Monaco Grand Prix preview quotes 16 May 2008
Though it faces stiff competition from some of its younger rivals, Monaco remains the most glamorous and prestigious of all the races on the calendar. And for some of the drivers, who call the Principality home, the Grand Prix holds even more resonance. Here team members and drivers explain what makes the Monte Carlo event so special and reveal how they think they may fare over the race weekend
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2007 Qualifying - 16th, 2007 Race - 8th
For me every race is important for the championship. But as a race there is nothing like the Monaco GP. To race in the Principality is really different from everywhere else: it is really difficult to have a perfect weekend here. When you manage it you know the great feeling you get by winning the race here. The race in Monaco is the race. It's a legend amongst all the races. My success here in 2005 is maybe the most memorable of all my races. So to win it again would be just as special. The streets of Monte Carlo are very twisty and narrow and you have to be very precise and concentrated on every single metre you go. This year there is even less room for an error now that we don't have the traction control anymore - especially when it's wet.
It's always a great atmosphere here in Monaco for the fans and the spectators who enjoy the race weekend 100 per cent. For the teams and us drivers it's not that easy. There's lots of confusion and we don't have any own space to calm down a bit. That makes the challenge even bigger. You have to concentrate even more on the details. I always aim to win and that's my goal here at the weekend at Monaco.
Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2007 Qualifying - 3rd, 2007 Race - 3rd
I have to admit that this is not one of my favourite circuits. In terms of driving pleasure, I prefer the fast flowing places like Turkey, Bahrain and Barcelona for example. But that does not mean we cannot be strong here. We will prepare as well as possible and try and bring home as many points as possible. You always find tracks you like more than others, but this does not mean you cannot be competitive at those you are not so keen on.
One thing I really do like about Monaco is that I can stay at home every night. It is really good and as I live quite close to the track it does not take me long to get to the pits in the morning. I really enjoy returning home, which makes a pleasant change from all the hotels we stay in throughout the year.
It will not be an easy race this weekend and we can expect McLaren to be strong as usual, although I think we can be on the pace too. But we have to wait and see what happens on Thursday because it is difficult to say what we can expect from ourselves and the opposition. Even if we ran on the short track at Ricard, designed to simulate some aspects of Monaco, it still is not the real thing. Monaco is unique and impossible to recreate exactly the same track characteristics, so there are some unknown factors going into the weekend.
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
First impressions of the Ricard test and data analysis back at Maranello are positive. However, as I mentioned after our win in Istanbul, we know we are now about to tackle a pair of races - this one and Canada a fortnight later - that presented us with several problems last year. We feel we have made a significant step forward from where we were twelve months ago. Will it be enough? We will have to wait at least until the end of Thursday free practice sessions to get a clearer picture of where we stand.
We have not won here for seven years, so it would be good to reverse that trend this year. For the last six of those years, a Ferrari has been the fastest car on track, but this has still not been enough to win. This is always such a difficult event, but nevertheless we go there with the intention of winning, although well aware that it might not be possible, because of so many random events that can happen in the streets of Monaco, such as the weather, the possible intervention of the Safety Car and naturally, the importance of getting everything right in qualifying the day before.
Adrian Sutil, Force India
2007 Qualifying - 19th, 2007 Race - DNF
Monaco is one of my favourite tracks as it's the first real street circuit we go to this year. It's such a special place, with a unique atmosphere, there's a lot going on and the track is just fantastic. I'm really looking forward to it as, even though we didn't finish last year, it was actually one of my best weekends. It was such a great feeling when I saw my name in P1 on Saturday - no one expected it! For me it was important as that stage in the season as it gave me a lot of good feedback and made people realise we are serious about what we do.
We have a better car this year and I hope we can do well. It can be tricky if it rains, but I don't mind as we saw last year! It was important for me to finish in Turkey as we could get a lot more mileage and also for my confidence to finish a race. Now I think we need to stay concentrated and get more finishes, do a good job and get a good result.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India
2007 Qualifying - 4th, 2007 Race - 4th
Monaco will be my 200th race start, and it feels a long way away from my debut that's for sure, but I still feel as good and as confident as I did back then. Rubens Barrichellos record of 257 starts will be hard to beat, but there is definitely a feeling of satisfaction to reach this milestone that only a handful of other drivers have got to. Even more satisfying is to know that I have a lot more to give and am still motivated to do well.
To celebrate this at Monaco is fantastic as it's the best track in the world, one of my favourites, as the twisty track itself is phenomenal, the fans are so close to the cars so you get a real atmosphere, and the surroundings are so beautiful. It's certainly the best place for a celebration - I have to hope that we can celebrate a good result on Sunday too!
Monaco has given me some good results, but last year was particularly good as I came home fourth when no one was expecting it. It was a result the team desperately needed too. Realistically this year we can't hope for fourth, but one point is my target - everything else that comes on top of that is a bonus. We have a new aero package that will for sure help us, but the whole race is a lottery so you've got to be lucky too.
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and managing director
We intend to put on a good show in Monaco, both from a sporting and commercial aspect. Monaco is a race that is so famous world-wide that almost everybody knows it and wants to come to it, so it is not only important from a team point of view, but from a sponsors' point of view as well. I think glamour and sport go together and I think the glamour and the entertainment that we have emphasised since we have been in F1 is much appreciated. If we have, in turn, contributed in any way to the glamorous aspect of F1, then I think we've done a good job. It promotes the team, it promotes the sponsors of the team, I think it promotes F1 in general. We intend to persist!
As important as the glamour and panache is in Monaco, the greatest show there is is the race and we are on stage and have to perform. This track should suit us better than Istanbul, but having acknowledged that, the objective of the team is to get up to a level where we can race competitively on any circuit. Turkey might have seemed disappointing from the outside, but I did not leave the track feeling down at heart. We were certainly no further back from the opposition than we have been in previous races and, in fact compared to the fastest time of the weekend, we were the closest we have been all year. Our position is now just a measure of how competitive F1 is this year. There are no inefficient teams: you just have 10 professional teams, and we are undoubtedly the smallest, newest kid on the block.
I am sure however that Monaco will be a different story. It's a real driver's track and I have every confidence in both my drivers here - just look at their track records. Giancarlo - who reaches a great career milestone this weekend - has achieved some fantastic results here against expectations, while Adrian posted the fastest time in practice on Saturday morning last year. That tells a story of its own.
Colin Kolles, Force India team principal
After a disappointing Turkish Grand Prix we should be in a position to be more competitive in Monaco and have both cars reaching the finish line. For Adrian and Giancarlo it's one of their favourite circuits and I am expecting a good result.
Mike Gascoyne, Force India's chief technical officer
Monaco is a very unique track due to its nature and it was actually one of the tracks that we were closest to getting into Q2 last year. Both our drivers love the circuit and have some good experience - Adrian was an F3 lap record holder round there and went quickest in one of the practices last year, plus Giancarlo has been very quick there in the past. I believe there will be some races where we will spring surprises and I think Monaco will be one of them. We just have to concentrate on doing our job and get two cars to the finish.
As most of the teams will be doing, we have a new aero package that is designed specifically for this race. In Monaco, which has no real high speed parts on the track, you tend to run items that produce high levels of drag that you wouldn't run on other tracks, simply because they are inefficient on long straights. That's not the case in Monaco however, where you need as much grip as possible to get round the tight hairpins and corners.
The new package includes updates to the wings, additional winglets and further modifications that will give more downforce. It has been tested in Paul Ricard last week, and gave some good results.
For Giancarlo, it's his 200th race and, at a circuit he very much likes, I am sure he will want to put in a good performance. Similarly that should be a spur to Adrian as now he is growing in confidence and needs to start showing that in terms of results. It was very important for him to get that race finish in Turkey: he has been gaining in confidence throughout the last events, understanding the tyres a bit more and getting more pace out of the car to match Giancarlo.
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone Motorsport tyre development director
Monaco is a difficult circuit to master and every mistake is punished as the Armco is so close. We are bringing the softest compounds in the Bridgestone range for this event, the soft and the super soft. There will be high demands on our tyres at this track and rear traction is called upon a lot. With no traction control and the slippery surface drivers will have their work cut out.
The super soft has been modified from last year to give more grip, and we have tried to achieve this without sacrificing any of its other characteristics, such as its wear rate and stiffness. Monaco will be the first race weekend where we use this compound this season so it will be interesting to see how it performs, especially as we will be using it again in the Canadian Grand Prix which follows Monaco.
Nico Rosberg, Williams
2007 Qualifying - 12th, 2007 Race - 5th
I am very much looking forward to racing in Monaco. Actually, I am very much looking forward to the next two races. Monaco is a true Williams track, and Canada should be as well. Well certainly have a much better chance at both than we had in Turkey and I believe Monaco is the one race where we can, with a bit of luck, maybe get on to the podium again. It will be a great weekend as its also my home Grand Prix. My family and friends will all be there and, for once, the journey to the track will be a short one, just a 100 metre walk! I cant wait!
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA
I think Monaco will be a big challenge for me. Its a track at which I didnt do particularly well at when I raced in GP2 last year, and this is my first race in a Formula One car there. Its not an easy track and to get it right takes great skill and precision, so its a big test for all the drivers. The team has always seemed to get the car to work well at Monaco, so I hope I can draw upon their experience and use it to my advantage. Its a really glamorous race and the atmosphere will be pretty special. As its Nicos home Grand Prix, it would be good if we can do well there.
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
Monte Carlo is such a great circuit for Formula One. The drivers and engineers have to deal with so many extremes that doing well there is a real achievement. As a street circuit, Monaco has typically very low grip levels at the start of the weekend, but that significantly changes as the Bridgestone rubber is laid onto the track by the cars during practice and qualifying. In fact, the circuit evolves so much from one run to the next, its quite difficult to evaluate set-up changes. Maximum downforce is the key, as well as the driver getting plenty of laps in during practice to get acquainted with the circuit. We will have some aero improvements on the cars for Monaco, which should improve our competitiveness and enable us to fight for points.
Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2007 Qualifying - 14th, 2007 Race - 15th
"Monaco is a great track, one of my favourites, and I have a fantastic souvenir from there with my win in 2004, so I enjoy this race. I like circuits where the driver's contribution is important and in Monaco the driver can really make a difference. Obviously you always need a good car and I think we have a strong car this year, as we have shown with our performances so far. As a driver this track seems very fast because the barrier is so close, even though in reality it is the slowest on the calendar. It is really important that you are precise and fully concentrating for every lap because there is no margin for error; you can so easily clip a barrier and go out of the race because of a small error. As well as the track itself, the atmosphere at Monaco is also completely unique and very special because the fans are so close and you really feel close to them when you are racing. It's an incredible venue and a race I always look forward to. Generally I have driven well at Monaco in the past so I am confident we can score more points."
Timo Glock, Toyota
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA
"This will be my first Monaco Grand Prix so I am really looking forward to it. It is such a famous race, with so much history and emotion, that every driver wants to be there racing. I can't wait to line up on the grid, in front of all the fans and in such a legendary atmosphere - that will be really special. I know the track already, it is a personal favourite, so I know exactly what to expect; you cannot afford to make any mistakes because the guardrail is so close and you have to really focus for the entire weekend. I haven't had the results I want yet this season but Monaco would be the perfect place to score my first points for the team. As usual in Monaco, qualifying will be key because overtaking is almost impossible. I have had some pretty strong qualifying performances this year so my goal is to qualify high on the grid to give me the chance to fight for points in the race."
Pascal Vasselon, Toyotas senior general manager chassis
"To me, Monaco is the outstanding race of the season. You can really feel, hear and smell the cars more than at any other circuit in Formula One and this makes Monaco truly special. It is a real challenge for the drivers because, unlike the last tracks we have visited, in Turkey and Spain, they cannot afford to be even slightly off line so the pressure is always on. Because Monaco highlights slightly different performance factors, with engine performance and aerodynamics a bit less significant than at a more standard circuit, the driver can also make more of a difference. We will have a Monaco-spec aero package, with revised front and rear wings as well as other items, because of the high downforce required and the low average speed. In terms of set-up, really we are looking for anything which can help drivability and we are confident we will have a strong package. We didn't get the result we expected in Turkey but in general the TF108 still looks competitive and we should expect to fight for the points in Monaco."
Fernando Alonso, Renault
2007 Qualifying - 1st, 2007 Race - 1st
(Monaco) is an unusual circuit and I have some good memories there because to win in Monaco is very special for a driver. It's a race that I enjoy because the atmosphere is unique and driving through the town is very exciting. It's also a race where you cannot afford to make any mistakes, and this year the race promise to be very interesting.
We have progressed (in the last two races), but we are still behind Ferrari, McLaren and BMW. Even though Monaco is a circuit where the driver can really make the difference, a good car will always be an advantage and makes things easier. But we will try and spring a surprise and make the most of our opportunities. At the moment we are fighting for seventh place, but, as we saw in Istanbul, it is possible to do better if one of the favourites has a problem. We therefore need to be ready for any chance that comes our way.
Monaco is a technical circuit and requires good traction so that you can have a good corner exit. This also makes it easier to defend your position or to overtake a competitor. It's not the strong point of the R28 at the moment, even though we have improved, and so I think that that is where we will concentrate our efforts when we start practice on Thursday.
Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA
Racing on the streets can sometimes be a bit of a lottery. Qualifying is always important, but in Monaco it will be even more so because the streets are so narrow and it is almost impossible to overtake. Then in the race you need to have a good strategy and hope that you don't get stuck in traffic. And of course, like any street circuit, you have to be totally consistent because the walls are so close that any mistakes will be heavily punished.
The atmosphere in Monaco is incredible and as I lived there when I was younger I know all about that. It will be special to go back there as a Formula One driver, although it does not feel like a home Grand Prix. I've raced there in GP2 already, and so I know my way around the track, but it will certainly be different in a Formula One car and that is something I am looking forward to.
I will approach the race in my usual way by trying to do the best job I can for the team. It would be great if we can score some points and that will be my goal, so I will need to qualify well, hopefully in the top ten, and then try and have a consistent race.
Bob Bell, Renault technical director
It's a difficult circuit where it is very easy to make a mistake and experience counts for a lot. We always see a lot of incidents in Monaco anyway because the margins for error there are much smaller, and therefore the lack of driver aids may catch some drivers out more than we have seen in previous years. I think that is why Fernando (Alonso) will come to the fore because he's so on top of his game - he will get the best out of the car. I think that we can do well in Monaco. It should suit the car and I think Fernando and Nelson (Piquet) will be able to get the most out of it. And with the developments that we have to help move us forward, we are all quietly confident about Monaco.
Jenson Button, Honda
2007 Qualifying - 10th, 2007 Race - 11th
"Monaco is a truly special race weekend. It's completely different from any other venue on the calendar, although it will be interesting to see how the street circuits in Valencia and Singapore compare later this year. The whole lap at Monaco is just a non-stop challenge and you have to maintain absolute focus and concentration over every single one of the 78 laps of the race. The absolute key to a really quick lap is to not let the barriers intimidate you as this is a circuit that rewards precision. Having a good qualifying session and getting the best grid position possible is so important to a successful weekend. Passing is very difficult during the race, so you need to make a good start and do your overtaking off the line where possible.
"The Monaco Grand Prix means a great deal to me as it is one of my three homes races of the year, along with Silverstone and Japan. However, being a resident of Monaco is of no benefit over the race weekend as the Principality is completely transformed! It's unbelievably busy and getting around can be just impossible. My top tip would be to walk everywhere or use a scooter. What I love about Monaco is that it is a fantastic race for the fans who can get so close to the action and noise of Formula One."
Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2007 Qualifying - 9th, 2007 Race - 10th
"The streets of Monaco are tight, twisty, bumpy and unforgiving. You can really feel the speed of the car when the barriers are so close to you, but despite this, Monaco is one of the lowest speed circuits that we will race on and presents a number of unique challenges. Good mechanical grip from the car is a fundamental requirement, coupled with as much downforce as possible. Low-speed handling is crucial as this is usually the slowest circuit on the calendar, although this year Singapore looks to be even slower. We will also be driving without the benefits of traction control for the first time in Monaco which I'm sure will be interesting. The new Bridgestone super soft tyre compound will be used for the first time over a race weekend, following its debut at the test.
"This will be my 16th Monaco Grand Prix so I know the circuit very well by now! Like everyone, Monaco is one of my favourite races and I have been successful here in the past, finishing on the podium four times. I particularly enjoying qualifying at Monaco, it's one of the biggest challenges of the year to get it right and give yourself the best chance in the race. Experience does count around Monaco as the driver and your strategy can make the difference to the outcome of your race, it's not purely about car performance. And of course, on the day, you have to keep the car out of the barriers and bring it safely home."
Ross Brawn, Honda team principal
"The team took part in the three-day test at Paul Ricard in France this week to complete our preparations for Monaco. The first two days of the test programme took place on the short configuration of the Paul Ricard facility which resembles the high downforce and low speed characteristics of the Monaco street circuit. We used the test to evaluate our aerodynamic package for the Monaco weekend with some refinements to the developments that debuted in Spain. Driveability is very important around Monaco, with so many low speed corners where the driver has to have confidence in the set-up of the car to avoid losing time on exit, so we did a lot of work on this. We also ran the new Bridgestone super soft tyre compound and the indications from the test are that this tyre will perform well as the option tyre during the race weekend."
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 7th, 2007 Race - 6th
"I'm a real fan of narrow street circuits like this. Lots of people have tried to describe what it's like driving through these streets that are like canyons in a Formula One car. I've never been able to think of a comparison that really does it justice, so I won't even try. You simply have to experience it for yourself. This is a circuit that's totally unforgiving of even the smallest driving error. If you run out of road, there's nowhere to go except into a crash barrier.
"Monaco goes quite crazy during Grand Prix weekend. The town and the harbour are all packed to bursting point. Of all the GP races, this is definitely the one that has the most to offer spectators. For one thing, there's nowhere else you can get so close to the action. The engine noise is stupendous and the razzmatazz is simply unique. I always enjoy coming to Monaco. That said, I have to admit it's all a bit too frenzied for me in the long run, which is why a few years ago I decided to move to Switzerland."
Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 8th, 2007 Race - 5th
"I am really looking forward to Monaco. I was very strong there in 2007 and I am a big fan of narrow street circuits with barriers right next to the track. Monaco is one of these tight and narrow circuits. There are three or four really nice corners like the swimming pool chicane or the Casino section. The track is quite tricky to understand and it is not easy to find the right set-up of the car in Monaco. Without traction control it will be an even bigger challenge to drive there. We will have to see how our car suits the track. I hope this works at least as well as last year and I expect a good result."
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director
"Monaco is one of the great institutions in Formula One. Like Spa, Monza and Silverstone, it's one of those circuits that have made Formula One what it is today. Monaco is Formula One up close and personal. Nowhere else do spectators get quite so close to the action as in the streets of the Principality. And no other Grand Prix is as famous or as glamorous as this one. The yachts, the parties, the show business - nowhere are they such an integral part of the Formula One experience as here.
"In sporting terms, the important thing in Monaco is driving precision, a good aerodynamics package to add as much downforce as possible, and an engine with good drivability at low revs. On reliability, I'm very satisfied with our record so far. With five races behind us, we've driven the maximum number of race laps possible at this stage in the season - apart from the 11 laps Robert lost in the first Grand Prix in Australia, after his accident with Kazuki Nakajima. We've finished well into the points in all our races so far, and we'll be aiming to repeat that in Monaco."
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber technical director
"In the absence of traction control, Monaco will be a very special challenge this year for both the drivers and the engineers. Traction is all-important at this venue, where accelerating out of so many slow corners puts a really heavy strain on the rear tyres. Only the softest tyre compounds will be used.
"Monaco is also the Formula One race with the lowest average speed, so everyone does all they can to maximise downforce and cooling. Downforce is more important on this circuit than aerodynamic efficiency. And since on this closed-in street circuit even the smallest mistake can catapult you out of the race at a moment's notice, the drivers have to find a set-up that allows them to steer a very precise line between the barriers. In my view, this circuit should suit us well."
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2007 Qualifying - 2nd, 2007 Race - 2nd
Monaco, my favourite race. You have the history all around, you can just feel it, and the atmosphere is fantastic. It is the Grand Prix that every driver wants to win. Being a street circuit it is very exciting to drive, there is no room for any error all weekend. You are on the limit the whole time, there are no long straights where you have a moment to think. It is so tight and narrow, and when you consider how quick you are driving it is unreal. To be quick you need to use every centimetre of the circuit, this even includes touching the barriers at some points.
Unpredictable is the word that sums up Monaco from a performance perspective. It was a great race in Turkey, we know the performance is there, but at Monaco literally anything can happen.
Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
2007 Qualifying - 15th, 2007 Race - 13th
I always enjoy driving at Monaco because it is a very challenging circuit. Some people think because it is not as fast it must be easier, but it is not very forgiving and you have to focus every single moment and be the maximum on each lap, you cant relax anywhere. It also has unique characteristics, such as the sound is very different. It is louder even in the car because of the buildings surrounding the track. All the drivers like it because it is a challenge, and we like our challenges! It is a very special race and it is very difficult to win, that is why everybody is very motivated to do just that.
I want to have a trouble free race and to be able to show the pace we have in the car. It felt really good all weekend in Turkey and we had a good test on the Monaco-simulation track at Paul Ricard. We have certainly improved and hopefully we can capitalise on that at Monaco. Of all the races, Monaco is the most unpredictable Grand Prix, as always I want to be challenging for the win, but with this race who can say!
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren Formula One CEO
The Monaco circuit has previously been quite unique in the Formula One calendar, until this season with the inaugural races on the street circuits of Valencia and Singapore. Monaco is the first race of the season where the circuit characteristics of a tight, twisting course with no genuine straights, lead us to run with the maximum levels of downforce that are achievable, even if in so doing there is a marginal drag penalty. This is the compromise required in order to get the fastest lap possible.
Inevitably it is a glamorous backdrop, it brings motor racing right into the heart of the Principality. It has that glamour, it brings cars close to the people, it reminds people how quick Formula One cars are and how brave the drivers are in a manner that is not always apparent when it is viewed from a distance behind large run off areas. The race itself is fantastic because it is so tight and so noisy, as a result the atmosphere is intense. If you get the opportunity to go up to Casino or another of the high speed parts of the circuit, even for people who have spent many years around Formula One cars, they are incredibly quick, incredibly tight.
"The precision that is needed by drivers, a few centimentres to the left of right at various points and you really are leaving part of the car behind. Another factor that adds to the spectacle is overtaking. There is a common belief that overtaking improves the spectacle, but over the years Monaco produces exciting races because the field is often very close together in a train, usually behind a much slower car. You then have the faster drivers trying to force their way through every overtaking manoeuvre, which entails a degree of risk no matter who you are passing. All these elements together lead to a highly anticipated race meeting.
Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
Monaco is a very special race with a circuit layout that makes it difficult to use the competitive situation seen at other circuits as a basis. For the team, this Grand Prix is always an extraordinary race, not least because we have won five times in the ten years since our first joint victory with McLaren in 1998. This year I expect that at least a handful of teams are capable of achieving top positions. The right strategy, and sometimes also luck during the race, play a more important role at the street circuit in Monaco than at any other race track.