Formula One season continues with Monaco Grand Prix. Here is what we know:
- Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen sport helmets with diamonds
- Toro Rosso will run their new car – the STR03 – for the first time
- The new car needs new gearbox and Sebastien Vettel will drop 5 places on the grid.
- The other Toro Rosso driver, Sebastien Bourdais, will not get the penalty as he is free to change his gearbox following his DNF in Turkey.
- Bridgestone will bring soft and supersoft tyres to Monaco
- This will be 200th Formula 1 Grand Prix race for Giancarlo Fisichella
Last year McLaren dominated the race in Monaco. Fernando Alonso won ahead of not so happy Lewis Hamilton. Felipe Massa finished third. Kimi Raikkonen broke his car in qualifying but still managed 8th place finish. How valuable that point proved to be at the end of the season. Only the top three finished the race on the same lap. (You can see my photos from 2007 Monaco GP here.)
The 2007 Monaco GP weekend will also be remembered as the place where it all has started … Following Hamilton’s team orders remarks at the press conference McLaren were investigated and later cleared. The first cracks in the Hamilton Alonso relationship surfaced. Mysterious white powder was found around Ferrari fuel tanks, Nigel Stepney’s fall from grace has began.
Let’s hope that this year will be all about racing. Ferrari are the team to beat right now, but Monaco was not very Ferrari friendly lately. The last Ferrari win dates back to 2001 (Michael Schumacher). The past performances do not however guarantee future results, so I don’t think it would be wise to bet against Ferrari even in Monaco this year.
McLarens on the other hand have won 5 out of last 10 races in Monaco including last year 1-2 finish. They seem to have pulled away from BMW Sauber a bit and I think under normal circumstances they should be fighting for the race win here. In BMW they however believe that Turkey was one off for them.
If we are supposed to believe all that comes out of the top 3 teams ahead of Monaco and put one and one together, we should have 6 cars fighting it out for the race win here.
But Monaco is the race that can be very unpredictable and this year it looks like the weather may also play a role. Last year the Saturday free practice was run on a wet track and what happened? Adrian Sutil in Spyker was the fastest guy. We also have Mark Webber in Red Bull who is in very good form right now (form of his life some say) and improving Renault with Alonso behind the wheel (winner here in 2006 and 2007). Some smart qualifying strategy and we may see some surprises on the starting grid …
We also should remember the silly safety car rules are still in place. And Monaco is the track where the safety car is quite regular feature.
To sum it up – We have unpredictable season, Monaco is probably to most unpredictable race on the calendar and we have unpredictable weather ahead. Should be fun weekend and we may be up for some surprise.
Monaco is an unforgiving place. As a street course, the track surface is quite low grip in the early part of the weekend, but come Sunday, the track will be nicely rubbered-in and will continue to improve until the final lap of the Grand Prix. (if it does not rain )
The roads in Monaco may feel billiard-table-smooth at the wheel of a road car, but they are incredibly bumpy for the rock-hard suspension of a Formula 1 car. To cope with the variations in track surface, ride heights are raised between 5 and 7mm relative to the norm.The public roads are also sharply cambered and very slippery – especially on the traffic markings that are dotted around the circuit.
In order to maximise the car’s grip, the team will use softer suspension settings than normal. They help the car to ride the bumps and changes of camber. The surface also means that the wheels must be able to move independently to cope with the bumps, and we soften the anti-roll bars to achieve this. Special attention is paid to suspension camber angles too. The key objective is to give the driver a neutral, driveable car that he can have confidence in around the circuit.
Monaco demands the highest downforce levels of the season. Contrary to popular belief, the primary benefit does not come in the corners, as many of them are taken at such low speeds that mechanical grip is of greater importance. Rather, the gains from high downforce come under braking and acceleration, keeping the car stable into the corners and ensuring optimum traction on the exit.
The famous hairpin at the Grand Hotel is the tightest of the year – along with the sharp turn at Rascasse. Monaco therefore demands the highest steering angle of the season, some two times greater than anything required in Barcelona. Dedicated Monaco front suspension is produced to ensure the necessary steering lock can be applied.
Monaco is not particularly demanding on the tyres due to the slow nature of the circuit. As such, Bridgestone will supply the softest compounds in the range (soft and super-soft), which will help deliver good traction out of the low-speed corners.
Closely-spaced gear ratios are used at this circuit in order to optimise acceleration, and get the most from the engine at slow speeds. The gearbox will have to cope with 53 gear changes per lap – a total of nearly 4150 in the race.
Superficially, Monaco may seem the least demanding circuit of the year, with just 45% of the lap spent on full throttle. Appearances, though, do not reflect reality. The bumpy surface means the engine can easily over-rev if the wheels leave contact with the ground. A driveable engine and good traction from very low revs are extremely important.
Here are the top 10 from past 10 Monaco GP races:
1) Fernando Alonso – McLaren – 1:40:29.329
2) Lewis Hamilton – McLaren + 4.095
3) Felipe Massa – Ferrari + 1:09.114
4) Giancarlo Fisichella – Renault + 1 lap
5) Robert Kubica – BMW Sauber + 1 lap
6) Nick Heidfeld – BMW Sauber + 1 lap
7) Alex Wurz – Williams + 1 lap
8)Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari + 1 lap
9) Scott Speed – Scuderia Toro Rosso + 1 lap
10) Rubens Barrichello – Honda +1 lap
1) Fernando Alonso – Renault – 1:43:43.116
2) Juan Pablo Montoya – McLaren-Mercedes +14.5 secs
3) David Coulthard – RBR-Ferrari +52.2 secs
4) Rubens Barrichello – Honda +53.3 secs
5) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari +53.8 secs
6) Giancarlo Fisichella – Renault +62.0 secs
7) Nick Heidfeld – Sauber-BMW +1 Lap
8)Ralf Schumacher – Toyota +1 Lap
9) Felipe Massa – Ferrari +1 Lap
10) Vitantonio Liuzzi – STR-Cosworth +1 Lap
1) Kimi Räikkönen – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:45:15.556
2) Nick Heidfeld – Williams-BMW +13.8 secs
3) Mark Webber – Williams-BMW +18.4 secs
4) Fernando Alonso – Renault +36.4 secs
5) Juan Pablo Montoya – McLaren-Mercedes +36.6 secs
6) Ralf Schumacher – Toyota +37.1 secs
7) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari +37.2 secs
8)Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari +37.5 secs
9) Felipe Massa – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
10) Jarno Trulli – Toyota +1 Lap
1) Jarno Trulli – Renault – 1:45:46.601
2) Jenson Button – BAR-Honda +0.4 secs
3) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari +75.7 secs
4) Juan Pablo Montoya – Williams-BMW +1 Lap
5) Felipe Massa – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
6) Cristiano da Matta – Toyota +1 Lap
7) Nick Heidfeld – Jordan-Ford+2 Laps
8)Olivier Panis – Toyota +3 Laps
9) Zsolt Baumgartner – Minardi-Cosworth +6 Laps
10) Ralf Schumacher – Williams-BMW – Gearbox
1) Juan Pablo Montoya – Williams-BMW – 1:42:19.010
2) Kimi Räikkönen – McLaren-Mercedes +0.6 secs
3) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari +1.7 secs
4) Ralf Schumacher – Williams-BMW +28.5 secs
5) Fernando Alonso – Renault +36.2 secs
6) Jarno Trulli – Renault +40.9 secs
7) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes +41.2 secs
8)Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari +53.2 secs
9) Cristiano da Matta – Toyota +1 Lap
10) Giancarlo Fisichella – Jordan-Ford +1 Lap
1) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:45′39.055
2) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari +1.049s
3) Ralf Schumacher – Williams-BMW +1′17.449s
4) Jarno Trulli – Renault +1 Lap
5) Giancarlo Fisichella – Jordan-Honda +1 Lap
6) Heinz-Harald Frentzen – Arrows-Cosworth +1 Lap
7) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari +1 Lap
8)Nick Heidfeld – Sauber-Petronas +2 Laps
9) Eddie Irvine – Jaguar-Cosworth +2 Laps
10) Pedro de la Rosa – Jaguar-Cosworth +2 Laps
1) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari – 1:47′22.561
2) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari +0.431
3) Eddie Irvine – Jaguar-Cosworth +30.698
4) Jacques Villeneuve – BAR-Honda +32.454
5) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes +1 Lap
6) Jean Alesi – Prost-Acer +1 Lap
7) Jenson Button – Benetton-Renault +1 Lap
8)Jos Verstappen – Arrows-Asiatech +1 Lap
9) Enrique Bernoldi – Arrows-Asiatech +2 Laps
10) Kimi Räikkönen – Sauber-Petronas +5 Laps
1) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:49′28.213
2) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari +15.889
3) Giancarlo Fisichella – Benetton-Playlife +18.522
4) Eddie Irvine – Jaguar-Cosworth +1′05.924
5) Mika Salo – Sauber-Petronas +1′20.775
6) Mika Hakkinen – McLaren-Mercedes +1 Lap
7) Jacques Villeneuve – BAR-Honda +1 Lap
8)Nick Heidfeld – Prost-Peugeot +1 Lap
9) Johnny Herbert – Jaguar-Cosworth +2 Laps
10) Heinz-Harald Frentzen – Jordan-Mugen-Honda – Spun off
1) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari – 1:49′31.812
2) Eddie Irvine – Ferrari +30.476
3) Mika Hakkinen – McLaren-Mercedes +37.483
4) Heinz-Harald Frentzen – Jordan-Mugen-Honda +54.009
5) Giancarlo Fisichella – Benetton-Playlife +1 Lap
6) Alexander Wurz – Benetton-Playlife +1 Lap
7) Jarno Trulli – Prost-Peugeot +1 Lap
8)Alessandro Zanardi – Williams-Supertec +2 Laps
9) Rubens Barrichello – Stewart-Ford – Spun off
1) Mika Hakkinen – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:51′23.595
2) Giancarlo Fisichella – Benetton-Playlife +11.475
3) Eddie Irvine – Ferrari +41.378
4) Mika Salo – Arrows +1′00.363
5) Jacques Villeneuve – Williams-Mecachrome +1 Lap
6) Pedro Diniz – Arrows +1 Lap
7) Johnny Herbert – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
8)Damon Hill – Jordan-Mugen-Honda +2 Laps
9) Shinji Nakano – Minardi-Ford +2 Laps
10) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari +2 Laps