Nico Rosberg got back into the winning form in the Spanish GP. He got the pole and cruised to victory. His effort was helped by Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel who passed Lewis Hamliton in the start. After Hamilton got his second place back, he showed frustration after he was told by his team that Rosberg was too far ahead. That did not go down too well with Hamilton, and he kept pushing, and sliced seconds from Rosberg’s lead – but the German was too far in front and had the pace to respond. After the race Hamilton said he ignored team’s instructions to make sure they will not tell him to stop racing in the future. Hamilton’s reaction is understandable for a racing driver, but since the number of engines is limited, stressing the engine in vain was not the smartest thing to do. It also tells that the tensions are rising in Mercedes. And that promises a good show for the spectators in Monaco.
The overused expression tells us the Grand Prix of Monaco is the crown jewel of Formula 1. A cliché maybe, but it is true. No other race has the glamour as the street race of Monte Carlo. It is a race drivers want to win and a victory in Monaco means more than in any other race – except in Spa and Silverstone, perhaps. Monaco also allows the fans to see a glimpse of the glamour and jet set which is associated with the world of F1. It creates an illusion and gives a chance to be a part of that world: via TV and only for a moment, but still.
Yet the fact is that for the people in F1 Monaco is a challenge like any other GP, despite the glamour surrounding it. In fact, teams and their equipment must fit into a smaller area than in a normal race track and that creates its own problems to overcome.
The track itself is old-fashioned, even dangerous, compared to modern F1 tracks. Despite this, or maybe because of it, most of the drivers enjoy the challenge. The track can be called “the track of champions”: Monaco has been in Formula 1 championship 62 times and 39 times it has been won by a driver who became a champion in his career. Rosberg, a winner in 2013 and 2014, will try to increase that percentage at the end of this year by winning the title. In Monaco, like in all races, he will face a tough challenge from determined Hamilton, who has promised he won’t let Rosberg repeat his “error” in qualifying – which destroyed Hamilton’s last attempt in qualifying last year. This year Hamilton will be the Mercedes driver who is running first in the last minutes of qualifying. It will be interesting to see if Hamilton will make a similar “error” in qualifying if he is sitting on the pole position before the last attempts.
Monaco tends to level the playingfield, since the superiority of the car doesn’t play so big role in a street track. This is why one can expect talented drivers to shine, even in a less capable car. It will be interesting to see if Ferrari can challenge Mercedes and how will McLaren-Honda preform in Monaco. And in case of a rainy GP, anything is possible. Just ask Oliver Panis who won the Monaco GP in 1996 with Ligier-team.