Every year we arrive at this point in the season and we can’t help but whoop like excited schoolkids at the thought of another Monaco Grand Prix appearing on the horizon.
It’s not just the thought of the glitz and glamour of the glittering jewel in the crown® of Formula 1 that gets us revved up. It’s not wondering how on earth our Energy Station crew are going to get the mighty new Holzhaus into Port Hercule that keeps us up at night. No, what puts that extra spring in the step is the thought of once again seeing 20 drivers thread the eye of the F1 needle as they hammer through those narrow streets at more than three times the local speed limit. Yep, last year Daniel Ricciardo scored his second and our fifth pole position in the Principality at an average speed of 169.654 km/h (105.5 mph).
Watching a driver get it absolutely right in Monaco – kissing the barriers on the exit of Sainte-Dévote, braking hard and turning on a dime into the Nouvelle Chicane and bouncing right and left through the Swimming Pool like a laser-guided rubber ball – is a thing of great beauty. It’s also a true litmus test of the great and merely good.
It’s a oft used maxim but there is a definite ring of truth about the notion. Think of it this way: of the 34 drivers who have won the Monaco Grand Prix, 18 of them (53%) have been world champion.
Yes, Monaco is all about qualifying and overtaking is nigh on impossible (unless you’re Max) but regardless of that it is still a fantastic place to go racing. It’s a challenge and a mystery, a beauty and a beast, and joy and suffering all wrapped into one epic race weekend. Here are our drivers on F1’s biggest weekend and how it can be both cruel and kind…
You’re going to Monaco in good form, coming off the back of a third-place finish in Barcelona. That’s a good omen, surely?
It was great to be back on the podium in Barcelona and now I'm looking forward to Monaco. It's a very special and hectic weekend, and for sure it’s a lot of fun.
You’ve had a rollercoaster run in the Principality since you first raced there in 2015. You’ve had two DNFs, a fifth place in 2017 and ninth last year after starting 20th, as well as getting fastest lap in 2018. Do you have mixed feelings about the race?
It has a lot of history but it’s not been the best one for me over the last few years. Hopefully it’s time to turn this around. I live in Monaco so it’s nice to sleep in my own apartment instead of a hotel, and a few of my friends and family will be there so I’m looking forward to seeing them and having a good weekend.
Pierre, you made your Monaco debut last year and had one of your best weekends of 2018, with P10 on the grid and P7 in the race. You must be looking forward to going back?
Monaco is such a special and unique weekend and it’s probably one of my favourites. One lap in qualifying can be the most exciting of the season. It’s just the rush of adrenaline during those 70 seconds, you’re almost touching the walls. Something I also love is that it’s a technical track and the feeling I got there last year on Saturday was amazing. I had a great race with my second best result of the season, so I’m looking forward to going back and keeping up the momentum.
It’s kind of in your back yard too, isn’t it?
Yes, it’s also my second home race of the season, which feels special because my friends and family will be there. Also, there’s lots of support from France and that definitely gives me a boost during the weekend.