The weekend at the end of May begins the two most anticipated automotive weeks of the year, those of the Triple Crown. The crowd atmosphere in the Principality is certainly not up to the level of the huge crowds at Indianapolis and Le Mans, both due to the limited presence due to the obvious lack of space, and the general disinterest of the guests in the paddock. Even Sunday’s race isn’t particularly spectacular in terms of competition, with modern super-large Formula 1 cars making overtaking prohibitively expensive. Still, there are elements of charm that make the Monte Carlo Grand Prix unique on the Formula 1 calendar, with the potential to break the Red Bull hegemony seen so far.
A victory built on Friday
The competitiveness of the car remains key. And yet, proportionally, in the Principality, the pilots are able to make their talent count more. Confidence in the car is essential to get close to touching the guardrails, exploiting every millimeter of a track that is the narrowest in the World Championship. The victory in the Principality it is built from friday, where it is important to use every minute to move around the track and build confidence on the bike. In the past it has been seen how a single practice session lost due to an accident or a technical failure can put the driver and the team behind in preparation that can no longer be recovered.
The absence of overtaking often makes the race the most soporific of the year, but at the same time it elevates qualifying to one of the most interesting moments of the entire motorsport season. In addition to the mastery of completing a lap through the streets of the Principality, pole position is played in the ability to take advantage of the ideal moment to do so. Not only are traffic hazards and yellow flags always around every corner, but the track just keeps getting better by the minute. In fact, the asphalt has the lowest grip level of the year which, combined with the reopening of the circuit in the afternoon, makes the track very sensitive to dirt and gum deposits along the way. Finally, the low speeds prevent enough energy from being transferred to the tires to get them up to temperature quickly, so on Saturday you should also consider whether to do a sprint lap or two.
The pitfalls of Sunday’s race are certainly more apparent to the protagonists than to the outside public. The uninterrupted succession of corners, with the rails always a few centimeters away, makes the 78 laps of the Grand Prix the most mentally stressful test of the year. With overtaking almost prohibited, a single pit stop is the only way to recover positions. The low wear on the tires and the difficult warm-up in general make the overcut tactic rewarding, postponing the pit stop compared to the rivals and also putting yourself in a position to benefit from a Safety Car. track is the key variable for stopping time, but hills, tunnels, and buildings limit GPS accuracy and other tools to track cars on the track.
Ferrari and Aston Martin to the assault
In a category like Formula 1 where hierarchies are carved in stone, Monte Carlo’s atypical character makes it the most credible candidate to give away a different winner than the usual ones. There are many anomalies, starting with the lowest average speed per lap of the year, barely 170 km/h in qualifying, compared to the average for the rest of the circuits, which fluctuates between 210 and 250 km/h. Therefore, Red Bull will not be able to enforce its super DRSnor the excellent aerodynamic efficiency of the RB19. The low speeds invite you to adopt the maximum load configurations, calling into question the options available to world champions. The RB19 has so far expressed levels of downforce that are superior to those of the competition, but also dictated by excellent straight-line efficiency that has allowed the team to load downforce without fear. However, Monaco is racing with the maximum downforce available and Red Bull can count on a limited rear wing package, relying mainly on the wing and underbody throughout the year to regulate the level of downforce.
However, aerodynamics count relatively given the low speeds involved, highlighting the mechanical grip guaranteed by the suspensions. Red Bull has so far been the queen in the suspension group, but it is worth specifying the differences between the different qualities. The RB19 benefits from excellent in-motion chassis stabilization capabilities to generate maximum load, but in Munich it is above all the traction capacity that counts out of the curve. Both Aston Martin and Ferrari are two very effective cars in low-speed corners, while Red Bull has often struggled in tight corners, as was also seen in the second sector of Miami.
It must also be said that in Monaco the configuration priorities are different and that is why the panorama could change, since there are fewer compromise options. In fact, the problem of stiffening the mechanics to stabilize the aerodynamics is less, while so far the RB19 has adopted a very rigid suspension to turn close to the ground. By contrast, Red Bull has often sacrificed lap performance to gain race pace, but in Monaco, Saturday takes precedence. Aston Martin and Fernando Alonso They have been pointing for a long time to the great opportunity that the Principality has to aim for victory, but neither the AMR23 nor the Asturian have their strong point in the classification. Charles Leclerc and the SF-23 for their part, they are on average the best interpreters of the fastest lap and the homogeneity of the curves present in Monaco will also mask the balance problems of the Ferraris in the transition from high to low speeds.
Few news, but Mercedes surprises
Precisely because of its atypical nature, it is rare for teams to bring particular updates to Monaco, limiting themselves to adaptations. They appear in single-seaters new directing kinematics to narrow the turning radius, essential in curves like Loews and Rascasse. The air intakes for the brakes, on the other hand, are enlarged to ensure sufficient cooling despite low speeds. Some new rear wings could also make their debut, as Formula 1 has so far mostly run on fairly fluid circuits.
However, this year Mercedes will go against the grain and introduce the major upgrade package initially planned for Imola. they wait new bellies and an updated front suspension, which forced a data collection job on Friday that could divert attention from the delicate preparation of the race. It is not a small risk in a weekend already full of variables, which speaks to all the frenzy in Brackley to get ahead of the times and understand the path to take as soon as possible.
Low pressures, big cambers
Also this year Pirelli will bring the softest compounds available, the C3, C4 and C5, taking advantage of the low wear level of asphalt. Low travel speeds also reduce stress on the tires, allowing go down with the pressures static inflation. In Monaco these will be 21 and 19 psi at the front and rear respectively, much lower than the 24.5 and 20.5 psi in Miami. For similar reasons, recommendations for rear lean angles are also less severe, going up to -2.50°, while Pirelli generally sticks to -1.75°, helping to find more mechanical grip. Lastly, the debut of the new wet beds that do not require electric blankets cannot be ruled out. The weather does not guarantee a weekend without rain, which, if it arrived, would reshuffle the cards for an event already free of forecasts.
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