Monaco Grand Prix

Making sense of the Monaco Grand Prix

What happened at the Monaco Grand Prix? How did several drivers gain places at a circuit where passing is difficult at the best of times, let alone with the 2017 iteration of wider Formula One machinery? What makes Daniel Ricciardo so special in Monte Carlo? And did Ferrari lose the race with one driver so they could win it with another? (Answer: yes).

Here’s some answers courtesy of a chat with the 2017 Strategy Podcast: by Apex Race Manager, with the very affable Michael Lamonato as host. ‘Old mate’ gets a mention, and I even (sort of) praise Kimi Raikkonen, which happens as often as Monaco Grands Prix feature one breathtaking overtaking move after another.

Check it out here. 

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What happened at the Monaco Grand Prix?

Daniel Ricciardo makes it three Monaco podiums in four years, while the Prancing Horse wins the most famous F1 race of all, but not without controversy.

THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton: qualified 14th, finished 7th. Valtteri Bottas: qualified 3rd, finished 4th.

Sunday’s race around the streets of the Principality was just the fourth since 2014 where at least one Mercedes didn’t make the podium; for the record, the others were Hungary and Singapore 2015, and Spain last year. For Bottas, scoring his first points in Monaco would have taken some of that pain away, but on a rare weekend where teammate Hamilton was completely out of the picture, fourth would have been the bare minimum he would have wanted after qualifying just 0.045secs from pole position 24 hours earlier. The Finn spent most of the race withstanding pressure from the Red Bull of Verstappen, initially for the final spot on the podium, but later for fourth as Ricciardo jumped them both in the pit stops. While Bottas’ weekend was relatively straightforward, Hamilton’s was anything but, the Briton admitting that finding the sweet spot for setting up his Mercedes was a “mystery” after qualifying a poor 14th on Saturday, his one chance at a good lap to sneak into Q3 thwarted when Vandoorne crashed in front of him at the exit of the Swimming Pool complex. Hamilton had nothing to lose by running a marathon opening stint of 46 laps, and to gain six places from where he started – and to only drop 19 world championship points to Vettel on a weekend when it could have been so much worse – was as good as things could have been in the circumstances. “The team said in the strategy meeting this morning I could only get 10th, so I am happy,” he said.

Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo: qualified 5th, finished 3rd. Max Verstappen: qualified 4th, finished 5th.

After last year and THAT shambolic pit stop that cost him victory, Ricciardo knows a little about Monaco disappointment, and that misery looked set to extend to this year when he qualified half a second behind teammate Verstappen on Saturday, blaming the team for releasing him onto the track into traffic in what he called a “stupid, silly error”. The usual Ricciardo smile returned on Sunday though, a magical five-lap stint after Bottas and Verstappen pitted seeing him leapfrog the pair of them into the final podium spot after his own stop, his one scary moment thereafter coming when he brushed the barriers at the first corner following the safety car re-start with 11 laps remaining. A third podium in his last four races in Monaco and a second consecutive third place after finishing in the same spot in Barcelona two weeks earlier was reward for his searing pace when it counted. Verstappen finished a race in Monaco for the first time, but was less than impressed to find out he was behind his teammate after the stops, and could never get close enough to Bottas to mount a serious challenge as the laps wound down.

Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel: qualified 2nd, finished 1st. Kimi Raikkonen: qualified 1st, finished 2nd.

With Hamilton out of the picture for a race win, Ferrari ended up with the perfect result for its world championship aspirations. Vettel’s victory was the first for the famed red team at Monaco since 2001, and one that extended his margin over the Mercedes driver to 25 points six races into the season. But was it a victory that owed itself to a pre-arranged team order, or one where the German simply made the best of what was, in hindsight, the better strategy? Raikkonen took his first pole since the 2008 French Grand Prix on Saturday and controlled the race for the first 34 laps until his pit stop on Sunday, but Vettel stayed out, pumped in a series of searing laps, and jumped the Finn in the pits to take a lead he never looked like relinquishing. Vettel has now finished either first or second in every race this year, and with a race win worth of points as a margin after just six Grands Prix, is sitting pretty atop the standings. Raikkonen’s facial expressions and immediate media interactions after the race didn’t give away much – they rarely do – but the veteran was clearly not amused that his best chance of snapping a win drought that goes back to the 2013 Australian GP went begging. “It’s still second place, but it doesn’t count a lot in my books,” he eventually said.

Force India
Sergio Perez: qualified 7th, finished 13th. Esteban Ocon: qualified 16th, finished 12th.

A run of seven straight races with both cars in the points – five this season – came to a crashing halt for Force India at Monaco, with Ocon in particular labouring through a difficult first race meeting at one of the world’s most unforgiving circuits. The young Frenchman crashed at the end of the final practice session on Saturday and could only qualify his hastily-rebuilt car 16th, and any chance of points evaporated when he had to make a second unscheduled pit stop on lap 40 with a left rear puncture. While Ocon finished second-last, teammate Perez was last as a 15-race run of top-10 results came to an end. The Mexican qualified strongly but pitted on lap 16 with a broken front wing, and was always going to struggle to score after that, a late-race coming-together with Kvyat’s Toro Rosso sending the Russian into retirement, and Perez back into the pits for a third time. Fresh tyres helped him set the fastest lap of the race three laps from the end, but that was little consolation on a rough day for a team that has over-achieved all season.

Williams
Felipe Massa: qualified 15th, finished 9th. Lance Stroll: qualified 18th, did not finish.

Massa was one of several drivers to not get a representative lap time in after Vandoorne’s qualifying crash, so to finish in the points from a lowly starting position of 15th was a decent result, a late-race pit stop for fresh rubber under the safety car seeing the veteran salvage something from an afternoon spent in a raging midfield battle. The Brazilian continues to plough a lone furrow at Williams, with Stroll failing to finish for the fourth time in six races, this time because of overheating brakes. The Canadian teenager admitted in the lead-up to Monaco that he’d been getting the track wrong on Playstation, and quickly got it wrong on the real thing too, crashing at Casino Square, almost inevitably, in Thursday practice. His home Grand Prix in Montreal – and a whole heap of pressure – is his next test.

McLaren
Jenson Button: qualified 9th, did not finish. Stoffel Vandoorne: qualified 10th, did not finish.

For a team that sits last in the constructors’ championship and one that may have squandered its best chance for points all season, McLaren certainly generated plenty of headlines at Monaco, not least because of the return of Button as a super-sub as Fernando Alonso turned his attentions to the Indianapolis 500 half a world away. The 2009 world champion qualified a credible ninth, but Alonso would have sympathised with his old teammate as Button was sent to the back of the grid with a 15-place penalty for having to change engine components. The Briton started from the pit lane and ran around in either last or second-last until lap 60, when he clumsily lunged at Wehrlein’s Sauber and sent the German’s car onto its side against the barriers while wrecking his own, causing a safety car. Teammate Vandoorne made it into Q3 but couldn’t take part after crashing in qualifying, took a three-place penalty for nerfing Massa off in the last race in Spain, got himself into position to score the team’s first points of 2017, and then dropped it at the first corner with Perez in hot pursuit with 12 laps to go and hit the barriers.

Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat: qualified 11th, did not finish. Carlos Sainz: qualified 6th, finished 6th.

Sainz admitted he didn’t expect to qualify sixth on Saturday, and that surprise gave way to elation 24 hours later when he finished in the same position he started despite Hamilton breathing down his neck in the manic final laps. It was the Spaniard’s best result of the season to date, and one that saw him jump to eighth in the drivers’ championship. Kvyat was desperately unlucky not to join him in the top 10 after being assaulted by Perez’s Force India at Rascasse and having to park up with seven laps to go.

Haas
Romain Grosjean: qualified 8th, finished 8th. Kevin Magnussen: qualified 13th, finished 10th.

The second-year American team made a change to its 2017 livery from Monaco onwards to allow the car to stand out more on TV, and Haas stood out on track for the right reasons too after a first two-car points result for the season. Grosjean survived a fraught qualifying session where he had two spins to start eighth and finish in the same spot, while Magnussen made one of the better starts in the field to jump two rivals into the first corner, and overcame an unscheduled pit stop for a puncture to hold off Palmer’s Renault for the final points-scoring position on offer.

Renault
Jolyon Palmer: qualified 17th, finished 11th. Nico Hulkenberg: qualified 12th, did not finish.

Monaco started badly and didn’t improve a lot for Renault, with Palmer still seeking his first points of 2017, and Hulkenberg the first retirement of the race with a gearbox drama on lap 16. The yellow team’s problems started in practice on Thursday, when Hulkenberg had an electrical failure that prevented him from doing any laps in the opening practice session, and Palmer blowing an engine in FP2 after only eight laps.

Sauber
Marcus Ericsson: qualified 20th, did not finish. Pascal Wehrlein: qualified 19th, did not finish.

Spectators were understandably concerned when Wehrlein ended up stuck in his car while it was tipped onto its left side after being flipped by Button, an incident that came only months after the young German was in an accident at the off-season Race of Champions in Miami that left him with a back injury and caused him to miss the opening two races of the year in Australia and China. Fortunately Wehrlein was OK, but Monaco was quite the come-down after his strong run last time out in Spain. Ericsson qualified last after smacking the wall at the Nouvelle Chicane in qualifying, complained that his car was “so difficult to drive” in the race, and then crashed at the first corner on lap 65 under safety car conditions in a moment that won’t go down as his finest in an F1 car.

The Dan Diaries: Why Monaco is magic

Daniel Ricciardo writes about the most famous F1 race of all – and why street circuits sort out the men from the boys.

THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM

It’s about to be the busiest week of the year with Monaco this weekend, which is why I’m spending some time now just cruising, chilling at home in my apartment, and waiting for the chaos to begin! But the chaos is definitely cool, and it’s the one race of the year that the time before you get out on track for first practice can’t go quickly enough.

I’ve lived here now since the middle of 2013, and there’s definitely no other week like the race week. Monaco changes so much from what it normally is that I hardly recognise the place to be honest. It feels like a real race track, and I’m not thinking ‘there’s a cafe I eat at’ or ‘there’s a street I ride my Vespa down’ or whatever. All these restaurants and bars have pop-ups that just emerge for the week, and with all of the road closures, it doesn’t really feel like home at all, even though you’re at home surrounded by your own stuff. The boats in the harbour get bigger too, not that they’re ever that small here …

The logistics of the whole event are pretty unreal too when you think of what a small space it is. The Porsche support paddock is near where I live, and the World Series paddock is on the other side of Monaco altogether. There’s cars stashed all around the city, which is kinda cool. It always amazes me how fast everything gets packed up afterwards too. The grandstands, those guys don’t muck around – give it a week or two after the race, and things are more or less back to normal, which is pretty impressive.

Probably the weirdest thing for me with Monaco is the routine you get into for the weekend when you live here. You wake up in your own bed, kick around your apartment and then start the journey to work. Walk down to the port, get onto a boat, and then onto the Energy Station which is Red Bull’s base for the weekend. It’s a nice way to get to work! It’s the little things like that that mean I can’t ever see the novelty of Monaco wearing off on race week. I’ve done F1 for a few years now and there are things like, say, testing, where it doesn’t give you the excitement it once did. But Monaco on race week – you’d never take it for granted.

Thursday practice is all about recalibrating your brain to just how tight this place is, getting your eyes to adjust to seeing barriers and not grass or gravel run-offs. I always think that some drivers are born with some street circuit abilities and are confident, and others aren’t. The first time I ever did a street circuit was in Macau, and I really didn’t know what sort of driver I’d be – I’d either be shit-scared of walls, or love them! But I loved them straight away. When one driver would, say, clip a barrier and not want to do that again, I’d be more like ‘let’s do that again if it makes my lap faster’. Walking that tightrope is just so cool. But Thursday at Monaco has to be a gradual process. You need as much track time as you can get, so going too hard too early and smashing up the car can ruin the whole weekend, so you build and build as the sessions go on. The idea is that by Saturday afternoon in Q3 when you have that one lap to nail it in qualifying, you’re completely ready to push that little bit more.

Picking a favourite part of the track is hard because it’s all so good, but Tabac and the entry to the Swimming Pool section are pretty special. They’re the fastest corners on the track and I like the fast stuff, plus you have to use all of the track. Tabac, the commitment you need is pretty immense, and you see the guys with the confidence on street circuits have the car pinned right up against the outside barrier, whereas some other guys will be half a metre away. And Swimming Pool, jumping across the kerbs … so good. The hardest corner? Turn 1, Sainte Devote, which is why you see a lot of people drop it in the barriers there. It’s tricky, the apex is a bit blind, and you normally get there in qualifying when your tyres are at their coldest. If you lock a brake, you’re in the barrier or have to bail out and go left down the escape road, so your lap is gone. For me, that’s always been the corner on the track where if you get it right, it feels seriously good. It’s the one corner where you always feel you could have got a bit more out of it, but you’re better off being at 98 per cent there than over the top.

Last year I got pole and did a 1min 13.6sec lap, which was seven-tenths faster than I’d done all weekend before that. It was the most intense 73 seconds of the year, and I can remember the lap pretty clearly even now. That first corner, I nailed it in terms of the braking point and not locking a wheel, and I remember getting out of Turn 1 and feeling really confident that something good could be about to happen. When I got to Mirabeau, there’s a banking right on the apex, and your front wheel either drops into it or skates across it. The front wheel dropped perfectly, and that gave me even more confidence. And then the last sector of the lap, it’s the part I like best and where I feel I really come into my own. Add all of that together – it’s my only pole position so it’s not like I have heaps of them to remember, but it was a pretty sweet lap because even now, re-thinking it corner by corner, I can’t see where I could have realistically got much more out of it.

There’s so much going on socially during this week that there’s distractions everywhere if you’re looking for them. I actually find that motivating – there’s all these people here for the show, Monaco is the centre of attention, and I’m in the middle of it – there’s a chance to be the hero of the scene! Every year I have friends who come to this race, and part of me is envious because they’re able to soak the whole experience in. Even if you’re not at the events and the parties, you still feel the atmosphere. The good thing for me is that if I have mates come to other races that are a bit quieter, I worry that maybe they won’t have as much to do and I feel more obliged to make sure they’re having a good time and all of that. Here? I can let them get on with it – point them in the direction of some bars and hopefully join them Sunday night if everything goes like I want it to!

Front to back: the Monaco Grand Prix

Reviewing every F1 team and driver from the year’s most glamorous GP.

THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM.AU

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton:
qualified 3rd, finished 1st
Nico Rosberg: qualified 2nd, finished 7th
A race that Hamilton won, or one that was gifted to him? Red Bull’s calamitous pit stop on lap 32 for race leader Ricciardo gave Hamilton the track advantage that goes nine-tenths towards a win at Monaco, and despite some desperate defending after various safety car re-starts, the Mercedes driver always looked to have the Aussie under control, making his ultrasoft tyres last for 47 laps in a marathon stint even Pirelli admitted was beyond their expectations. Hamilton had led one lap all season before Sunday, but when presented with an open goal by Red Bull, duly drilled it into the back of the net for his second Monaco win, the 44th of his career, and the fourth win in a row by Mercedes in Monte Carlo. Rosberg struggled with brake issues in the early stages and was instructed to let Hamilton past by Mercedes, and spent much of his race tucked up behind Alonso’s McLaren, a sentence that’s unlikely to be written again any time soon. Getting mugged by the Force India of Hulkenberg on the run to the chequered flag compounded a miserable afternoon for the championship leader, who saw his series lead slashed to 24 points, less than a race win for the first time this season.

Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel:
qualified 4th, finished 4th
Kimi Raikkonen: qualified 6th, did not finish
Another race that promised much and undelivered for Ferrari, with Vettel finishing where he started and Raikkonen making an error befitting a Monaco rookie, not a driver who has a Monte Carlo history stretching back to 2001. Try as he might, Vettel couldn’t catch the similarly soft tyre-shod Force India of Perez in the final laps to snare a podium, while Raikkonen’s race was over when he clouted the barrier at the hairpin on lap 12 – and then inexplicably dragged his broken front wing beneath his car through the tunnel and for another five corners before parking up. A five-place grid penalty for the Finn after qualifying for a gearbox change was hardly his fault; his actions on race day were careless and dangerous, in that order.

Williams
Felipe Massa:
qualified 14th, finished 10th
Valtteri Bottas: qualified 11th, finished 11th
Monaco has been a bogey track for Williams in recent years – the team had just two points finishes between its two cars in the previous four races in the Principality before Sunday – so a single point for Massa and a near-miss for Bottas was something after a weekend where pure performance was hard to find. Massa was on his back foot after a Thursday practice crash but crept into the top 10, while Bottas was agonisingly close to scoring his first point in Monte Carlo. Canada next time out should be more to the team’s liking.

Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo:
qualified 1st, finished 2nd
Max Verstappen: qualified 21st, did not finish
Ricciardo was publicly pragmatic after a strategy decision scuppered his chances of a win in Spain last time out, but made his true feelings better known on Sunday, when a win – another one – was taken from his hands. Starting from pole for the first time in his 94th Grand Prix, Ricciardo was in devastating form once the safety car allowed the pack to go racing on lap eight, storming away to a 12-second lead as the others slipped and slid behind him. A lap 23 pit stop for intermediate tyres went smoothly, and while he lost track position to Hamilton, he looked to have the world champion covered until his second stop on lap 32, where he sat for an eternity in his pit box waiting for tyres that should have been ready. The usually talkative Aussie was at a loss for words after the race, and his best result of the season should have been one better. Teammate Verstappen fell back to earth in a big way after his memorable win last time out in Barcelona, crashing heavily in qualifying, starting from the pit lane, scything his way into the top 10 and then throwing it all away with a shunt at Massenet. A Monaco podium isn’t to be sniffed at for any team, but few at RBR would have been satisfied with Sunday’s result.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg:
qualified 5th, finished 6th
Sergio Perez: qualified 8th, finished 3rd
A quite incredible day for the English-based Indian-owned outfit, with Perez taking the team’s first Monaco podium, and Hulkenberg elbowing Rosberg out of the way on the run to the finish line for sixth. Perez’s podium was the sixth of his career, and he made his tyres last in signature style to grab a great result when the opportunity presented itself, a trademark of his F1 tenure. Hulkenberg was over a minute behind the Mexican at the end after being bottled up by the train of cars headed by Alonso’s McLaren, but the 23 points scored by the team represented its best single-race haul since Bahrain 2014.

Renault
Jolyon Palmer: qualified 18th, did not finish
Kevin Magnussen: qualified 16th, did not finish
With former driver Pastor Maldonado watching on from the paddock, Palmer did his best impression of the erratic Venezuelan by shunting his Renault on the start-finish straight seconds after the race went green on lap eight, spinning his rear wheels on a slick zebra crossing and spearing into the barriers. Teammate Magnussen was another to get an early bath after a shunt with the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat at Rascasse and another nose-first meeting with the barriers later on at Mirabeau. An expensive weekend for a team that has managed one points finish in six races.

Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat:
qualified 9th, did not finish
Carlos Sainz: qualified 7th, finished 8th
Kvyat’s race officially ended on lap 22 after his crash with Magnussen; in truth, it ended much earlier than that, his car stuck in its pit lane speed limiter when the race began behind the safety car, which saw the Russian tumble to a lap down and in a hopeless position before a lap had been turned in anger. Sainz would have expected more after starting sixth, but got stuck in the Alonso-led train and had to be satisfied with a second points finish in as many years at Monaco.

Sauber
Felipe Nasr:
qualified 22nd, did not finish
Marcus Ericsson: qualified 17th, did not finish
An absolute nightmare of a weekend for a team with cashflow problems and limited spare parts. Running 15th and 16th respectively, Nasr was asked to move aside for Ericsson, but wasn’t keen on the suggestion. The Swede then sent an optimistic move up the inside of the Brazilian at Rascasse, and an embarrassing shower of carbon fibre was the result. Former driver turned TV commentator Martin Brundle considered the debacle to be a “sackable offence” for both drivers – before remembering that both drivers bring considerable funding to enable the team to go racing in the first place. Or watching other people race, which they did after lap 53. “Nothing more to add,” was Sauber’s succinct tweet afterwards. Ericsson was handed a three-place grid penalty for the incident for the next race in Montreal.

McLaren
Jenson Button:
qualified 13th, finished 9th
Fernando Alonso: qualified 10th, finished 5th
“Rain, snow, anything that can happen will help,” was Alonso’s tongue-in-cheek wish for Sunday’s race, and the Spaniard used the tricky conditions and track position to perfection to hold off a gaggle of faster cars for his best result of the season, and one that equalled McLaren’s best haul in the latest iteration of the McLaren-Honda axis from Alonso’s fifth in Hungary last year. Renowned rain master Button finished four places further back after rolling the dice earlier than most on intermediate tyres on a still slick track as soon as the race proper got underway on lap eight, and 12 points between its drivers saw McLaren leapfrog Haas in the constructors’ standings on a weekend where it celebrated 50 years in the sport.

Manor
Pascal Wehrlein:
qualified 20th, finished 14th
Rio Haryanto: qualified 19th, finished 15th
Getting both cars to the finish was no mean feat for Manor at the circuit where the late Jules Bianchi scored the only points in the team’s history two years ago. Wehrlein found it hard to get to grips with a circuit he was racing at for the first time, and used a lengthy opening stint on wet-weather tyres to climb up the order from his lowly grid slot. Haryanto out-qualified his highly-regarded young teammate again (it’s now 3-3 for the season in their head-to-head), but struggled with the endless blue flags that come with driving for a backmarker team on the tightest track of all.

Haas
Romain Grosjean:
qualified 15th, finished 13th
Esteban Gutierrez: qualified 12th, finished 12th
Grosjean was badly compromised by being blocked by the broken Ferrari of former teammate Raikkonen in the early stages, making his displeasure very clear over the radio, and never really figuring in points-paying contention after that. Gutierrez out-qualified his teammate for the first time all season and finished ahead of him for the second time, but Haas left its first Monaco GP weekend with no points for the third time in the past four races.

Why Monaco is magic for Ricciardo

The Red Bull racer reveals his five favourite things about the most prestigious race in F1.

THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM.AU

Let’s face it, it doesn’t take much to get Daniel Ricciardo to smile – but the wattage on the Red Bull Racing star’s grin is brighter than usual when the Monaco Grand Prix comes around each year. The Perth-born 26-year-old isn’t likely to have a Formula One race held in his backyard in the capital of Western Australia any time soon, but as a resident of the world’s most glamorous principality for the last three years, Monaco is a ‘home’ race, and one that he embraces.

Ahead of this week’s sixth round of the 2016 F1 world championship, here’s Ricciardo’s five favourite things about the Monaco Grand Prix.

1. It’s even better than you think
“When I first came here to race in 2010, I fell in love with the streets, I fell in love with the track – it was everything I hoped it would be,” he says.

“I’d seen it as a spectator and on TV obviously, but to be out there and drive that track that so many great drivers have raced on and to be a part of it – it’s almost a bit surreal in a way, and something that will never get old for me.”

2. I can sleep in my own bed
“It’s definitely unique for that – sleeping in your own bed is good at any time with the travel that we do, but to do that and still go to work and race in a Grand Prix – that’s pretty cool,” he says.

“You can imagine how much flying we do each year with the races, testing, visiting the factory and so on, so to be in your own bed for 10 straight days and not have to fly anywhere is a small thing, but something any of the drivers here will tell you is the best.

“Walking to a track is obviously pretty rare. I moved to Monaco to live in the second half of 2013, so the first race I did here as a resident was in 2014. I finished on the podium that year – it was one of my first podiums in F1 – and after all of the hype and the attention with the podium, two hours later I was at home on my couch with the TV on like it was the most standard Sunday in the world.”

3. You always want to do more laps
“It’s one of the few tracks you go to anywhere in the world that still leaves you wanting more on a Sunday afternoon,” Ricciardo says.

“You feel as though you’ve only just found the limit by the end of the race, and then it’s over when you wouldn’t mind doing just one more lap, and then another, and then another … And then we have to wait another year for the next time, and you have to start from almost zero again.

“Shaving tiny amounts of lap time off is a massive rush and it’s the most satisfying place of the year to get a lap absolutely right. The pressure of that one qualifying lap you have to nail on the Saturday – all of us drivers love it.”

4. There’s no margin for error
“It’s just so intimidating to drive an F1 car around here,” he says.

“The first lap that you do in Thursday practice each year, it’s probably a 1min 25secs lap – and you literally have to find 10 seconds of lap time in the next two days. Even saying that sounds kind of ridiculous, so it’s a concept that sounds absolutely impossible. But we have to do it, and that’s one of the things I love about this place. This place demands 100 per cent concentration every corner of every lap of the whole weekend, because you can absolutely ruin the whole thing if you’re not completely on it.”

5. It’s a good place for a celebration
“Monaco is a bit like Oz for me in that there’s a lot going on,” he says.

“Within reason I try to enjoy it – if I have mates in town for the race I try to catch up with them – but the easiest thing is to get them to come to my place to visit, perhaps the Thursday night because we’re not on track Friday, so we can have some dinner and I can see them all with no stress. Monaco is pretty hard to get around at the best of times, but it’s obviously way harder in the race week with the roads blocked and people everywhere.

“Sunday night is always one of the best nights of the year in a place that always likes to have a good time in the evening, and there’ll often be some beach parties on Monday that keep it going. So it’s a track where you’re keen to have a good result because of its history and the challenge of it, and then you can justify partying hard in a good place for it afterwards. That’s the plan for this week!”