2017 MONACO GRAND PRIX, PREVIEW
Sahara Force India looks ahead to round six of the 2017 season in Monaco.
Vijay Mallya: “I’m very pleased with our performance over the first quarter of the year. 53 points from five races is a tremendous achievement and I’m proud to see Sahara Force India strengthen its fourth place in the championship. There is a great atmosphere in the team at the moment and plenty of determination. The VJM10 has improved race by race; we’ve continued to develop and we are performing well across some very different tracks. Monaco this week is always a special case with its unique layout, but we simply need to keep up our consistency and pick up points at every race. Our podium in Monaco last year was a special moment and those memories are still strong.”
Sergio: “When you think of Formula One, you think of Monaco. It’s the most important race and the one we all want to win. When I was a child, I dreamed about driving on the famous streets and I still feel excited every year I race there. To finish on the podium last year shows that anything is possible. It’s such a unique race; a big highlight of the year.
“Monaco is my favourite track because it’s the biggest challenge. I think the contribution of the driver is greater compared to other tracks. There is no room for mistakes and you need to take small risks to find extra performance. It’s a test of concentration for almost two hours, which is why it’s such a difficult race.
“The best parts of the lap are the quick sections. The swimming pool is impressive because we carry so much speed and you have to be very precise on the kerbs. Casino is also very quick and with these cars will be quite a challenge. There’s no room for error so you need to be careful that the car doesn’t step out of line through these parts of the lap.”
Esteban: “Driving in Monaco is going to be a new experience for me because I’ve never raced there before. I used to come and watch the Formula One races when I was young, but I never had the opportunity to race there. It’s strange, because it’s such a famous lap and I know it so well in my head, but it’s always a different experience when you drive a track for real.
“To get ready for Monaco I’ve spent a lot of time in the simulator at our factory, but I still have a lot to learn during the practice sessions on Thursday. It’s a case of taking a step-by-step approach and getting to the limit gently. I normally enjoy street circuits and I am sure I can get up-to-speed quickly.
“This year Monaco is the closest thing I have to a home Grand Prix because it’s next door to France. It’s a very special place and I always feel a sense of history when I go there. The city is forever linked with Formula One and it’s currenly the number one race of the year. For the drivers it gives a big rush of adrenaline and it’s the same for the fans watching. Everybody knows it’s a big challenge.”
Sahara Force India’s Chief Race Engineer, Tom McCullough, looks to the challenges of the Circuit de Monaco.
Monaco is a unique track and a big challenge from an engineering point of view, and it will be interesting to see how the new generation of cars adapts to it: the last time we raced cars this wide around the Principality was in 1993, so it will be a new experience for many of us. This circuit has a layout dominated by low speed corners, including the slowest of the year, the Fairmont hairpin at just 40kph: the set-up needs to be biased towards making the most of these low speeds. The cars are usually running at their maximum downforce as you need all the grip you can get. The lack of long straights also means few chances for cooling, which makes this track a test for engine and brakes. It’s a street circuit, so we witness a lot of track evolution as the weekend progresses – the grip increases steadily as we get towards the race. All in all, you need to work hard to give the driver a car that gives him confidence: with the walls so close, there is no room for error.