Monaco preview: F1 at its best
Glamour, history, tradition, money. The F1 continues its way around Europe and it arrives to the most iconic circuit in the world. The Circuit de Monaco is an urban track. It was one of the first seven circuits which opened the Formula 1 World Championship in 1950. It has some of the most famous corners as Loews, the slowest in the calendar, or La Rascasse. Drivers will pass through them 78 times during the 3340 meters of the street circuit, to complete the 260 kilometers of the race.
A combination of precision driving, technical excellence and bravery is required to win in Monte Carlo streets. Overtaking is very difficult; in 2014 just 7 moves were seen.
Monaco winners and the 2015 championship
Juan Manuel Fangio was the first winner in Monaco and he also got the first Grand Chelem in the history of F1. The King of Monaco is Ayrton Senna, who won six times there. Graham Hill and Schumacher got the victory five times. Only two of the current drivers have been in the first place of the podium more than once: Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg. The spaniard won in 2006 with Renault and in 2007 with McLaren. The German is the defending champion, having won the editions of 2013 and 2014. In 2011 Vettel took the gold, Hamilton did it in 2008 and Räikkönen in 2005. The lap record is held by the Kaiser since 2004. He recorded a 1:14.439s.
Nico Rosberg win in Montmeló allowed him to get a little closer to Hamilton, who still dominates the championship. The British is leading with 111 points after five races followed by Rosberg with 91, 11 more than his compatriot Vettel. The other Scuderia driver Kimi Räikkönen, with 52, is fourth in the tables. Bottas is fifth with 42.
The lap starts with the short main straight through Boulevard Albert which ends in St. Devote corner, a nearly 90º tight one to the right. Speed reached at the straight is around 290 km/h and turn 1 is taken at first or second gear so there is a heavy braking. It is a quite dangerous corner, drivers need to be careful with the outside wall if they don’t want to finish the race early. There is another kind-of straight uphill, divided in two by a very open and soft corner first to the left and then to the right called Beau Rivage, where drivers don’t even need to brake. Right after they head to Massenet corner, a long one to the left that is linked to the famous Casino; a mid-speed corner to the right taken at third gear and 115 km/h.
Sector two starts now. At this point, the track is 44m higher than the lowest part, and the surface is bumped so drivers need to modify their line before they get to the next corner, Mirabeau, a tight right-hander in which drivers slow down to 70 km/h and shift down to first gear. Now cars go downhill right to a very closed and slow hairpin to the left, Loews. Full steering lock is required. The track continues downhill to a double corner named Portier, twice to the right. Drivers get now to the most special part of the circuit, the Tunnel. This section is taken flat out, the fastest part of the circuit. A good line and exit is necessary because just a few meters away from the end of the tunnel, there is a left-right-left chicane where drivers will try to out brake the rivals to overtake them. It follows a short straight ending in corner number 12, Tabac. It is a tight fourth gear corner taken at 150 km/h.
To start sector three, drivers press the accelerator and go up to 225 km/h until they reach Piscine, a double chicane formed by a fast left-right corner followed by a slower right-left one. Right after, there is a short straight where the DRS detection point is located, followed by a quick left turn which is immediately followed by the tight 135 degree right-hander called La Rascasse. This is another corner which requires full steering lock. Then, a short straight that precedes the final corner, a tight one to the right which brings the cars back onto the main straight.
Tires and technical requirements
The circuit de Monaco is an atypical layout with few fast corners and where barriers are very close to the track. It has very different technical demands on the cars; the priority is traction and stability more than the power and speed so the cars are set up with high downforce, not to increase cornering speeds but to shorten braking times and keep the cars stable under acceleration. Softer and higher suspensions are also needed due to the bumped track.
Just the 23% of the lap is at full throttle. The brakes wear is high in Monaco due to the numerous heavy braking. The brakes are used as its maximum during the 12% of the lap.
Pirelli brings to the Monegasque layout the weaker compounds from its range, since it is not a very demanding circuit for the tires; the supersoft and soft. The supersoft make its debut in a Grand Prix for the first time this year. These tires will also be in the following two tests: Canada and Austria.
Race local times
FP1 Thursday 21 10.00h
FP2 Thursday 21 14.00h
FP3 Saturday 23 11.00h
Qualifying Saturday 23 14.00h
Race Sunday 24 14.00h