Monaco Grand Prix – Preview

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Formula One touches down in its splendid jewel box, Monte Carlo for the Monaco Grand Prix. The venue which has been a fixture on the calendar with the exception of three years will host the sixth round of the 2018 Formula One Championship.

Monaco epitomizes everything what Formula One can offer: glamour, history, speed, excitement, business and passion. The first ever Monaco Grand Prix was held in 1929 and it was part of the calendar of Formula One’s inaugural season back in 1950. The circuit has changed remarkably little since its first championship appearance. Thursday is still the day of the first practice session which gives the streets back to inhabitants.

Four drivers left their lives after having crashed in Monaco. Norman Linnecar, Luigi Fagioli, Dennis Taylor and Lorenzo Bandini are all victims of the Monaco racing action.

Successful drivers and teams

McLaren is the monarch of the Principality. The traditional British squad has 15 wins to its name while Ferrari is the second in the rankings with its 10 triumphs. Lotus won the prestigious race seven times while BRM was successful five times. Mercedes won the glamorous GP four times between 2013 and 2016.

Among the other winning teams are Alfa Romeo, Cooper, Tyrell, Maserati, Renault, Benetton, Brabham, Red Bull, Williams.

Ayrton Senna is the king of Monaco with his breath-taking six wins. Graham Hill and Michael Schumacher have five wins to their names. Among the current drivers, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso crossed the finish line first two times.

The country

The Principality of Monaco is a sovereign city-state, country and microstate on the French Riviera in Western Europe. France borders the country on three sides while the other side borders the Mediterranean Sea. Monaco has an area of 2.020 km2 and a population of about 38,400, according to the last census of 2016.

Monaco is a principality governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, with Prince Albert II as head of state. Monaco is not formally a part of the European Union (EU), but it participates in certain EU policies, including customs and border controls. Through its relationship with France, Monaco uses the euro as its sole currency. Economic development was spurred in the late 19th century with the opening of the country's first casino, Monte Carlo, and a railway connection to Paris.

Since then, Monaco's mild climate, scenery, and gambling facilities have contributed to the principality's status as a tourist destination and recreation centre for the rich. In more recent years, Monaco has become a major banking centre and has sought to diversify its economy into the services sector and small, high-value-added, non-polluting industries. The state has no income tax, low business taxes, and is well known for being a tax haven.

Twisty track

The Monaco track is the ultimate test of man and machine. Drivers have to conquer the tight, twisty streets of the Principality while holding them in great respect. The tiniest of mistake can curtail the weekend of a driver. A combination of precision driving, technical excellence and sheer bravery is required to win in Monte Carlo.

The street track has a length of 3.337km, the Grand Prix itself stretches over 78 laps. This race distance adds together 260.286km, making the Monaco Grand Prix the shortest race, the only one which doesn’t reach the compulsory minimum distance of 305km.

The lap record is 1:14.439, set by Michael Schumacher during the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix.

The distance from pole position to the first corner is 226.7m which means there is only a slight chance to make up places after the start lights go green. The pit lane has a length of 324.7m and drivers have to slow down to 60kph. Without the actual pit stop time, they need 19.5s to travel across the pit lane.

The shortest track of the calendar is divided into 19 turns, of which eight are left-handed ones. Most of the corners are slow-speed ones, turn 3, 12 and 13-14 are the only ones where lateral forces are relatively high. The highest lateral G force is measured at 3.6 in turn 13.

Drivers apply the brakes nine times. Interestingly, none of them is heavy braking action. Engines run at full throttle for 34 per cent of the lap which means fuel consumption is very low.

The DRS zone is on the start-finish straight, but its effectiveness is close to zero due to the curvature and tightness of the start-finish section.