also efficient, leading to a gain of around half a second per lap. We’ve used a small proportion of our token allocation for this upgrade.


Will you use the new spec in Monaco?

The current power unit used since Australia has had several smaller upgrades and all the drivers were very happy with the standard in Spain. In parallel, we’ve been working on the new spec since the start of the season but needed to sign off all the parts for reliability and mileage before using on track. The tests were very positive and showed it to be more powerful and driveable. We had originally planned to use the new version in Canada when the current units are scheduled to be removed from the cycle, but if we can get the units together and completely validated by Monaco we will use the ones available at this race.


Can we expect any more similar steps over the rest of the year?

We will continue our development over the rest of the season, using tokens with a view to getting on board any useful items identified from our 2017 work. We are principally focused on 2017 and making that next power unit as optimal as possible.






Notes / Circuit de Monaco



Monte Carlo has the lowest average speed on the calendar at just 150kph. Top speed peaks at only 290kph.


Less than 30secs – roughly one third of the lap – is spent at full throttle, which places an emphasis on the overall package’s driveability rather than outright performance.


The tunnel section and pit straight are the only chances to hit top speed.


Monaco is a very bumpy circuit with lots of camber change. This can induce drops in oil pressure as the oil pumps aren’t able to properly scavenge the oil system, or the oil tank succumbs to an unexpected loading. A temporary lack of oil pressure can be harmful to the turbo as lubrication is vital at the speeds at which the turbo operates


Energy recovery is easy with the amount of braking points – the 19 corners are all taken at an average of less than 100kph and the MGU-K will have more than enough opportunity to recharge the ES.


Since energy recovery under braking is relatively easy, Monaco is one of the few races of the year where fuel consumption won’t be critical, particularly as the overall race distance is so short and there is so little time spent at full throttle.


Grand Hotel (or Loews) Hairpin. The track descends from the Mirabeau and turns almost 180° back on itself in front of the hotel. When the cars round the hairpin the engine is running at just 45kph and around 4,500rpm, the lowest speed and revs it reaches on track at any point in the year.



Monaco 1995. Michael Schumacher gave Renault its first victory in the Principality when he took the win after a chaotic race featuring a restart, multiple accidents and several penalties. Schumacher started from second and used a clever pit stop strategy to get ahead of title rival Damon Hill and take the chequered flag by more than 30 seconds.



You could take 109,500 selfies on a smartphone with the 264MJ of energy harvested by the Renault/Infiniti ERS during the Spanish GP. Smile!



The Monaco Grand Prix track will be lit up by several iconic and brand-new Renault road cars on Friday afternoon. Six striking vehicles will take to the circuit after the GP2 race to showcase the latest addition to the Renault Sport range alongside some of the most recognisable Renault Sport cars, including the Renault R5 Turbo.


Just before Spain, we polished off a busy filming day at Silverstone. B-Roll footage of the filming is now available in our media centre.


Three of the Renault Sport Academy boys were in action in Barcelona. Oliver Rowland competed in GP2, scoring a top 10 and top 6 finish, while Kevin Joerg and Jack Aitken were out in GP3. Kevin finished in fifth, having started from the front row, while was seventh in the reversed grid on Sunday to now sit eighth in the championship. Jack had a more difficult event, finishing in twentieth and nineteenth.


Oliver Rowland will be on track in Monaco alongside Renault Sport Formula One Team test drivers Nicholas Latifi and Sergey Sirotkin.


Louis Delétraz will be out in Formula V8 3.5 this weekend and Jack Aitken doing Euro Formula Open in Spa. Third and reserve driver Esteban Ocon will also compete in the DTM at Spielberg.