Monaco Grand Prix: F1’s marquee race could come down to the driver in the box

On many Formula 1 race weekends, the matter of which drivers reach the podium, or win outright, can come down to the machinery in their hands.

In the Monaco Grand Prix, however, it could come down to their hands themselves.

Throughout this week and in Thursday’s FIA Press Conferences, many drivers have outlined how Monaco is one of those tracks where the willingness of drivers to push not just to the limits, but in many cases beyond them, is what makes the difference. In Monaco qualifying is key, given the difficulties in overtaking on the track, and the drivers who are willing to push those limits are the drivers who find that necessary tenth of the second that can mean the difference from starting fifth, to starting first.

Speaking at the FIA Press Conference Thursday, Charles Leclerc termed it “risk assessment.”

“I think what you have in Monaco that you have maybe a little bit less on other tracks, on other city tracks as well, is just a risk assessment,” described Leclerc. “And that’s where a driver can make a bit more the difference by taking more risk. It either pays off or not at all. But this is something that I particularly appreciate from this track.

“As soon as you try and go a bit more on the limit, you straight away see it on the lap time,” added Leclerc. “And obviously coming into Q3, having done so many laps, you start to get pretty close with the walls. But it’s exciting. I don’t get that feeling anywhere else on the calendar. So I think risk assessment is what makes the difference here in Monaco.”

Alexander Albon, who qualified tenth for the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix while driving for Toro Rosso (now Visa Cash App RB F1 Team), concurred with the notion of risk assessment being key in Monte Carlo.

“I would say that it’s not really a pressure in terms of comparing yourself to rivals or whatever, but it’s more just yourself. And it’s kind of this feeling of, you know, how much risk are you taking? And that bit is exciting,” added Albon. “I think it’s one of the few races, as Charles said, maybe the only race, where you finish a lap and you feel like you’ve put it on the line. So that’s pretty unique.”

Max Verstappen, who qualified on pole in Monaco a season ago with a performance in Q3 where he absolutely pushed his RB19 to the limit, called qualifying in Monaco one of the sport’s biggest adrenaline thrills.

“Yeah, I do think compared to like any other street circuit, because it’s so narrow, I find it’s even more challenging. And especially in qualifying, you can feel like your heart rate, you know, just the adrenaline rush you get around here,” described Verstappen.

“[Monaco] is something else,” continued the Red Bull driver. “I mean, yeah, I’m not a fan of street circuits, but for sure in qualifying here, you know, the attention to detail. Yeah, it’s crazy. And yeah, that definitely makes it very special.”

One of the drivers who put Verstappen under pressure for pole here a season ago? Esteban Ocon, who qualified — and finished — third in Monaco in 2023. The Alpine driver described his thunderous Q3 lap, adding more weight to the idea that Saturday could come down to the driver in the box.

Particularly on Saturday, which is the ballgame in Monaco.

“Well, it was because I touched the wall twice! But, you know, yeah, as Charles said, I think that’s very exciting. You know, once you start to feel that you are putting a very good lap together, there’s no feeling like it,” recalled Ocon. “And what is stressful, I would say, is, you know, in Saturday, having the most important part of the weekend, it’s usually 80% of your weekend, but there it’s probably 99%.

“And that’s what makes it more stressful, the Saturdays, compared to a normal weekend.”

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top