Following two weeks of intensive preparation at its Silverstone headquarters, MF1 Racing heads to the Principality of Monaco for Round 7 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.
Since becoming a permanent fixture on the F1 calendar in 1955, the Monaco Grand Prix has grown in prestige to become arguably one of the most famous and glamorous sporting events in the world.
Over the years, drivers have compared the Monaco Grand Prix to 'flying through their living room in a helicopter'. The incredibly tight and twisty track demands total concentration from those who challenge it. There is very little overtaking, however, as the streets are so narrow and the barriers so close that even the smallest mistake could spell the end of a race.
Tiago Monteiro (POR), Car #18: "Monaco is very different from any other circuit we race on all year: different track, different strategies, different atmosphere. It's a race unto itself, really, where anything can happen, so I'm curious to see what will happen there this year - especially during qualifying. I had a good race in Monaco last year, and I'm looking forward to another one. I tend to prefer street circuits, actually, because it's a very different feeling for the driver, with so much more adrenaline! We raced on a lot of street circuits when I competed in Champ Car in 2003 - maybe 6 or 7 of them - so I'm quite accustomed to this type of track."
Christijan Albers (NED), Car #19: "The Monaco Grand Prix is always something special. The glitter and glamour, the street course, the big boats, it's what Monaco is all about. The track is very exciting for a driver, as there is no room for errors. The underdog stands a bigger chance here because top speed isn't such a factor. It's the type of track where a good driver can make a difference by taking risks, so I'm really going to go for it. With all the updates to the car - the new chassis, suspension set ups and new engines - we hope to put on a great performance this weekend."
Giorgio Mondini (SUI), Test and Reserve Driver: "Monte Carlo is the only completely urban street circuit of the year, so in that regard, it's very special. (Montreal and Melbourne are only partial street circuits). I've raced there three times previously, in cars that lapped around 6 seconds slower than F1 cars, so it won't be too much of a difference. It was good training, actually. It's important to be familiar with every inch of this circuit, because there is no room to make mistakes here - one wrong move and you're into the barriers. Monaco is a very vibrant city and the surroundings are beautiful - the swimming pool corner, for instance, is gorgeous - but once you're in the car, you have to block out all that scenery. This track demands your total concentration. It might not be particularly fast, but it's one of the most challenging."
Colin Kolles, Managing Director: "The team has been busy working on various upgrades for the cars, so hopefully we will be able to demonstrate these improvements in Monaco. It's a very special track, and one that is definitely better suited for us than Barcelona. I think our drivers will be ready for the challenge and I am hoping to see good results from them."
James Key, Technical Director: "Monaco is very much a unique case that requires the car to be set up completely differently. Typically, it is possible to run very inefficient downforce, so we will be running at maximum downforce with the addition of some new aero components. The bumpy surface and tight corners require a soft mechanical setup and maybe a shift in weight distribution. As well, the soft tyres run at Monaco tend toward an understeer balance, so we will be looking at ways of overcoming that while still looking after the rear tyres. We have some suspension modifications which will be introduced for Monaco, some of which will be carrying through as permanent development. Toyota is continuing its good development rate and has provided us with another step on the engine. Monaco is always an event where anything could happen. We have had a couple of setbacks this year, but by and large our reliability record is still very good. Provided we take a sensible approach to the race and maintain our good reliability, there could be points for the taking at the end."
Johnny Herbert, Sporting Relations Manager: "They say that anything can happen at this circuit, and believe me, it's true: I ended up on the podium here in 1996, in one of the strangest finishes ever - I was last of only three cars still running! Now, those were wet conditions, but it really underscores the importance of being reliable. In Monaco, you have to run a smart race and stay within your abilities if you are to have any chance of scoring points. It's a tight, difficult course with precious little room to overtake, but with the right strategy and a few fortunate breaks, who knows? This could be a good weekend for us."
- Ron FINE, MF1 Midland -
photos copyright Midland