Round six of the 2012 Formula One World Championship sees the teams and drivers head for the Monaco Grand Prix, the jewel in the sport’s crown and a race which this year celebrates its 70th anniversary.
The tight and twisting streets of the Principality first played host to the world’s best drivers and machinery in 1929, when William Grover-Williams triumphed in a Bugatti, and in the decades since it joined the F1 calendar in 1950, the Monaco Grand Prix has lost none of its glamorous lustre, with stars of stage and screen rubbing shoulders with royalty, business tycoons and racing heroes throughout the high-glamour, high-octane weekend.
For the race drivers, however, it’s one of the most demanding racing weekends of the season at a circuit where the closeness of the walls and the slippery, unpredictable nature of the road surfaces mean that the tiniest error is often severely punished.
As such, ultra-refined high downforce aero packages will be the order of the day, as will Pirelli’s Super Soft tyre, which makes its first appearance of the season here in Monaco, alongside the more familiar Soft compound. The Super Soft is unchanged from last year, and while in 2011 teams expected the tyre to last just 10 laps, in the race drivers used them for anywhere between 12 and 32 laps in their first stint. Maximising that compound could prove crucial here.
Formula One also heads to Monaco with the possibility of remarkable record being set this weekend. The 2011 season has seen a different winner at each of the opening five races. That last happened in 1983 (Nelson Piquet, John Watson, Alain Prost, Patrick Tambay, Keke Rosberg) but six different winners at the opening six rounds has never happened in the sport’s 62-year history.
Circuit de Monaco
Length of lap:
3.340km Lap record
1:14.439 (Michael Schumacher
Ferrari, 2004) Start line/finish line offset
0.000km Total number of race laps
78 Total race distance
260.520km Pitlane speed limits
60km/h during practice, qualifying and race
CHANGES TO THE CIRCUIT SINCE 2011
Various sections of the circuit have been resurfaced in order to remove bumps that were present in 2011.
Tyre walls have been replaced by TecPro barriers in turns 1 and 14.
One ‘planter’ has been removed on the right in the pit exit thereby allowing a straighter line out of the pits.
The crane situated on the end of the barrier in the run-off area at the chicane has been removed thereby providing nearly 15 metres more space.
An abrasive surface has been laid in the run-offs at turns 1, 5 and 10.