Monaco Grand Prix preview quotes
Though it faces stiff competition from some of its younger rivals, Monaco remains the most glamorous and prestigious of all the races on the calendar. And for some of the drivers, who call the Principality home, the Grand Prix holds even more resonance. Here team members and drivers explain what makes the Monte Carlo event so special and reveal how they think they may fare over the race weekend…
Nico Rosberg, Williams
2007 Qualifying - 12th, 2007 Race - 5th
“I am very much looking forward to racing in Monaco. Actually, I am very much looking forward to the next two races. Monaco is a true Williams track, and Canada should be as well. We’ll certainly have a much better chance at both than we had in Turkey and I believe Monaco is the one race where we can, with a bit of luck, maybe get on to the podium again. It will be a great weekend as it’s also my home Grand Prix. My family and friends will all be there and, for once, the journey to the track will be a short one, just a 100 metre walk! I can’t wait!”
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA
“I think Monaco will be a big challenge for me. It’s a track at which I didn’t do particularly well at when I raced in GP2 last year, and this is my first race in a Formula One car there. It’s not an easy track and to get it right takes great skill and precision, so it’s a big test for all the drivers. The team has always seemed to get the car to work well at Monaco, so I hope I can draw upon their experience and use it to my advantage. It’s a really glamorous race and the atmosphere will be pretty special. As its Nico’s home Grand Prix, it would be good if we can do well there.”
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
“Monte Carlo is such a great circuit for Formula One. The drivers and engineers have to deal with so many extremes that doing well there is a real achievement. As a street circuit, Monaco has typically very low grip levels at the start of the weekend, but that significantly changes as the Bridgestone rubber is laid onto the track by the cars during practice and qualifying. In fact, the circuit evolves so much from one run to the next, it’s quite difficult to evaluate set-up changes. Maximum downforce is the key, as well as the driver getting plenty of laps in during practice to get acquainted with the circuit. We will have some aero improvements on the cars for Monaco, which should improve our competitiveness and enable us to fight for points.”
Fernando Alonso, Renault
2007 Qualifying - 1st, 2007 Race - 1st
“(Monaco) is an unusual circuit and I have some good memories there because to win in Monaco is very special for a driver. It's a race that I enjoy because the atmosphere is unique and driving through the town is very exciting. It's also a race where you cannot afford to make any mistakes, and this year the race promise to be very interesting.
“We have progressed (in the last two races), but we are still behind Ferrari, McLaren and BMW. Even though Monaco is a circuit where the driver can really make the difference, a good car will always be an advantage and makes things easier. But we will try and spring a surprise and make the most of our opportunities. At the moment we are fighting for seventh place, but, as we saw in Istanbul, it is possible to do better if one of the favourites has a problem. We therefore need to be ready for any chance that comes our way.
“Monaco is a technical circuit and requires good traction so that you can have a good corner exit. This also makes it easier to defend your position or to overtake a competitor. It's not the strong point of the R28 at the moment, even though we have improved, and so I think that that is where we will concentrate our efforts when we start practice on Thursday.”
Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA
“Racing on the streets can sometimes be a bit of a lottery. Qualifying is always important, but in Monaco it will be even more so because the streets are so narrow and it is almost impossible to overtake. Then in the race you need to have a good strategy and hope that you don't get stuck in traffic. And of course, like any street circuit, you have to be totally consistent because the walls are so close that any mistakes will be heavily punished.
“The atmosphere in Monaco is incredible and as I lived there when I was younger I know all about that. It will be special to go back there as a Formula One driver, although it does not feel like a home Grand Prix. I've raced there in GP2 already, and so I know my way around the track, but it will certainly be different in a Formula One car and that is something I am looking forward to.
“I will approach the race in my usual way by trying to do the best job I can for the team. It would be great if we can score some points and that will be my goal, so I will need to qualify well, hopefully in the top ten, and then try and have a consistent race.”
Bob Bell, Renault technical director
“It's a difficult circuit where it is very easy to make a mistake and experience counts for a lot. We always see a lot of incidents in Monaco anyway because the margins for error there are much smaller, and therefore the lack of driver aids may catch some drivers out more than we have seen in previous years. I think that is why Fernando (Alonso) will come to the fore because he's so on top of his game - he will get the best out of the car. I think that we can do well in Monaco. It should suit the car and I think Fernando and Nelson (Piquet) will be able to get the most out of it. And with the developments that we have to help move us forward, we are all quietly confident about Monaco.”
Jenson Button, Honda
2007 Qualifying - 10th, 2007 Race - 11th
"Monaco is a truly special race weekend. It's completely different from any other venue on the calendar, although it will be interesting to see how the street circuits in Valencia and Singapore compare later this year. The whole lap at Monaco is just a non-stop challenge and you have to maintain absolute focus and concentration over every single one of the 78 laps of the race. The absolute key to a really quick lap is to not let the barriers intimidate you as this is a circuit that rewards precision. Having a good qualifying session and getting the best grid position possible is so important to a successful weekend. Passing is very difficult during the race, so you need to make a good start and do your overtaking off the line where possible.
"The Monaco Grand Prix means a great deal to me as it is one of my three homes races of the year, along with Silverstone and Japan. However, being a resident of Monaco is of no benefit over the race weekend as the Principality is completely transformed! It's unbelievably busy and getting around can be just impossible. My top tip would be to walk everywhere or use a scooter. What I love about Monaco is that it is a fantastic race for the fans who can get so close to the action and noise of Formula One."
Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2007 Qualifying - 9th, 2007 Race - 10th
"The streets of Monaco are tight, twisty, bumpy and unforgiving. You can really feel the speed of the car when the barriers are so close to you, but despite this, Monaco is one of the lowest speed circuits that we will race on and presents a number of unique challenges. Good mechanical grip from the car is a fundamental requirement, coupled with as much downforce as possible. Low-speed handling is crucial as this is usually the slowest circuit on the calendar, although this year Singapore looks to be even slower. We will also be driving without the benefits of traction control for the first time in Monaco which I'm sure will be interesting. The new Bridgestone super soft tyre compound will be used for the first time over a race weekend, following its debut at the test.
"This will be my 16th Monaco Grand Prix so I know the circuit very well by now! Like everyone, Monaco is one of my favourite races and I have been successful here in the past, finishing on the podium four times. I particularly enjoying qualifying at Monaco, it's one of the biggest challenges of the year to get it right and give yourself the best chance in the race. Experience does count around Monaco as the driver and your strategy can make the difference to the outcome of your race, it's not purely about car performance. And of course, on the day, you have to keep the car out of the barriers and bring it safely home."
Ross Brawn, Honda team principal
"The team took part in the three-day test at Paul Ricard in France this week to complete our preparations for Monaco. The first two days of the test programme took place on the short configuration of the Paul Ricard facility which resembles the high downforce and low speed characteristics of the Monaco street circuit. We used the test to evaluate our aerodynamic package for the Monaco weekend with some refinements to the developments that debuted in Spain. Driveability is very important around Monaco, with so many low speed corners where the driver has to have confidence in the set-up of the car to avoid losing time on exit, so we did a lot of work on this. We also ran the new Bridgestone super soft tyre compound and the indications from the test are that this tyre will perform well as the option tyre during the race weekend."
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 7th, 2007 Race - 6th
"I'm a real fan of narrow street circuits like this. Lots of people have tried to describe what it's like driving through these streets that are like canyons in a Formula One car. I've never been able to think of a comparison that really does it justice, so I won't even try. You simply have to experience it for yourself. This is a circuit that's totally unforgiving of even the smallest driving error. If you run out of road, there's nowhere to go except into a crash barrier.
"Monaco goes quite crazy during Grand Prix weekend. The town and the harbour are all packed to bursting point. Of all the GP races, this is definitely the one that has the most to offer spectators. For one thing, there's nowhere else you can get so close to the action. The engine noise is stupendous and the razzmatazz is simply unique. I always enjoy coming to Monaco. That said, I have to admit it's all a bit too frenzied for me in the long run, which is why a few years ago I decided to move to Switzerland."
Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 8th, 2007 Race - 5th
"I am really looking forward to Monaco. I was very strong there in 2007 and I am a big fan of narrow street circuits with barriers right next to the track. Monaco is one of these tight and narrow circuits. There are three or four really nice corners like the swimming pool chicane or the Casino section. The track is quite tricky to understand and it is not easy to find the right set-up of the car in Monaco. Without traction control it will be an even bigger challenge to drive there. We will have to see how our car suits the track. I hope this works at least as well as last year and I expect a good result."
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director
"Monaco is one of the great institutions in Formula One. Like Spa, Monza and Silverstone, it's one of those circuits that have made Formula One what it is today. Monaco is Formula One up close and personal. Nowhere else do spectators get quite so close to the action as in the streets of the Principality. And no other Grand Prix is as famous or as glamorous as this one. The yachts, the parties, the show business - nowhere are they such an integral part of the Formula One experience as here.
"In sporting terms, the important thing in Monaco is driving precision, a good aerodynamics package to add as much downforce as possible, and an engine with good drivability at low revs. On reliability, I'm very satisfied with our record so far. With five races behind us, we've driven the maximum number of race laps possible at this stage in the season - apart from the 11 laps Robert lost in the first Grand Prix in Australia, after his accident with Kazuki Nakajima. We've finished well into the points in all our races so far, and we'll be aiming to repeat that in Monaco."
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber technical director
"In the absence of traction control, Monaco will be a very special challenge this year for both the drivers and the engineers. Traction is all-important at this venue, where accelerating out of so many slow corners puts a really heavy strain on the rear tyres. Only the softest tyre compounds will be used.
"Monaco is also the Formula One race with the lowest average speed, so everyone does all they can to maximise downforce and cooling. Downforce is more important on this circuit than aerodynamic efficiency. And since on this closed-in street circuit even the smallest mistake can catapult you out of the race at a moment's notice, the drivers have to find a set-up that allows them to steer a very precise line between the barriers. In my view, this circuit should suit us well."
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2007 Qualifying - 2nd, 2007 Race - 2nd
“Monaco, my favourite race. You have the history all around, you can just feel it, and the atmosphere is fantastic. It is the Grand Prix that every driver wants to win. Being a street circuit it is very exciting to drive, there is no room for any error all weekend. You are on the limit the whole time, there are no long straights where you have a moment to think. It is so tight and narrow, and when you consider how quick you are driving it is unreal. To be quick you need to use every centimetre of the circuit, this even includes touching the barriers at some points.
“Unpredictable is the word that sums up Monaco from a performance perspective. It was a great race in Turkey, we know the performance is there, but at Monaco literally anything can happen.”
Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
2007 Qualifying - 15th, 2007 Race - 13th
“I always enjoy driving at Monaco because it is a very challenging circuit. Some people think because it is not as fast it must be easier, but it is not very forgiving and you have to focus every single moment and be the maximum on each lap, you can’t relax anywhere. It also has unique characteristics, such as the sound is very different. It is louder even in the car because of the buildings surrounding the track. All the drivers like it because it is a challenge, and we like our challenges! It is a very special race and it is very difficult to win, that is why everybody is very motivated to do just that.
“I want to have a trouble free race and to be able to show the pace we have in the car. It felt really good all weekend in Turkey and we had a good test on the Monaco-simulation track at Paul Ricard. We have certainly improved and hopefully we can capitalise on that at Monaco. Of all the races, Monaco is the most unpredictable Grand Prix, as always I want to be challenging for the win, but with this race who can say!”
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren Formula One CEO
“The Monaco circuit has previously been quite unique in the Formula One calendar, until this season with the inaugural races on the street circuits of Valencia and Singapore. Monaco is the first race of the season where the circuit characteristics of a tight, twisting course with no genuine straights, lead us to run with the maximum levels of downforce that are achievable, even if in so doing there is a marginal drag penalty. This is the compromise required in order to get the fastest lap possible.
“Inevitably it is a glamorous backdrop, it brings motor racing right into the heart of the Principality. It has that glamour, it brings cars close to the people, it reminds people how quick Formula One cars are and how brave the drivers are in a manner that is not always apparent when it is viewed from a distance behind large run off areas. The race itself is fantastic because it is so tight and so noisy, as a result the atmosphere is intense. If you get the opportunity to go up to Casino or another of the high speed parts of the circuit, even for people who have spent many years around Formula One cars, they are incredibly quick, incredibly tight.
"The precision that is needed by drivers, a few centimentres to the left of right at various points and you really are leaving part of the car behind. Another factor that adds to the spectacle is overtaking. There is a common belief that overtaking improves the spectacle, but over the years Monaco produces exciting races because the field is often very close together in a train, usually behind a much slower car. You then have the faster drivers trying to force their way through every overtaking manoeuvre, which entails a degree of risk no matter who you are passing. All these elements together lead to a highly anticipated race meeting.”
Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“Monaco is a very special race with a circuit layout that makes it difficult to use the competitive situation seen at other circuits as a basis. For the team, this Grand Prix is always an extraordinary race, not least because we have won five times in the ten years since our first joint victory with McLaren in 1998. This year I expect that at least a handful of teams are capable of achieving top positions. The right strategy, and sometimes also luck during the race, play a more important role at the street circuit in Monaco than at any other race track.”