Resident F1 writer, Nick van der Meulen, brings us this F1 Preview Monaco 2019.
Monaco: the name that epitomizes high living, extravagance and gambling. It is also the jewel in the crown of F1 racing. It has a rich history, beginning in 1929, and is a controversial venue on the F1 calendar. Why, you ask? It is where the rich can rub shoulders with the drivers. It is the most important race of the year for teams, as the best place to woo sponsors is at Monte Carlo.
Click here to read an obituary on triple world F1 champ Niki Lauda.
A firm favourite
Drivers love the venue for its extravagance and the challenge of negotiating one’s way around the tight, narrow street circuit at breakneck speeds. Teams face the challenge of working in a cramped pit area, with most of their equipment situated outside the paddock. Nelson Piquet once described the circuit as one akin to riding his bicycle in his living room… and therein lies the charisma and charm of the place.
An exclusive club
Only four drivers on the current grid have won at Monaco, namely, Sebastian Vettel (twice), Lewis Hamilton (twice), Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo. The question is, who will take the accolades and spray champagne with the royal family at Monaco in 2019?
Following Red Bull Racing’s strong performances at the Principality over the last few seasons, pundits believe they have a strong chassis and driver line up to do it – particularly with Max Verstappen. The Honda power unit has not embarrassed at all and, as this is not a “power” circuit, Verstappen could post Honda’s first victory since their return to F1. Of course, Red Bull is being coy and playing down their chances, stating that Mercedes is the team to beat.
Mercedes, on the other hand, think their lady is too big (according to Toto Wolff) for the circuit and the team will struggle. Time will tell. Ferrari’s management believes that their machine is losing time “at every corner” to arch-rival Mercedes, however, both Vettel and Charles Leclerc will give their all to ensure that they are in the mix…
A surprise winner
The circuit at Monte Carlo is where one can spring a surprise and teams with nimble chassis’ and tenacious drivers can perform well. The circuit allows no room for error, however, a fact that Max Verstappen can attest to after putting his car into the barriers in qualifying last year, when he was clearly of the quickest on the grid. Grid position is critical for this Grand Prix, too, as there are few places to pass and to be able to make progress from a poor starting position is an uphill struggle.
As one can imagine, other than being at the side of the circuit absorbing the ambience, the Monaco Grand Prix can be a snooze fest. Do not be deceived, however: this race has provided some corkers in the past. As the circuit is narrow, one can expect to see a safety car period during the race, which may cause havoc for some teams having to change strategies at the last second. We pray that the 77th running of the Monaco Grand Prix will be an exciting one.
Click here to view some shocking moments from previous Monaco races.