By Track Profile Specialist: Alistair Hunter
2013 Formula One Grand Prix de Monaco Round 6
The Grand Prix de Monaco is one of the most prestigious events in the world of motorsport. It is viewed by many as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Formula One, and many fans have fond memories of the street circuit. Last year, Mark Webber became one of thirteen men to have won multiple times at the circuit and a similar result would allow him to claw back some of the 47 points between him and his teammate Sebastian Vettel at the top of the table. Red Bull Racing will hope that their recent dominance of the event continues in order to stretch their lead in the championship over their nearest rivals, Ferrari.
Like the majority of Formula One events, the concept of a race around the streets of Monte Carlo was motivated by politics. Since the Automobile Club de Monaco could not attain national status due to its main event – the Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo – not being held exclusively in the streets of Monaco, the idea was to create a brand new race in order to gain this status.
The first event in 1929 was invitation only, and was won by William Grover-Williams in a Bugatti. Since then, seventy editions of the Monaco Grand Prix have been held (as part of the Formula One World Championship (59) (of which, two were designated the ‘European Grand Prix’), the European Championship (2) and non-Championship races (9)).
The circuit has changed very little over those years in comparison to other tracks, but its unique position as a street circuit from the pre-F1 era has led many to observe that if the ACM was to put forward the race today, it would not even be considered. However, it can be seen to be getting safer every year, with the depth of safety precautions being quite impressive – I’m sure I read somewhere that there are divers employed at the race weekend, in case a car goes into the Mediterranean Sea nearby (which has happened on two occasions).
The circuit is notable for being one of the toughest tests of a driver, as even the smallest mistakes can lead to severe accidents due to the challenging nature of the track. The 3.34 kilometre circuit consists of 19 corners, and has the slowest average speed of any track on the calendar, as well as the slowest corner at turn six.
The top speed is 295 kilometres per hour – but there are not many opportunities to go very fast for a large amount of time, contributing to the decision to make the track one of two on the calendar with a single DRS zone.
The track does require a high downforce setup, but has the lowest percentage of the lap on full throttle (45%). The thirteen braking zones contribute to a medium amount of brake wear, while there are around 48 gear changes per lap. The main overtaking point is going into turn one, with few overtaking opportunities in other areas, meaning pole position in Monaco is said to have a very important influence on the race result.
While glancing through the Caterham F1 press release, I was pleasantly surprised to notice that they have been kind enough to add in a telemetry section. Time is along the horizontal axis with the other parameters being indicated along the vertical axis.
The RED line indicates the RPM over the lap
The BLUE line indicates the speed over the lap
The GREEN line indicates lateral G-forces
The PURPLE line indicates the gear
The AMBER line indicates the % of throttle application
The BROWN line indicates the brake pressure and application of brakes into/through a corner.
A lap with Mark Webber
Pirelli and the Circuit de Catalunya
For this race Pirelli will bring the P-Zero Soft (yellow indicator) and P-Zero Super Soft (red indicator) tyres.
Paul Hembery: “In Monaco we’d expect an average of two pit stops per car, because in complete contrast to the last race at Barcelona, Monaco has very low tyre wear and degradation. This doesn’t make the race any less strategic however, as in the past we have seen drivers trying completely different strategies yet ending up very close to each other at the finish.
The last race in Spain was won from lower down on the grid than it has ever been won before, so it will be interesting to see if this pattern can repeat itself in Monaco: a track that is renowned for being difficult to overtake on.
Because of this, strategy will become even more important than usual, with teams trying to use tactics to improve on their starting positions.”
Jean Alesi: “Monaco is a circuit that I’ve always absolutely loved: I think I’ve been on the podium three times, set two fastest race laps, and in my first race there I finished second, behind Ayrton Senna.
My first taste of the Monaco circuit was actually with Pirelli, when I was driving for Tyrrell in 1990 and we had qualifying tyres. Driving on them was so much fun and the whole place is simply magical. When you were out on a qualifying lap the crowd used to just erupt… Qualifying as high up the grid as you can is important, but maybe not quite as important as it used to be.
We’ve seen many times this year that the race is much more important, and with a good strategy you can overcome a grid position that is not so good. So even if qualifying isn’t perfect there is still the opportunity to do something special and that is a big advantage that Pirelli has brought to Formula One.
Tyre wear and degradation is low in Monaco but it is still something you have to think about because the circuit gains massively in grip over the course of the weekend: perhaps more than anywhere else all year. You always use the soft tyres at Monaco so you can push hard, which is a great feeling.”
The circuit from a tyre point of view:
So far, there have been no safety car periods during the 2013 season. The tight confines of Monaco, with its never-ending Armco and very little run-off means that this is statistically likely to change. Along with Singapore, Korea and Canada, Monaco has one of the highest probabilities of safety car deployment all year, at around 80%. This will clearly have a profound effect on the race strategy.
The top 10 finishers last year all employed a one-stop strategy, stopping at about the lap 30 mark. All but two of them started the race on the supersoft tyre and then moved onto the soft.
The Monte Carlo Grand Prix track has a record number of ‘leasts’ – as well as being the slowest track of the year, the surface is also the least abrasive of the whole season.
Technical tyre notes:
Monaco is particularly heavy on brakes. This transmits heat to the tyres, which adds to the stress placed on the tyre structure. Entering Sainte Devote, for example, the cars scrub off 160kph in just 100 metres. The tyres also have extremely big demands placed on them in the swimming pool complex, where they hit the kerbs at more than 200kph and experience lateral forces of 3.65g.
The driver makes over 130 significant steering inputs during every lap at the Monaco Grand Prix, changing gear on average every 50 metres. All of these actions work the tyres extremely hard.
The Loews hairpin is the slowest corner of the season, taken at just 47kph. Due to the low speed there is no aerodynamic downforce at work, so the full steering lock means that the front-right tyre is doing all the work when it comes to changing direction.
A lap with Pirelli
As I’ve mentioned, there have been quite a few races in Monaco, and several of them have been packed with drama, chaos and incredible racing. Therefore, rather than highlighting every race that hasn’t turned into a procession, here are five of the most memorable ones:
1982 – The race had become a battle between Alain Prost and Riccardo Patrese, but was then hit by rain, causing chaos. Prost crashed, while Patrese spun out of the race. Didier Pironi inherited the lead but ran out of fuel, while a similar fate hit Andrea de Cesaris, putting Derek Daly into the lead until his gearbox broke, so Patrese – who had to restart his car – took his first race victory.
1984 – Prost led from the start, before being passed by Nigel Mansell, who would go on to crash out of the race six laps later. After Prost went into the lead again, Ayrton Senna battled with him for the race victory. Despite the Brazilian overtaking him, Prost won as a red flag came out, meaning positions were taken from the lap before.
1992 – Nigel Mansell appeared to be on course for an easy victory, before having to stop on lap 71 as a result of a loose wheel nut. Despite being much faster than Senna and putting up a huge fight to get past the Brazilian, he could only finish second while Senna stood on the top step.
1996 – This race holds the record for the least number of finishers in a Formula One Grand Prix, with Olivier Panis finishing ahead of David Coulthard and Johnny Herbert for his only race victory, while every other driver did not finish the chaotic wet race (although seven were classified).
2008 – Lewis Hamilton hit the barrier on lap six of the race and was put onto an optimistic tyre strategy that would hopefully take advantage of the weather improving. Massa’s lead was neutralised by a safety car, and Hamilton’s strategy led him to take victory.
There have been three drivers from Monaco who have competed in a round of the Formula One World Championship – Louis Chiron, Andre Testut and Olivier Beretta. While the latter two achieved modest results; Testut entered the Monaco Grand Prix twice and failed to qualify, while Beretta, had a best finish of seventh in the 1994 German Grand Prix.
Chiron competed in many races before F1 began, and won his home Grand Prix in 1931. His best Formula One finish would be a third place in the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix, and he still holds the record for being the oldest driver in a Grand Prix.
While there are no Monegasque drivers competing in the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix this year, two are currently competing in the GP2 series, and should be appearing in their home race. Stefano Coletti is currently the championship leader after six races, winning in Malaysia and Spain to hold a seventeen point advantage over his nearest rival Felipe Nasr.
81 points behind Coletti is the other driver from Monaco, Stephane Richelmi, who scored points in both of the races in the opening round in Malaysia, but since then has had a best finish of 13th in Bahrain, leaving him 12th in the championship.
As mentioned above, fans at the Monaco Grand Prix will also have the privilege of seeing many of the younger drivers in the GP2 Series, who could soon be taking F1 race seats. Coletti leads the championship from Felipe Nasr as already stated, while third placed man Fabio Leimer is third, with his only point-scoring positions being wins in Malaysia and Bahrain.
After the GP2 races on Friday and Saturday, the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup will open proceedings on Sunday, with British driver Sean Edwards aiming to extend his championship lead after the first race in Spain. Following them is the Formula Renault 3.5 Series race, where after four races in Monza and Aragon, Kevin Magnussen (one of the members of the McLaren Young Drive Programme) is leading due to two second places and a ninth place complimenting his race victory in the last round.
|2003||Jaun Pablo Montoya||Williams – BMW|
|2005||Kimi Raikkonen||McLaren – Mercedes|
|2007||Fernando Alonso||McLaren – Mercedes|
|2008||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren – Mercedes|
|2009||Jenson Button||Brawn GP|
|2010||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing|
|2011||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing|
|2012||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing|