Monaco Grand Prix: Williams preview Monte Carlo

Valtteri Bottas leads Pastor Maldonado

Valtteri Bottas leads Pastor Maldonado

Williams drivers preview the Monaco Grand Prix, Round 6 of the 2013 Formula 1 world championship, on the streets of Monte Carlo.

Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: Monaco may be one of the shortest tracks of the year, but it’s the most demanding, especially for the driver. Although the corner speeds are the slowest on the calendar, you have to use as much of the track as possible and the closer the driver can put his car to the barriers the faster he will go. As it is a street circuit the grip levels change the whole weekend so it’s important to give the drivers as much time on-track as possible in order for them to gain confidence, particularly for Valtteri who has never driven here before. Due to the bumpy nature of the track, a good mechanical platform is required. We need to raise the ride-height and increase the steering angle capacity for the tight, twisting corners. We also run with maximum downforce there.

We made some small steps forward in Barcelona but it was still a difficult weekend for us. We have a number of upgrades for Monaco designed for the unique layout. We need to keep working hard though as it’s not been the start to the year we had hoped for. As a team, we are still focussed on getting the performance out of the FW35.

Pastor Maldonado: I have always been very competitive at Monaco, doing well there in GP2, so I always look forward to this race as I feel very comfortable driving the circuit. You can also feel the history of Formula One as you drive through the streets and tackle some of the really famous corners. Monaco is a very difficult challenge, both mentally and physically, as you have to try and find the limits of the car with no margin for error if you push too hard. Qualifying will be very important at this race and is probably 70% of the weekend because overtaking is so difficult and risky. Tyre strategy and tyre management is important as you always use the softer compound of tyres in Monaco and they are very sensitive this year. We are working hard at the factory to see where we can make improvements and hopefully we can continue improving the set-up of the FW35 and have a better result this weekend.

Valtteri Bottas: This will be my first time racing in Monaco and I’m really looking forward to it because it’s such an iconic track. It’s definitely the most challenging race on the calendar for the drivers, being an old school street circuit with no room for mistakes and I’m looking forward to the challenge of being on the limit at all times while being so close to the walls. In the past tyre wear in Monaco has been quite minimal, but with Pirelli bringing the softs and supersofts to this race the tyre degradation may be more of a factor, although less than we saw in Bahrain and Barcelona. It’s very challenging to get the car right at Monaco as it’s very different to all other circuits. There is a lot of undulation, so you need a good car set up to keep all the wheels on the ground around the whole circuit. It’s also quite bumpy which affects the ride height of the car.

Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 Head of Track Operations: Monaco has the lowest average speed on the calendar: just 160kph. With low speed corners punctuating the lap the challenge is to deliver a highly responsive engine through the lower rev limits of the engine (around 15 – 17,000rpm) to give response on the entry and exit to the corners. Another key area to get right is the cooling. With so little time spent at full throttle and so much in ‘dirty’ air, the engine can run very hot. We’ll therefore monitor the temperatures very closely and run the water system hotter to dissipate the heat if necessary.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director: For Monaco, we have the P Zero Yellow soft tyres and P Zero Red supersoft tyres. This is actually the same nomination that we have had in place for Monaco over the last two seasons, but of course this year the compounds are a lot softer. So we’d expect the supersoft – which was last seen in Australia – to be the tyre to qualify on and the soft tyre the one for the race. Monaco is the circuit that places the least demands on tyres all year, which is why we can run the two softest and fastest here. However, as the aerodynamics don’t generate a lot of downforce in Monaco, it’s the tyres that produce all the mechanical grip to get the cars around all the corners, so in this respect it is quite demanding.