Monaco Grand Prix – preview
24-27 May 2018
Start time: 15:10hrs local (CET), 14:10hrs BST
Race laps: 78
Tyre choice: Red Supersoft, purple Ultrasoft, pink Hypersoft
Focus points With overtaking being so difficult at Monaco, track position is crucial – and not just in the race. Qualifying gets very congested, particularly in Q1 when there are 20 cars on-track. On average, there is a car every 3s around the lap, so the drivers have to work closely with their engineers to find the necessary space for a quick lap.
Most demanding section Turns 13 & 14, the Swimming Pool section. Taken in sixth gear at 260km/h (162mph), this chicane is the fastest couple of corners on the lap. The drivers have to hit the apex kerbs hard in an effort to straighten the corner, but they risk unsettling the car and hitting the exit barrier. It’s a delicate balance of controlled aggression.
Unique difficulty The Fairmont Hairpin. Not only is it the slowest corner on the entire Formula 1 calendar, taken at just 45km/h (28mph), it’s so tight that the teams have to reduce the turning circle of the cars to make it round.
Braking There are 13 braking areas around the lap, which means the cars have more than 1,000 braking events during the grand prix. But only one corner – Turn 10, the Chicane – is considered a severe braking test: the cars shave off 200km/h (125mph) in just 56 metres on the downhill approach to this corner. Overall, though, the track is considered to be of medium severity for brakes.
Power The cars use 1.5kg of fuel per lap, which is low. Monaco has the lowest fuel effect of the season.
Aero Maximum downforce. The slow corners and short straights make aerodynamic efficiency less important than at other tracks. The cars want as much slow-speed downforce as possible. Performance is aided greatly by mechanical grip, which is why the cars run softer suspension at Monaco than anywhere else in F1.
“Heading back to Monaco will be really exciting after a little break last year! I loved the Indy experience of course, but Monaco is also a really special place to go racing, and it’s easy to see why it’s such a famous venue for a grand prix. It’s one of the most technically challenging circuits of the year simply because of the level of skill and concentration you need to get around lap after lap 78 times, as well as negotiating the traffic, strategy, weather and everything else this crazy race throws at you.
“I’m looking forward to getting behind the wheel there for the first time in two years and seeing how our car performs. For sure, we know the limitations of our package, and a slow-speed track such as this requires a totally unique set-up compared to anywhere else on the calendar, but it’s up to everyone to adapt and get the most out of our equipment.
“Monaco is one of those tracks that tends to level the playing field a little and it’s a bit like throwing a dice. As we saw in Spain, even if you qualify well it doesn’t mean you won’t fall victim to drama which can change things around. So, we need to maximise everything on Saturday, and then fight hard on Sunday to earn as many points as possible.”
“In Monaco, the whole race weekend is about staying out of trouble. Even if you’re not directly involved in an incident, the Safety Car can cause chaos in itself on a slow-speed track such as this, which can create more drama. You never really know what to expect there but that’s what makes this track so special.
“The test in Spain gave us some great information that we’re already putting to good use in Monaco. Of course, it’s a very particular kind of track with different characteristics to others, but we can still adapt what we’ve learned and hopefully continue our step forward in performance.
“Our first DNF of the year in Spain wasn’t the result we hoped for, but we’ve investigated and hope we won’t see any repeats of the same issue. Monaco is typically a race of attrition, so while the aim is always to stay out of trouble as much as we can, it’s also to stay out of the barriers!”
“Monaco has its infamous reputation for good reason. This track is as much a favourite for the drivers, team personnel and legends of the sport as much as it is for the fans, and provides an incredible racing spectacle in every sense.
“This track divides those who can and those who can’t more than any other circuit we race at – and that’s what produces the exciting racing and crazy drama we all love about Monaco. It’ll be great to see Fernando back in the cockpit around this track alongside Stoffel, and interesting to see how we fare there with our updated package.
“It goes without saying that reliability is a key factor in Monaco, and since there tends to be a fair amount of drama, finishing the race with both cars intact is the first step. As for points, anything can happen and we’ll be battling hard as always – with reliability, a good strategy and two drivers that know this track well, it’s all to play for.”