Events

PREVIEW GRAND PRIX DE MONACO 2018

It’s the F1 race that’s held on perhaps the most picturesque circuit in the world. The principality of Monaco, home to the people for who money really is no object, hosts the sixth F1 round of 2018 on the streets of Monte Carlo, complete with tunnels, seaside views, and super tight turns.

It’s the track where the cars are tuned not for outright speed and downforce, but for handling and braking. For the 65th time, the F1 circus brings for this year the 250th race for Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel on the hunt for his fiftieth win, and Charles LeClerc. The twenty year old Sauber driver was born in Monte Carlo, and will obviously be keen to make his sixth race in F1 a successful one.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton leads the drivers’ championship courtesy of his win in Spain. On 95 points he sits 17 points ahead of Ferrari’s Vettel. Surprisingly, Hamilton comes to Monaco with some doubts: “I do anticipate it’s going to be a difficult weekend [for Mercedes] – not one that is impossible but it’s a lot closer and we may not have the pace of the others.”

Eyes will be on Red Bull and the duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. Red Bull have not had the best of runs at Monaco. Ricciardo looked to have the 2016 race in his pocket before a pit stop mishap short circuited his chance. Verstappen will want to follow on from his podium at Barcelona and both driver’s will still be mindful of their clash at Baku.

There’s potential here for a couple of surprises too. The Haas team have been nibbling, gnawing, and generally making a pest of themselves. The result after five rounds in 2018 has them in sixth in the constructors’ championship and ninth in the drivers’ championship with Kevin Magnussen on 19 points.

Renault is in the mix too, with Fernando Alonso back after missing the 2017 round. The McLaren Renault driver was fifth in 2016, and in 2015 didn’t complete the race after a gearbox failed in the McLaren Honda he was campaigning. The likeable Spaniard is on 32 points and just one point behind Verstappen, and with his experience will be looking to get ahead of the young Dutchman.

This year’s race will be notable for the debut of a new tire. Pirelli has been testing what’s called the “hypersoft”, and initial tests have shown an improvement per lap over the supersoft of a second per lap.

Ferrari will be looked at for a potential re-interpretation of the rules when it comes to aerodynamics after a modification to the already contentious halo had the team fit wing mirrors directly to the halo. The FIA looked into the way the mirrors were fitted and decided the way they were mounted were more for an advantage aerodynamically.

Qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix starts at 1600 hours local time on Saturday, with the race itself scheduled for a start time of 1510 local time on Sunday.

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David Conole

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