And so F1 heads back to Monte Carlo for its unique event. The racing isn’t usually much cop, although the crashes and incidents are pretty much guaranteed to be dramatic, but the glitz and glamour usually make up for the processional racing. Maybe this year, things will be different…
This year, even more than ever, everyone is focussing on qualifying for the Monaco GP. The form book suggests the grid will be headed up by Mercedes – looking amazingly fast over a single qualifying lap but awful on tyre wear when the car is asked to do a few more laps – and then we have the other leading cars (Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus) followed by a large gang of also-rans (McLaren, Torro Rosso, Force India, Williams and Sauber) and then we have the others (Caterham and Marussia).
If the form book is right, we ironically have one of the few drivers who might try to overtake someone starting on Pole Position. Whilst Hamilton may have to make his way through traffic, he should qualify at the front and thus may make it to the chequered in the lead – but Pirelli’s tyres may yet have an impact in Monaco. The difference in laptimes between new and old tyres can be as much as 2-3 seconds sometimes and a clever pit stop strategy, which makes the most of a clear track and the driver’s bravery could well see a driver moving up the order.
Whilst I don’t have access to the amazing technology and race simulators that the teams use to work out strategy, my game plan would be to qualify as far up the order as possible and then be the first driver in to change tyres after about 7 or 8 laps, so that I could then put in some really fast laps on new tyres once the other drivers pit from in front of me. Hopefully, they will come out of the pits behind me and I will be the winner.
Of course, we may see a true overtake this year. If we see two drivers on massively different tyres, we may well see a pass into the first corner or coming out of the tunnel. If not, then we will just have to admire the drivers racing at amazing speeds, just millimetres from the steel barriers.
Between now and the weekend, I will be watching the weather forecast. Its currently set for rain showers on Saturday and sunny on Sunday. So a wet-dry-wet qualifying could well upset the order and put the faster race cars behind slower ones for the race.
Whatever happens, I am looking forward to Monaco.
(Thanks to www.f1-fansite.com for the image.)