Monaco first staged a round of the Formula One World Championship in 1950, when it was the second ever race to count for the new championship. Since then, the glamour and glitz have made it the highlight of the season.
The event is unique and of vital importance to the business side of the sport, while in racing terms, getting Formula One cars to go round the narrow streets of the Principality presents an unmatched driving and engineering challenge. This year, thanks to the new technical and sporting regulations there are a couple of points worth highlighting on the car front.
The 2014 rules stipulate that a team must nominate its eight gear ratios for the year and can only change them once without incurring a penalty. So although the demands of this the slowest, shortest, tightest track on the calendar will have been taken into account before the start of the year, how the cars will cope with the ultra slow and tight hairpin in first or second gear will be worth keeping an eye on.
Certainly eighth gear is likely to be redundant in most cases. While cooling has always been an issue here, because there are no long straights to blast air through the radiators, this year that could be particularly critical with the return of the heat generating turbo.
Many people will be hoping for cool or even wet weather, as indeed will the spectators, because a damp track is often the key to an exciting race on the street circuit. Back to that tight hairpin and as usual, the cars will all use special steering racks here to ensure that they get enough lock on the front wheels just to get round the corner.
And of course, everyone is looking for maximum downforce, while not bothering too much about the extra drag that creates, as there are no really quick bits here. Slow it might be, but it doesn’t seem that way from the cockpit with the barriers being so close. That combined with around 4000 gearchanges in the course of the 78 laps, goes some way to explaining what makes the race in the Principality rather special.
Jean Eric Vergne: “It’s something of a home race for me, given there is no French Grand Prix on the calendar for the moment. Actually, I can really tell myself that I’m at home, because I stay in Menton for this race, which is really across the “border” in France! I have raced there twice in Formula One and both times I performed well. I think it is one of the hardest races and you should always arrive there in a humble state of mind and never expect anything just because things went well the previous year. I am not going there being overconfident. You have to work hard all weekend and not make any mistakes and it requires far higher levels of concentration from the beginning to the end of the weekend. We will certainly be busy in the cockpit this year, but by now we are used to all the new jobs we have to do in the car. I enjoy the weekend a lot, with everything that goes on, even if, as a driver, I live in a bubble over the weekend, not going to the Casino or eating out in restaurants. But it’s great fun to be racing in a place like this.”
Daniil Kvyat: Monaco for me will be an absolutely new experience. Not only have I never raced there, I have never even been there on a visit. Of course, I have watched a lot of races from Monaco on TV and a lot of on-board footage. But it will really be a step into the unknown for me, even if I have now driven it on the simulator. In fact, I have never raced on any street circuit. I am really looking forward to the weekend, mainly from a driving point of view, but I also want to find out what it is that makes this race such a special event for all fans of motor sport.
Subbed by AJN.