Reports

Monaco F1 Grand Prix

2017 MONACO GRAND PRIX – SET UP

The Monaco Grand Prix is one of Formula 1’s highlights. It takes place on the tortuous streets of the Principality and the intoxicating mix of glamour and history makes it one of the most prestigious races for drivers and teams to win. It was first run in 1929 and it featured on the inaugural world championship calendar in 1950, since when the track layout has remained largely unchanged 

NEED TO KNOW

Race title Formula 1 Gran Prix de Monaco 2017
Circuit name Circuit de Monaco
First race 1950

TRAVEL

City Monaco
Time zone BST +1
Population 30,000
Surprising fact Monaco and Indonesia share the same national flag. Both are red and white; the only difference is that the Indonesian flag is slightly wider
Weather Monaco gets more than 300 days of sunshine a year. It’s currently 25 degrees and sunny, and we can expect more of the same over the race weekend

Track

Track length 3.337km / 2.074 miles - The shortest of the year
2016 pole position Daniel Ricciardo - 1:13.622s
2016 winner Lewis Hamilton, 78 laps - 1:59:29.133s
2016 fastest lap Lewis Hamilton - 1:17.939s (lap 71)
Lap record 1:14.439s (Michael Schumacher, 2004)
Tyre choice Purple Ultrasoft | Red Supersoft | Yellow Soft
Distance to Turn One 210m / 0.130 miles (shortest of season)
Longest straight 510m / 0.317 miles (on the approach to Turn One)
Top speed 295kmh / 183mph (on the approach to Turn 10)
Full throttle 50 percent
Brake wear Medium. There are 13 braking events around the lap
Fuel consumption 1.5kg per lap, which is low. This track has the lowest fuel effect of the year
ERS demands Medium
Gear changes 48 per lap / 3744 per race

RACE

Laps 78 laps
Start time 14:00hrs local / 13:00hrs BST / 14:00hrs CET
Grid advantage Pole position is located on the inside of the track. The racing line is towards the outside, giving slightly more grip, but it’s only a short run to Turn One and the pole-sitter wants to be on the right-hand-side for Sainte Devote
DRS There is one DRS zone, on the approach to Turn One
Don't put the kettle on... For the last two years, the race has been lost in the pits. Lewis Hamilton made an unscheduled pitstop from the lead during a Safety Car period in 2015, dropping to third place, while a delayed pitstop for Daniel Ricciardo in ’16 handed victory to Hamilton. Given the durability of this year’s wider tyres, it will most-likely be a one-stop race if it’s dry, and the pitstops will come at around half-distance
Pitlane length/Pitstops 301m / 0.193 miles. Estimated time loss for a pitstop is 22s
Safety Car 80 per cent, which is high. The lack of run-off around the lap means even the smallest mistakes can result in contact with the barrier. The resultant debris brings out the Safety Car, or the Virtual Safety Car, which was used for the first time at the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix
Watch out for... Turn Three. This blind 155km/h (96mph) left-hander, named after the French composer Jules Massenet, rises over a crest, making it easy for the drivers to out-brake themselves and run wide. If they get off the racing line; it’s easy to end up in the barrier on the outside

THE DRIVERS

STOFFEL VANDOORNE

“Although the Spanish Grand Prix result was frustrating and of course not a result that we were looking for, we were still able to find some positives over the weekend. The upgrades we brought to the car have delivered the performance we were hoping, and we managed to take a lot of information from each day on track, which has been really useful for the engineers and the design team back at the factory and is helping our programme from race to race. 

“Since Barcelona, I’ve been back at MTC in the simulator, and I feel ready and excited to head to Monaco. It’s the first time that I’ll be racing in my ‘back yard’, as it’s recently become another home race for me. It’ll also be my first time behind the wheel there in a Formula 1 car, but it’s not the first time I’ve driven on the famous Monaco circuit. I raced there in GP2 for three years, and also in World Series by Renault, so I know it pretty well and enjoy driving there. It’s one of those tracks where even if you have the best-performing car, but you’re a victim of bad luck in the traffic, it can affect the outcome of the whole weekend. It makes for really exciting racing for the fans, and anything can happen there. 

“It’s also great to see Jenson back in McLaren-Honda colours and alongside me in the garage. Both of us love driving on this circuit and I hope it’ll be the best opportunity for us on track so far this season. I know both of us will also be keeping one eye on everything happening in Indianapolis, too, and hope Fernando can also enjoy a good weekend over there.”

JENSON BUTTON

“It feels slightly surreal to be back in the cockpit for the Monaco Grand Prix. When the call came from Eric there was no hesitation – it’s a totally unique situation and a great opportunity. I’m looking forward to stepping back behind the wheel for one of the most crazy, unpredictable and exciting races of the year. 

“Monaco is truly unique as a track, and requires a lot of work to fine-tune the car and optimise the set-up for the narrow layout. It’s always a challenge – a huge challenge, for any driver – but a really exciting challenge, and has always been up there in my favourite races of the year. 

“Although I haven’t turned a wheel on track yet in the MCL32, I feel well prepared. I know the track well, of course, and I’ve done quite a bit of work in the McLaren simulator already. I’m still fit, and I’ve been training probably more than ever, because I’ve had the time to focus on my triathlon preparation and competitions. I’m looking forward to working with the team again, and, as I’ll be on the other side of the garage this time around, I’ll do my best to look after the car for Fernando!”

THE MANAGEMENT

ERIC BOULLIER

“The Monaco Grand Prix is often referred to as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Formula 1, and it’s easy to see why. It’s every bit the spectacle you see on TV, and, due to the traditional ‘rest day’ on Friday which sees the schedule for practice shift forward by a day, the Principality is always a buzzing hive of excitement from early in the week. 

“Of course, for McLaren Honda, this final weekend in May is even more significant than usual this year. For the first time in recent history, we’ll be supporting two teams on opposite sides of the world, with Fernando taking part in his first-ever Indy 500 with McLaren Honda Andretti. In the famous Monaco paddock, we welcome the return of Jenson, who we are all looking forward to working with again, and who is already doing a sterling job deputising for Fernando, having already completed stints in our simulator in preparation. 

“From a trackside point of view, we’ll be bringing more updates to the car this weekend, which we hope will return positive feedback to mirror what we saw in Spain. Despite our result there, we‘re encouraged by the progress we’re making, and hope in Monaco we’ll have the opportunity to execute a more representative performance than those we’ve managed in recent races. 

“Of course, the first priority is to finish the race with both cars, and work through the best possible strategy in order to give ourselves any fighting chance of a decent result. In Monaco, you can’t take anything for granted, and it’s certainly all to play for.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

“This is a particularly special week for everyone at McLaren-Honda. Not only are we heading to Monaco for the Formula 1 jewel in the crown, we also have Jenson back racing with us and Fernando competing in the Indy 500. 

“Monaco is one of the most legendary races in the world and full of history. It’s always incredible to watch, and for the team, drivers and fans it’s a highlight on the motor racing calendar. 

“In Spain two weeks ago we showed some positive steps forward, and in Monaco outright power plays less of a role, so we are hoping the race will be a big opportunity for us. It’s very technical and a real drivers’ track with no margin for error, so set-up will be key as will a strong qualifying session. 

“We will have Jenson, a Monaco winner and world champion, behind the wheel, and Stoffel has also experienced the top step of the podium in Monaco in GP2. Between them we have a formidable driver line-up and it’s our aim to keep pushing forward and give them both a car competitive enough to finish in the points.”

2017 MONACO GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE

"STILL MORE TO COME THIS WEEKEND"

It was a productive day of first running for McLaren Honda in Monte-Carlo today. Stoffel ended this afternoon’s session in 11th position, pleased with the direction and momentum of the package beneath him.

Stoff is joined in the garage this weekend by Jenson Button, subbing for Fernando Alonso, who is racing in Sunday’s Indy 500 in the USA.

Jenson spent the morning session bedding himself in and evaluating the grip and grunt of the MCL32, before starting to more fully explore the limits in this afternoon’s session as the grip on-track increased.

He ended the session 12th, just a few hundredths’ shy of Stoffel. However, both drivers are still confident there is more to come.

STOFFEL VANDOORNE

#SV2 MCL32-04
FP1 1:14.813s (+1.388s) 38 laps 12th
FP2 1:13.935s (+1.226s) 42 laps 11th
FP3 1:13.805s (+1.410s) 21 laps 10th

“It’s been a reasonably good day’s running.

“If you look at today’s lap-times, you can see how extremely tight it is in the midfield – and that’s exactly where we are. That means we really need to maximise every single opportunity that comes our way this weekend so we can eke out every last bit of performance from the car. An extra tenth or two could make a huge difference in Saturday’s qualifying.

“I’m feeling pretty comfortable in the car. I think we’ll make some small adjustments ahead of FP3, and those should hopefully help us take another slight step forward. The most important thing around here is to build up throughout the weekend, and to be fully prepared for qualifying.

“I think we can be in good shape for that. There’s still more to come from us this weekend.”

JENSON BUTTON

#JB22 MCL32-03
FP1 1:14.954s (+1.529s) 35 laps 14th
FP2 1:13.981s (+1.261s) 37 laps 12th
FP3 1:13.976s (+1.581s) 26 laps 12th

 “It was funny when I did the install lap this morning, I had a little giggle to myself. Have I missed it? No, but when you jump in the car, you definitely enjoy the moments that you have. I’ve really enjoyed practice, both the long and short runs. FP2 was a bit of a struggle to really find my feet with the car. I’m braking so much later than what I’m used to here and carrying so much speed into the corners. Adjusting to that takes time, so with another day with the engineers and a look through the data, I’m confident that I can improve for Saturday.

“As soon as I exited the pits, everything felt very natural. The weirdest thing is when you’re behind a car or when you let a car past, because you look at it and it’s gigantic. Then you feel really uncomfortable because you think, maybe I am too close to the barriers. But the car fits well; it fits like a glove. 

“I haven’t really thought about where I hope to finish. It’s a very mixed-up grid at the moment which I’m sure will all change again on Saturday. I don’t expect to be one tenth off the Mercedes cars in qualifying, but the guys understand where I’m coming from. They know what they need to do to improve the car to suit me a little bit more and to give me a little bit more confidence.

“Hopefully we’ll see a step in performance on Saturday.”

THE MANAGEMENT

ERIC BOULLIER

“It’s always fantastic to be in Monte-Carlo for the Monaco Grand Prix, particularly after a relatively quick and trouble-free day of running. We managed to execute our run-programme with very few disruptions today, and, while that’s nothing to be proud of, it’s satisfying to have been able to maintain momentum with both cars through both sessions.

“I’m pleased that Stoffel had such a productive day. Both he and his engineers have worked hard since the last race to better understand how he and the car can work together, and I think we’re starting to see the fruits of those labours.

“Jenson also had a good day. He judged the day very well, typically playing himself in gently during FP1 before starting to explore the increased grip and performance of these 2017 cars in the afternoon. After FP2, he admitted that he’d had a lot of fun in the car today, and I think that translated directly into his lap-times.

“This has been a solid start to our weekend. We’ll now spend Friday evaluating the data and will look to further improve on Saturday.”

SATOSHI NAKAMURA

“It was a good start for us here in Monte-Carlo today. Stoffel and Jenson each clocked more than 70 laps without any major issues throughout FP1 and FP2, and we were able to go through our programmes with minimal disruption.

“For Jenson, today was his first time behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car since his swan-song in Abu Dhabi last year. The cars have changed a huge amount since then, but Jenson showed today what an incredibly capable and experienced driver he is and was quickly up to speed. I’m looking forward to seeing how he progresses over the remainder of the weekend.

“It was also Stoffel’s first time around Monaco in a Formula 1 car, although he is of course a former winner here in GP2. It was great for him to have such a solid day of running. He’s been working incredibly hard with the team over the last few weeks and we are seeing encouraging results from that hard work this weekend.

“Needless to say, qualifying will be key here as overtaking is very difficult. Although we will not have any sessions tomorrow, we will continue to work hard analysing the data collected today to gain as much lap-time as possible before Saturday.”

2017 MONACO GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING

“WE’LL TAKE A FEW RISKS AND PUSH HARD IN TOMORROW’S RACE”

Today was McLaren Honda’s most competitive qualifying performance of the season – with both drivers graduating through to Q3 for the first time this year.

Unfortunately, grid penalties for Stoffel Vandoorne (three places, as a result of his clash with Felipe Massa in Barcelona) and Jenson Button (15 spots due to the fitting of a new MGU-H and turbo-charger) mean that both drivers will start outside the top 10.

Stoffel is set to start the Monaco Grand Prix from 12th position after crashing in Q2 and taking no part in the final session, finishing 10th with no time set. Jenson qualified ninth overall, but his penalty relegates him to the very back of the grid.

Our aim tomorrow is to score points. And win the Indy 500.

Stoffel Vandoorne

#SV2 MCL32-04
Q1 1:13.476s (6th) Option tyre
Q2 1:13.249s (7th) Option tyre
Q3 NO TIME (10th) Option tyre

 “This is a positive day. It’s my first time in Q3 – but I really should have been out on track for that last session. Sadly, I didn’t make it!

“We came here expecting to be more competitive, and we definitely showed that we’ve made a step this weekend. For every session, we’ve been able to run inside the top 10, and I felt very calm and confident in the cockpit.

“It’s a shame my qualifying session ended with a little crash – but that’s what sometimes happens when you’re pushing hard on the limit around this place.

“I think it’s really starting to come together for me with the team; tomorrow, I just want to get out there and have some fun.”

Jenson Button

#JB22 MCL32-03
Q1 1:13.723s (11th) Option tyre
Q2 1:13.453 (10th) Option tyre
Q3 1:13.613s (9th) Option tyre

 “It was a lot of fun out there. Practice was fine, but in qualifying you reach a point where you really need to fine-tune the car’s performance, and that’s still a bit of a learning curve for me. This year’s tyres are completely different to last year’s in terms of how they work; how they fade away; how they last. It’s been tricky trying to find those last few per cent.

“But I’m happy – in my one and only race this year I qualify ninth… and start 20th! I never expected to have this opportunity, so this is a great memory for me: driving around Monaco in these monsters, such great machines. I’m very lucky.

“I’ll take that ninth position home with me at the end of the weekend – I should be chuffed to bits with that.”

THE MANAGEMENT

ERIC BOULLIER

“We have to take away the positives from today’s qualifying session: we performed extremely well, delivering to our expectations; we got both cars into Q3 for the first time this season; and, if all things had been equal, we’d be looking at a chance to score some strong points with both cars tomorrow.

“In fact, I still wouldn’t rule out that possibility. Due to grid penalties, we may be starting from 12th (Stoff) and 20th (Jenson), but we know that anything can happen around these streets. More assuringly, we know that our car is both quick and extremely driveable – the latter quality being one that will really reward the drivers around 78 laps of this tight and tortuous circuit tomorrow.

“So, all is most certainly not lost. We’ll be pushing in the race, we’ll take a few risks, fight hard and see whether the Monte-Carlo casino brings us some good fortune tomorrow”.

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

“Qualifying was a positive step forward for us today with both cars going through into Q3. Having said that, it is of course disappointing that we have penalties for the race start tomorrow so both drivers drop down the grid.

“Stoffel drove exceptionally well today, with good pace to reach Q3 for the first time in his Formula 1 career. Unfortunately, he hit the barriers at the end of Q2, but we know that can sometimes happen around such a tight track when you’re pushing hard. The team will work hard tonight to fix the car, and starting the race from P12, we’re hopeful that he’ll be able to fight for some points.

“Jenson’s pace has been encouraging all weekend, and he kept his motivation high during qualifying despite having a 15-grid place penalty for power unit element changes. It must have been hard for him to qualify in such a condition especially here in Monaco, but he showed his professionalism today.

“Although there’s not much time until the race, we still have a lot to do this evening. We’ll continue our efforts analysing the data collected in order to improve further for tomorrow.”

2017 MONACO GRAND PRIX – RACE

“SOMETIMES, YOU WALK AWAY EMPTY-HANDED”

Today’s Monaco Grand Prix was a disappointing and unsuccessful race for McLaren Honda. 

Stoffel Vandoorne ran as high as seventh during the flurry of mid-race pit-stops, and looked well positioned to bring home a point while running in 10th in the closing laps. Unfortunately, he was caught out at the end of a late-race Safety Car period: with cold tyres and brakes, he understeered into the tyre-wall at Ste Devote, retiring on lap 66.

Stoffel’s one-off team-mate Jenson Button was always going to be playing a weakened hand this afternoon. Consigned to the back of the grid, following a power unit component change, the team’s strategists decided to box him on lap one and allow him to run an alternative strategy in clear air.

But that call was immediately stymied by Sauber’s decision to box Pascal Wehrlein on the same lap. Notwithstanding the five-second penalty awarded to Wehrlein for an unsafe pit-stop release, the first-lap strategy call would define the rest of Jenson’s afternoon.

With no easy route past the Sauber, the team again adjusted the strategy on the fly, pitting Jenson for a set of Options at half distance. He caught the German and attempted to pass him on the inside at Portier. The pair collided heavily – Wehrlein’s car ending up sideways in the tyre-wall, and Jenson’s parked at the end of the harbor-front escape road with a broken left-front corner.

As one race ends, so another begins, and we now turn our attentions towards Indianapolis, where Fernando Alonso will be racing in today’s Indy 500.

STOFFEL VANDOORNE

#SV2 MCL32-04
Started 12th
Finished DNF (accident) 66 laps
Fastest lap 1:16.665s (lap 45) +1.845 (15th)
Pit stops One - lap 43 (3.22s) Option > Prime

“It’s a shame we haven’t come away with any points this weekend. I think we’d all hoped to get a little bit more out of the weekend.

“Towards the end of the race, I knew it would be difficult at the restart. It’s always difficult to heat up the Supersofts, and we knew we wouldn’t be able to cover Sergio [Perez] and Felipe [Massa], who’d switched to the Option behind the Safety Car. That wasn’t an option for us – when you’re in the top 10, you’ve got to keep your position. It was hard to get the tyres and brakes up to temperature, and I just had nowhere to go at Turn One, unfortunately.

“So, this isn’t the result we wanted this weekend, but there are still positives to take away from Monaco: we may still be lacking overall performance, but we’ve made some useful steps forward this weekend.

“There’s still a lot of work to do – but I remain optimistic.”

JENSON BUTTON

#JB22 MCL32-03
Started 20th (started from pitlane)
Finished DNF (accident) 57 laps
Fastest lap 1:16.912s (lap 47) +2.092s (17th)
Pit stops Two - lap 1 (2.78s) & lap 39 (4.39s) Option > Prime > Option

“Today was a disappointing day and one where we couldn’t make any progress. The race was made very difficult from lap one, and then obviously the incident happened with Pascal [Wehrlein]. His tyres were completely gone from lap one – I know because I had the same set of tyres on from the start of the race after I pitted just after the start.

“I had a lot more traction coming out of the previous corner, because when these tyres go on the marbles they have no grip. I thought I was a long way up the inside and then I looked across and saw that he hadn’t seen me, so I tried to back out, but obviously it was too late by then.

“You do struggle to see in these cars, but you don’t think in that moment that the guy’s not going to see me when you go up the inside. I gave it a go and thought it was a fair enough judgment, but it didn’t work out. You never like seeing a car tip over because you don’t know if his head’s going to hit anything, but the most important thing is that Pascal is okay – I spoke to him and he’s a bit shaken of course but the best thing is he walked out okay.   

“Today was a bit frustrating, but, as a racing driver, it’s difficult to just drive around at the back and not get to have a go. I had a go, and thought it was a fair enough judgement, but it didn’t work out. I’m sorry to the team for even more damage this weekend. I enjoyed some laps today too, but obviously I never want to damage that car, and it’s not something I do very often. Yesterday was awesome – I loved it – and I’ll take away lots of good memories.   

“I hope Fernando has a good safe race this afternoon and we’re all looking forward to it.”

THE MANAGEMENT

ERIC BOULLIER

“Sometimes you visit the Monte-Carlo casino and hit the jackpot; other times you walk away empty-handed. For us, this was just one of those unfortunate days when the luck didn’t go our way.

“We always knew that Jenson would start the race on the back-foot, but it was unfortunate that our attempts to run him in clean air came to nothing after Sauber attempted the very same strategy. It was cruel luck for Jenson that, despite the unsafe release of Wehrlein’s car, the penalty did nothing to tip the odds in Jenson’s favour. The collision was just one of those things, but I’m pleased that both drivers were able to walk away.

“With our focus now turned solely towards Stoffel, we looked set for a decent result. He’d been running on the fringes of the top 10 for the whole race, and his pace on the Option was very promising. Following a switch to the Prime, he still looked set for a points finish, but, on cold tyres and with cold brakes, he understeered into the tyre wall at Turn One when the race restarted after the Safety Car.

“Still, there are positives: I think it’s fair to say that Stoffel has really taken a step forward this weekend, both in terms of his driving and his confidence level with the car; and Jenson showed us all that he is still a great champion and a fantastic ambassador for the sport of Formula 1.

“Finally, to Fernando and our friends and colleagues racing at the Indy 500, I say bonne chance.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

“Today's race ended in disappointment, missing out on a potential first point of the season for the team.

“Although Stoffel had to start from 12th, we knew he was competitive this weekend. In fact, he moved up to 10th after his pit-stop with his brilliant performance and a good strategy from the team. I think the performance he showed today was very encouraging and therefore it’s regrettable that he had to end the race having such an unfortunate accident and no points to his name.

“Jenson’s race also had potential, but at Monaco it is notoriously difficult to overtake and he was unable to really push. The accident he had was disappointing; however, he brought great enthusiasm and a cheerful personality with him this weekend, and I think all the members of the team enjoyed racing with him.

“Next up is Montreal, but of course even before then we will be glued to our TV screens to watch Fernando’s Indy 500 challenge.”