The 6th round of the Formula 1 2019 calendar is the Grand Prix of Monaco, the most prestigious race in the history of Formula 1. The street circuit on the French Riviera is recognized for its difficulty, and any mistake here is almost certainly leading to a meeting with the armco protection barriers. The circuit’s reputation placed the Monaco Grand Prix alongside the Indy 500 and the 24-hour race of Le Mans, forming together the “Triple Crown of Motorsport”.
The first race in the principality took place in 1929 and was won by William Grover at the wheel of a Bugatti 35B on a different street circuit than the current one. Safety for drivers and spectators was not much of an issue before the 1960s and 1970s. Protective barriers have emerged from the streets of Monaco since 1969, because of drivers running into columns, buildings or trees before installing them. The most famous incident before the Armco barriers was recorded by Alberto Ascari who lost control of the car and plunged into the harbour waters.
The actual configuration of the 3,337 km circuit has 19 turns and is known for the few overflow areas. The turn with no. 6, also known as the “hairpin” is the slowest turn of the calendar, with an average speed of 48 km/h. Two right turns link the hairpin to turn 9 through the tunnel underneath the Fairmont hotel, where the cars reach speeds of up to 260 km/h before the drivers go through a sudden change of light at the exit of the tunnel before the braking area the Nouvelle. The Swimming Pool Zone describes the turns 13, 14, 15 and 16 and is the most important combination of turns on the circuit where the less experienced pilots can lose time or worse they can reach the protective barriers.
After the first two training sessions yesterday, Mercedes seems to have an edge over the Red Bull which in turn is a few tenths in front of the Ferrari. The pole-position battle seems to be between Mercedes and Max Verstappen, which seems to be more in sync with this year’s Red Bull car, compared with his team-mate. Being the home race for Charles Leclerc, there is a lot of attention and pressure on the Monegasque driver, but the weak rhythm shown by the Ferrari car in the slow turns of Barcelona’s 3rd sector seem to show he will have to push to the maximum to hope to get closer to the first 3.
Mercedes seems to have come to Monaco with an innovation in suspension, the upper suspension point of the wheel suspension has been raised a lot, which allows them to run with a more pronounced castor angle which in turn reduces the understeer in slow turns. This solution is suspect because a Formula One car is not allowed to rise or lower by more than 5 mm from the neutral position of the steering column to its full lock position, and the Mercedes car seems to have significant vertical fluctuations in slow turns such as a hairpin. It remains to be seen if the officials will self-designate in connection with this design and if the Brackley team will be able to use this design further.
Friday is a break in Monaco because the authorities insist on opening traffic to the public.
The remaining program for the Monaco GP weekend:
- Monaco GP, 3rd Free Practice Session (FP3) – 12:00 CET
- Monaco GP, Qualifying– 15:00 CET
- Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monaco 2019 – 15:10 CET
- Source: GP24 Author RAdu Camarascu
- Photocredit: FUnoAnalisiTecnica, Reddit
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