F1 Power Rankings: Monaco Grand Prix

You know, I almost forgot the Power Rankings again. For a self-admitted massive Formula One fan, I don’t do much to prove it. Then again, if TSN didn’t leave promotion of Formula One races to in-program promos on NBC Sports Network simulcasts, maybe Canadians would remember when F1 races are!

Anyway, it’s Monaco time. Monaco is my second-favourite race of the year. Obviously, Canada is my favourite race because it’s the best race of the year. But Monaco starts off the best day in motorsports. From 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM EDT, there’s a solid wall of racing action and coverage. This is Motorsports Christmas. I love Memorial Day and I’m not even American.

f1-lewis-hamilton-helmet-2014#1 Lewis Hamilton
Old Louise “Car Flipping” Hamilton talks about his recent run of success and trying to maintain it: “The last few races have been just incredible. I honestly never expected I’d win four consecutive Grands Prix in my career and I’d love to continue that run here. I’ve had some work to do in terms of getting the car exactly as I want it after the weekend in Spain: it was so close between our cars at the end and I need to keep pushing to find any extra edge I can.”

f1-nico-rosberg-helmet-2014#2 Nico Rosberg
Swedish father, German nationality, Monaco residency. Keke’s kid sure has an international flavour to him: ” Monaco: my home town! Obviously, I associate many wonderful memories with this place. It’s where I grew up and where I now live as an adult. But in sporting terms too, I have had some great moments there: in particular last year when I won there for the first time in my Formula One career. That was an absolutely incredible feeling. Driving a Formula One car there is simply fantastic and it’s an event every driver looks forward to each year.”

#3 Sebastian Vettel
Old Four-Time loves the thrill of the parade in Monaco. Okay, he doesn’t quite say that but that’s what it comes down to: “Monaco is one of my favourite tracks, it’s an absolute challenge. You cannot afford to make one single mistake, because you would easily crash into the railings. Overtaking is only possible with taking an extreme risk. The best place to overtake is before the harbour chicane when we exit the narrow tunnel at 300kph and race towards the first gear chicane. Other than that, it’s all about patience in Monaco and hoping for complete reliability as the suspension and drive are massively in demand around this extreme, uneven rollercoaster of a circuit – it’s immense.”

#4 Daniel Ricciardo
It’s party time for Danny Boy: “In Monte Carlo it’s impossible to do that calm, detached racing driver thing. Every year I’m determined I’m going to approach the weekend in a coldly logical way, and every year I end up bouncing up and down and getting excited. It’s just amazing. The atmosphere in town and down at the harbour, the history of the race, the massive crowd, it’s a real buzz.”

#5 Fernando Alonso
Pirelli motorsport consultant Jean Alesi talks about tyres for this weekend’s Grand Prix: “There’s quite a big degree of track evolution in Monaco, with a dirty surface on Thursday, so you really have to wait until the track is more rubbered in on Saturday before you see any significant times. Strategy is going to be interesting: I reckon a set of fresh supersofts at the end of the race could make a massive difference.”

#6 Nico Hulkenberg
The Hulk talks about the challenge of Monaco: “In terms of precision it’s right up there with Singapore as the toughest race of the year. You never get a break during the lap; you are always working hard because it’s corner after corner. Even the straights are really short and it’s high-speed for such a narrow track. I particularly enjoy the swimming pool area, which is very quick, and the two right-hand corners before the tunnel.”

f1-valtteri-helmet-helmet-2014#7 Valtteri Bottas
BO77AS’ race craft is fine but he knows it won’t do him a damn bit of good this weekend: “Qualifying in Monaco is the most important of the season as the design of the circuit makes it very hard to overtake in the race. Strategy is also important in the race as you want to make sure that no time or positions are lost during the pitstop, it will be hard to make those positions up.”

#8 Kimi Raikkonen
The Iceman talks about how changes in the car formula will affect the racing in Monaco: “It’s difficult to say before we drive. I think if your car is normally good, it doesn’t really matter where you go. You know how it behaves and it will be OK. Obviously a bit less grip this year and maybe some cars are a bit more hard to handle but we have to see how it goes on the first practice and see what it is. But I think we’ve improved a lot since the winter and it should be OK.”

#9 Sergio Perez
I know I said that this would be a good race for an upset but Checo tells you not to get your hopes up: “I don’t believe that there will be a major surprise and I expect the same teams to be at the front. It’s hard to predict how strong we will be, but I hope we can continue our good form.”

f1-romain-grosjean-helmet-2014#10 Romain Grosjean
Romain is liking his upward trend in results. Now, about that Maldonado fella: “Well, if you look at the trend from Melbourne, we’ve been improving every time, going to Q3 for the first time in China, going to Q3 and being fifth on the grid in Barcelona. I think we were looking good in the race to keep the Ferraribehind but I had a small problem. It’s good that all the work has been done, and the fact we understand more and more our car, it’s going in the right direction and, of course, if you are fifth on the grid in Monaco, the race is even kind of easier to defend your position.”

#11 Daniil Kvyat

f1-jenson-button-helmet-2014#12 Jenson Button
Jenson sounds like he expects everyone to end the race with brown racing overalls given the higher torque of the new engine/power unit formulae: “Obviously, I’ve never driven a turbocharged F1 car around Monaco before – and I’m relishing the opportunity. More than any other 2014 race, I think this event will show us the most pronounced difference between ‘old F1′ and the new formula we have. There’s far less of an aerodynamic influence here – it’s just about bolting as much to the car as possible in a bid to find grip – so I think the engine’s influence will be greater.”

f1-kevin-magnussen-helmet-2014#13 Kevin Magnussen
Jan’s kid has already learned to set his expectations low. Go Macca! “It’s strange to come away from a grand prix having finished 12th and feel satisfied with my performance. But the Barcelona weekend taught me quite a lot about managing and setting my expectations, and, more importantly, it gave me the best opportunity so far this year to really get to grips with the MP4-29.”

f1-felipe-massa-helmet-2014#14 Felipe Massa
Even Formula One racecar drivers hate sleeping in hotel beds. Right, Phil? “I love Monaco. I live there so it’s great to be able to go home and see the family and sleep in my own bed after each day in the car. I am luckier than most as this happens at two races for me (Monaco and Brazil).”

#15 Jean-Eric Vergne
Like the Bayside song (love those guys), JEV blames it on bad luck: “I think I’ve been pretty unlucky since the beginning of the season, started well in Melbourne and then always in a position to score some good points. But that’s how it is; it’s part of the sport. I’ll just keep on smiling and hopefully the bad luck will go away and get tired of me. I’m just hoping to finish the race and have a good car and that’s all I’m hoping for. So it will come.”

#16 Adrian Sutil
This week’s most generic PR quotage comes from Sutil: “The Monaco Grand Prix is a very nice event every year. I really like the track. For us, the most important aspect will be that our car works well and we can achieve a good performance. My objective is to travel back home with some points in my pocket.”

#17 Esteban Gutierrez
Steve brings up a good a point. Monaco is the exact opposite of a modern F1 circuit: “What I like the most in Monte Carlo is driving on the narrow track between the guardrails. It is very challenging as you don’t have a lot of space, and for a perfect lap you get very close to the barriers. The closer you get, the more you are pushing to the limit, so using every centimetre of the track. It is very exciting and racing on the streets of Monte Carlo is always a different kind of feeling.”

#18 Pastor Maldonado
Unfortunately, my browser crashed while I was writing this paragraph. Oh, the irony.

#19 Max Chilton
M4X should find a way to work a 1 into his nickname after last week’s test. Maybe call himself M4X CH1LTON: “We had a really good test last week and the progress was clear to see. Although we aren’t expecting the timesheets to read in quite the same way as the Barcelona test, what we can be encouraged by is the work we have done to improve the set-up of the car and we can now translate those improvements through to the next events, to help us achieve a realistic next step over the course of a race weekend.”

f1-kamui-kobayashi-helmet-2014#20 Kamui Kobayashi
Kobayashi Maru wants a good result to balance out some recent poor ones. That’s not how it works, son. You have to earn those higher finishes. Or, at least, stay out of Maldonado’s way when he plows you a path forward: “Monaco’s also one of the shortest tracks of the year, and because it’s not a really high speed circuit it’s one where the gap to the cars ahead is always less. That’s obviously good for us as one of the smaller teams as it means we have a better chance to do something special and I think it would be a fair reward for us to have something to celebrate after a couple of tough last races.”

#21 Jules Bianchi
It’s Jules’ home race so he’s motivated to put on a strong effort. He really should try that in all 19 races but let’s start small: “The Monaco Grand Prix is always very special, not least because it is really my home race. It is also nice to go there feeling optimistic for a positive result. We made some good improvements with our package during the test in Spain and I left there knowing that there was even more to come, so I am excited for the weekend.”

f1-marcus-ericsson-helmet-2014#22 Marcus Ericsson
While most drivers are remembering Senna this month, Marcus is talking about Swedish racing legend Ronnie Peterson. Good on ya, lad: “I’ve obviously been asked a lot about what Senna meant to me over the last few weeks, but I always say it’s Ronnie that really inspired me, obviously not because I saw him race, but because where I’m from in Sweden, Kumla, Ronnie is the number one hero. We have a couple of very cool things planned to celebrate his memory over the race week and I’m sure it’ll be emotional for the people who are in the paddock today who remember him.”

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