With a great sense of timing the F1 world, torn apart by rows over how much the teams should be allowed to spend, heads to round six at Monaco – where conspicuous consumption is a way of life.
Whatever F1 does to itself, the Monaco Grand Prix will hopefully always remain one of its great races. On a calendar of increasingly bland and interchangeable circuits, Monaco is narrow, slow, glamorous, dangerous and – best of all – unique.
Heading into the weekend one of the main questions is whether anyone can disrupt Jenson Button’s growing advantage in the drivers’ championship. Their best chance of doing that is by getting ahead in qualifying.
The qualifying trap
Monaco can turn the slightest mistake into a race-loser. (Very occasionally, as we saw last year, it can also do the exact opposite). To begin with the drivers will be desperate to avoid the Q1 trap, and find themselves stuck on the rearmost rows of the grid.
That trap has worked very well this year, claiming some big names:
Malaysia – Felipe Massa, Ferrari
China – Robert Kubica, BMW
Bahrain – Mark Webber, Red Bull
Spain – Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari and Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
Will we see another big name have their race ruined early on Saturday?
Red Bull’s diffuser
More and more teams are adding their versions of the ‘double diffuser’ to their cars. Red Bull had set a target of the Monaco Grand OPrix as being the earliest time they could get one on their RB5.
The complication for the team and designer Adrian Newey is that the unusual pull-rod suspension configuration of the RB5 gives them little room to exploit the thinking behind the double diffuser.
It’s tempting to think that simply bolting the double diffuser design onto Newey’s already highly effective car will turn it into a Brawn-beater overnight. But it’s not likely to be quite as simple as that.
Tyres and KERS
At the Circuit de Catalunya Ferrari and McLaren were the only teams left still using KERS. Monte-Carlo’s longest flat-out section is just 510m – the shortest on the calendar – and as a result the maximum speed reached is 286kph (177mph), lower than at any other track. (Read more: 2009 F1 tracks compared)
KERS doesn’t even look likely to offer much of an advantage at the start here. The run down to Ste Devote is short and narrow, offering little opportunity for overtaking.
Unless KERS can give drivers enough of a boost to make overtaking possible into the harbour chicane, it’s hard to see why anyone would use it this weekend.
Monaco is also unusual in that it is the first event this year where Bridgestone are bringing two compounds of tyres that are adjacent to each other on their scale of hardness – the soft and super-soft tyre. The teams are likely to favour the super-soft, and once again preserving as many sets of those as possible through qualifying for the race will be crucial.
Drivers to watch
Sebastian Vettel – One way or another, he must finish ahead of Jenson Button.
Rubens Barrichello – One way or another, he must finish ahead of Jenson Button. A third consecutive strategy blunder would look decidedly dubious.
Lewis Hamilton – Has raced five times at Monaco, scoring four wins (1x F1, 1x GP2, 2x F3) and a second (F1). Can he drag the MP4-24 onto the podium (legitimately) here this year?
Jarno Trulli – Qualifying specialist with an affinity for Monte-Carlo – could add up to Toyota’s best chance to win a Grand Prix so far.
Read more: Championship standings after the Spanish Grand Prix
75 comments on “Unique Monaco offers opportunities for Brawn’s rivals (Monaco GP preview)”
18th May 2009, 7:32
GO RBR!! I hope Webber gets his 1st win this weekend
18th May 2009, 8:39
Yep, i second that. GO WEBBER!!!
18th May 2009, 8:13
Marks another one of those drivers that goes well at Monaco.
Remember 2007 in the Williams?
He could have won it if the Cosworth hadn’t given up…
18th May 2009, 8:39
Jenson f1 fan
18th May 2009, 8:20
Guys, how to if a particular car goes faster on a certain type of track compared to rest of the cars?
Jenson f1 fan
18th May 2009, 8:32
I take it as 2006, TIMMY…
18th May 2009, 8:44
Yeah, I think Webber will be one to watch also..
18th May 2009, 8:48
I believe the unique properties of the monaco street circuit may offer lewis a chance of a podium this weekend. I’ll stick my neck out early and say that we may have a new winner this weekend. Maybe Glock or Webber.
We have yet to really see the BrawnGP cars at a slow circuit like Monaco. So we’ll see if the superior diffuser works as well.
The ferrari’s could well but at the forefront also.
I’ll predict 3 front running drivers out in Q1.
18th May 2009, 8:53
its going to be a repeat of 1992
williams fw14= brawn gp 001
mclaren mp4/7A= mclaren mp4-24
jenson button = nigel mansell
ayron senna = lewis hamilton
brawn gp leads the first 70 odd laps before jenson suffers some mech problems,pits lewis meanwhile takes over the lead. jenson catches hammi at the rate of 3 sec/lap. but hamilton will eventually prevail to win the race.
Jenson f1 fan
18th May 2009, 9:02
18th May 2009, 9:23
man there is no need for a lol there. u’ll be left sulking after the race. mclaren have won the 15 times in the last 25 years, even with some pig cars like 1986,1992,1993. the lack of high speed corners will certainly help them. in fact mclaren should have won every race here since the turn of the decade.
2001:shoemaker won, but coulthard started on pole but stalled his engine on the warm up lap.
2003: kimi was held up behind a backmarker or else he would have passed montoya.
2004: we all know what happened to coulthard, kimi unfortunately retired with a engine failure.
2006: kimi was right behind alonso & would have passed him in the pitstop. but illuck struck again & kimi caught fire 7 burnt his buttocks.
2007: alonso driving a mclaren won.
2009:hammi will win again.
2010: bruno senna driving a mclaren will win.
18th May 2009, 14:08
Wishful thinking at best. The lack of high-speed corners might help them, but that will be somewhat offset by the fact that the car has the turning circle of an oil tanker. Lewis Hamilton is by no means the Second Coming of Ayrton Senna; if anyone is, it’s Sebastian Vettel (and to a lesser extent, Button, who is very good on a drying circuit).
McLaren are going to struggle here; both Catalunya and Monte Carlo require high amounts of downforce. In fact, Monaco needs more than Spain. And where did McLaren finish the last race again? I can’t remember because I turned the broadcast off – it was like 1am – after all the points-scoring cars had crossed the line.
Just because McLaren have won it for the past eight years is no guarantee they’re going to again. It’s the gambler’s allacy: just because the roulette wheel has come up red forthe past nine spins doesn’t mean it’s going to keep going that way. Each spin is new, just as each race at Monaco is. Besies, even if McLaren somehow managed a from-behind victory – there’s simply no way they’re going to qualify high – it’s not like it’s going to put Lewis Hamilton anywhere near the lead of the championship. He’s pretty much admitted that it’s all over; while he still has a chance, he pretty much needs Button to retire from every race from here to Belgium.
I think Brawn are once again going to be the team to beat, and I think Button is really going to show us what he can to. Martin Brundle and Jonathan Legard have both remarked that Button has one of the best driving styles on the grid: very smooth, only turning the wheel as much as he needs to and then straightening up in one fluid motion. It’s going to be a major advantage on the circuit where staying on the racing line is at its most critical.
18th May 2009, 9:02
Hmmm, I remember a past Monaco where a certain pair of McLarens wiped the opposition both in qualifying and the race because they had great downforce.
Which cars have been able to get the best downforce this year?
So I am expecting another battle between the Brawns and the Red Bulls, with a valiant Ferrari doing well until something breaks. The likes of Renault and McLaren need to bring a ‘C’ spec car with lots of improvements if they are going to get anywhere near the podium.
But I’m bound to be wrong about all of the above :-)
18th May 2009, 9:27
Would be nice to see Hamilton and Ferrari in the front for a change, but i doubt it
18th May 2009, 15:13
for a change, it has only been 4 races….
18th May 2009, 9:52
The Red Bull is good at high speed downforce and stability. That’s not of much use at Monaco. The Brawn cars seem better at that.
Several drivers have commented that the third sector at Barcelona is similar to the Monaco circuit. Especially during the race, the Brawns were fastest there with Massa and Hamilton close behind. Vettel was way off the pace, but Webber was close during qualifying.
But then for Monaco, the Red Bulls will have a major update so they might be half a second ahead of everybody again as they were in China and Bahrein.
18th May 2009, 9:53
I wonder if Ferrari and McLaren will be running their KERS this weekend?
18th May 2009, 10:06
mclaren have confirmed they’ll be using it. is kers of any help on this circuit??
18th May 2009, 15:40
KERS is not just for overtaking or defending, it offers lap time advantage. People sometimes use it for only lap time and that give you a couple of tenth during stints or extra laps before pit stops, which would be an advantage.
19th May 2009, 17:02
At present Ferrari intend to use KERS
19th May 2009, 20:31
It is used to improve laptime, sure, but given the minimum speed limit for using it (100 km/h), it is not going to be *that* useful in Monaco, with its slow corners and short straights.
That being said, it’s probably a more efficient use of time to stick with KERS, if you already have it, otherwise the team would in effect have to understand two different cars with differing mechanical behaviors. Given the limited amount of testing, this is probably a more important factor, even if using KERS only give minimal potential advantage (or worse).
18th May 2009, 9:58
Its a pull rod suspension.
Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)
18th May 2009, 23:14
Gah I keep getting those mixed up! Thanks Sush.
18th May 2009, 10:03
High downforce circuit, the Red bulls and the Brawns will run away with this, I cannot see any other outcome, a good points finish for Lewis and Glock, I fancy the Ferraris top finish in top 6 if Kimi can stay bothered!!
I think we may see SC in first couple of laps, as the KERS cars try to make up places.
18th May 2009, 10:09
i dont know why everybody is underestimating mclaren. if at all someone knows how to setup a car in monaco,its mclaren. this is going to be the turning point in the championship.
19th May 2009, 20:34
Given that this is a brand-new car, and their drivers are relatively inexperienced, and the car is known to be lacking in downforce, I don’t think people are actually underestimating them.
As Prisoner Monkeys said, it’s gambler’s fallacy to extrapolate from past record without taking into account all the factors involved.
Go Renault 09"
18th May 2009, 10:13
Lewis will have a rubbish result, go webber he will do well provided no-one else collides with him and the red bull proves to be reliable should be interesting gp as always.!!
18th May 2009, 10:18
mark my words. mclaren will win this race. i’m damn sure of it. just look at their record. you’ll be left with a hollow feeling after the race, ur pinning high hopes on webber. webber will never win a race in his whole career. he along with nick heidfield are a liability to their teams.
18th May 2009, 10:20
I doubt Vettel is going to be a driver to watch. Last year he was even beaten by Bourdais. I’d say Webber is more likely to perform well at Monaco. Besides, Webber deserves a break. So far he’s had all the trouble on his car.
Not sure about Barichello. Don’t remember him doing particularly well at Monaco, but then so neither did Button ever show something remarkable there.
Hamilton should do well. The car should be doing well there and Hamilton loves the track.
In fact Rosberg has been doing well at Monaco too.
I’d also watch Raikkonen. The Ferrari should be well suited to this track and Raikkonen is also one of the drivers who generally does well here.
Another thing to watch is who are going to crash into the barriers. Obvious choices would be Piquet and Nakajima since they crash out so often already. Rosberg and Hamilton do like to take a lot of risks here and both already had an encounter with the barriers (Rosberg a pretty hefty one).
18th May 2009, 10:42
Didn’t Boudrais crash out of the Monaco race last year, while Vettel finished in the points.
18th May 2009, 13:08
You can probably add Buemi to the list of casualties this weekend. He’s done a great job so far but I wouldn’t be surprised if he slithered into the barriers at some point.
18th May 2009, 17:48
True, but I was talking about qualifying. The race results can vary greatly according to safety car appearances and crashes.
Still, indeed good that he kept out of trouble.
18th May 2009, 10:36
Go RBR! We need a new winner this season. Season is a bit (or more) lopsided this year. Also hope Barichello can win & revive his F1 glory. ;)
18th May 2009, 10:53
If KERS system is light enough not to disadvantage your setup, you will be using it at Monaco.
Only McLaren seem to have this at the moment.
Maybe Massa can convince Ferrari to let him keep his too.
18th May 2009, 11:03
I think it’s going to be far too close to call at Monaco, making the predictions game very tricky this weekend. If Trulli can get his Toyota on pole and have hassle free pit stops, he may very well lead a Trulli-Train home.
18th May 2009, 11:23
I see a Webber vs Trulli battle on the cards. Trulli will ace it in qualifying but the amount of downforce the RedBulls produce will keep Webber right behind him, as he tends to go well at monaco. Vettel will put it in the wall I have a feeling and Barichello will get ahead of Button and hold him up (team can’t be seen to be favouring button now, can they?). Since downforce is key here then I don’t really see the McLarens doing that well tbh.
Anyone got a weather forecast though? Rain will change everything, guarantee a RBR win in my opinion and Sutil would be one to watch out for too ;)
18th May 2009, 13:12
I agree – it is a pull rod suspension, not a pushrod. Webbo might finally give all us long suffering aussies a cause for celebration and convert his good form into a win.
18th May 2009, 13:20
seems like alot of RBR fans here.
For those of you who have a bebo, go here:
Biggest and best RBR page on bebo!
as for the race, i really do hope webbo finally gets his lucky break and the monkey off his back!
18th May 2009, 13:36
In 2004 it was Trulli who led home Button by half a second, and Webber has always gone well here. A battle between those 3 would seem a logical choice. Vettel went well last year too but we’ll have to see if he can match the others. I don’t seem McLaren doing anything special, just because of past success it doesn’t mean that they’re going to be good this year. Points again are probably the best they can hope for, likewise Ferrari. Then of course there are drivers like Alonso and Rosberg who could likely snatch a decent result. I’m looking forward to this race, should be a good’n!
18th May 2009, 14:26
Frankly I hope we get too see some real clear close-up’s of the new Red Bull diffuser. Does this mean the Torro Rosso will have this same new diffuser as well? I’ve started my rain dance already, or else we’ll be even moreso in for the usual boring Monaco train.
Incidentally, has anyone else been missing Gerhard Berger this year…
18th May 2009, 14:30
Oh, and I meant to ask does anybody know why exactly the Monaco GP weekend has a Thursday but not Friday practice. I realise there are other support races throughout the weekend but then thats the same at any other GP race weekend…
18th May 2009, 17:05
Friday is for the locals to get the baguettes and win in. It’s a very small area. with few back streets
18th May 2009, 17:07
Oops, wine not win or whine
18th May 2009, 17:14
No reply button for your post below so…
Monaco runs Thursday parctice because the Friday is traditionally a rest day. The actual reason seems to differ in people`s opinions. Some say it`s religious & others that it`s more commercial.
The race programme (but not F1) soes on in the morning but, in the afternoon, the roads are re-opened.
19th May 2009, 20:41
Given that Ascension Day is Thursday, this would suggest the reason for having a day off on Friday is indeed to allow access to local residents, rather than a religious reason — the latter would rule out using Thursday for racing.
18th May 2009, 14:34
My 2 cents:
1) providing that the tires don’t spin because of it, the 80 hp KERS provides would be more advantageous on a track with slow corners than one with fast ones; i.e., faster acceleration.
2) Baring accidents / break-downs, the race will be decided by qualifying. To suggest that Monaco is a great race is to presume that the word `race’ has been synonymous with the word ` parade’ over the past few decades. It does remain a great social event for the rich and famous, of course.
18th May 2009, 14:52
KERS is impractical at Monaco; grip and downforce are a thousand times more important than outright speed. Consider this: KERS can only be activated from 100km/h But the start of the race. But where are you by the tim you get to 100km/h off the line? You’re in the braking zone down at Ste. Devote and there’s nowhere to move because of the narrow roads and all the cars around you. KERS will be useless off the line, and the Main Straight is simply too short for it to be of use. The only place where it might be viable is through the Tunnel, but even then it will count for very little indeed if you don’t have the grip or downforce. It might be used to defend, but you don’t need to defend at Monaco; you just need to drive.
Haven’t you noticed how every time the BBC brings up the telemetry of a KERS-equipped car (actually, any car, as the only cars they have the telemetry for are running KERS) and the driver uses it, they’re on a straight? They never use it straight out of a corner; I believe Alonso had a go early in the practice sessions in Melbourne, but he soon reverted to unleashing it on the straights instead. Monaco is so tight and twisted that by the time you’ve pressed down on the KERS button and gotten a bit of juice out of it, you’re already in the braking zone for the next corner.
18th May 2009, 14:46
Considering Red Bull and Brawn are bringing upgrades to Monaco, I doubt if McLaren are going to find the pace needed to compete at the front, I do agree that they are likely to find some pace and may well be the best of the rest but that is the best hope i give them. Lewis may get 4th/5th, Heikki probably wont finish, driving as lewis’s number two seems to have killed the poor blokes spirit!
18th May 2009, 16:47
Yeah, Bourdais crashed into the back of Coulthart and Vettel drove a pretty invisible but solid race and finished 5th, just behind Webber who was in a better car at the time.
I think it’s too close to call for any favorites among the stonger teams. I’m interested to see what Ferrari will do here, as their qualifying pace was pretty impressive considering how heavy Massa was on fuel in Spain. Rain would actually be welcome here, but I have a feeling Qualifying will again be the most exciting part of the race weekend.
By the way, does anybody have a link to a site / article where the 2009 Red Bull car is technically analyzed? Back when all cars were released all technical interest went out to the double diffusers, but I’ve always wondered exactly what makes the Red Bull so incredibly fast. I’ve heard there was something clever about their suspension, but the information I’ve found so far on the car is shallow at best…
18th May 2009, 16:54
Against Mosley with this petition: http://www.mosleygohome.0fees.net
19th May 2009, 1:25
Won’t work. No-one from FOM, the FIA or FOTA will see it before the closing date for 2010 entries, by which time the regulations will have been sorted.
And even if they did see it, they’d probably laugh at it.
18th May 2009, 16:56
Turn a race loser into a mistake?
Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)
18th May 2009, 23:11
Turn a mistake into a race-winner.
18th May 2009, 17:01
For technical articles on the RB5
General article on the car
Development blog index of articles
Autopsort technical analysis from when it was launched
18th May 2009, 17:47
Piquet might get in trouble with the walls.
That’ll be interesting to watch.
18th May 2009, 17:58
I don’t think there is much doubt Damon, with a bit of luck it will into the run off after the tunnel and he’ll stay out of the way!!!!!!
18th May 2009, 18:14
He came a cropper in practice right in front of me at Ste Devote last year. Mind you, so did Alonso. It gave me some good footage of the Monaco marshals at their finest, though.
18th May 2009, 18:59
Jenson first, the Trulli train in 2nd blocking everyone else
18th May 2009, 22:00
off the topic a bit, but does anyone know of any sites that gives good deals on tickets for races other then the main f1 site. Want to buy boyfriend tickets for the Monza race but need some direction!
18th May 2009, 22:09
I find the best way of buying tickets is direct from the circuit.
Monza has an English site which will give you details.
Hope this helps.
18th May 2009, 22:21
A win for Webber would be fantastic!!! I agree that Trulli, Button, Rubens and others will do well too. I’d like to see Massa get a good result, he so terribly deserved one last race.
18th May 2009, 22:39
I so wish this could be an all weekend battle between Vettel & Lewis. Vettel is of course the only driver that can match Lewis. I just so want to see them get into a scrap.
But… Jenson on pole for the win…
19th May 2009, 1:52
No one is talking about Button. He’s kicking EVERYONE’S ASS.
He will win again (barring an accident).
19th May 2009, 2:40
I hope RBR give webber and vettel the same car. Mechanical grip bias could turn many of the results upside down and driver performance the most crucial factor of any race in years due lack of traction control and no really high downforce aero special Monaco packages. I see Kimi and Massa and Trulli and Barrichello as all being right on it and believe even Hamilton could surprise (and be ragged and desperate). i have all the fingers and toes crossed for Webber.
19th May 2009, 4:15
Red Bull might be powered by Renault, but that’s where the similarities end. They’re not being run by Flavio Briatore. A blind test of the diffuser might be the order of the day, but it was obvious Braitore was favouring Alonso when the Spaniard got it in Shanghai and Piquet didn’t. Red Bull are a serious contender for both titles this season, so tey’ll be mking sure both Vettel and Webber are armed with it.
19th May 2009, 8:03
As I said a few weeks ago this will be the first race that we will probably see a non-Brawn car win: China was the exeption that confirmed the rule. If Brawn wins this one we will have to wait for another 2-3 races for Newey to catch up.
Hope Kimi can win this one, even though I doubt it.
19th May 2009, 13:41
Have to disagree with this. KERS is not impractical. Way back in the 1000bhp qualifying engine days, drivers would always take more power.
If adding KERS does not effect the balance of your car you keep it. It does not add more weight, but it just reduces the ballast available for adjusting the setup.
KERS at Monaco will be critical for qualifying, but maybe less important for the race due to traffic. However, Monaco is all about qualifying. Having that extra 80bhp for some sections on a Q lap could push you those few places further up the grid. This is paramount given the close lap times in qualifying we have seen over the first few rounds.
Please also remember that we see a delay transmission on these captions against the real view. Therefore the driver could well be using it before we see it being used. They are just a guide and are not accurate. I was surprised that Martin Brundle missed this in the last race, slating Massa for using his KERS too late at the start. I know he had to wait until he’d hit 100km\h but he would have used it earlier than we saw it.
I’m sure some drivers will have the skill to use it around Monaco. I’ll be disappointed if Lewis doesn’t give it a go as I’d like to see at least one driver give it a go.
The other thing about Monaco is that it’s a low speed grip circuit, unlike Barcelona. So the McLarens that struggle under high speed corners should be further up the grid. Add in KERS for qualifying and maybe Lewis \ Massa can edge a front row slot.
19th May 2009, 19:13
I’m afraid you are totally wrong here Chalky. The view of revs, throttle, brakes and now KERS is as real-time as the camera feed itself. It may be a few hundredths out or at a worst lag scenario a tenth or two but not enough to discern when viewing. The telemetry data is transmitted in the same data stream as the image and the audio – revs, throttle, brakes and KERS data is all part of the regular data stream that the cars emit and then converted into pretty images that we see. There are problems with the audio streams and these are down to a ‘Quality of Service’ algorithm that has the audio at a lower priority than video & telemetry. The inappropriate change in engine note we hear is down to the interpreting software filling in losses with incorrect estimates. It’s a software glitch – or bug if you like.
The only things really delayed are the radio transmissions which are cherry picked live by producers/directors after the event.
Brundle was kind of right when Massa clearly didn’t use KERS as much as he maybe could or should have done. However I also feel that he was holding some in reserve expecting to be able to use it later in the lap as cars ahead would of course still be relatively close. Maybe…
rob from inverness
19th May 2009, 19:02
Every Monaco qualifying, commentators stress how vital pole position ( or a front row slot ) is. But I have an impression that the winner rarely comes from the front row. It is always such an eventful and high risk race. Is there a statistician on this site ( or you, Keith) who can list the grid positions from which winners have come since, say, 1990?
19th May 2009, 19:40
With the usual disclaimer that I am totally capable of a c*ck up!
Pole sitters won in 90, 91, 94 (although the first 2 grid slots were left empty in respect to Senna & Ratzenberger), 98, 04, 05, 06 & 07.
Senna won from 3rd in 92 & 93.
95, 97, 99, 2001 – MS from 2
96 – Panis from 14 [Don`t even ask ;) ]
2000 – DC from 3
2002 – DC from 2
2003 – JPM from 3
2008 – LH from 3
Make of that what you will :)
19th May 2009, 19:40
You may be onto something Rob from Inverness. Since 1956, 20 races were won from pole (that’s in 52 races) so a ratio of just over 2 to 1 in favour of not being on pole :)
19th May 2009, 20:49
People normally state the rule as “starting from the front row”, but as persempre’s statistics show, a win from 3rd is not that rare either.
It actually makes sense — in many circuits, starting 3rd is better than starting 2nd, due to being on the racing line and having better grip. And even though the pole sitter has less than 50% chance of winning, it’s still the best position to be in — the statistical chance of 2nd is less than that, and 3rd even less still.
20th May 2009, 7:49
Against Mosley with this petition: http://www.mosleygohome.0fees.net
rob from inverness
20th May 2009, 9:01
Thanks, guys. I thought I would get my question answered on the Intellegent Fans’ Website. The 50% wins from pole is more than I guessed at. And the remaining winners come from 2nd or 3rd slot exclusively (apart from Panis.) More “front loaded” than I expected.
20th May 2009, 10:31
Thanks for the info. Sorry for confusing anyone.
Comments are closed.