And now we come to Monaco, surely the most glamorous and special event on the Formula 1 calendar.
While the event is the glamour event on the calendar, the racing itself typically doesn’t mirror that. 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 2014 Monaco Grand Prix Preview…
|FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX DE MONACO 2014
|Date:||22-25 May 2014|
|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)||Sun 15:00-17:00|
|Lap Record||1:21.670 (2008)|
|2013 Winner||Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)|
* All session times are quoted in Central European Summer Time (GMT +02:00 hrs)
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:
The History Bit
Rewind twelve months ago and it was a very different looking scene at Mercedes. The FW104 was the fastest car over a single lap, but it had – up to that point – been unable to compete over a full race distance.
The form changed at Monaco, where the team put itself in the best possible position of breaking that run when Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton dominated qualifying by locking out the front row of the grid.
Despite the allegations that broke that morning of the secret Pirelli tyre test the team had conducted following a disastrous preceding round in Spain, Rosberg shrugged off the impending scandal with a commanding lights-to-flag win.
The two Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and two-time Monaco winner Mark Webber were clearly quicker, but Rosberg’s better track position and strategy management proved key to the German’s victory. Hamilton was jumped by the two RB9s in the pits while the race was under a Safety Car hold, and they completed the podium, unable to find a way past Rosberg.
The race saw several crashes, with the most notable being the tangle between Pastor Maldonado and Max Chilton – an incident that was, for once, not the Venezuelan’s fault – which blocked the track and caused the race to be temporarily halted. Felipe Massa also had a torrid weekend in his Ferrari, having a near-identical crash at Sainte Devote to the one he had in Saturday practice that kept him sidelined during qualifying.
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 places! – and Trulli hung on to win from a fast-closing Jenson Button.
The Form Guide
While Mercedes has been utterly dominant to-date, this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix is one of the few events on the calendar where the chassis design and driver skill – rather than outright engine power – will prove superior.
As you saw in our five favourite races, the race in Monte Carlo has thrown up plenty of odd results, and this weekend could prove to be no exception.
Mercedes may have won here last year despite not having the quickest car, and this year it will be Red Bull Racing who will look to turn the tables. The RB10 has shown considerable improvement in recent races – particularly supported by the development of engine partner Renault – and this is the team’s first realistic chance of challenging the Silver Arrows for victory.
The battle for Drivers’ Championship honours remains with the Mercedes pairing. Lewis Hamilton has been playing catch-up since his DNF in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, but has won every race since over teammate Rosberg to overhaul the German last time out in Spain. Rosberg will need to respond at the circuit where he took victory and deny his teammate a run of five successive victories.
Looking outside of Mercedes and Red Bull, the 2014 form guide suggests that a victor is unlikely to come from anywhere else.
Ferrari showed improved form in Spain to net a double points finish, but – in a rather frightening statistic – the red cars haven’t tasted victory on the streets of Monte Carlo since 2001. A podium finish for either Fernando Alonso or Kimi Räikkönen would be considered as an impressive result.
Force India and Williams should once again be in the mix for points as they have been all season, while one should also expect McLaren to return to the top-ten after three consecutive point-less races. The lack of high-speed corners – a principal weakness for the MP4-29 – will help mask the clear performance deficit the 15-time Monaco winners are clearly suffering at the moment.
Keep an eye out for the Lotus pairing of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado as well. The twin-tusk E22s showed much-improved pace last time out in Spain, which translated into their first points’ finish for Grosjean. Maldonado had a more torrid time a fortnight ago, but he’s something of a Monaco specialist and – provided he can keep away from the Armco and his fellow drivers – he could well spring a surprise this time around.
Don’t forget to enter your Monaco Grand Prix Predictions!
Round 6 of the 2014 RichardsF1.com F1 Predictions Competition is now open for business, and you can enter and edit your predictions for the race 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 predict:
- 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! Click here to see the current points’ standings.
To enter your Monaco Grand Prix predictions, click here.
Images via Sutton Images