May 28 (F1plus Team).- The Monaco Grand Prix is here, and the excitement is palpable everywhere. The Mebers of the Lotus Renault team share their own views about the upcoming race.
Looking ahead to Monaco – how do you think the team can compete there?
Monaco is a very different track from the Circuit de Cataluña. The circuit is not a dedicated racetrack, which means it is used by public vehicles. It is more bumpy than a racetrack, but the surface is actually very smooth meaning it is very slippery. We will be using Pirelli’s softest tyres for this race, and this will be a key factor. It will be interesting to see how we can compete there, but in the past the car has been well suited to the circuit and I’m confident it will be the same this year.
Talking about the tyres, which are a hot topic at the moment, how do you expect them to behave?
Well, over the course of the weekend, the track surface has historically improved more than any other circuit on the F1 calendar. This time around it will be interesting to see by how much and in what way it improves because these Pirelli tyres work very differently from the Bridgestone tyres we used previously. I expect tyres will be a key factor in Monaco, as they have been at the other races too.
What elements of the Monaco race make it so special and memorable?
Well, if I had to recommend a race for spectators to go to I would tell them to go to Monaco – it is such a special event. The location is fantastic and there is such an amazing atmosphere all around us, it’s a really crazy race. It is not the easiest circuit for the team to work at, as it’s such a small location, but it is an essential part of Formula 1 and it is a great spectacle for everyone involved.
What are going to be the key aspects to concentrate on in Monaco?
It’s a different type of race, a one-off. Qualifying will be very important. I feel we can qualify for the race very strongly and near to the front – this will be the key here, of that there’s no doubt. If you don’t qualify well, it makes it very difficult to move up a long way because there are not too many overtaking opportunities. It’s a tight circuit and opportunities are at a premium so Saturday will be an absolutely crucial day for us.
Do you feel driving at Monaco is something special?
It is, it really is. It’s an unusual race, different to the others because of the layout, the schedule over the weekend and how close spectators are to the action. It is a place where, as a driver, you really have to concentrate because it is a tight circuit. But, I have good memories there because I finished second there in GP2 back in 2009 so I’m looking forward to coming back and trying to achieve some more success. What you also have to remember is that Monaco is a massive fixture not just in motorsport but also in all sports. When people think of F1, they think of the Monaco race. For that very reason, we know this is the big one.
James Allison – Technical Director
Pirelli’s supersoft tyres will make an appearance – what impact do you expect this to have?
We ran the super soft during winter testing and, as you might expect, it offers grip gains over the soft tyre at the expense of increased wear and degradation rate. Monaco is less demanding on the tyres than the winter testing tracks, but I suspect it will still prove to be a stern test of the durability of the supersoft.
With frequent pit stops becoming a regular feature this year, will this make the race more of a lottery?
All pit stops carry with them the risk of substantial loss of time and track position as a result of errors. These errors can have a decisive effect on the outcome of a race. All the teams know this, and are all working hard to try to eliminate all sources of error. At LRGP we had a couple of poor races at the start of the year with our pit stops. Since then our crew has put in a lot of effort to bring us back to the correct level. The prime focus is to make repeatable stops first and foremost before gradually chipping away at the stop times.
Much has been placed on the use of tyres in Qualifying – will this take on an added importance in Monaco?
I’m not sure that it will have added importance, but it will remain an important consideration. If the indications from free practice reveal that the tyres are hanging together in race trim, then the inherent difficulty of overtaking at Monaco will mean it is less crucial to conserve virgin tyres. If the tyres look critical in free practice, then there will be a very strong incentive to save sets for the race.