Reports

Monaco F1 Grand Prix

2016 Monaco Grand Prix - Preview

Circuit stats
2015 winner Nico Rosberg, 78 laps, 1:49:18.420s
2015 pole position Lewis Hamilton, 1m15.098s
2015 fastest lap Daniel Ricciardo, 1m18.063s (lap 74)
Name Circuit de Monaco
First race 1950
Circuit length 3.337km/2.074 miles (the shortest track of the year)
Distance to Turn One 210m/0.130 miles (the shortest of the season)
Longest straight 510m/0.317 miles, on the approach to Turn One (the longest of the season: China, 1.17km/0.727 miles)
Top speed 295km/h/183mph, on the approach to Turn One (fastest of season: Monza, 360km/h/224mph)
Pitlane length 301m/0.187 miles, estimated time loss 22s (longest of season: Silverstone, 457m/0.283 miles)
Full throttle 50 per cent (highest of season: Monza, 75 per cent)
DRS zones One on the approach to Turn One Key corner Turn Eight, a second-gear right-hander. A clean exit is vital because a very fast section of track follows, at the end of which is the best – and arguably, only – overtaking opportunity on the lap
Key corner Turn Eight, a second-gear right-hander. A clean exit is vital because a very fast section of track follows, at the end of which is the best – and arguably, only – overtaking opportunity on the lap
Fastest corner 260km/h (162mph), Turn Nine
Slowest corner 45km/h (30mph), Turn Six
Major changes for 2016 No major changes
Fuel consumption 1.5kg per lap, making it the lowest fuel consumption race of the year
ERS demands Medium
Brake wear Medium. There are 13 braking events around the 19-corner lap
Gear changes 48 per lap/3744 per race
Circuit facts
History lesson The Monaco Grand Prix was first run in 1929. Despite featuring on the inaugural Formula One World Championship calendar in 1950, the race was omitted between 1951 and ’54, but it’s been staged every year since ’55. Much of the track layout has remained unchanged during that time.
What makes the track unique It’s the shortest and slowest circuit on the calendar, but it’s also one of the most demanding. The average speed around the tortuous streets is only 160km/h (100mph), but the lack of run-off results in the smallest of mistakes being punished.
Grip levels Poor. The track is made up entirely of public roads, which are opened to street traffic each evening of the race weekend. Grip levels are poor, particularly at the start of each day, prior to any rubber being laid down.
Run-off Minimal. Three layers of Armco line both sides of the racetrack, which makes it very unforgiving. At the end of the two longest straights, into Turns One and 10, the barriers have been pushed back to provide greater run-off and TecPro barriers provide an extra degree of cushioning in the event of an accident.
Watch out for… Turns 13 and 14, the Swimming Pool Chicane. It’s a left-right flick taken in fifth gear at 215km/h (133mph) and a barrier at the exit collects anyone who gets out of shape. “A great challenge,” according to Fernando Alonso.

The drivers on: the circuit

#14 Fernando Alonso

“Monaco is such a special place. I don’t think there are many drivers in the world that can say they don’t like racing there. Because it’s so narrow, and overtaking is almost impossible, it can be incredibly frustrating, but the feeling when you put together the perfect lap, or manage an overtaking manoeuvre, is all the more satisfying.  

“It’s a real challenge to get the set-up right for Monaco because of its unique characteristics, but often we see some unpredictable racing there because the nature of it tends to shuffle the pack up. I’m optimistic that we can dial-in our car to suit the track because we have a very well-balanced chassis, so it will be interesting to see how we measure up when the circuit’s characteristics are more likely to play to our strengths.”

#22 Jenson Button

“I love this track – although we are now seeing more street circuits appearing on the Formula 1 calendar, Monaco is like no other in the world. It requires a completely unique set-up – more traction, high downforce, more steering angle, softer suspension – and the feeling you get driving around there is among the best you experience as a driver.  

“It’s not a fast circuit, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel it. The barriers are so close you feel like you can reach out and touch them, and you need absolute 100% focus and concentration to get the most out of each lap, every lap – or pay serious consequences. One small mistake and you’ll definitely be punished, which is what makes it such a great driver’s track. It’s a real test, and one we look forward to taking every year we go back there.”

Event stats
Start time 14:00hrs local/13:00hrs BST
Race distance 78 laps (full world championship points will be awarded after 75 per cent distance/58 laps)
Safety Car likelihood 80 per cent. Due to the lack of run-off, an accident usually results in the appearance of the Safety Car while debris is cleared away. A late-race Safety Car last year saw a shuffling of the order, with race leader Lewis Hamilton dropping from first to third after making a surprise pitstop
When to press record Qualifying. With it being so difficult to overtake during the race, qualifying takes on even greater prominence at Monaco. Getting a clean lap is vital and that can prove difficult in Q1, when every driver is on-track and, on average, there’s a car every 200m (0.12 miles) around the lap. You have to go back to 1996 to find the last time the winner came from further back than the top three on the grid
Don’t put the kettle on Track position is important at Monaco, which encourages drivers to pit as little as possible. Last year’s race was won using a one-stop strategy, for which the pitstop window is from lap 35 – unless you’re Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard started last year’s race from the pitlane and made his only pitstop of the race on lap 12 en route to 10th place
Weather conditions now 23 degrees and sunny
Race forecast 25 degrees
Tyre choices Ultrasoft/Supersoft/Soft, the first time this year that this combination has been used
Event facts
First Monaco Grand Prix 1950
Slogan There’s no official slogan, but few people would argue against Monaco being known as the jewel in Formula 1’s crown.
Monaco’s F1 heritage The Principality has become synonymous with F1, its tortuous streets providing one of the greatest challenges on the calendar. The history of the race pre-dates the Formula 1 World Championship and 39 of the 62 races since 1950 have been won by world champions. Graham Hill was referred to as ‘Mr Monaco’, courtesy of his five victories in the Principality; in realty, that moniker belongs to Ayrton Senna, who took six wins between 1987 and ’93.
Smallest winning margin 0.215s, in 1992. On lap 71 of 78, Nigel Mansell made an unscheduled pitstop, emerging five seconds behind Ayrton Senna. For the last four laps they ran as one, but Mansell couldn’t find a way past Senna.
Sporting legacy For a place that’s just 2.02 sq km (0.78 sq miles), Monaco punches well above its weight in just about everything. The Monaco Grand Prix is recognised as one of the most famous races in the world; it’s “the one that every driver wants to win,” according to Jenson Button. But still there have been only three Monegasque F1 drivers.
Did you know? Despite the track’s inherent dangers, there has been only one fatal accident at the Monaco Grand Prix since 1950, when Lorenzo Bandini crashed at the chicane in 1967.
Don’t forget McLaren is the most successful constructor in Monaco. The team has won the race 15 times; five of those victories came with the late, great Ayrton Senna behind the wheel.
Fan zone: Sonia, aged 48, from Prague, asks: “Why are the opening couple of practice sessions held on Thursday in Monaco and not Friday, as at other races?”
McLaren’s fan zone answer: “Traditionally, the race was linked to Ascension Day, which is a public holiday in the Principality. Prince Rainier, Monaco’s ruling monarch, requested that there be no sporting events on Ascension Day, and while the race is no longer linked to the Christian calendar, the four-day format remains. One of F1’s quirks!”

The drivers on: the event

#14 Fernando Alonso

“The most obvious characteristic of the Monaco circuit is that qualifying is probably more important there than at any other track. Getting through to Q3 in Barcelona for the first time since the McLaren-Honda partnership was reunited was definitely a boost for the team, so our aim, of course, will be to replicate that to give ourselves the best possible chance in Monaco.

“Monaco is a very demanding race, so reliability and strategy will be key in order to maximise the potential in our chassis and power unit at this circuit. After a disappointing result in the race in Spain, I’m pleased to see that our work completed at the test was encouraging, so I hope that can translate to a positive performance for the whole team next weekend. It’s definitely one of the best races of the year.”

#22 Jenson Button

“The feeling at Monaco is completely unique. I’ve definitely adopted it as another home race after Silverstone, and after all these years it still does feel pretty surreal driving around your back yard, although while the grand prix is in town the place takes on a whole new atmosphere. Despite its long history, it’s still got the glamour, the excitement, the beautiful backdrop, and always produces something unexpected.

“I’ve had a bit of bad luck over the last few races, so coming home with two points in Barcelona was definitely a positive on my side of the garage. Monaco is a completely different ball game, but one where the strengths of our car should shine through a bit more than in Spain if we hook up all of the elements, so I’m excited to see what we can do there. There are so many variables to come together, so it won’t be easy, but our testing programme last week went well so I’m hopeful we can put a lot of that learning into practice come Thursday in Monaco.”

Hear from the management

Eric Boullier

“Monaco certainly deserves its status as a true classic on the Formula 1 calendar, and a jewel in the crown for drivers, fans, sponsors and teams alike. The atmosphere is very special, the setting is stunning, and the speed at which the cars race through the tiny streets of the Principality blows you away, no matter how many times you watch it.

“For the cars, outright power certainly plays less of a role there, which means car set-up is a delicate trade-off between downforce, driveability and balance. Monaco is a track where, on paper, it should suit our package more than at other circuits, but one of its unique facets is its unpredictability. The weather conditions often change, accidents are frequent which tend to have bigger-than-usual impacts on a race outcome, and of course overtaking is notoriously – and often, frustratingly – difficult.

“That said, these elements are what make Monaco so special, and we will approach the weekend with a lot of valuable data gathered from the tests, and maximum effort and determination to keep pushing forward. The key objectives for us are reliability – especially given Fernando’s retirement in Barcelona – and qualifying performance, as this can often dictate where points are scored or missed. We must look to qualifying to give us the best opportunity at the start of the race, and aim to finish in the points on both sides of the garage.”

Yusuke Hasegawa

“Heading to the Monaco Grand Prix is always special. There is so much history and it’s such an iconic race for Formula 1. 

“The street circuit itself is a complex and technical circuit, albeit with low overall speed. I believe that our car is rather suited to this type of circuit, so if we can squeeze out the full potential through good balance of the power unit and chassis, I think we have a chance to be competitive throughout the weekend.

“The narrow track and tight corners of this circuit will test any driver, but we have two world-class drivers with skill and experience, so I am looking forward to seeing what this weekend will bring for us. The new Ultrasoft compound will debut in Monaco for the first time, so we are hoping that it will be an exciting race.”

2016 Monaco Grand Prix - Practice Report

“We’ll see the truth on Saturday”

The first day of practice around the fabled Monte-Carlo street circuit was somewhat inconclusive after a pair of stop-start sessions that were punctuated by incident.

In the morning session, neither Jenson nor Fernando felt comfortable with their cars’ balance; an issue that the engineers went some way towards rectifying in the afternoon’s grippier session.

The most alarming moment for the team came at the end of FP1, when a dislodged drain cover smashed heavily into Jenson’s car, destroying the front wing, floor and much of the right-front corner. Luckily, Jenson escaped injury, and his mechanics were able to rebuild the car ahead of the afternoon session.

We will evaluate the data from today’s running in order to improve our fortunes in Saturday’s ultra-important qualifying session.

FERNANDO ALONSO, MP4-31-04
FP1 1m17.838s (+2.301s) 27 laps 13th
FP2 1m16.723s (+2.116s) 43 laps 12th

"We know this is a good opportunity for us in terms of circuit layout, so we perhaps expected to be a little more competitive in today’s sessions. On the other hand, we need to stay calm – it’s still only Thursday and there’s a lot of potential in the car to be found by Saturday.

"The balance was not right today: I had quite a bit of understeer so there’s definitely more lap-time to come from us. We’ll see the truth on Saturday, and I’m sure we’ll deliver when it matters.”

JENSON BUTTON, MP4-31-03
FP1 1m17.920s (+2.383s) 26 laps 15th
FP2 1m16.325s (+1.718s) 46 laps 10th

"The morning session was tough – we really struggled for grip – but started getting there in the afternoon.

“The day was made tougher for my side of garage by the drain cover, which came loose and broke through my front wing, front suspension, brake duct and floor. The mechanics did a great job to get the car ready for FP2, but we’ve still got a long way to go until we’re happy with our competitiveness.

“A racetrack is a controlled environment, and we take enough risks as racing drivers. Normally, the safety standards here are very good, but that incident is something we don’t want to see again., It was lucky that the drain cover stayed quite low on the ground.

“There’s still a big gap to the cars at the front, but we’ll do our best in qualifying and I hope we’ll be more competitive.”

ERIC BOULLIER

“There’s always a lot of work that needs to be done on the first day of practice at this most storied of racetracks. This morning’s session was somewhat unpredictable, with an unexpectedly low level of grip that look a little while to understand.

“I also think that today’s results are largely inconclusive, as we fitted in a lot of test work in order to better understand the unique characteristics of the demanding circuit. Our focus now switches towards maximizing our performance for qualifying on Saturday – a session which remains the most critical qualifying hour of the entire season.

“Jenson was fortunate to emerge unscathed from an incident in this morning’s session when a drain cover smashed into his car. The organisers work very hard to ensure this circuit is as safe as possible, but we need to look into exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.” 

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

"We were slightly disappointed to find ourselves in the same positions as at previous races, as we believe that the Monaco street circuit suits our car’s performance.

"Nevertheless, our biggest issue of understeer in both cars has been improved massively between FP1 and FP2, and the team did a brilliant job in repairing Jenson’s damaged front end to get it ready for FP2.

"Owing to the Monaco Grand Prix’s unique running calendar, we have a full day to complete the setup of the cars tomorrow, and we are looking forward to seeing what the engineers will come up with."

2016 Monaco Grand Prix - Qualifying Report

“Hopefully the weather will make tomorrow’s show exciting”

Fernando Alonso will start tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix inside the top 10 after putting his McLaren-Honda MP4-31 into Q3 for the second successive race. Jenson Button qualified 13th.

Neither driver was completely happy with the balance of his car during this afternoon’s session – an issue that has affected the team since practice began on Thursday.

With wet and stormy weather forecast for race day tomorrow, however, there is still plenty of opportunity to make progress.

FERNANDO ALONSO, MP4-31-04
FP3 12th 1m16.257s (+1.607s), 24 laps
Q1 11th 1m15.504s (on Options)
Q2 10th 1m15.107s (on Options)
Q3 10th overall* 1m15.363s (on Options) - * will start ninth following Raikkonen’s five-place grid penalty

“We had a little bit of stress with the red-flag stoppage in Q1: we only had six minutes left and I hadn’t set a time. Our main goal today was to get into Q3, but I still don’t really feel confident with the car – I didn’t have a perfect feeling with it, and I wasn’t therefore confident enough to really attack the corners.

“Our predictions ahead of this weekend were maybe a little over-optimistic, but let’s see what happens tomorrow. We’ll need some rain, snow or whatever to give the race a little bit of action – the start will dictate the complexion of the race, but hopefully the weather will make the show more exciting.

“It would be great to come out of the weekend with some decent points.”

JENSON BUTTON, MP4-31-03
FP3 13th 1m16.298s (+1.648s), 23 laps
Q1 13th 1m15.554s (on Options)
Q2 13th 1m15.352s (on Options)

“My lap in Q1 felt okay, then the balance went away from me as the circuit gripped up. On my final run in Q2 I had front-locking into Turn Three, locked the front-left and overheated the tyre, which meant I lost front-end grip after that.

“Still, this is Monaco, and anything can happen. The first corner is usually eventful; then, after that, it’s about sitting behind the guy in front. You can try and dive down the inside of another car into Turn 10 [the Harbour Chicane], but that’s a no-go for us because we’re too far back by the time we get to that part of the track.

“So, as I say, I’ll be hoping for rain tomorrow.”

ERIC BOULLIER

“Clearly, we’re disappointed with our overall qualifying performance here at Monaco, since on such a tortuous circuit we’d expected our car to perform a bit better relative to some of our rivals’.

“Even so, despite the fact that neither of our drivers has ever felt truly happy with the balance of our car here, they both tried as hard as ever, carving neat, solid laps in so doing.

“It was a pity that we managed to get only one car into Q3, but that wasn’t for lack of trying.

“Tomorrow, wet weather is forecast, and the combination of rain and Monaco is a notoriously unpredictable one; so anything could happen.

“Points for both our drivers will be our target.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

“We are encouraged by Fernando’s Q3 performance today, as we all know that Monaco is a notoriously difficult track to overtake and starting grid position is very important here.

"Throughout the weekend, both cars had difficulties to bring out the maximum potential of the Ultrasofts, but the drivers were able to bring out the best of them during the qualifying sessions today. From the power unit perspective, we had been hard at work setting and fine-tuning the Monaco track-specific data that we tested in Barcelona, and the driveability looks to be good.

"As for tomorrow’s race, everything is unexpected here, including the weather and any incidents on track, so we are looking to our two experienced drivers to manage the race well and hopefully bring home some points for the team.”

2016 Monaco Grand Prix - Race Report

"More evidence of solid developmental progress"

McLaren-Honda scored another double points-finish after a gruelling wet/dry Monaco Grand Prix - Fernando Alonso came home fifth and Jenson Button ninth. 

Starting behind the Safety Car in torrential conditions, both drivers judged the conditions perfectly to switch from Full Wets, to Intermediates, and then to dry-weather Option tyres as the track steadily dried out.

#14 Fernando Alonso, MP4-31-04
Started 9th
Finished 5th
Fastest lap 1m19.170s on lap 72 (+1.231s, 8th)
Pit-stops Two: lap 14 (2.96s) and 32 (4.59s) [Full Wet/Intermediate/Option]

“In terms of driving and concentration, today’s was an extremely tough race. 

“We started behind the Safety Car – with almost zero visibility – then switched to Inters; but nobody had done any laps on those tyres before the race, so it was unknown territory for everyone. 

“Once we’d switched to dry-weather tyres, there was still only a very narrow dry line on the track, so if you went just half a centimetre off that line, you’d crash. There was just no room for mistakes today. 

“Nonetheless, we got a good result – both cars in the points ought to make us reasonably happy. I think we’re progressing well: the results make it quite obvious what we’re achieving, so we’re heading in the right direction. 

“We’re still not where we want to be – right at the front, fighting for wins and podiums – but I’m happy about how things are going.”

#22 Jenson Button , MP4-31-03
Started 13th
Finished 9th
Fastest lap 1m19.670s on lap 66 (+1.731s, 12th)
Pit-stops Two: lap 8 (3.01s) and 30 (3.13s) [Full Wet/Intermediate/Option]

“My car felt almost undriveable during the wet opening laps – we were struggling to get heat into the rear tyres, and were locking the rear wheels whenever we hit the brakes, which was a bit scary. 

“I boxed for Inters at probably the right time – that first-call was the trickier one. I feel I’m pretty good at making those tyre calls, but, on such a short lap, and when everybody else follows suit, it didn’t make too much difference. Then I got stuck behind Pascal’s [Wehrlein] Manor, which I couldn’t overtake. 

“I think we made the right calls in terms of strategy, but lost out a little with the attendant traffic – which I couldn’t help – but the team made some good calls nonetheless. 

“We wouldn’t have scored this many points if it’d been dry, so it’s good to get a decent haul today.”

Eric Boullier

“As in Sochi four weeks ago, both McLaren-Hondas finished in the points here in Monaco today – and, although that isn’t much to write home about when you reflect that McLaren has won the Monaco Grand Prix a record 15 times in its illustrious 50-year Formula 1 history, it’s encouraging nonetheless. 

“Moreover, despite the fact that conditions today were tricky in the extreme, causing the race to be peppered by accidents on the treacherous wet-dry asphalt, both Fernando and Jenson showed their great expertise and experience, stroking their way to the finish over two flawless hours while all around them drivers of less sheer class were scraping their way along the Armco at almost every turn. 

“So, although we arrived in the Principality with hopes of being slightly more competitive here than in the end we were, we’re pleased that today we saw more evidence of the solid developmental progress we’re making, the result of the massive amount of hard work that’s taking place in both the UK and Japan at the moment. 

“In two weeks’ time we’ll be racing on another iconic and unique racetrack, the challenging Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, and it goes without saying that we’ll be hoping to continue our points-scoring form there.”

Yusuke Hasegawa

“With Fernando finishing fifth and Jenson ninth, it was a great end result to a difficult weekend and a chaotic race. 

“The race conditions were ever-changing from a wet start to dry conditions, but the engineers made all the right calls with tyre choices and the skills of our highly experienced drivers shone through during the race. 

“From a power unit perspective, we had consistent performance without any glitches or issues throughout the weekend, so it is also great for Honda to be able to show and confirm our reliability out on track.”