Monaco GP: What To Watch For In F1’s ‘Jewel In The Crown’

Monaco GP: What To Watch For In F1’s ‘Jewel In The Crown’

What can I say about the Monaco Grand Prix? Well, IT’S ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS!! Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Formula 1 had to cancel the Monaco Grand Prix last year. It was the first time since 1954 that F1 missed its Jewel In The Crown. Monaco has been an F1 race since 1929 and was there in the first World Championship F1 season back in 1950. However, in 1951, 1953 and 1954 there was no Monaco GP, and 66 years later in 2020, the Monaco GP didn’t happen either. It’s safe to say that we’re all really excited that we’re racing in this beautiful country in 2021.

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Monaco provides this unique experience and atmosphere, with all of the yachts in the harbour and sunny skies and the buildings surrounding the street circuit. And then there’s the circuit itself, the Circuit de Monaco. It’s so incredibly challenging for the drivers because the track is so narrow. I’ll talk about that in more detail as we come to the topic of this post. Here are a few things to watch out for in the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix!

The Entire Monaco GP Weekend Will Be Incredibly Important

2019 Monaco GP Mercedes and Red Bull

At the Monaco GP weekend, things are different. At most other F1 weekends, the drivers take their time, focus on running practice programs, and then start to push in qualifying and in the race. However, in Monaco, the plan for the weekend is completely different. The drivers are always pushing hard to get used to the rhythm of the track. They must make sure that they won’t make any mistakes when they’re pushing flat out.

They are always trying to make sure they can physically handle the demanding circuit while being competitive. The drivers have to try and remember and spot braking points, turning points, and the adjustments to the car they must make in between and through the corners. The drivers have to make sure they take the fastest racing line every lap.

2019 Monaco GP Start

The physical demand is huge in the Monaco circuit. There are barely any straights where the driver can rest during the lap. Both the “straights” at Monaco are actually curved and require steering and adjustments, so the driver has no time to rest. Since all 3 Practice Sessions are now just hour-long sessions in 2021, the teams and drivers will be using every minute they have to find the perfect set-up and get all geared up and ready for qualifying.

So expect competitiveness from all teams and drivers throughout the practice sessions. You see, that’s what’s so great about the Monaco Grand Prix; you’re always at the edges of your seats for this incredibly unique race weekend. And all of this preparation throughout the race weekend is even more relevant now. This is because it’s been 2 years since the last Monaco GP. That’s a longer gap than usual, so the drivers have to be extra careful to make sure they don’t have any slip-ups. Because if a driver does make a mistake at Monaco, they’ll go straight into a barrier.

The Home Hero And The Resurgent Scuderia

One of the biggest F1 stories of 2021 is that Ferrari is back in business. The Italian team had a dismal year last year, but they’re on a comeback charge this year. Since the beginning of the 2020 F1 season, Ferrari has had a really slow engine. Their engine was just way slower than their competitors’ engines. But this year, Ferrari have made big improvements. The new regulations and the cost cap has made the competition in F1 much closer. And Ferrari has capitalised on this, and they have really made up for lost ground and are showing really promising pace, even though there have just been 4 races in 2021 so far.

At a circuit like the Circuit de Monaco, I would expect Ferrari to do well this year. Their engine is no longer inferior, and their aerodynamics and their upgrades are on point. This means that Ferrari will be strong in Monaco. Even if their engine was a little inferior, it wouldn’t matter as much, and Ferrari would still have a better fighting chance. Since FP2 for the Monaco GP has already passed, I can confirm my predictions are looking somewhat accurate. Ferrari had an excellent 1-2 finish in FP2, showing true signs of a huge resurgence back to the top step of the podium.

The Home Hero at Monaco, Charles Leclerc has not finished a race in Monaco in both F2 and F1. The first time Leclerc raced in a Monaco GP was when he raced at Monaco in Formula 2. In both the Sprint race and the Feature race, he didn’t finish the race. The feature race, he had a suspension problem. The sprint race, he collided with Norman Nato and then retired from the race. In 2018, Leclerc raced in the Monaco GP, his first home race in Formula 1. However, he had a brake failure, and crashed into the back of Brendon Hartley in the last few laps of the race.

In 2019, Leclerc was knocked out of qualifying at the Monaco GP in Q1 because of Ferrari’s qualifying tire strategy mess-up. After starting the race in P15, the Monegasque driver in the Ferrari was making his way up the grid and was looking to have a strong race. However, he got floor damage and a puncture after a botched attempt to overtake Nico Hulkenberg. That was incredibly sad for Leclerc, which is why we’re really hoping for some good luck for him this weekend. And if his pace in FP2 is an indicator, Leclerc might be looking towards his most successful home race yet.

Red Bull Will Try To Charge On To Another Monaco Win

The Monaco Grand Prix is BY FAR Red Bull‘s strongest race in F1. Historically, Red Bull’s car has proven to perform better at Monaco than at circuits like the circuit in Italy. This is because for the past 7 years, Red Bull’s “Achilles heel” has been their engine. Their engine hasn’t been and still isn’t as fast as Mercedes‘ engine, or (until 2019) Ferrari’s engine. The circuit in Italy is the fastest circuit on the F1 calendar, with an average speed of about 264 kph. Red Bull usually aren’t that successful there, which shows their engine is not the best. However, Monaco is the complete opposite.

At the Circuit de Monaco, the competitiveness of the car’s engine has a minimal effect on the overall performance of the car and the driver. The chassis and the aerodynamics of the car are far more important in Monaco. And the aero and the chassis is where Red Bull specialize. Take the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix, for example. Red Bull and one of their drivers, Daniel Ricciardo, were absolutely on point in terms of their pace. The Red Bull chassis was working really well at Monaco, and things were looking really good. Ricciardo broke the lap record at Monaco and qualified on pole position. Red Bull was looking unbeatable.

However, in the middle of the race, a problem struck Ricciardo. The MGU-K, a part of the Energy Recovery System of the car’s engine failed for Ricciardo. It was a DISASTER. Suddenly, the entire F1 world’s hearts sank. At the 2016 Monaco GP, Red Bull messed up Ricciardo’s pitstop and lost him the race win. This time in 2018, Ricciardo had a shot at redemption, and it was almost taken away.

Despite his MGU-K failure, Ricciardo kept going. The failure meant that his engine could recover less energy, meaning Ricciardo couldn’t deploy harvested electrical energy that could give him vital boosts and make his engine faster. All the other drivers, including Sebastian Vettel, had fully functioning MGU-K’s. Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari was the driver right behind Ricciardo’s Red Bull. So Ricciardo had this major engine problem, but he decided to keep going. He kept his cool, he was determined to reach the finish line. He couldn’t have another win taken away. Redemption came when Daniel Ricciardo won the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix.

This shows that Red Bull have a real chance at dominating at Monaco. They’ve won there 4 times before, once with a car that clearly wasn’t capable of winning a full championship. But this time in 2021, Red Bull have a car and a driver that can genuinely win the title. So I think Red Bull must capitalize on this opportunity, and try and get both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez on the podium, with one of the 2 drivers winning the race. If Red Bull does well at this race, it will be great for them. They can gain some serious ground on Mercedes in the championship. And that’s why I’ll be looking closely at Red Bull’s performance this weekend.


Monaco GP Circuit

FUN FACT: The FIA have to make multiple exceptions for the Monaco GP in terms of the rules so that the Circuit de Monaco and the Monaco GP is eligible for F1. For example, the distance in kilometres of a race has to be at least 305 km. However, the Circuit de Monaco is only 3.337 km long, meaning a race would have to be 91 laps long.

Lap times around Monaco are usually around the 1m 10s to the 1m 15s range. So a 91 lap race would be nearly 2 hours long. That’s WAY too long for an F1 race, and this is without the time for pitstops and potential Safety Cars included. So, the Monaco GP is a 78-lap race instead, which is already incredibly difficult for the drivers and is an hour-and-a-half long. The race distance, however, is 260 km, which is an exception only given to the Monaco GP.

Another exception is the track width. The width of an F1 track has to be at least 20 metres. However, the Circuit de Monaco is around 9-10 metres wide at most parts. At some of the narrowest corners, the track is just 7 metres wide. So the FIA have to make an exception to that 20-m width rule. That’s why the Monaco GP can stay on the F1 calendar, despite not following those rules. This race is just too good and too unique for the general rules to apply 😁.

This is the end of the post; the Monaco GP is going to be as exciting as ever this weekend, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out! I can’t wait to see if whatever I, and hopefully you guys are looking out for turn out to be true this weekend. Will Ferrari bring a proper, stellar performance? Will Max Verstappen get that 2nd race victory of 2021? Let me know in the comments below whether you guys will be watching for these things as well!

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