The Monaco Grand Prix, Round six of the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship, is widely considered to be the most prestigious motorsport race in the world. Set around the spectacular harbour backdrop of Monte Carlo, the race winds around the barrier-lined streets of the Principality, providing a fantastic spectacle of speed and noise for the thousands of fans who pack the grandstands and viewing areas.
The 3.340km 2.075 mile street track is the slowest circuit of the year with the cars averaging speeds of just 160kph 100mph throughout the 78-lap race. From a technical point of view, the weekend will see the Brawn-Mercedes cars running with maximum aerodynamic downforce to take full advantage of the low speed corners. With its twisty narrow streets, frequent elevation changes and the famous tunnel, Monaco is a unique race venue which provides a challenge for man and machine.
Ross Brawn, Team Principal:
How does the team approach the Monaco Grand Prix weekend?
“Monaco is a unique and unpredictable venue and you have to take a very controlled approach to the race weekend. The pit lane and paddock is an intense environment to work in due to the location at the heart of the city and it is therefore more stressful than any other race on the calendar. You can make just one mistake in Monaco and your race weekend will be compromised. However we love that level of extra challenge and it is what makes Formula One and Monaco so special.
“Our car works very well with low-speed corners and we have a fantastic engine from Mercedes-Benz which has a lot of power and excellent drivability which is important around the twisty street circuit. The BGP 001 car is very good mechanically which you need to take advantage of the slow speed nature of the track. Monaco is a real drivers’ circuit where their performance can make all the difference. Jenson and Rubens are both precise and consistent drivers and we will give them as much practice time out on track as possible to get into the rhythm of the lap. Your aim in Monaco is always to secure pole or as close to the front row as possible in qualifying and take it from there. Neither Jenson or Rubens has won the Monaco Grand Prix, although both have stood on the podium, so I’m sure they will be determined to make the most of the weekend.”
What are your thoughts ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix?
“The Monaco Grand Prix is always a very special race weekend, and as a resident of the principality, it will be my first home race of the season with the British Grand Prix at Silverstone following next month. To go to Monaco with the lead in both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships is fantastic but we saw in Barcelona that the performance margins at the front are extremely close. There will be a lot of competitive cars fighting it out this weekend. My usual driving style is very smooth but I will have to change that a little bit to get the best out of the car here. You have to be aggressive around Monaco and not let the barriers intimidate you whilst obviously paying them due respect. Every time you take to the track, it’s a non-stop challenge which requires you to maintain absolute focus, concentration and precision. I think we will see a very exciting qualifying session on Saturday as grid position is so significant in Monaco. It’s almost impossible to overtake once the race is underway so being at the front and getting a good start will be important for a successful weekend.”
What are the technical challenges of the Monaco Grand Prix?
“Driving a Formula One car around Monaco is a fantastic challenge. This will be my 17th Monaco Grand Prix but the weekend has lost none of its appeal and is always one of my favourite races on the calendar. Experience counts around Monaco and it’s going to be a fascinating weekend with the competition so close at the front of the field. Qualifying is one of the biggest challenges of the year here and it is so important to get it right to give yourself the best chance in the race. The unique nature of Monaco presents a number of technical challenges. The streets are tight and twisty although not as bumpy as you might expect following resurfacing work in recent years. We will run with as much downforce as possible on the car and good mechanical grip and low-speed handling is crucial. And then of course there are the barriers which line the majority of the Monte Carlo streets for the race weekend. You can really feel the speed of the car when the barriers are so close but Monaco is actually one of the lowest speed circuits that we race on.”