Prix-View: The Monaco Grand Prix

F1PP

Round Six of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship sees teams and drivers descend on Monte Carlo for one of the season’s most anticipated events: The Monaco Grand Prix. While the speeds are lower on the narrow streets of the Principality, nowhere does F1 look faster.

As was the case in Barcelona, Monaco is a maximum downforce circuit, though the two venues could hardly be more different, with the Monaco set-up being tweaked for performance through the low-speed corners. The received wisdom at the Monaco Grand Prix is that the key to a good race is to build up pace carefully over the practice sessions and maximise time on track.

A circuit noted for very low degradation and where track position is absolutely vital, this weekend is fully expected to be a one-stop race on Pirelli’s two softest compounds. Indeed, with this race being the first of the season at which the drivers are allowed to choose their tyre allocation, the returning Jenson Button, presumably with the intention of completing more practice laps, is the only driver to have opted for two sets of the soft compound, the rest of the field taking the mandated single set only. Six drivers – the Red Bull, Williams and Renault pairs – have elected to also bring a single set of the supersoft compound and the the full 11 sets of the ultrasoft tyre.

The season so far has been a mesmerising battle at the front between Mercedes and the Ferrari teams. Mercedes have the upper hand in qualifying, leading with four poles to one, and have a 3-2 advantage in race wins – but while they enjoy a narrow lead in the Constructors Championship, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel continues to lead the race in the Drivers title.

Standings 2017
Current Constructors Championship. (c) F1 Paddock Pass

One wildcard this weekend however, is the potential for Red Bull Racing to get amongst the leaders. While six-tenths off pole position in Spain, the Milton Keynes based team overcame a similar deficit in 2016 for Daniel Ricciardo to take a first – and so far, only – pole position two weeks later in Monaco. They will be hoping the twisting Monaco layout provides a similar performance-equaliser this time round.

As for the Monaco Street Circuit, the following updates have been made for 2017:

  • Improvements to the TecPro barriers at Turns 1, 4, 11, 12 and 15.
  • Additional guardrail posts have been added between T1 and T3 and T4 and T5. The guardrail on the left between T4 and T5 is now fitted on the pavement, not the road. The guardrail inside T13 has been increased to three rows high and a debris fence has now been fitted.
  • The track has been resurfaced: from the start line to 50m after T1; between T4 and the entry to T8; from the exit of the tunnel to the entry to T10; from before T12 to after T14; from T19 to the finish line.
  • The speed humps across the run-off in T15 and T16 have been removed and replaced by one speed hump parallel to the track after the kerb on the apex of T16 to a point 3m from the TecPro barrier

Finally, there is a single DRS zone in Monaco, with the detection point located 80m after Turn 16 and the activation point located 18m after Turn 19.

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