F1 Power Rankings: Monaco Grand Prix

After five races, we’ve seen five winners from five different teams. That might just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how unpredictable this season has been so far. After being one of the worst cars on the grid last season, Williams and Pastor Maldonado won the Spanish Grand Prix. Despite having a car that’s been referred to as a big red dog, Fernando Alonso is tied for the World Drivers’ Championship lead. Only two drivers (Alonso and Lewis Hamilton) have scored points in every race so far. It looks like anything can happen in F1 this year.

#1 Sebastian Vettel (Last Race #4)
The defending race-winner speaks almost romantically about the streets of Monte Carlo: “It’s something special to race in Monaco; it’s tight and there’s no room for error. It’s rough and, as it’s a street circuit, the road surface is uneven so you get shaken in the car and there is no room for mistakes. You have to push yourself and the car to the limit to be fast, you have to push as hard as on other tracks, but there’s no room. You can almost feel it when you are just missing the wall and just get through – but it’s a nice feeling. You need to be fully focused on track, it’s a special thing to win in Monaco.”

#2 Kimi Raikkonen (LR #6)
The Iceman’s focus is entirely on qualifying upfront for the race: “We have to focus on qualifying. It’s a difficult place to race as it’s so narrow and passing is nearly impossible. I was stuck behind Rubens in 2009 and we had KERS then, but you just couldn’t get past. We’ll have to see how the tyres perform and if there are any good strategies to be made, but the most important thing is qualifying well. It’s difficult to know how good the car will be in Monaco as you can’t simulate its characteristics, certainly not at any of the circuits we’ve visited so far this year. We can say the E20 has been fast everywhere else so let’s hope it’s also fast at Monaco.”

#3 Lewis Hamilton (LR #1)
Louise is going points racing this week. He’s lucky I don’t bust him to 24th for not caring about the win: “Still, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that, despite pushing for the win, consistency and scoring decent points is currently the most sensible way to tackle this world championship. I’ve scored points at every race, and I’m only eight points off the lead of the championship. That’s a really encouraging statistic and it’s reassuring to see my approach is paying off.”

#4 Fernando Alonso (LR #7)
Pirelli boss Paul Hembry discusses the ongoing complaints about their tyres: “What has changed, heavily, is the way these tyres are used this year. You can see that there’s a lot more oversteering on the track. We also hear drivers’ comments lamenting a lack of traction, but in my opinion that problem doesn’t exist. Having changed the exhaust configuration through a rule has undoubtedly made the cars less stable. That causes wheelspin and the tread heats up, so it’s normal you can’t use the tyre.”

#5 Mark Webber (LR #2)
@AussieGrit talks about the track as though it’s a living being. These Red Bull guys are being kinda creepy about this track: “Monaco is a really special track, it’s an old circuit in terms of when it was first designed and the layout hasn’t changed too much since. It’s got a bit easier from when I first joined Formula One ten years ago, but it’s still a test of man against the track and with the car. You’re racing other people, but it doesn’t always feel like it because the track is always asking you to give more. If you bite and try to give it more then you crash so it’s a very, very challenging circuit mentally.”

#6 Romain Grosjean (LR #9)
For Grosjean, this is the closest thing he has to a home race: “I think Monaco is going to be a fantastic event and it is a special race for me for sure. There are certain to be a lot of French fans, and I’m looking forward to their support. It’s also a very special event in its own right, and the atmosphere is quite crazy! As a driver you have to stay calm and relaxed and try to do your job. It’s a track that doesn’t allow any mistakes. You have to respect it and that is the key there I think. Hopefully we can have another good result.”

#7 Pastor Maldonado (LR #15)
Pastor doesn’t really want to talk about his win last time out… Or the fire: “Monaco is a very challenging circuit for the drivers both physically and mentality because you have to concentrate fully at all times, but I really enjoy this challenge and I have traditionally done well here in the past. I am full of confidence after my win at the last race so I go to Monaco with high hopes of getting another strong result for the team.”

#8 Nico Rosberg (LR #5)
Nico says that Lotus doesn’t have a prayer of winning: “I have always been quick around the streets here, and I believe a good result is possible for us next weekend. The nature of the track should suit our car but as we have seen at every race so far this season, tyre management will be crucial. With five different winning teams so far this year, at least ten drivers have the chance to win in Monaco so this could be one of the most interesting races there for years.”

#9 Jenson Button (LR #3)
Jenson’s pre-race quotage could be summarized as “woe is me” since his car isn’t to his liking. This was the only part of his quotes that didn’t make me want to punch him in the face: “My win at Monaco in 2009 remains one of my favourite victories in Formula 1. Monte-Carlo is a place where every driver wants to win, but achieving it is so satisfying because you know you’ve conquered one of the toughest circuits in motorsport. Winning the Monaco Grand Prix will always be really special.”

#10 Bruno Senna (LR #11)
The most important thing for Bruno to remember is to bail out of the way when he sees a Silver Arrow with a red helmet: “Monaco is one of my favourite tracks because despite being a street circuit it has a lot of flow to it and when you get dialled in you can put in some good laps. I have performed well there in the past and hopefully that trend will continue this weekend and we can get some good points.”

#11 Michael Schumacher (LR #8)
There’s an irony to Seven-Time talking about track safety after banzai-ing into the back of Senna last week: “Monaco is just a circuit of its own very unique character. In a way, you could look at it with a big portion of irony with regards to the contradiction that, for so many years we have successfully campaigned for more track safety, and then we deliberately race in Monaco. But in my view this is justifiable once a year, especially as the circuit is really so much fun to drive. Every time you go there, you just look forward to finally getting out and driving the track.”

#12 Kamui Kobayashi (LR #14)
Kobayashi Maru is hoping to repeat his performance from last year’s Monaco GP. I hope he knows that passing is damn near impossible on this track: “I have good memories of Monaco. I finished fifth there last year, which was really great. Monaco is a very special track for the drivers. Our car seems to be strong on most of the tracks. Now it will be interesting to see how competitive it will be on a street circuit, but I’m quite confident it will be strong there as well. In Monaco a lot of things can happen, therefore it’s important to stay out of trouble and make it to the end. If we do that then I’m sure we will be able to fight for points.”

#13 Paul di Resta (LR #10)
All Dario’s cousin wants to talk about is sleeping in his own bed this weekend: “It’s where I live now and it’s interesting to see how much busier Monaco gets when the race comes to town. It’s really nice to go home each night, sleep in your own bed and enjoy your own space. Also, I will have a lot of family and friends around me who come down to watch the race.”

#14 Sergio Perez (LR #12)
Having crashed spectacularly in qualifying last year and missing the race, Checo is excited for his first taste of the Monaco GP: “I have been waiting to race in the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix all my life and, of course, after what happened last year I am looking forward to it even more… Of course I also think back to the accident I had in Q3 last year. To me it is like a watershed event in my career. There is a time before and a time after the accident. I learnt a lot from what I had to go through and I think it made me stronger. I really want to show what I can do in Monte Carlo.”

#15 Felipe Massa (LR #13)
Massa says that he’s closer to Alonso than you’re giving him credit for. Just ignore the fact that Phil has 2 points and Fernando is leading the championship on 61: “I think that this year, the only race where there really was a big difference between me and Fernando was in Australia and then, in Malaysia the rain made it more complicated to get a clear picture. Starting in China, the difference in qualifying between the two of us was not so dramatic… I think we must also take into account that, at the moment, Fernando’s driving is amazing: he is on super form, maybe even perfect.”

#16 Nico Hulkenberg (LR #16)
Nico talks about the ongoing developments on the VJM05: “I think we have taken a good step forward with the developments we made for Spain and they will continue to help us in Monaco. We still have work to do to understand and fine-tune them along with the set-up, so that is something the team is working on. When you see how close the teams around us are it can really make a difference to find even the smallest gain.”

#17 Jean-Eric Vergne (LR #17)

#18 Daniel Ricciardo (LR #18)

#19 Heikki Kovalainen (LR #19)
Heikki badly wants to win the Monaco GP. If he’s going to win, he needs a demolition derby like the 1996 race: “Monaco’s the race everyone in F1 wants to win, and it’s not just a famous F1 race, it’s one of the biggest annual events in the world. For drivers it’s a pretty hardcore race, in and out of the cars, but it’s a challenge I really enjoy and racing around the streets is one of the real highlights of being an F1 driver.”

#20 Vitaly Petrov (LR #20)
Petrov fully expects to put himself into the wall at some point over the weekend: “The track itself is always a little bit dirty at the start of the weekend and it’s quite difficult to get tyre temperatures up during the lap. It’s tricky because the walls are so close. If you make one mistake or have a little bit of oversteer, you don’t even get a chance to correct it – you’re in the wall. It takes quite a bit of mental preparation and you need to be totally focused for every single lap of every session.”

#21 Timo Glock (LR #21)
Did you know that Tim O’Glock is Top Gear’s Monaco expert? He advised Hammond and May on how to get around there in hot hatches: “Monaco is every time a very special weekend. It’s the first real street circuit and always a big event; a big show. It is also a possibility for smaller teams as there are so many different factors which can come into play and situations which are out of your control more than any other circuit. If we have a trouble-free lead up to the weekend, then things can go well on race day with what are normally quite a few opportunities presenting themselves.”

#22 Charles Pic (LR #22)
Chuckie’s goal for the weekend is to not screw up royally: “Monaco is special and one of the races I’ve been most looking forward to in my debut season. Nothing can prepare you for a challenge like this – despite my GP2 experience here – and I can’t wait to taste it for myself when running gets underway on Thursday. The track is very unforgiving, so I hope to come away from the weekend feeling like I did a good job there.”

#23 Pedro de la Rosa (LR #23)
Pedro talks about how difficult this race and track is: “Monaco is by far the most difficult and technical circuit in the entire Championship. The only trick to this track is to do miles and not change the car’s set-up too much because you can find more time in the driver than in the car. We must try to do as many laps as possible on Thursday in order to build up some confidence for qualifying because it’s the most important thing in Monaco. Another major difficulty at this track is the traffic, it’s vital to complete a clean lap and make the most of it.”

#24 Narain Karthikeyan (LR #24)
Narain lives in fear of the Monaco guardrails. Maybe that should say something to him about his future in the sport: “Street circuits aren’t my favourite but Monaco obviously has a special place on the calendar. It’s not every day that you get to race in such a beautiful setting and with such a special vibe surrounding the race. It’s one of the toughest races because you’re so close to the guardrails that you know you can’t make one single mistake.”

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s