Force India Race Preview - Monaco
Thursday, 24 May 2018 | Ravenol Marketing
This weekend our Technical Partners Force India are in the glamorous Monte Carlo for the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix. A local event for many of the drivers who live there, they are joined by the world’s rich and famous who park their super-yachts in the famous Port Hercules harbour. Arguably the sport’s most iconic street circuit, the Circuit de Monaco winds its way through the steep, narrow city streets, round the tightest corner in the calendar – the Fairmont Hairpin – through the long tunnel and out onto the long straight that runs alongside the harbour. And don’t forget that Free Practice is today, with the city streets open to traffic on Friday.
Monaco is well known as a difficult place for overtaking, with the numerous safety car appearances often being the only thing to shake up the starting order. That said, it’s a circuit where the undercut works, and the debut appearance of the hypersoft tyre – with a pink side wall clearly designed to go with the VJM11 – should guarantee no shortage of two stop strategies.
The tight corners and short straights won’t favour the VJM11’s Mercedes-AMG power unit, and even Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has admitted he is worried about his cars’ performance compared to the Ferrari’s and Renault powered Red Bull cars. But don’t forget it was our man Sergio “Checo” Perez who got the fastest lap there last year, though unfortunately it only translated into P13, one place behind team mate Esteban Ocon.
This year things are more promising with the team already racking up top 10 finishes and even a podium in Baku! And that performance is reflected in the drivers’ confidence as they head to their favourite circuit on the calendar:
“I love everything about Monaco. It’s my favourite track and it’s one of the biggest races of the year,” Checo told Force India’s Drivers’ Eye. “The reason I like Monaco so much is because it’s not easy. It’s a massive challenge and it’s always a tough race. Every lap you are under pressure. There is no chance to relax. You need to build up your speed, build your confidence and be careful not to overstep the limit. When the car is working well and you have confidence, it’s the best feeling in the world.
“Qualifying in Monaco is the most important session of the year. I usually say that qualifying is 99% of the weekend because overtaking on Sunday is very difficult – unless it rains. So there is big pressure on the Saturday and it’s not easy to find space in Q1 when all the cars are on track. It can become a lottery. You rely on your team to help you find some space.
“I’ve had some good results in Monaco, especially the podium two years ago. I always enjoy street circuits and I think it’s another good opportunity for us to score points.”
On the back of two DNF’s due to a collision with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in Azerbaijan and an engine issue in Spain, Esteban will surely be keen to get back out on track and score some more points. But even he is enjoying the moment in the Jewel of the F1 Crown.
“When you think of F1, you think of Monaco. Driving on the famous streets in an F1 car was a dream come true and I’m just as excited to go back there this year,” he said. “The location is so spectacular. It’s beautiful and glamorous with an amazing atmosphere. When you arrive at the start of the week you can’t help smiling when you walk down the pit lane and see all the final touches being made.”
“It’s definitely the busiest week of the year. All the sponsors want to be there and every night you have events. It’s also a true driving challenge. You have to be so precise and there is no room for error. You have to find the limit quickly and be careful not to step over it. Last year I found out the hard way in FP3, but with more experience this year I hope it won’t happen again.”
As you said Esteban, RAVENOL wants to be with you in Monaco too, but unfortunately you’ll have to wait until Silverstone where you can meet us at the Force India Fan Zone in the Woodlands Campsite. We look forward to seeing both drivers and all the Force India fans there!