And now we come to Monaco, surely the most glamorous and special event on the Formula 1 calendar.
The racing is rarely spectacular due to overtaking being next to impossible, but the event is a Formula 1 tradition and it will no doubt throw up plenty of talking points over the weekend…
Let’s take a look at our 2013 Monaco Grand Prix Preview…
FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX DE MONACO 2013
|Date:||23-26 May 2012|
|Race Lap Record:||1:14.439, Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2004) – 2004|
|Event Schedule:||Free Practice Session 1||Thu 10:00-11:30|
|Free Practice Session 2||Thu 14:00-15:30|
|Free Practice Session 3||Sat 11:00-12:00|
|Race (78 laps, 260.520km)||Sun 14:00-16:00|
|Past Ten Winners:||Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing Renault RB9)||2012|
|Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing Renault RB8)||2011|
|Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing Renault RB7)||2010|
|Jenson Button (Brawn GP Mercedes BGP001)||2009|
|Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes MP4-22)||2008|
|Fernando Alonso (McLaren Mercedes MP4-21)||2007|
|Fernando Alonso (Renault R26)||2006|
|Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren Mercedes MP4-20)||2005|
|Jarno Trulli (Renault R24)||2004|
|Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams BMW FW25)||2003|
* All event times are quoted in Central Europe Summer Time (GMT +2)
Glitz and glam, drivers turning into fashion models, multi-million-dollar yachts – it can only be Monaco
This has to be the most iconic Grand Prix circuit in the world, and the Monaco Grand Prix has been a mainstay on the sporting – and social! – calendars since its inception in 1929.
Held on the tiny principality, Monaco was once described by author Clive James as “a sunny place for shady people”, and it’s certainly true that the glitterati flock to this hugely popular event. It’s a place for fresh to be pressed, deals to be struck and sponsors to be schmoozed – simply put, there is no other place like it.
The barrier-lined street circuit is impossibly narrow and its tight confines present a unique challenge to drivers, who either love it or hate it.
The track is a completely different beast. Iconic corners just roll off the tongue: Casino Square, Loews, Tabac, Swimming Pool – all are well-known turns on one of the most thrilling pieces of tarmac on the sport’s calendar.
Overtaking is next to impossible and it’s a track that rewards patience, accurate driving and plenty of luck along the way. It’s a drivers’ track: plenty of great drivers have managed to haul seemingly-impossible results from bad cars in the years gone by. And it’s also a car-breaker: there are inevitably few finishers and a car still circulating at the end of the 78-lap race is likely to be in the points.
The inaugural modern-era Monaco Grand Prix set the pattern that hasn’t changed since: ten cars were wiped out in an opening-lap pile-up caused by a freak wave washing onto the circuit!
The list of winners reads like the ultimate roll call of Formula 1: Ayrton Senna is the outright record holder with six wins, while Graham Hill and Michael Schumacher took five wins apiece.
For more of our thoughts on the circuit, take a look at our Circuit de Monaco Track Guide:
Rewind to 2012 and other Memorable Moments
Last year’s Monaco Grand Prix broke the record for a season of having the sixth different winner in the first six races when Mark Webber took victory from pole position. It was the Australian’s second win at the Principality and the third in a row for Red Bull Racing.
Michael Schumacher had actually claimed pole position with a brilliant performance in qualifying, but a five-place grid penalty that he had inherited from the previous race in Spain ensured that it was Webber who would start from P1.
The Aussie led the pack away at the start, but there was mayhem in the midfield when Romain Grosjean was pitched into a spin, which triggered further damage for Kamui Kobayashi, Pedro de la Rosa and Pastor Maldonado. Relive the first-corner chaos here:
For the most part, it was a fairly sedate race from that point, with most of the field pitting early to get rid of their Super Soft Pirelli tyres and also negate the possible threat of a forecasted rain shower.
That rain never came, and ultimately it was Webber who triumphed to earn top spot on the podium, followed by Nico Rosberg and the Mercedes and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. Webber’s teammate Sebastian Vettel gambled on a long opening stint and took the lead when those ahead of him pitted, but he was unable to build enough of a gap to Webber before his pit stop and slotted into fourth place.
So what have been some of the other highlights from the previous races at Monaco? Let’s relive five of our favourite races here…
1955: The race’s first return to Monaco since 1950, and it was a thrilling race of 100 laps lasting close to three hours. Fangio and Moss each took turns in the lead in their dominant Mercedes-Benz entries, but both retired. When Moss’ retirement came about – courtesy of a blown engine – Alberto Ascari was seemingly distracted by the Englishman’s smoke plumes and crashed at the Harbourfront Chicane, flipping over and landing in the harbour! Fortunately he bobbed up to safety, but fate would intervene when he was killed just days later in a testing accident at Monza.
1972: Appalling weather conditions greeted the drivers for this year’s race, and it was a surprise when Jean-Pierre Beltoise took the lead at the first corner in his BRM. The impossible conditions saw several drivers clobber the barriers or slide up escape roads, and the Frenchman took his only win – BRM’s last – by half a minute from the era’s rain master, Jacky Ickx.
1984: The race where Senna first made his mark in F1, using a Monaco downpour to great effect to haul his little-fancied Toleman up the order during the race. Early race-leader Nigel Mansell crashed his Lotus and Alain Prost assumed the lead, only for Senna to reel him in. But fate would intervene before Senna could take an incredible win, when the race was red-flagged at mid-distance…
1992: Nigel Mansell had won each of the opening five rounds of the season, and it finally looked like he would break his Monaco hoodoo when he planted his Williams on pole and skipped off into a comfortable lead. But a late pit stop to correct what was believed to be a puncture unexpectedly gave Ayrton Senna the lead, and the Brazilian took a brilliant win after a thrilling dogfight with Mansell in the closing laps.
2004: A scintillating qualifying lap by Jarno Trulli saw the Renault driver start from pole at Monte Carlo, leading the field to take an emotional maiden – and so far, only – F1 victory. Behind him it was all action – Schumacher and Montoya collided behind the safety car in the tunnel, of all things! – and Trulli hung on to win from a fast-closing Jenson Button.
Monte Carlo Talking Points
So what are three critical talking points before we let our expert analysts have their say?
The lack of overtaking: One might be almost inclined to overlook the track’s lack of passing opportunities simply because the setting is utterly epic. Even when the cars are in a train, there’s so little room for error that one slip could change the game completely. The Safety Car will almost certainly make an appearance this weekend and drivers will need to manage these interruptions. KERS and DRS didn’t play major roles here last year – with just twelve passing moves for the entire race in 2012 – but the difference in tyre performance certainly saw some frustrated drivers bottled up behind slower cars.
A race for the underdogs to shine: The circuit is not particularly aero-dependent, and this is one race where the lower-rung teams can realistically have a shot at some points. It’s often a case that being around at the end of the 78-lap event usually means you’re running in the points, and several midfield runners will be aiming to punch well above their weight this weekend. Last year’s race saw a very promising performance from Pastor Maldonado, who looked on course for a healthy points haul in the Williams until he was punted out of the race in the closing laps by Lewis Hamilton. Given his excellent win last time out at Spain and his brilliant form here in the lower categories, he could well be a contender this weekend.
Who will get the rubber working? Pirelli’s contribution to this race – as has been the case all season – will be a huge factor, particularly in the wake of all the debate following the pit-stop-ridden Spanish Grand Prix a fortnight ago. With this year’s tyre compounds designed to be very high-wearing, teams will again be concerned with how to manage the ‘super-soft’ tyre compound, which makes its second appearance of the year. While Pirelli has suggested that a two-stop race will be de rigueur, some teams may be brave and target a one-stopper here because the track is not particularly punishing on tyres. Pit stop strategy – particularly with trying to emerge on a clear track – will be crucial, meaning qualifying is going to really matter here more than anywhere else.
So what do the Richard’sF1.com readers and contributors think will happen this weekend?
“Yes, a win at Monaco puts any Formula 1 driver up there among the greats, but a statistic I find fascinating about this event is that Ferrari’s most recent win here occurred way back in 2001. As Fernando has shown in last time out in Spain with his second win of the year, he’s driving brilliantly and could well be in a position to break Ferrari’s huge winless streak here. Predicting a winner here can be a difficult challenge because the Monaco Grand Prix is capable of throwing up a few surprise results, but I will predict plenty of bling, Bollinger and boobs as the celebrities (A- to D-List, and the odd Spice Girl) come out and play for the most glamorous event of the year.” – Geoff Burke, RichardsF1.com Journalist
“The 2013 Formula One season has not gone to plan for Jenson Button, and the 33 year-old Brit has made no secret of this. Following the opening race of the season in Melbourne, Button declared that the 2013 MP4-28 “[wouldn’t] win a race (this season)”, and five rounds in, his prediction is holding true. To his credit, Button has managed to scrape together a point’s finish in four of the five races this season; however the 2009 World Champion is understandably frustrated not to be fighting at the front of the field. After another difficult weekend at Barcelona, Button declared that McLaren’s form is “embarrassing”, even after the Surrey-based team implemented major upgrades on the car. Monaco has been a happy hunting ground for Jenson in recent years; however it looks as though he will be stuck in the mid-field and aiming for a lower points finish once again this season.” – Tristan Clark, RichardsF1.com Journalist
“For the past three years, Monaco has been dominated by Red Bull, with Webber winning twice and Vettel once. This year could see a change at the top, with Mercedes having blistering qualifying pace, and given there are very limited chances to overtake, they have a great chance to fight for the win. The only thing that’s in the way is their tyres. It’s fair to say that tyres played a massive part in the Spanish GP, to Mercedes’ detriment. And since Pirelli’s revisions won’t apply until the Canadian GP, Mercedes have to tough it out for one more race. The criticism that Pirelli have endured this year has been quite unfair, as they were asked to make softer compounds to provide more entertaining races. The worst thing that could happen to the sport is another tyre manufacturer coming in to compete with Pirelli and fight to make the most durable tyre. There will be one pit stop due to regulations and that’s it. Do we really want to go back to the days of Ferrari-Bridgestone-Schumacher dominance?” – Josh Kruse, RichardsF1.com Journalist
“Every time we get to Monaco, we have the impression that whoever qualifies on pole will win the race, and there will be no overtaking anywhere all day. Rarely this is the case. The last few Monaco GPs have been quite superb actually, with many more before it. The Schumacher/Ferrari domination years were a bit dull but they were so good, they didn’t need Monaco’s narrow track as help for nobody to pass them as that was the case nearly everywhere. But I digress…
Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel appear to be taking a ‘punch for punch’ approach to this season, with both drivers holding two wins each from the first five races. Both will want to ensure they qualify ahead of the other, but again, Monaco is capable of throwing up surprises for the win, so once again it is really anyone’s game. This series is harder to pick than a broken nose, so drivers, place your bets and spin the wheel. – Matt Lennon, RichardsF1.com IndyCar Series Journalist
“Monaco. It’s like an old pair of jeans – just a comfy fit. Like the Indy 500, the Le Mans 24 Hour, the Bathurst 1000, and the Daytona 500, the Monaco Grand Prix is an event where to the fans it doesn’t really matter who wins or what happens. It’s one of those races that you just have to make sure you watch; if only because the history and tradition of the event demands it. That aside, it should be a great race, and picking a winner is really tough. I’m going with Raikkonen. I think he’s been the man of the year so far and Monaco is the sort of place the he could pull one out of the bag. Otherwise, I hope Bottas fails to make Q2; Grosjean crashes in to Alonso in turn 1; and the Wild Ratatta (Geido Van der Garde) beats his team mate. Just because!” – Samuel McCrossen, The Qualifying Lap radio show host
“No doubt after watching the Spanish GP, most F1 fans out there want to see a return to real racing in Monaco but I’m not sure we’re going to get that. A traditionally processional race around the tight winding streets gives few opportunities for overtaking, even when drivers aren’t concerned about their tyres. This year, quickly degrading tyres will likely see the driver with the best strategy win the race. Mercedes have shown they’re very quick on one-lap pace and could finish well without the constant threat of being overtaken. Raikkonen also has good motivation to try for pole with only a four point gap between himself and Vettel for the championship lead. Don’t discount Red Bull though who have dominated this track in past years and won’t need pure speed to win this race. – Jen Smith, RichardsF1.com Features Writer
“As we enter Monaco Grand Prix week, I think we need to establish a new drinking game based purely on the Mercedes F1 team. For every position they lose on the first lap, have a drink. For every position they lose in the race, have a drink. For every Williams that overtakes them (thanks Lewis), have a drink. Actually on second thoughts, it’s a bad idea as you would be drunk by the third lap. Just what is going on there? Is it really worth showboating a pole position when it doesn’t really mean much? It baffles me. But if any circuit rewards a ‘showboat’ pole position it’s Monte Carlo. Nico Rosberg very nearly could’ve won here last year, and Lewis has the experience of winning here before. So maybe the drinking game should be have a drink for every lap a Mercedes leads this weekend? You might be more intoxicated than you think.” – Ben Waterworth, The Qualifying Lap radio show host
The Form Guide
We’ve discussed the Pirelli controversy in plenty of detail since the Spanish Grand Prix, so let’s talk about driver and team form instead.
While Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen head the Drivers’ Championship fight, the pair have Fernando Alonso snapping at their heels and desperate to deliver Ferrari its first win here since 2001.
But this weekend, in our opinion, is probably the Mercedes team’s best shot at claiming victory for the whole year. The F1W04 has shown outstanding one-lap pace and is now targeting its fourth pole position on the trot.
But its Achilles Heel – as has been the case with every iteration of the car – has been massive tyre degradation. Despite claiming a front-row lockout last time out in Spain, Lewis Hamilton and (to a lesser extent) Nico Rosberg tumbled down the order.
But the Monaco circuit is much kinder on its tyres, and coupled with cooler than usual temperatures being forecast, and this could play into the Silver Arrows’ hands.
McLaren will again be chasing improved lap-times in the much-troubled MP4-28, and its best hopes will lie with a double-points finish in the lower reaches of the top-ten – anything above that will be a major bonus, based on the team’s current form.
One outfit that needs to be hitting double-points finishes more regularly is Force India, which continues to be the surprise performer of 2013. Equipped with a much smaller budget and less technical resources that its frontrunning rivals, the VJM06 has consistently punched well above its weight.
But for some shocking luck for Adrian Sutil, the Silverstone team would be sitting a comfortable fifth in the Constructors’ Championship standings – as it is, it lies a mere handful of points ahead of McLaren, which is far less than it deserves on pace alone.
Don’t forget to enter your F1 Predictions!
The next round of our 2013 RichardsF1.com F1 Predictions Competition is now open for business, and you can enter and edit your predictions for the 2013 Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix right up until five minutes before qualifying!
Entry is open to all of our readers, and it’s so easy to submit your predictions! All you’ll need to do is correctly guess:
- which driver will win pole position and the race
- which two teams will earn the best finishes in the race
- which eight drivers will finish in the top-eight positions
- who will post the fastest lap of the race
- who will gain the most positions relative to their starting position
You can also choose to ‘double up’ your points tally for the Monaco Grand Prix – but be careful, you can only do this twice per season!
To view the current points standings, click here.
To enter your 2013 Monaco Grand Prix Predictions, click here.
As always, RichardsF1.com will be bringing you the best of the on- and off-track action this weekend, so make sure we’re your first port of call for your Monaco Grand Prix fix!