It needs little introduction: the Monaco Grand Prix is the jewel in the Formula 1 crown. It is the ultimate challenge in the sport, testing both the aptitude of a driver’s racecraft and his mental tenacity.
Unlike other circuits, mistakes around Monaco are costly thanks to the walls which are just inches away from the cars. There is a fine line between winning and losing, but every great driver has won here; it is the litmus test of whether or not a driver is champion material.
FLYING LAP OF THE CIRCUIT DE MONACO
A good exit of the final corner is crucial in order to reach the top speed for turn one, Sainte Devote. An uphill right-hander, drivers need to be brave to brake late, clipping the apex and not losing the backend with the wall catching many out over the years. On exit, the ascent up to Casino Square begins, with drivers having to snake their cars to avoid the armco barriers through Beau Rivage.
A long, sweeping left-hander is next at Massenet, with a wide line required in order to get as far to the left on entry to Casino, which slowly opens up to go downhill towards Mirabeau. The best line here is to move right, then left along the small straight in order to avoid the kink in the road. Like Sainte Devote, Mirabeau is an unforgiving corner should drivers lose the back-end of the car, meaning that it requires a tight line before quickly getting back on the power down to Loews hairpin. This is the slowest corner in Formula One, and mistakes can be costly in front of the Fairmont Hotel.
Continuing their descent, drivers will use the kerb through turn seven, which will present a scenic sea view on exit. This will last but a second, with Portiers soon following, being one of the toughest corners on the track as it requires a very early turn-in.
The darkness of the tunnel soon welcomes the drivers, but this is one of the fastest sections of the track. The kink in the tunnel has caught many drivers out over the years.
A burst of light on exit makes braking for the Nouvelle chicane a challenge, yet this is one of the few places where overtaking is possible. A tight line is again important before getting back on the power en route to Tabac, which requires a wide line and an extra bit of power mid-corner due to a bump in the road. The track continues to sweep left before entering the first half of the Swimming Pool chicane, which can be taken flat before getting on the brakes for the second chicane.
The final sector sees drivers come out of the slow second chicane and take a short run down to La Rascasse, which requires a tight line, and the final corner, Anthony Noghes, soon follows. A slight kink makes the corner difficult to negotiate, requiring an early turn-in. Then, it’s back on the power before crossing the line.
CAR SETUP WITH WILLIAM TYSON
A very unique circuit that does not necessarily guarantee that the fastest car will win. A setup which inspires driver confidence will undoubtedly find you more time than any new performance update unless it’s mechanically related. A car that’s compliant but not too twitchy will allow the driver to get up close to the barriers and find time. Traction is crucial: the cars won’t reach the speeds needed to extract their peak downforce onto the track, so there’s a huge emphasis on nailing corner exit.
Track: Circuit de Monaco
Lap Record: Michael Schumacher 1:14.439 (2004)
Tyre Compounds: Super-Soft (Option); Soft (Prime)
2013 Winner: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
2013 Pole Position: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:13.876
2013 Fastest Lap: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1:16.577
DRS Zone: Main straight (T19 to T1)
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic.