Monaco Grand Prix - team and driver preview quotes 15 May 2009
If its status as one of the jewels in the Formula One calendar wasnt enough of a draw for the drivers, then the Monaco Grand Prix also boasts one of the most demanding circuit layouts theyll experience over the course the 2009 season. It's no wonder then that they, and their teams, cant wait to get started at Monte Carlo on Thursday
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2008 Qualifying - 2nd, 2008 Race - 9th
Its always a very special week, the one of the Monaco Grand Prix. Its a unique track where qualifying is more important than on the other tracks and we have to try to implement it in the best possible way, learning from the lesson we were taught recently.
Ive never been very lucky during the two Monaco weekends as a Ferrarista, but I really hope that I can end this streak of bad luck. The F60 improved a lot at Barcelona and now a place on the podium is no longer a mirage. It will be very important to see how things go during the free practice session to see if we made up some ground also on this track, like it happened in Spain. Last year we were able to place both cars in the first row and it would be a dream to repeat that. Well use the KERS also at Monaco: it might not have the same advantage as on other tracks, but anyway theres a performance improvement.
Im expecting faster lap times than in the past. In theory this years rules slowed the cars down in the fast corners, but due to the slicks were faster in the slow ones. To be ahead in this race you have to be absolutely perfect. We drivers know that you cant loose your concentration not even for a second: the blink of an eye is enough and you end up in the wall. You need a 100 percent driver and a 100 percent car for the whole 78 laps if you want to win: thats the only way to be successful.
Jenson Button, Brawn GP
2008 Qualifying - 11th, 2008 Race - 11th
The Monaco Grand Prix is always a very special race weekend, and as a resident of the principality, it will be my first home race of the season with the British Grand Prix at Silverstone following next month. To go to Monaco with the lead in both the drivers' and constructors' championships is fantastic but we saw in Barcelona that the performance margins at the front are extremely close. There will be a lot of competitive cars fighting it out this weekend. My usual driving style is very smooth but I will have to change that a little bit to get the best out of the car here. You have to be aggressive around Monaco and not let the barriers intimidate you whilst obviously paying them due respect. Every time you take to the track, it's a non-stop challenge which requires you to maintain absolute focus, concentration and precision. I think we will see a very exciting qualifying session on Saturday as grid position is so significant in Monaco. It's almost impossible to overtake once the race is underway so being at the front and getting a good start will be important for a successful weekend."
Rubens Barrichello, Brawn GP
2008 Qualifying - 14th, 2008 Race - 6th
"Driving a Formula One car around Monaco is a fantastic challenge. This will be my 17th Monaco Grand Prix but the weekend has lost none of its appeal and is always one of my favourite races on the calendar. Experience counts around Monaco and it's going to be a fascinating weekend with the competition so close at the front of the field. Qualifying is one of the biggest challenges of the year here and it is so important to get it right to give yourself the best chance in the race. The unique nature of Monaco presents a number of technical challenges. The streets are tight and twisty although not as bumpy as you might expect following resurfacing work in recent years. We will run with as much downforce as possible on the car and good mechanical grip and low-speed handling is crucial. And then of course there are the barriers which line the majority of the Monte Carlo streets for the race weekend. You can really feel the speed of the car when the barriers are so close but Monaco is actually one of the lowest speed circuits that we race on."
Ross Brawn, Brawn GP team principal
Monaco is a unique and unpredictable venue and you have to take a very controlled approach to the race weekend. The pit lane and paddock is an intense environment to work in due to the location at the heart of the city and it is therefore more stressful than any other race on the calendar. You can make just one mistake in Monaco and your race weekend will be compromised. However we love that level of extra challenge and it is what makes Formula One and Monaco so special. Our car works very well with low-speed corners and we have a fantastic engine from Mercedes-Benz which has a lot of power and excellent drivability which is important around the twisty street circuit. The BGP 001 car is very good mechanically which you need to take advantage of the slow speed nature of the track. Monaco is a real drivers' circuit where their performance can make all the difference. Jenson and Rubens are both precise and consistent drivers and we will give them as much practice time out on track as possible to get into the rhythm of the lap. Your aim in Monaco is always to secure pole or as close to the front row as possible in qualifying and take it from there. Neither Jenson or Rubens has won the Monaco Grand Prix, although both have stood on the podium, so I'm sure they will be determined to make the most of the weekend."
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development
Finding grip will be the main challenge on the streets of Monte Carlo. This is a very interesting circuit, and one where the track is made of many different types of surface as well as there being public road markings on the track. Also notable is that F1 does not run on Friday, so the track conditions can change quite a lot between Thursday and Saturday. When there is no racing taking place, public vehicles and also people use the track. This makes it difficult for rubber to build up and the surface can become dirty again, which does not help the track surface develop well for racing. The new intermediate tyre gives more grip through having a softer compound than the old one, but driving the latest specification F1 cars in the wet will always be a challenge, no matter what tyres are used. The latest cars have less downforce so less aerodynamic grip than before, and this is true in wet or dry conditions. In the dry, less downforce is not as much of a problem as the slick tyres have more grip than the previous grooved tyres, so there is more mechanical grip to counter the loss of aerodynamic grip. In the wet, even with our new intermediate tyres, there is only slightly more grip than before. In the wet we still need the drainage channels in the tread to prevent aquaplaning, so the only grip improvement must come from new compound developments."
Kazuki Nakajima, Williams
2008 Qualifying - 13th, 2008 Race - 7th
Monte Carlo is an iconic destination for Formula One. The atmosphere is completely different to anywhere else we go and that cant fail to make it a more exciting weekend than usual. I know I should be more excited about Monaco, but it really is just another destination for me. The glitz and glamour is all a bit too much for me to really enjoy myself there so Ill be keeping my usual routine of working hard at the track during the day and then having quiet evenings at the hotel, probably some training and treatment followed by a quick supper and an early night. hope we have a good car in Monaco, we normally do, and I need a better race this weekend. Although its not my favourite track to drive, I went well in Monaco last year going from 14th to seventh in my debut race to get two points for the team. With the new regulations this season, I think it will be quite a different experience in Monaco this year and the new slick tyres will really help with the grip levels. I just hope the race will be incident-free for me.
Nico Rosberg, Williams
2008 Qualifying - 6th, 2008 Race - DNF
Monaco is my home town so all my friends and family will be there supporting me which will be great. Living within 100 metres of the track also makes life so much easier over the weekend as well. Monaco should be a good race for us. Our car has traditionally gone really well there in the past few years and I believe it will be strong again this year. As we havent managed to get the results that our car deserves yet it would be great for everyone in the team if we came away with something positive from the weekend. To me, Monaco is my home so Im used to it but it is a completely different place when Formula One is in town. Normally its quite quiet, just like anywhere really, but the Grand Prix weekend brings a different atmosphere to the place and thats really special to be a part of.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India
2008 Qualifying - 20th, 2008 Race - DNF
For me, Monaco is 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! It has given me some good results and good memories as well. Last year I celebrated my 200th race start, I've been on the podium twice in 1998 and 2000 and 2007 was particularly good as I came home 4th when no one was expecting it. Realistically this year points are going to be difficult particularly if it's dry and overtaking is even more difficult. But getting a good result is my target. We have an upgraded aero package that will for sure help us, but the whole race is a lottery so you've got to be lucky too.
Adrian Sutil, Force India
2008 Qualifying - 18th, 2008 Race - DNF
It's always nice to go back to Monaco, because it's one of my favourite circuits, I like the atmosphere and the whole weekend. It's very special, and it's a nice circuit with good memories for me. Two years ago I was quickest in wet practice and we went even better last year, again in very tricky conditions with rain and a drying circuit. I've had two good years in a row, and hopefully I'll have maybe another one now. But it's always up to the conditions to a certain extent. I just like the circuit layout and since F3 times I've been fast there. It's very narrow, you have to risk quite a lot to be fast, and you have to go very close to the wall all the time. And you have to know the circuit, the different cambers and the tricky areas where you have to be really precise. You can go there and make an impression with a slower car as the driver can have more input, so your motivation is right up. Maybe that's why everything comes together!
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and team principal
I think glamour and sport go hand in hand and it's no more obvious than in Monaco. We still 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. We will be hosting two parties again, as brand awareness is even more important in these days of economic downturn. The days of unlimited budgets are of course gone, and clearly one has to watch that the end justifies the means, but we still believe that these events give 'bang for buck' and are an integral part of why we are involved in F1 as a project.
As Monaco is such a high downforce circuit we'll run a modified front and rear wing, although how much we can introduce is obviously limited by the regulations. I have been very pleased we have been able to get so many major upgrades through so early in the season; that is just one advantage to being a smaller team - we can be more dynamic and adapt to regulations more quickly.
Fernando Alonso, Renault
2008 Qualifying - 7th, 2008 Race - 10th
Monaco is one of my favourite races of the year and I have happy memories from winning there in 2006 and 2007. It's definitely the race that all the drivers want to win. The first lap of free practice on Thursday is always a great feeling and you have to readjust and get used to racing on such narrow streets with the barriers all around you. Overtaking is difficult and it's a mentally demanding race as there's not a moment to relax. But above all, Monaco is about the show for the fans and spectators who can get really close to the cars. The most important thing is to qualify as near to the front of the grid as possible because doing well in Monaco is all about having track position. We therefore need to make sure we find clear space on the track in qualifying so we don't get caught out by the traffic. All the teams bring new packages to Monaco as the track is so unusual and we will use a special set-up to cope with the bumps and tight corners. In terms of a result, I think we can realistically hope to qualify in the top ten and aim for points in the race.
Nelson Piquet, Renault
2008 Qualifying - 17th, 2008 Race - DNF
Monaco is probably the most famous race in the world and so it feels special to drive there. There's a great atmosphere for the whole week in the lead up to the race and it's one of the races were the fans can really get close to the team. I used to live in Monaco when I was a kid and racing there as a Formula One driver is something I always dreamed about so it's pretty cool. Overtaking is almost impossible at Monaco so it's important that we can qualify near the front, hopefully in the top ten, and make the strategy work. The streets are narrow and the walls so close that you really cannot afford to lose concentration for a second or make the slightest mistake. It's normally an eventful race and so we need to be ready to take advantage of any situation that comes our way.
Bob Bell, Renault technical director
We have some minor updates because Monaco always needs a slightly different package, for example it requires the most steering lock of any track we visit. It won't be as big a step as we made in Barcelona, but we are still hopeful of adding some performance to the car to keep closing the gap to the leaders. It's a very challenging weekend because there is never much space and the facilities are limited. But it's a fabulous track; everybody enjoys it and there's always a great atmosphere. It's an interesting and demanding circuit where it's very easy to make a mistake and experience counts for a lot. Because there is no margin for error, we often see safety cars during the race and so we need to be ready to react quickly and make the most of any opportunities.
Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2008 Qualifying - 8th, 2008 Race - 13th
"Monaco is one of my favourite tracks in Formula One; it is so challenging and the driver can really make a difference so this suits me well. It is always special to go to Monaco because the atmosphere is different to any other race and the circuit is unique. I know it's slow in terms of average speed but when you are driving it feels really fast as the barriers are so close. This means you have to be completely concentrated otherwise a small mistake can put you in the wall. I love the challenge of Monaco and I am usually really strong there, even if sometimes I've had a bit of bad luck and not had the results I deserved. Our car has been competitive all year but you can't compare Monaco to other circuits so you can never be sure what to expect. Obviously the race in Spain was one to forget but anyway I prefer to look forwards not back so I'm ready to fight hard again this weekend. I'm hoping for a strong result."
Timo Glock, Toyota
2008 Qualifying - 10th, 2008 Race - 12th
"Last year Monaco was a tricky race for us because of the changing weather but in general I really enjoy racing at street circuits, and this one in particular. I've had some strong performances in GP2 at Monaco and I know you have to be completely focused because it is so easy to make a mistake and ruin your race. It will be important to qualify well, as it always is in Monaco, because it's virtually impossible to overtake in the race unless the guy in front of you has a problem. Unfortunately the Spanish Grand Prix didn't go according to plan due to the problems on the first lap and it was very frustrating to miss the points for the first time this season. It will be interesting to experience how this season's car feels around Monaco because we have less downforce but more grip from the slick tyres. Generally our car has felt pretty good this season so there's no reason why we can't be competitive in Monaco."
Pascal Vasselon, Toyota senior general manager chassis
"This year's Monaco Grand Prix is quite unusual because we don't have a fully dedicated aerodynamic package for this race, unlike previous seasons. In the past we have made major changes to the wings as well as adding flaps and winglets where possible to generate extra downforce. But this year things are a little bit different because the regulations have restricted what we can do to generate downforce, meaning we have quite a bit less this season. Therefore we have been chasing downforce at almost all tracks so Monaco is no longer unique in requiring us to do this. We will bring a few updates, as we aim to do at most races. We know the TF109 is fundamentally a very competitive car so we are looking forward to a strong weekend."
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2008 Qualifying - 3rd, 2008 Race - 1st
Monaco is my favourite circuit. The sensation you get from racing up the hill at 175mph, trying to make as straight a line as possible between the barriers while just shaving them with the walls of the tyres is unbelievable - the best sensation you could ever have in a Formula One car. Theres an expectation that Monaco will be another good circuit for our car package because the combination of low-speed corners and absence of any really fast stuff should suit MP4-24. I really hope so because it would be fantastic to have a competitive car and to be fighting at the front again.
Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
2008 Qualifying - 4th, 2008 Race - 8th
I really enjoy driving on street circuits and Im optimistic that weve got a good package for Monaco. Although the results dont show it, because I was forced to start from the pit lane, I had a very strong race here last year and charged up from the back to finish eighth. Hopefully, Ill have an easier race this year! We will be using KERS in Monaco and one of the questions will be whether well actually be able to use it to get past other cars - as usual, KERS will be a benefit for us, but anything can happen in Monte Carlo. Coming off the back of a disappointing race in Spain last week, Im more determined than ever to get a strong result under my belt.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Everybody at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is rightfully proud of the teams reputation around the streets of Monte Carlo. We have won the grand prix for the past two seasons and McLaren has triumphed here an unprecedented 15 times - more than any other Formula One team. As a result, we go into the race with a greater degree of optimism than we had going into Barcelona: both Lewis and Heikki enjoy this circuit and we feel MP4-24 will be a more competitive proposition around the streets of the principality.
Norbert Haug, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President
The Monaco Grand Prix is certainly the most classic race on the calendar of the Formula One World Championship and the one that gets the broadest audience worldwide. Monaco is thrilling each and every year and everybody involved in Formula 1 has to be proud that this prestigious event is part of our campaign. Our track record in the principality looks good - since our first victory in 1998, we have won there on six of 11 occasions, an achievement which makes this circuit obviously one of our favourites. Our results have not been strong lately so we all will be very focused in Monaco in order to create an upwards trend.
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2008 Qualifying - 12th, 2008 Race - 14th
Monaco is one of the highlights of the season. It's crazy that the venue least suited to Formula One is also the most popular. The tight and twisty street circuit is brilliant. Only Macau is comparable, but we don't drive there in Formula One. There may be a bit less hype nowadays, but the Formula One weekend in Monte Carlo is still something special. It's all about Formula One and parties. There are a lot of famous people around, the harbour is packed with yachts, the sound of the F1 engines reverberates across the principality, and the track is jammed with crowds of people through the evening. In Monaco the spectators get closer to the action than at any other venue. For me, every time I come here it's a wonderful sight. On a few occasions already this season, the new, larger front wings have proved to be a bit awkward in the tight confines at the start of races. It's extremely tight through the first corner in Monte Carlo, so there's a big risk of knocking your front wing off against another car."
Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2008 Qualifying - 5th, 2008 Race - 2nd
"I'm a big fan of street circuits, so I'm looking forward to the race in Monaco. I always have a really good feeling going into the weekend here and enjoy driving between the barriers and walls. There is no margin for error, which makes things particularly interesting. Of course, you can't tell in advance how the 2009-spec cars will feel there with the new aerodynamics and slick tyres. We'll find out more on Thursday."
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director
"We are currently experiencing an extremely demanding period for Formula One - both as a team on the race track and behind the scenes. In both cases, the important thing is to keep a cool head. We lined up at the Spanish Grand Prix with a far-reaching aerodynamic package. That was the result of some extremely hard work, but represents just the first step on a long road. We scored two points, which was extremely positive following the low-point we reached in Bahrain but clearly does not meet our aims. We will step up our pace of development. Monaco presents very specific challenges, as we all know, and the next performance package for the race in Istanbul is already being prepared.
"Monaco is one of the mainstays of Formula One and one of the circuits, alongside the Nurburgring, Spa, Monza and Silverstone, which has made the sport great. Monaco is Formula One up close and personal. Only street circuits like the one in the principality can bring the spectators so near to the action. This is the most famous and glamorous grand prix of the year. The yachts, the parties, the show business - nowhere are they such an integral part of the Formula One experience as in Monaco.
"In sporting terms, the important thing in Monaco is driving precision, mechanical grip and an engine with good drivability at low revs. Monaco has the lowest average speed of any grand prix. High levels of downforce are more important here than low drag, and the cars' aerodynamics are therefore adjusted to generate maximum downforce. There are no long straights at this circuit, but it does have a lot of slow corners and the tyres are subjected to exceptionally high loads under acceleration out of these corners. Monaco is also a test of endurance for the brakes. The speeds the cars reach may not be very high, but that means there is also a lack of cooling airflow."
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering
Monaco has the lowest average speed of any circuit on the calendar, so we run maximum downforce on the cars. In the past, this meant that the teams often produced aerodynamic configurations which you didn't see anywhere else - with small and also larger auxiliary wings sprouting out of the cars. That's now a thing of the past, though, as the 2009 regulations no longer permit these kinds of modifications. As a result, the cars will run a similar amount of downforce to last weekend in Barcelona.
"The large number of tight corners in Monaco places a particular emphasis on grip, and we have prepared a specially optimised spring and damper set-up in response to this. The circuit is open to public traffic between practice sessions, which represents a particular challenge with the negative impact on grip levels. This means that the conditions - and therefore lap times - improve significantly in a short space of time as more rubber is laid down during the course of each practice session. The car's steering lock is adjusted to the demands of the circuit; after all, Monaco has the tightest corner of any Formula One venue."