With less than a week to go before the F1 entourage unleashes itself on the twisty streets of Monte-Carlo, the drivers give their take on the most prestigious race on the calendar.
“Monaco, my favourite race. You have the history all around, you can just feel it, and the atmosphere is fantastic. It is the Grand Prix that every driver wants to win. Being a street circuit it is very exciting to drive, there is no room for any error all weekend. You are on the limit the whole time, there are no long straights where you have a moment to think. It is so tight and narrow, and when you consider how quick you are driving it is unreal. To be quick you need to use every centimetre of the circuit, this even includes touching the barriers at some points.â€
“It is so tight, and very difficult to describe how it feels in the car because you are so low. You are hitting some corners at 180mph, as you are braking down you know there is no run-off area, you can t see the exit. All you can see is directly what is in front of you, probably about 50 metres. In some corners it is almost a guess, you are guessing where the car should be, hoping that you are in the right place, relying on your instinct and memory.â€
“I always enjoy driving at Monaco because it is a very challenging circuit. Some people think because it is not as fast it must be easier, but it is not very forgiving and you have to focus every single moment and be the maximum on each lap, you can t relax anywhere. It also has unique characteristics, such as the sound is very different. It is louder even in the car because of the buildings surrounding the track. All the drivers like it because it is a challenge, and we like our challenges! It is a very special race and it is very difficult to win, that is why everybody is very motivated to do just that.â€
“You have to be brave. You have to attack the brakes and the fast corners, the whole time you must be very aggressive and drive close to the walls. It is not so much about the set-up, balance and so on, it is all about attacking and being bold.â€
“I m a real fan of narrow street circuits like this. Lots of people have tried to describe what it s like driving through these streets that are like canyons in a Formula One car. I ve never been able to think of a comparison that really does it justice, so I won t even try. You simply have to experience it for yourself. This is a circuit that s totally unforgiving of even the smallest driving error. If you run out of road, there s nowhere to go except into a crash barrier.
“Monaco goes quite crazy during Grand Prix weekend. The town and the harbour are all packed to bursting point. Of all the GP races, this is definitely the one that has the most to offer spectators. For one thing, there s nowhere else you can get so close to the action. The engine noise is stupendous and the razzmatazz is simply unique. I always enjoy coming to Monaco. That said, I have to admit it s all a bit too frenzied for me in the long run, which is why a few years ago I decided to move to Switzerland.â€
“I am really looking forward to Monaco. I was very strong there in 2007 and I am a big fan of narrow street circuits with barriers right next to the track. Monaco is one of these tight and narrow circuits. There are three or four really nice corners like the swimming pool chicane or the Casino section. The track is quite tricky to understand and it is not easy to find the right set-up of the car in Monaco. Without traction control it will be an even bigger challenge to drive there. We will have to see how our car suits the track. I hope this works at least as well as last year and I expect a good result.â€
“Monaco is a truly special race weekend. It s completely different from any other venue on the calendar, although it will be interesting to see how the street circuits in Valencia and Singapore compare later this year. The whole lap at Monaco is just a non-stop challenge and you have to maintain absolute focus and concentration over every single one of the 78 laps of the race. The absolute key to a really quick lap is to not let the barriers intimidate you as this is a circuit that rewards precision. Having a good qualifying session and getting the best grid position possible is so important to a successful weekend. Passing is very difficult during the race, so you need to make a good start and do your overtaking off the line where possible.”
“The Monaco Grand Prix means a great deal to me as it is one of my three homes races of the year, along with Silverstone and Japan. However, being a resident of Monaco is of no benefit over the race weekend as the principality is completely transformed! It s unbelievably busy and getting around can be just impossible. My top tip would be to walk everywhere or use a scooter. What I love about Monaco is that it is a fantastic race for the fans who can get so close to the action and noise of Formula One.”
“The streets of Monaco are tight, twisty, bumpy and unforgiving. You can really feel the speed of the car when the barriers are so close to you, but despite this, Monaco is one of the lowest speed circuits that we will race on and presents a number of unique challenges. Good mechanical grip from the car is a fundamental requirement, coupled with as much downforce as possible. Low-speed handling is crucial as this is usually the slowest circuit on the calendar, although this year Singapore looks to be even slower. We will also be driving without the benefits of traction control for the first time in Monaco which I m sure will be interesting. The new Bridgestone super soft tyre compound will be used for the first time over a race weekend, following its debut at the test.”
“This will be my 16th Monaco Grand Prix so I know the circuit very well by now! Like everyone, Monaco is one of my favourite races and I have been successful here in the past, finishing on the podium four times. I particularly enjoying qualifying at Monaco, it s one of the biggest challenges of the year to get it right and give yourself the best chance in the race. Experience does count around Monaco as the driver and your strategy can make the difference to the outcome of your race, it s not purely about car performance. And of course, on the day, you have to keep the car out of the barriers and bring it safely home.â€