Monaco Preview - who will rule the Principality? - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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Monaco Preview - who will rule the Principality?

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Monaco Preview - who will rule the Principality? 23 May 2012

Will Monaco, the sixth round of the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship, see the sixth different winner in a gripping season? And, if so, who will it be? McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, who is overdue for a win? Or Kimi Raikkkonen, who has likewise been knocking on the door and who believes that Lotus could have been a contender for victory in every race thus far? Or perhaps the Finn’s team mate Romain Grosjean might rise to the occasion on the nearest he will get to home ground this season? Or could the Saubers finally deliver? Or Williams repeat?

There hasn’t been such an open season in years, and the usual rigours of Monaco, with its bumps and white lines and tight corners and chicanes and ever-present Armco barriers will combine with the conundrums of Pirelli’s latest tyres to create another totally unpredictable race.

What makes it even more exciting is that there is a plethora of Monaco winners in the field: Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber; Hamilton and team mate Jenson Button; Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso; Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher; and Raikkonen; while Grosjean (2009), Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg (2005), Williams’ Pastor Maldonado (2007) and Bruno Senna (2008), Sauber’s Sergio Perez (2010) and Marussia’s Charles Pic (2011) have all won here in GP2.

McLaren go to the Principality desperately in need of a boost after the pit-stop problems in Bahrain and Hamilton’s demotion from pole position in Spain, and the 2008 champion is likewise determined to turn things around.

“Even though Monaco has the slowest average speed of all the circuits we visit in a season, it always feels incredibly quick,” he says. “That’s because the acceleration is so rapid and the walls so close: there really is no room for error. Apart from the run-off at Ste Devote, and the tiny escape roads at Mirabeau and the harbour chicane, there’s no room to make a mistake. But when the stakes are at their highest, I just find it more exciting.

“Still, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that, despite pushing for the win, consistency and scoring decent points is currently the most sensible way to tackle this world championship. I’ve scored points at every race, and I’m only eight points off the lead of the championship. That’s a really encouraging statistic and it’s reassuring to see my approach is paying off.

“Nevertheless, I’m coming off the back of two relatively disappointing results and there would be no better place for the cards to fall in my favour than at Monaco.”

Button, too, wants to stop his recent bad spell.

“I remember last year having a fantastic car beneath me and feeling really confident that I could challenge for the win. As it happened, circumstances beyond our control worked to pull that opportunity away from us, but I go back to Monte Carlo with a little bit of unfinished business. While our car isn’t especially suited to the tighter confines of a track like Monaco, I’m optimistic of getting on top of the balance issues that have affected me for the past two races.”

Speaking of Raikkonen’s chances, Lotus boss Eric Boullier said recently: “It’s good to have drivers who want to win, and are pulling the team forwards. I think if we can keep this consistency like we are doing now, definitely a win is on the cards."

“It’s something special to race in Monaco,” says Vettel, last year’s winner. “It’s tight and there’s no room for error. It’s rough and, as it’s a street circuit, the road surface is uneven so you get shaken in the car and there is no room for mistakes. You have to push yourself and the car to the limit to be fast, you have to push as hard as on other tracks, but there’s no room. You can almost feel it when you are just missing the wall and just get through - but it’s a nice feeling. You need to be fully focused on track, it’s a special thing to win in Monaco.”

Webber agrees: “Monaco is a really special track, it’s an old circuit in terms of when it was first designed and the layout hasn’t changed too much since. It’s got a bit easier from when I first joined Formula One 10 years ago, but it’s still a test of man against the track and with the car. You’re racing other people, but it doesn’t always feel like it because the track is always asking you to give more. If you bite and try to give it more then you crash so it’s a very, very challenging circuit mentally. Physically it’s quite straightforward, but in the mind you need to be very disciplined and that’s the challenge around Monaco.”

Schumacher ought to be another contender for sixth 2012 winner, but the five-place grid penalty he earned in Spain certainly won’t help him. “The circuit is really so much fun to drive,” he says. “Every time you go there, you just look forward to finally getting out and driving the track. Of course, knowing that I will lose five positions on the grid does not add to this feeling but this just means that I will have to try even harder.”

Meanwhile, Maldonado would like nothing better than to become 2012’s first two-time winner, as Perez seeks to put the bad memories of last year’s heavy accident in the chicane out of his mind by taking the win he perhaps should have had in Malaysia. And, of course, though he might choose to play things down, Fernando Alonso is quietly harbouring aspirations of putting Ferrari back on top again.

As last year, there will only be one DRS zone, located on the short pit straight where it is likely to have minimal effect. The FIA ruled out having a zone in the tunnel as well, on grounds of safety because of the limited run-off area there, and even in practice and qualifying, drivers will not be able to deploy DRS there.

There have been various changes made to the circuit ahead of the race. Various sections have been resurfaced in order to remove bumps that were present in 2011 and tyre walls have been replaced by TecPro barriers in Turns 1 and 14. One ‘planter’ has been removed on the right in the pit exit thereby allowing a straighter line out of the pits, whilst the crane situated on the end of the barrier in the run-off area at the chicane has been removed, thereby providing nearly 15 metres more space.

Pirelli’s super-soft compound will make its 2012 debut, alongside the familiar soft. Of the four dry weather slicks available this year, the super-soft is the only one that is unchanged since 2011. That should makes things ever so slightly easier for the teams as the two compounds are closer together in performance than the soft and hard rubber chosen recently for the Spanish Grand Prix. And because you lose so much time during pit stops here because of the tight pit entry and exit, there are likely to be fewer rather than more pits stops than of late.

As Monaco is a relatively low-speed circuit, with lots of tight corners, wheelspin and oversteer due to lack of mechanical grip will be two of the biggest problems exacerbating tyre wear.

The weather forecast is mixed for the weekend, with a chance of showers on Friday and Saturday. For the rest of the time it should be partly cloudy, with an ambient temperature high of 22 degrees Celsius on Wednesday, rising to 23 for Thursday and Friday and falling to 21 for Saturday and Sunday.

The race will run over 78 laps or 260.520 kilometres (161.887 miles), and will start at 1400 hours local time, which is two hours ahead of GMT.
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 05-27-2012, 02:38 PM
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Mark Webber "ruled" it pretty well. No lead changes - compared to how many at the Indy?? 30 or more ?? Oval racing can be very interesting to watch...
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