The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the most revered on the calendar every F1 season, and 2014 is no different. Since it is a mechanical grip track, more so than all others on the calendar, car setup is crucial. Will this track see another team on pole besides Mercedes-AMG? Or will it be another front row lock out?
Monaco: The Track
As an avid player of Codemaster’s F1 games, I can attest, as a “driver” it is one of the most difficult tracks I’ve “raced” at. The need for constant precision on every turn in, and consistency in sector times is high here. You have to be in “the zone” for the entire 78 laps at this 3.3km circuit.
Being that this is a street circuit, it brings an added element of uncertainty. There are manhole covers and painted lines, to name a few of the obstacles the drivers will face. Also, being that it is a street surface and legal roads, the first two practice sessions are on Thursday, and then the roads are open for public travel on Friday.
This means on Saturday all of the rubber that was laid down on Thursday will be gone, and the public traffic will have brought dirt onto the surface. Practice 3 will install some rubber back on the surface and clear some debris. Some drivers are concerned that the new surface leading up to the tunnel will cause issues because of the increased torque of the engines and the harder compound tyres Pirelli have designed this year.
News Before Monaco
McLaren Mercedes has a special livery for the Monaco Grand Prix. It highlights the partnership between McLaren and Johnnie Walker over the years. And as usual there are many custom helmet designs in the paddock for the weekend.
Sebastian Vettel has stated in an interview with AUTOSPORT that he believes he hasn’t enjoyed the same dominance that Mercedes-AMG is displaying this year. Despite this, Hamilton hopes for more pressure during the race, as he enjoys battling with his teammate, but wants to see more teams in the mix.
On Wednesday, Alonso got some praise from an unlikely source; outside Ferrari. Shortly after this statement, Luca di Montezemolo issued a statement regarding Alonso, and that he gives “200% each race.” This in hopes he doesn’t move from Ferrari in 2015, as some are suggesting.
Some Tech Talk
As I wrote about last week with help from Sauber F1 Team’s Ultimate Beginners Guide to 2014 F1 Technical Regulations, the power units in the 2014 F1 cars are immensely different than the previous years. However, it has been revealed that the Mercedes AMG unit is a “split turbo” where the hot turbo side and the cold turbo side are separated by the MGU-H. While the Renault unit used in the Red Bull and Lotus cars are of the standard variety, the Mercedes unit will have cooler intake air because of the design. This leads to more power, as cooler air provides more oxygen to the engine.
Practice 1 And 2 At Monaco
If Monaco wasn’t enough of a challenge, practice 2 offered some mixed conditions, in which most teams didn’t run in the first half of the session. Practice 1 saw Hamilton ahead of Rosberg by .032 seconds. They were followed closely by Ricciardo and Alonso, who were both within 1 second of Hamilton. The critics may be right in that, because of a lack of straights, Monaco may be the equalizer between Mercedes and the other top teams.
In practice 2 in mixed conditions, Alonso held the top of the table, Hamilton 2nd, and Vettel 3rd, with Rosberg well down the order. The teams wanted to wait for the track to dry, but of course it dries faster when there are cars around moving the water off the racing line.
I’m interested to see some more action at the front, and in this tight track where passing is difficult if not impossible, if Mercedes will be able to hold off the Red Bull and Ferrari teams, as they look closest to them at this venue. What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy Monaco as a track? Let us know in the comments!