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Tyres should not be an issue - Ferrari could win
19 May 2005 Volume 7 - Issue 7

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Depending on how nimble the Ferrari is (over the years they have gone more towards relying on aerodynamics and not mechanical grip), Monaco is one of the few opportunities they may have to claw back the lead that Renault, Toyota and McLaren have already built up. 
The other option is for Bridgestone to build better tyres and that may take too long. 

Raikkonen certainly proved that McLaren have got it right, pretty early for them, this season. He built a commanding lead in Spain before the first round of pit stops and after that controlled the race from the front. Alonso, who finished second, tried to challenge but after Raikkonen caught him sleeping when the pace car went back in he never looked as if he could even get close.
Toyota were impressive too. They may not have had the pace to challenge for the lead but they must be happy with third and fourth place which only lost them one point to Renault and was just good enough to still be ahead of McLaren in constructors' points.

I thought it was a little strange to see Fisichella set a lap record on the last lap. Surely if he could go that fast on the last lap he could have done better during the race? Weird.

Monaco (track layout) is one of the oldest Grand Prix circuits still in use. By modern standards, it is totally unsuitable for Formula One racing. Because it wanders through a venue that has changed little since the days of horse drawn vehicles, the circuit layout cannot be changed without disfigurement of this grand old city.
There are no run off areas. There is very little space for marshals and safety equipment. The pits are crowded and barely offer enough space for the teams to deploy the essential race day equipment.
The event is so well organised that most of the failings are not noticed and any mishap is rectified in remarkably short time.
The start is very close to the first right turn which exits into the only bit of straight road on the circuit (275km/H or 170mph) (and even that has a kink in it) before braking for the big S-bend that ends up going around the Casino (125km/H or 77mph). A short squirt on the accelerator and it is down to 75km/H (46mph) for Mirabeau, which leads into the famous Grand Hotel hairpin that is negotiated at almost walking pace. Portier, the right turn that leads into the tunnel is not much faster but then they get a chance to blow the cobwebs out of the engines accelerating to near to 300km/H (186mph) along a gentle curve to the Nouvelle chicane just before the left turn (90km/H or 56mph) at Tabac. After that the cars never get above 200km/H or 124mph through the twisting section to the start of the pit straight (which is actually not a straight but a gentle right curve). 
There are no overtaking opportunities on the circuit. Monaco does not lend itself to even the smallest mistake. A small slide or misjudged corner will end in a touch with the very unforgiving barrier and almost always result in retirement. Where other circuits have run off areas Monaco has steel Armcos. Where other circuits have grass on the other side of curbs, in Monaco it is a concrete wall.
Strategy for the entire race weekend is very different in Monaco. It is incredibly easy to touch and Armco or misjudge a corner and most drivers will be very aware that the challenge is to qualify as high as possible but to make sure that they still have a car to start with. In Monaco, more than anywhere else, qualifying is on eggshells.

Having said that starting position is also more important here than on any other circuit. Not only is it impossible to make up positions on the track but the pits are so crowded that it is very difficult to orchestrate stops for overtaking. So much can go wrong and there is so little margin for error. 

In my pre-season review I said that 2005 will be The Year of the Rubber. 

I suggested that one of the tyre manufacturers may not get it right.

I rest my case. Bridgestone is just not up to scratch. 

Ferrari's chances of winning the constructors' championship and Michael Schumacher's chance of winning the drivers' championship is kind of over. 

Sure, Ferrari could still win races if the weather stays cool. The Ferrari is fast under all conditions, but the Bridgestones are not. Unless Bridgestone can pull a rabbit out of their hat Ferrari's season is over. 

Monaco could be one of the races that they can win. Michael has always been good at this track and if Barrichello can finish on the podium too they could make some inroads into the big points deficit.
But, to be able to do that they need a lot of mechanical grip as this race is too slow for aerodynamics to help much. Also as Michael had retired in Spain he will be one of the first to go out on Saturdays qualifying, which means that he will be out on a green track - not a good place to start if you want to be on pole.

My money for Monaco is on Renault who, even if they do not have a mechanical grip advantage, will have better traction control out of the very slow corners. They will be hard to beat and Alonso will be anxious to increase his lead in the championship. Fisichella is also fast at Monaco so if he does not save his fastest lap for the end of the race he could do well.

I am not sure how Toyota will do in Monaco. I suspect that a lot of their speed this season is due to superior power and Monaco is not a power circuit. I also suspect that they rely more than most on aerodynamic grip and again that will not help in Monaco.
Trulli and Ralf looked very strong in Spain and both are quite capable of winning the race if they can manage to set their car up for Monaco, but I will be surprised.

McLaren may do very well in Monaco. Their cars seem to be well balanced and could even have adequate mechanical grip this year. If the McLaren is fast I expect more from Raikkonen than Montoya. Raikkonen is very fast and consistent. Montoya on the other hand can be blisteringly fast but is inconsistent and prone to missing the road a little. One of those little offs at Monaco has a very high probability of ending his race.

Williams may also do well. With their rather patchy performance so far this year it is hard to judge how much mechanical grip the cars have. After Monaco we will know. 
Webber's car control is excellent and barring accidents or other mishaps I would expect him to do better than Heidfeld in Monaco.

Red Bull is unlikely to do well in my opinion. Their chassis has improved over the years but I still do not think that it is good enough to be in the running at Monaco. 
On the other hand, if their problem, as they claim, is lack of power from the ageing Cosworth engine, they could surprise us all. Monaco does not need that much power.

Sauber seems to be losing ground. Performance, when there is some, seems erratic.

Jordan and Minardi may circulate in the back but will hopefully not need to be lapped that often. Lapping rookie drivers is a problem at the best of times - in Monaco it could be a nightmare. 

The wild card for Monaco would have been BAR. I think that they may have the car to win and Button certainly could have been the pilot to do it. But that is not to be. 

Monaco is almost always an interesting race. The atmosphere is electrifying for those lucky enough to attend it in person but even those of us who have to watch it from the comfort of our homes can sense the excitement.

Agree or disagree ?

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