• Matthieu Piekarski

#10 Monaco GP Preview

Welcome to THE Grand Prix of the season and to already my 10th post. For those that have never been to Monaco during the F1, add it on your to-do list before it’s too late. The place is unique, the atmosphere is magical, a true temple for any F1 fans wanting to see their idols and favorite team up-close. To sum it all up, everything is unique in Monaco.

To put it into perspective, when F1 is in town the track closes to public traffic at around 07:00 am for the F1 event to take place and re-opens at 07:30 pm for the party to begin in the port. From Turn 15 (Swimming Pool) until Turn 18 (Rascasse) it is filled with people partying, dancing and drinking (while sometimes right above are the mechanics working on the cars in the pit-lane) until the track closes to the public at sunrise. This only occurs when F1 is in Monaco and it is a true celebration in honor of this event, this is what F1 should be about all along the season!

The paddock is the best for F1 fans to have a very close encounter with their idols or as well various celebrities. The Red Bull Energy Station in comparison to others arrives by sea, so it ends up being docked outside of the Paddock. The Red Bull & Toro Rosso drivers have to make a way through the crowd before joining back the Paddock to access the Pit-Lane. Furthermore, right across the Red Bull Energy Station is where all the celebrities & F1 drivers take a boat tender to move around, absolutely brilliant!

The video below is just a small glimpse of the weekend, you need to come down personally to experience it to believe it.

Now let’s begin with the first feature of the 19 corners making the 3.34 km Circuit of Monaco. It is the only race that doesn’t run the FIA’s mandatory minimum distance of 305 km, at Monaco we are at a race distance of 78 laps or in other words 260.52 km, the reason for that? If they raced the minimum 305 km then we would have a 90 lap GP and would easily exceed the maximum time limit of two hours for a race imposed by the FIA.

Furthermore, the Monaco GP is the slowest GP of all season with an average speed of 157 km/h. The slowest corner of the season being the iconic Fairmont Hairpin (Turn 6) taken at 48 km/h; the steering wheel angle for the F1 are specifically altered just for this corner. You might often here the old-school F1 TV presenter say the Loews Corner, but it is officially called the Fairmont Hairpin.

Drivers are 50% of the time on full throttle, changing gears 48 times per lap, and the least of their worries is fuel consumption. As this GP is the lowest fuel consumption of the year, with 1.5kg of fuel consumed per lap. Their biggest concern is qualifying as high as possible and overtake using pit-stops by undercutting their opponents. A last particularity about this track, the narrow streets of Monaco means there’s less focus on outright power, where the driver makes the difference rather than the car; by finding a good balance and drive-ability increases the confidence of the driver; as Nelson Piquet has metaphorically said “Driving in Monaco is like riding a bike in your living room”.

The circuit has been slightly revised this year, it is actually shorter by 3meters, as there was a minor realignment of Turns 12 (Tabac) and Turn 14 (Swimming Pool). Therefore, Michael Schumacher’s lap record (established in 2004) will change hands on Sunday. But won’t last long as in 2017, the F1 cars will be 6 to 7 seconds faster!

As a tribute to Michael lap record, the Onboard Lap of Monaco for my Monaco Preview post will be his Pole lap in 2012. Proud to say that at 1min12, I was at the Rascasse corner withnessing this!

Things to watch out:

  • 80% chances that the safety car will come out

  • Unsettled weather expected over the four day event. With a High Chance of Rain on Thursday; except limited run in FP1

  • Rest of the weekend there is a chance for rain in between glimpses of sunshine.

  • Pirelli tyres: Supersoft and Soft; Performance gap between both compound is 1.0-1.1 seconds/lap.

  • Pirelli are bringing for the first time of the season the Supersoft tyres; they offer the most grip and performance of all with a rapid warm-up capacity which is perfect for the sinuous streets of Monaco.

  • Least abrasive surface of the years, tyre degradation will be very low with the Soft tyre.

  • Circuit is open on Friday to public traffic, this has a profound effect on track evolution, with very little rubber being laid on the circuit.

  • Race strategy: expect a one stop race for most.

  • Last year (Nico Rosberg) winning strategy was a one stop with changing his Supersoft at lap 25 for the soft compound.

  • Can Nico Rosberg make it a hat-trick and win Monaco three years in a row or will Lewis win? (Lewis has won Monaco only once, in 2008).

  • Will McLaren finally score their first point of the Season?

  • Exit of the tunnel is very bumpy and drivers are often temporarily blinded by the sun, expect numerous accidents before the chicane of turn 10.

  • Key Corner is Casino Square (Turn 3 and 4).

  • The entry and the exit are both blind, requiring bravery and precision on the racing line from the driver to get right.

  • Pit Lane is 301 meters in length

  • Min. Pit Stop time to keep the position is 26 seconds

  • Marshals stationed around the track are known to be the most efficient and best at what they do, yellow flags/red flags won’t be out for too long.

  • Expect numerous media/team response to the Strategy Group meeting held couple of days ago to make F1 more entertaining in 2017.

Predictions for the Weekend

Nico Rosberg has stopped Lewis Hamilton’s winning momentum in Spain, therefore expect a close battle between both of them for the Pole and Win once again. Something tells me that Ferrari could once again disturb the World Driver Championship between both Mercedes AMG drivers, so watch out for Seb & Kimi.

It’s a close call between both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg for Pole & Win; in the end I say Lewis will take Pole and the Win. He has a revenge to take on 2014 and is on cloud nine having just renewed his Mercedes contract for an additional 3 years worth €41.6M/year. Lastly, at the Drivers Press Conference Lewis seemed much more relaxed (he stayed in Monaco the past two weeks) and energized to win this weekend.

I will end on saying that we must be ready to embrace the unexpected magic of Monaco. I am convinced it will provides us with a surprising result either due to traffic, safety car or the weather. Let’s not forget that in 1996, 4 cars out of the 23 finished the Monaco GP due to numerous factors and gave the only win of Olivier Panis’s F1 career.

Bet Quotes for the Winner of the #MonacoGP

1. Lewis Hamilton 1.50

2. Nico Rosberg 1.70

3. Sebastian Vettel 4.00

4. Kimi Raikkonen 7.50

Enjoy the Monaco Grand Prix! Daghe Munegu!

Don’t forget to follow me throughout the weekend on my Twitter: @m_piekarski

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