F1 2013 Monaco Grand Prix: Hamilton’s Monte Carlo challenge
PUBLISHED: 23:18 18 May 2013 | UPDATED: 14:51 25 May 2013
LEWIS Hamilton heads to the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix next week looking for his first Formula One victory for Mercedes.
F1’s most famous race takes place around the streets of the Principality on Sunday, May 26 for the 71st time. It’s an iconic setting and the race is steeped in history.
The 3.3km circuit is the shortest and slowest of the season, but it’s also one of the most demanding for man and machine.
Monaco-based Brit Hamilton loves racing around the tight and twisty streets of Monte Carlo. The 2008 F1 world champion from Hertfordshire said: “Whilst there hasn’t been a lot of time since Barcelona, we’ve been working hard to put the disappointment of the last race behind us and focus on the opportunities ahead.
“Monaco is one of my favourite races of the year and I love driving the streets there. As a driver, you know that you have to perform on every single lap and it’s a challenge that I really enjoy.
Monaco Grand Prix
* Race distance: 78 laps (260.520km/161.887 miles)
* Start time: 14:00 (local)/12:00 (GMT)
* Circuit length: 3.340km/2.075 miles
* 2012 winne: Mark Webber (Red Bull RB8) 78 laps in 1hr46m06.557s 147.312km/h)
* 2012 pole: Mark Webber (Red Bull RB8) 1m14.381s 161.654km/h)
* Lap record: Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2004) 1m14.439s (161.528km/h)
“It’s a real experience to see the barriers flashing past at high speed and I love the fact that the fans can get so close to the track making for a great atmosphere.”
Mercedes AMG Petronas drivers have claimed pole in the last three grands prix – China, Bahrain and Spain – and qualifying is key to a good result in Monaco due to the lack of overtaking opportunities.
The track layout has remained largely unchanged since its inaugural World Championship race in 1950.
The inclusion of Armco barriers in 1969 made it considerably safer for competitors and spectators, but the challenge of the race is still as tough as ever.
"As a driver, you know that you have to perform on every single lap and it’s a challenge that I really enjoy."
The smallest error can result in a driver’s race ending in the barrier and more than 4,000 gear changes during the 78-lap race make technical excellence a prerequisite.
The track’s quite narrow in places and there are some fast sections. The run up the hill from Ste Devote to Casino Square involves some quick changes of direction, as does the Swimming Pool, while the Tunnel is fast, loud and dark.
Hamilton, 28, said: “Perhaps more than at many other tracks, qualifying and getting the best possible track position is crucial in Monaco, but we have to keep our focus on Sunday as well and keep working to improve our race pace.
“Everyone is working really hard and I know we can get there. We just need to keep motivated and work it out together.”
Monaco Grand Prix stats
* Just three of the past 30 Monaco Grands Prix have been won by a car starting outside the top three.
* The race has a very high 80% risk of Safety Car intervention, with a total of 14 Safety Car periods in the past 10 years.
* Last year’s race featured just 25 pit stops for tyres, the second lowest figure of the entire season (after Austin, 24 stops).
* Only three DRS overtakes took place at the last three races combined, and 21 competitive non-DRS passes.
Mercedes struggled in Spain with tyre wear. Stevenage-born Hamilton started on the front row but crossed the finish line a distant 12th after making four stops.
Pirelli will bring their soft and super-soft rubber to next Sunday’s Monaco race. Both compounds have been used already this season – the super-soft in Australia, the soft in China – but this is the first time they have been raced together as the prime and option tyres.
The low-grip nature of Monaco’s asphalt, combined with the circuit’s average speed of just 160km/h, means tyre wear shouldn’t be as big a factor as it was in the Spanish Grand Prix last time out.
Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg said: “At the moment we have a good car for qualifying which helps in Monaco as it’s the most important qualifying session of the year as track position is so important.
“So that might be helpful for us but there are so many unknowns, especially with the tyres, so we will just have to wait and see.”
He added: “Monaco is always a fantastic weekend and it’s great to race in the city where I live. The surroundings definitely make Monaco the coolest track on the calendar and the atmosphere over the weekend is great.
“I have good memories from the race last year after finishing in second place and I hope we can get another good result this time around.”
Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn is looking for his two drivers to challenge for good grid positions in qualifying on Saturday and convert them into points in the race.
“Monaco is a not usually a race to which teams bring many updates because the track conditions change so much across the weekend,” said Brawn.
“The priority is always to get the drivers comfortable with the unique challenge the circuit presents and to give them a set-up they feel confident pushing to the limit.
“Both Nico and Lewis have historically been incredibly competitive in Monaco and this weekend will certainly allow their talent to shine.
“The engineering team will be focused on getting the most from our car on the slow, bumpy layout and there will of course be particular emphasis on achieving tyre consistency and durability.
“Meanwhile, our work continues back at Brackley and Brixworth to fully understand the reasons for our below-par race performance in Barcelona, in order to develop the right solutions for the upcoming circuits where high tyre usage could once again be a limitation for us.”
Team director Toto Wolff added: “Monaco is the most famous race in our sport and a special moment of every Formula One season.
“The narrow streets will give our drivers the perfect opportunity to display their talents and, historically, the team’s cars have performed strongly there in terms of pure speed.
“However, it is clear to everybody in the team that, while we have a strong car right now, we are not able to use that performance properly on Sunday afternoon.
“Although overtaking in Monaco is difficult, we cannot afford to be complacent in terms of tyre management and we will need to do significantly better than we managed in Barcelona in order to score a strong result.
“We have only scored points with one of our cars at the past three races and this is something we must improve quickly, beginning next weekend in Monte-Carlo.”
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Welwyn Hatfield Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.