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Monaco preview quotes - Toro Rosso, Marussia, Mercedes & more

20 May 2015

The fabled Monte Carlo streets play host to Formula One racing's sixth Grand Prix of 2015 - a challenge like no other on the calendar, and one that teams and drivers alike relish. Those involved look ahead to what is always a glorious race in Monaco...

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo

"From the driver's point of view - and maybe teams see it differently - the best thing about coming to Monaco is that it's a circuit where the driver has more influence on events. Driving a Formula One car anywhere is special – the speed, the power and the acceleration just blows you away - but here it's like trying to do a lap in a supermarket, and that's just so, so cool. I know there's that quote about racing at Monaco being like riding a bicycle around your bathroom - well when I was a kid I used to love riding my little bike around inside the house. It was more fun, there were more obstacles and a bit more danger. That really is what this is like: You have the walls around the circuit and the bumps on the track that make it a bit more real. The circuit has a lot of character; you can feel that in the car. You can't afford mistakes, your concentration levels rocket and you tend to amaze yourself with how quickly you manage to do everything. Just completing a lap feels like an achievement. There's so much energy surrounding it: the big boats; the big spenders; the cool people, the Hollywoods - it's all there. I wouldn't say I'm massively into that stuff at any other time of the year, but it creates a crazy atmosphere over the weekend here and that really makes the adrenaline rocket."

Daniil Kvyat

"It's a real 'confidence' circuit. You need to be in tune with it. You need to find yourself, find the flow, you need to find the right approach mentally and with the car and then you just have to make it happen. In the beginning it's a big test. To go out and find that confidence is not easy and you always question yourself, asking 'when is it going to happen, when am I going to feel it enough to really go for it'. But at some point in the weekend it just happens, you find the rhythm and the lap time comes. When it works like that, when you get yourself in the right place and you find a good understanding with the track, it's great. I'm not sure there's a special secret about it and there's no one area that holds the key. It's just a really massive lap, the whole thing seems to go by in one breath. It's just as well it's a short lap!"

Lotus

Romain Grosjean

"It's like an unofficial French Grand Prix first of all! It's great to see so much French support every year and there are so many flags and banners. It's a very challenging circuit and unique on the calendar. As a driver you have to stay calm and relaxed on a track that doesn't allow for any mistakes. I've been super quick in the past, but I've also hit the walls too, so there's a real balance to be struck. It's an exciting and glamorous Grand Prix but always a step into the unknown, because it's difficult to predict how well each car will work there. It's a crazy week with all the focus and attention, but everyone loves Monaco. I do like the Casino corner which is quite nice, high-speed with a little bit of banking. The most difficult part would be the next section - Mirabeau, Loews and then the two Portier corners because you have to 'create' some speed there. There's not a dull moment at any time over the course of a lap. When you finish a lap and you know it's quick because you've given everything and thought you were about to go off about three times, it is something special."

Pastor Maldonado

"First of all it's such an historic Grand Prix and an iconic race for Formula 1. I really love it. I've been very quick in the past and I think it is one of the most special weekends of the year. The atmosphere is unique. The track is really challenging and changes a lot over the sessions, which you need to anticipate. It's difficult to be quick close to the walls and overall it's a very tough race, demanding in terms of concentration and stressful physically and mentally. The only negative thing is that it is quite difficult to overtake, but it is not impossible. I really like the Casino and Swimming Pool sections. Every corner in Monaco has its own challenge, and own individual approach needed - that is probably the beauty of the circuit there. It's where I live now so I might be biased, but it's a very special place."

Federico Gastaldi, Lotus deputy team principal

"The Monaco Grand Prix is the real highlight of the calendar. First of all, the street circuit that is Monaco presents a very big challenge for the drivers because of the configuration and the pure nature of the track – it is narrow with next to no run-off areas and then there are all the barriers! Preparations for the race start a day earlier than normal as the first two Free Practice sessions are on the Thursday. Monte Carlo is also a very social event and our agendas are certainly not short of commitments throughout the week. From a business point of view it is also the place where we hold discussions with new prospects and where we have the opportunity to spend time with our existing partners. We are also planning a number of exciting announcements in the run up to the race so watch this space."

Nick Chester, technical director

"Monaco is very different from anywhere else. It is a slow speed track, extremely narrow and very bumpy being a street circuit. It's a real one-off compared to any other track we visit. This means that the car set-up is significantly different also. It's a track where the drivers have to build up through the Thursday sessions as it takes a little bit of time getting back into. The surface evolution is massive and even through the two practice sessions on the Thursday it easily picks up a couple of seconds. The grip is improving very quickly and the drivers have to adapt to that as well as adapting back to a circuit that is so narrow and rough. We will have a high downforce package specifically for Monte Carlo and we will take with us some of the work we've done at the Barcelona test this week - specific set up work focused on Monaco."

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg

“Monaco is my favourite race weekend of the year, both from a driving point of view and because of everything that goes on during the week. Everything about Monaco is exciting: the place itself feels special, but when Formula One turns up it's the start of something amazing.

“From a driver's point of view, Monaco is one of the last tracks in the world where you have absolutely zero margin for error - one mistake and you are in the wall. The thrill and kick you get in the car as you drive around the circuit is much bigger than what you get from any other track: your heart rate goes up; your heart is in your mouth – I really like that. The whole lap is a challenge. To master the track and put together three good sectors on a qualifying run is very hard, but when you get it done it is such a great feeling. You are relieved, proud and happy - it's priceless.

“The atmosphere you breathe in during the race weekend is so cool. From the start of the week there is a lot going on in terms of parties and events, and just being part of this weekend is very enjoyable.”

Sergio Perez

“I always look forward to Monaco. It’s a special place, which has everything you need for a Formula One race. The lap is amazing, the location is beautiful, and it’s the race everybody wants to attend.

“I enjoy the challenge of Monaco and I believe that the driver can make more of a difference compared to other circuits. To be quick you have to take some risks, push the limits, and kiss the walls. I enjoy the quick parts of the lap - the swimming pool section and Casino Square. It’s all about being accurate and precise.

“It’s not the most difficult circuit, but if you get it wrong, you get punished. When you get together the perfect lap, it feels great. That’s why I think it’s the one race where there is a chance to do something extra special.”

Dr Vijay Mallya, Team Principal

“The Monaco Grand Prix is the event of the season. It’s a spectacular venue full of glamour, prestige and history. Everybody wants to be there and getting a good result in Monaco always feels extra special.

“Although we struggled for outright pace in Barcelona, the unpredictable nature of Monaco could help us spring a surprise. It’s a track where we’ve been successful in the past [fifth places in 2013 and 2014] and I believe we can do something special again this year. The softer tyre compounds suit the VJM08 and we have two drivers who adore racing in Monaco. We must also be ready to make opportunistic strategy calls from the pit wall.”

“Before the Spanish Grand Prix I said the priority was to keep in touch with the midfield teams until we bring more performance to the car. It’s encouraging to see that we are just eight points away from fifth place in the standings and hopefully we can add more points to our tally this weekend. One area we need to improve is our qualifying speed so that we can take advantage of our race pace, which has been much more competitive.”

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

“Monaco is one of those races that everyone looks forward to: there are very few words that can adequately describe the spectacle. We’re bringing our brand new supersoft tyre for the first time this year, together with the soft, as has been the case since we started our current Formula One era in 2011. Monaco has often been described as a circuit where overtaking is impossible, but we have seen in the past there how tyre strategy and degradation has often led to positions changing, including on-track overtaking. In particular, the way that drivers use the new supersoft tyre, with is notable performance advantage, will be crucial. There are a number of unusual aspects to Monaco, including the timing of the sessions themselves, which only add to the famed unpredictability of this race and inevitable comparisons with the roulette wheel. But as is always the case, the right preparation and collection of tyre data during practice will put any driver in a strong position to maximise their potential in the race as well as the crucial qualifying session.”

McLaren

Fernando Alonso

“Monaco is one of those circuits that’s in its own league. Although it’s almost impossible to overtake there, it still produces one of the most impressive and exciting shows on the Formula 1 calendar. As a circuit and as a place, it’s completely unique, and this is what makes it so special. There are three areas you have to focus on for this grand prix - qualifying, concentration, and strategy. Saturday is where you can increase your chances of getting a good result from the weekend, so this will be our first objective, and I’m hopeful we can continue to strengthen our qualifying performance and improve our starting position.

“On Sunday, the most important thing is concentration - the streets are so narrow and twisty that there is no margin for error - so if you can do this and also maximise your strategy, you have the best chance of moving up the order by the end of the race. My home race in Barcelona was obviously a frustrating weekend for the whole team; we were unlucky with how my race ended and we firmly believed we could’ve achieved a positive result there. Our fighting spirit is still strong though, and we’re determined to take that to Monaco and see how much progress we can make there. I’m hopeful our car will perform better there than in Spain, and we’ll be pushing again to get into the points.

“Monaco is a tough challenge, mentally, but that’s what makes it even more rewarding when you hook up a perfect lap. I’ve always enjoyed racing there and I’ve enjoyed victory there twice - in 2006 with Renault, and the year after with McLaren. Winning there is an unforgettable experience. It’s also a truly unforgiving circuit, so making mistakes comes at a high price. But Monaco is Monaco, one of the best races of the year, and the reason that the drivers love going back there each season.”

Jenson Button

“It’s true what they say - Monaco is the jewel in the crown of the Formula 1 calendar in every sense. It’s a real test of man and machine working in harmony to hook up the best lap, and maintain that consistency lap after lap. It’s very easy to make mistakes there, and you need complete confidence in the car and incredible control and accuracy to get the most out of a lap. Qualifying is so important because overtaking is famously tricky; we’ve been steadily improving our starting positions since the beginning of the season, so I’m hopeful we’ll see further progress on Saturday.

“Monaco is a low-speed circuit that doesn’t rely that much on aerodynamic performance, but you do need good balance and driveability. I’m hopeful we can sort out the balance issues we had on my car in the last race, so Monaco should see an improvement. After a disappointing race in Barcelona, naturally it’s easy to be frustrated when you step out of the car, especially when you feel you deserved more. I firmly believe that we’re making solid progress, which is why having a difficult race is hard to take. However, we’ve put that race behind us and I think we’ve a decent chance of continuing our upward trend in Monaco.

“I love Monaco; I won there in 2009 and the feeling you get driving there is absolutely mega. While nothing beats the feeling of racing at your home Grand Prix, Monaco has become an adopted home race for me, so driving around these famous streets so close to where I live makes it even more special. Racing at Monaco is an incredible challenge - being precise on turn-in, hitting the apex and balancing the throttle, while being as patient as possible to get the best exit, is a real art. The flow of corners in the middle sector - from Mirabeau, into the Hairpin and on to Portier - is particularly tricky, as it’s so easy to go a foot off the racing line and end up in the wall. Monaco always produces great drama, which just adds to its legendary status as one of the best Grands Prix on the calendar.”

Eric Boullier, Racing director

“After the disappointment of Barcelona, the whole team is looking forward to Monaco, to put the last race behind us and keep working on improving our package. Barcelona is a gruelling track for a Formula 1 car, so our relative performance was encouraging until we discovered the problem with Fernando’s brake overheating. We were certainly unlucky, but we’re still able to take with us some positives and focus our attention on our next challenge - Monaco. It’s a tough, demanding street circuit that requires teams to take a totally different approach, but that’s what makes it even more special.

“The nature of Monaco’s narrow streets means there’s less focus on outright power and more on driveability and balance. On this circuit there are even more factors at play than elsewhere - traffic, Safety Cars, unusual strategies - so our first target is to maximise our performance on Saturday. Qualifying positions can often dictate the outcome of a race there as overtaking is so difficult, so it’s important we focus our efforts there first and foremost.

“The Monaco circuit evokes so many good memories for McLaren: 15 wins, 11 poles and 10 fastest laps. It’s a special place for us in every sense. The combination of legendary corners - Tabac, Rascasse, Casino Square, the Swimming Pool, and of course the Tunnel - and the unique challenge it presents, makes it the circuit every team wants to win at. We’ll approach the weekend in the same way we always do, with maximum effort and determination to progress.”

Yasuhisa Arai, Honda R&D senior managing officer - chief officer of motorsport

"Monaco has multiple low- to mid-speed turns, braking and acceleration, with a unique street circuit layout. The fine line between success and failure on this track will be the driveability of the car.

“Honda will do our utmost to fine-tune the driveability of the power unit to match each turn during all 78 laps of the race, the highest numbers of laps of the season.”

Sauber

Marcus Ericsson

“The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the highlights of the season. This street track is a kind of unique place, as it is quite different to other circuits on our calendar. If you are feeling confident in the car you can extract the most out of your skills and the car’s perfomance. It will be crucial, especially for the race, to find a good rhythm from corner to corner and from lap to lap. In previous racing series I have had some strong races in Monaco, so I am looking forward to a positive weekend.“

Felipe Nasr

“Monaco is one of the nicest tracks on the calendar, and at the same time the Grand Prix is a very traditional one. It is a track that is very demanding in all areas. From the driver’s side, you need to feel confident in the car to push it to the limit. There are a few things which are important for a good lap time: Good braking stability, traction, as well a generally stable car. Over the days we also need to keep an eye on the grip evolution. All in all I am looking forward to racing in Monaco surrounded by a great atmosphere.”

Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering

“The race in the narrow streets of Monte Carlo divides opinion as some love it and some don't, yet everyone finds it fascinating and challenging. It is a real challenge for the drivers, who need to be handed a very precise, stable and smooth car. In order to be fast they’re forced to drive it millimeters away from the barriers. Overtaking is almost impossible, therefore, a good grid position significantly boosts the chances for the race. It is also a challenge for the engineers, who have to deal with issues they seldom encounter, and to the mechanics and support crew, who are forced to work in untypical conditions regarding logistics. It’s less of a challenge to the tyre supplier given that the tarmac is not abrasive, so Pirelli has allocated the appropriate soft and supersoft compounds. The closeness of the fans and the atmosphere around the harbour make it a highlight of the season.”

Williams

Valtteri Bottas

“As a Monaco resident I see the track being built and the grandstands going up in the weeks ahead of the race and the anticipation starts to build. Witnessing the whole build up and then the roads forming into iconic racing corners is a very strange but cool experience. It’s not the easiest race on the calendar but that challenge makes it a thrilling circuit to drive - for me it’s the most special race of the year. The first year I drove here I found it challenging so it’s nice to go into the race with some experience under my belt already.

Felipe Massa

“With the Monaco Grand Prix I get to see the whole process of how a Formula One race comes together way before the fans get there, which is something I would never normally witness. It’s a one off race, especially as I can walk to the track in the morning from home. It’s a long, special but important race and I hope we can have a strong weekend. Although I prefer longer faster circuits like Spa and Monza, nothing can take away from the thrill of the streets of Monaco. Your first thought is to qualifying well, and from there to make sure that you finish the race. If you do that then you are in with a chance of getting some really good points.”

Rob Smedley, Head of vehicle performance

“We have come out of the Spanish Grand Prix in a positive position and continue the European leg of the season with a lot of optimism. In Barcelona we were quick in the parts of the track that are akin to Monaco, so are hoping for a decent weekend. It’ so important to get the drivers in the car and running at a track like Monaco because rhythm is important, so Thursday practice will be important. The track isn’t the best suited to our car’s core characteristics, but from what we saw in terms of balance in Spain we are optimistic."

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton

“I didn’t have the best weekend in Barcelona, so to come away with second was okay in terms of damage limitation and it meant another great result for the team with the one-two. I’m now fully focused on Monaco - the race that everybody looks forward to and one I particularly love. It’s the biggest challenge of the year for a driver and, when you get it right, that feeling is hard to beat. Building a rhythm right from the beginning of practice is so important, as you really need to feel your way into the circuit. You have to be inch perfect at every point, as the slightest slip can ruin your weekend. It’s about pure driving skill and pure bravery behind the wheel, which for me is what makes it so special. Like Spain, it’s another circuit where I haven’t had the best of luck in the past - but I’m not interested in what’s been and gone or in making any predictions. I’m just here to get in this fantastic car we have, race it hard and give it everything I’ve got, like always.”

Nico Rosberg

“We had a perfect weekend in Spain and, for me personally, it was good to close the gap a little in the points. There’s still a long way to go this season so it’s all there to fight for, I’m just taking it race by race. Next we have Monaco – the most legendary, exciting and challenging event in the calendar. Throughout the whole weekend, the atmosphere is very, very special. It’s a home race for me and it’s strange to just walk or take a scooter to the racetrack - but also very cool to sleep in your own bed each night! The circuit itself has very unique setup characteristics and we evaluated a few of those during the test in Barcelona, as the last sector there has a lot of tight corners which are quite representative. The car felt very good so I'm feeling optimistic and ready for this next race. If we can have everything running smoothly from the start it should be a good weekend, so I'm really looking forward to it.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

“Barcelona was a great weekend and the drivers did a perfect job in the race. We saw the advantage swing between them last year and I think we will see more of that in 2015. They are mentally tough, resilient and hate to lose - they push each other all the time to lift their performance and that lifts the performance of the whole team. We saw in Spain that our car had a good advantage in the tight third sector, so we head to Monaco with some optimism. But there is no point talking about any gap to the opposition. You have to earn every advantage and it can turn around very quickly if you’re not on top of your game - especially in Monaco. It’s a challenging weekend for the team, the drivers and the car - and, of course, the best showcase for the sport of Formula One. To be quick on Sunday, you need a smooth weekend with lots of track time, so the drivers can get dialled into the track and really attack the limits. We will need to be at our best if we want to maintain our good form.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“Monaco is a unique event. It’s a long weekend, with running beginning on the Thursday and no running on Friday. The race itself is one which frequently nudges the two hour limit, despite being the shortest of the season distance-wise at 260km as opposed to the standard 300km. The tight and twisting nature of the circuit makes it comparatively slow in terms of absolute speed. For the drivers, however, it’s anything but slow – with no real point at which they can relax their attention as they constantly trying to avoid the next barrier whilst making regular adjustments on the steering wheel and pushing the car as hard as possible. It’s highly demanding on the car, too, with a lot of gear changes and a bumpy surface to contend with. We’ll also see the supersoft compound for the first time this season - although even that will be a challenge in terms of getting temperature into the tyre. We’ve had a good car at Monaco in the past two seasons and this year’s model remains strong in low-speed corners. It’s a real driver’s circuit and we should be set for an exciting intra-team battle throughout the weekend. Overtaking is extremely difficult, so nailing a good lap in qualifying will be crucial.”

Marussia

Will Stevens

"I'm so excited to be racing in my first Monaco Grand Prix this weekend. It's such a historic venue and the atmosphere is spectacular. From a racing point of view it's a real drivers' circuit, one which really showcases ability versus car performance. Precision is key as the smallest mistake can end up costing a driver dearly, but that's all part of the unique challenge and I can't wait to get started on Thursday. It will be an emotional weekend for the team as we remember Jules' amazing achievement here last year. I was only watching then, but that was some race! We'll all be pushing to ensure another strong performance and a two-car finish."

Roberto Merhi

"I can't wait to be racing in Monaco. For sure, this is one of the highlights of the season for any driver. The track is a real adventure in any category but I'm thrilled to be racing here in F1 for the first time and on the 65th anniversary of such an historic circuit. The streets of Monaco are really exhilarating to drive, like Casino Square and the Swimming Pool section and it's a really amazing vibe all weekend. This is a special place for the team, so I hope we can have a good performance in the race for everybody."

John Booth, Marussia team principal

"It is always a fantastic feeling to be racing in Monaco. It's a very special occasion for the whole sport, but for our team it carries an even greater significance as the scene of so much jubilation 12 months ago when Jules delivered our first constructors' championship points. That was an incredible, unforgettable day and it is very important to everyone in the team that we honour what Jules achieved for us. It's a big part of the reason we are back racing today. Consequently, despite our obvious sadness, this weekend we will remember and celebrate what was a very important milestone in the team's history and what was, above all, a mighty race performance from Jules."

Toro Rosso

Carlos Sainz

"Monaco is definitely one of the highlights of the racing year for any driver. It's a special sort of track where you always want to show that you are fast, because it's a very challenging circuit where the driver can make the difference. I've had some very positive results there in the past in the World Series and it's a track I like a lot. However, this will be my first time driving there in a Formula 1 car and I imagine it will feel very different to what I've experienced there before. It will all be about the qualifying session, which in some ways is the most important moment of the race weekend. So you really need to find the right balance with the car during free practice and then put together a good lap. I'm looking forward to Saturday very much therefore, because I can imagine that getting a good lap in qualifying must feel like something really special."

Max Verstappen

"A street circuit is always special. I've never driven at this track before but I have driven at Macau, which I reckon is a very challenging street circuit. I enjoyed the experience there and so I'm looking forward to Monaco. It will need a different approach and you can't just attack it in the first free practice session, you need to build up to it gradually. The important thing is to do as many laps as possible. I've driven it on the simulator and what strikes you is that it is quite slow. Even if engine power will be less important here, you do need the best possible driveability to come from the engine. I expect the lap times between the teams to be much closer than in some other races. In the end, set-up changes won't make the biggest difference. It's more a case of what you as a driver can get out of yourself. In Monaco, I think it will be more likely to get an extra 2 tenths out of yourself than from something you do to the car."