Not just in the context of F1, but sport as a whole, the Monaco Grand Prix is a truly special event. The marquee race within the exclusive club of blue-ribbon venues. It is a huge challenge for drivers as they look to thread their cars in-between the famous barriers which punish the smallest of mistakes. With Nico Rosberg having won the previous two Monaco Grand Prix, he will bid to become only the fourth driver to win three consecutive races, following in the footsteps of Graham Hill, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. However, Lewis Hamilton will look to halt his teammate’s momentum and secure his fourth victory of the campaign, on the back of the confirmation of his contract extension.
- The Monaco Grand Prix takes place across 78 laps.
- The event was first held in 1929, albeit not as a Formula 1 Championship race. Many aspects of the circuit remain unchanged despite this 86 year history.
- Ayrton Senna is the most successful driver at the circuit, having taken six victories in Monaco. The Brazilian could have had seven to his name, but for crashing out of the lead at Portier in 1988, while managing a gap of over 40 seconds to teammate Alain Prost.
- Michael Schumacher holds the fastest lap at the circuit, with a 1:14.439 set in 2004. This was the same race in which Jarno Trulli took his first and only career victory after Schumacher and Montoya collided behind the Safety Car, forcing the German out of the race.
- Lewis Hamilton’s only Monaco Grand Prix victory came on a wet afternoon in 2008, following an early puncture.
Rewind 12 Months…
Qualifying in Monaco is the most important of the season. With overtaking opportunities at a premium, pole position is often converted into a win on a Sunday afternoon. This was indeed the case for Nico Rosberg in 2014, who took a second career win on the streets upon which he used to travel to school. However, Saturday afternoon was riddled with controversy and gave us a talking point which continues to open debates a year on – was Rosberg’s yellow flag-inducing use of the escape road at Mirabeau a deliberate ploy to prevent Lewis Hamilton from setting a fast lap, or instead, an error of judgement in a challenging braking zone?
Away from the controversy was a success story at the lower reaches of the pit-lane. Marussia managed to score their first ever points, courtesy of an incredible drive from Jules Bianchi. The Frenchman delivered two points which have been essential to re-launching the team as Manor, thanks to the prize money the result provided. Jules is always on our minds and heading into this weekend, the feeling is that little bit more poignant.
My predictions are slowly becoming more accurate, as shown by my season best haul of 46 points in Autosport’s GP Predictor for the Spanish Grand Prix. However, with Monaco being a notoriously unpredictable race, (with Oliver Panis and Jarno Trulli’s shock victories providing evidence for this particular assertion), a sizable points tally is unlikely.
Of course, we can only make predictions based on the facts and the form guide suggests that Mercedes have reasserted themselves as the undisputed front-runners after an imperious performance in Spain. My confidence of an impending one-two finish for Mercedes is based on their impressive pace in the final sector of the lap in Barcelona – a section which demands the mechanical grip which is essential to success in Monaco.
It is for this very same reason that I predict Red Bull and Toro Rosso to pose a more significant challenge to the Williams duo this weekend. The latter have struggled for downforce and grip throughout 2014 and again during this campaign, which could spell a challenging weekend ahead for the Grove based outfit.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend. Why not tweet me, @KGibbsGP, or leave a comment below.
Image Credit: "Monaco" By Brandon Dimcheff via Flickr [CC-BY-NC-2.0]