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Monaco Grand Prix: Preview - Ferrari

NEWS STORY
22/05/2024

The Monaco Grand Prix is the eighth round of the season, as well as being Charles Leclerc's home race. He has twice taken pole position on this, the shortest track on the calendar at 3.337 kilometres in length, but so far he has not fared so well on the Sunday.

Despite the fact that this race is run at the slowest average speed of the year, in some sections speeds can get close to the 300 km/h mark, while any mistake through its 19 corners will cost a driver dear, with damage to the car often leading to retirement. At its widest point, the track is just 10 metres across, barely enough space for two Formula 1 cars to race wheel to wheel.

Among the best known sections, there's the first corner, Ste. Devote and the climb to Casino Square, taken at hair-raising speeds. The slow turn 6 hairpin is one of the few opportunities for a driver to dive inside an opponent before the track heads for the tunnel. Sector 3 is the most thrilling to watch as the wheels kiss the guard-rails at the two Swimming Pool esses and Rascasse, the penultimate corner leading onto the start-finish straight, although "straight" is something of a misnomer as it is actually one long curve. Overtaking is virtually impossible and so drivers really focus on qualifying well, which is why they talk about the Saturday afternoon session effectively being the first part of the Grand Prix.

A good track position is everything in Monaco, which is why practically all the teams will opt for a one-stop strategy, in order to maintain it. In the dry, drivers generally start on the Soft or Medium compound tyres to have pace and consistency over the opening laps. The window for switching to Hards is generally between laps 22 to 38. However, if there is a Safety Car or rain, then chaos can ensue with the race suddenly becoming as predictable as a turn at the roulette table...

Fred Vasseur, Team Principal: A few days ago, it was our home race in Imola and this weekend, Charles will be on home turf in Monaco, a race that is unfinished business for him and we'd like to help him put it to bed. Carlos also loves racing in the Principality, where he took his first podium at the wheel of a Ferrari, so they are both very motivated. It's generally accepted that, with the current generation of cars, overtaking is harder here than at any other track on the calendar, which means qualifying takes on even greater importance than usual. We will therefore be looking to make a step forward in this discipline, as so far this season we have lacked what it takes to be quickest of all. With this in mind, we have been working hard in the simulator and during engineering meetings, preparing everything down to the smallest detail and we fully intend to be front-runners.

Ferrari in Monaco

GP contested: 68

Debut: Monaco 1950 (A. Ascari 2nd; R. Sommer 4th; L. Villoresi ret.)

Wins: 9 (13.23%)

Pole positions: 12 (17.65%)

Fastest laps: 17 (25.00%)

Podiums: 55 (26.96%)

Three questions to Arthur Leclerc, development driver.

Monte Carlo is home to many racing drivers, but it's different for you and Charles as you are actually Monegasque. What does this race mean for a Leclerc?
Arthur Leclerc: The Monaco Grand Prix means everything to us. It is the place where we were born, where we went to school and where our loved ones live. Monte Carlo is a small city and the Principality is a small country so of course we have a lot of support from the people. As every year, all our family and friends are coming to the race and it's fun because the track is just a couple of hundred metres from our home. Of course, apart from our personal life, the Monaco Grand Prix is a historic track, one of the most famous - if not the most famous - Grand Prix in the world, and the atmosphere there is crazy. This only doubles up how special it is being a Monegasque driver driving in Monaco. Last year I raced there in Formula 2 and even though the weekend was disappointing, it was really special to compete in my home town, surrounded by my family, together with Charles.

There are plenty of blind spots at this track, but to be competitive you need to brush the walls and avoid the barriers. What do you have to do to be quick in Monaco?
AL: The Monaco Grand Prix is special not only because of the glamour and the history of the race, but also because it is a very unusual circuit through the twisty streets of Monte Carlo, and to be quick here you need to have maximum precision. It is very interesting to watch a qualifying session in slow-motion for example, where you see drivers touching the wall with the inside wheel. In order to achieve this extreme precision while being fast, it is very important to gradually build up confidence inside the car. Every minute of every session counts in order to achieve that confidence. At the end of the day, it is the work done during the weekend that makes the difference between a driver confident enough to push in qualifying, and a driver who is scared and takes time to get in the rhythm.

This year, as a development driver for the Scuderia, you've had the opportunity to drive a Formula 1 car, a Ferrari no less! What was that like?
AL: This year I am working on the development programme for the Scuderia. I support the team developing the car and preparing for the races in the simulator, but to complement the programme I've also been able to drive an F1 car twice, in January at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona and in May at Fiorano. Driving a Formula 1 is crazy. I'll never forget the first time I jumped in one in Barcelona. The car felt really fast, straight away, right out of the pits. I could feel how much power there was and how it handled, especially compared to the Formula 2 cars I was used to. It actually felt somehow more similar to a Formula 3 car, in terms of downforce and power. Of course a lot of things were new to me, but it was incredible to actually share the track with Charles, especially driving a Ferrari. To me it was a dream come true and a really crazy experience. I can't wait to do it again!

Facts & Figures

3. The circuits used for Formula 1 that have a tunnel in their layout. The most famous is undoubtedly Monaco, with the tunnel forming the fastest part of the track, even if it's on a slight curve. The other current track featuring a tunnel is Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina, where it is part of the pit lane exit. The third one was on the calendar up until 1988 at the Detroit street circuit in the United States.

5. Typical Monegasque dishes. The best known is Barbajuan a tasty appetiser made of ravioli filled with cheese and butternut squash, fried in oil, with the option of adding cold cuts and chard, as well as ricotta and spinach, so that the pasta is crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. Then there is the tasty socca, made with chickpea flour, water, salt, pepper and olive oil and, once again, it's crisp on the outside, soft in the middle. It is said to date back eight thousand years, when French sailors would eat this dish before embarking on a journey. Another dish to be found here is the stocafi, which is dried cod, cooked in wine with tomatoes and herbs, usually served with black olives and potatoes. It is a light, low fat dish with typical Mediterranean flavours. Also worth a mention is pissaladiere, a tasty focaccia stuffed with anchovies, capers, caramelised onions and olives and it is seasoned with an anchovy-based cream. Finally, we come to deserts and of course the Crepe Suzette, a pancake filled with icing sugar and flambeed with Grand Marnier. Legend has it that, in 1895 a chef at Monaco's Café de Paris was preparing the dish when the alcohol caught fire. The Prince of Wales happened to be dining there that day and was keen to know what this dish was called. The chef admitted it had just been created there and then and the Prince suggested it be named after a young woman called Suzette, who was dining there that day with her father, a friend of the Prince's.

6. The number of important sporting events that take place in the Principality, first and foremost the Grand Prix which has been held since 1929, long before it became part of the Formula 1 World Championship. Then there's the Formula E E-Prix and the famous rally, which has almost always been on the championship calendar. Also worth a mention, the Historic Grand Prix of Monaco for Formula 1 cars from the past, as well as the tennis Masters 1000, one of the most important tournaments played on clay and the Monte-Carlo International Show Jumping, a major event on the equestrian sports calendar.

30. The number of overtaking moves in the last six editions of the Monaco Grand Prix. As the cars have got bigger, passing has become ever more unlikely. In 2017 there were three, in 2018 six, in 2019 two, these last two by Charles Leclerc and in 2021, just one on the opening lap. In 2022 there were five changes of position, while last year there were 13.

1961. The year in which the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers' Association) was established in Monaco. Its aim was to improve circuit safety for drivers and spectators. Its first president was Stirling Moss who fulfilled this role until his retirement in 1963, when Joakim Bonnier took over. It was when Jackie Stewart became president that it began to make its presence felt. Its first serious action was to get the 1969 Belgian GP cancelled because of the dangers of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. The following year, the GPDA persuaded the organisers to hold the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim rather than at the Nurburgring. When Stewart retired the Association's influence waned and it was actually disbanded at the start of the Eighties. The GPDA was reformed over the weekend of the 1994 Monaco Grand Prix, following the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger, as well as the terrifying accident that befell Rubens Barrichello at the tragic San Marino Grand Prix, a fortnight earlier. In 1996, the association became a company with a formal constitution and a permanent office in Monaco with members voting to choose their president, currently George Russell. The group of directors also includes former drivers Alexander Wurz and Sebastian Vettel.

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