Following the cancelation of last weekend’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Imola due to heavy floods, the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship returns this weekend with round seven, the Monaco Grand Prix, which takes us to the streets of Monte Carlo.
The Monaco Grand Prix is the most famous race on the calendar, and one every driver wants to win at least once in their career. However, it’s a bit of an anomaly due to the low speeds attained on the narrow Monaco street circuit, with just 34% of a lap taken at full throttle. The conditions make overtaking extremely difficult, so qualifying at Monaco is more important than at any other circuit.
The first Monaco Grand Prix was organised in 1929 by Antony Noghès, whose name features on the final corner of the current circuit. And the Monaco race was also on 1950’s inaugural F1 calendar, and has been a regular fixture since 1955. The layout of the 2.1-mile street circuit, officially the Circuit de Monaco, has remained largely unchanged over the years, the biggest updates taking place in 2004 when a new pit complex was built.
Its tight layout and close walls mean there’s no margin for error, so even with the low speeds drivers need full concentration at all times. Braking as little as seven feet too late can ruin the entire weekend. If a driver’s lucky, they’ll end up on an escape road. If not, the car is wrecked.
Circuit de Monaco, home of the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix
Grip levels are also low since the circuit consists fully of public roads that open to normal traffic in the evening after Friday’s practice and Saturday’s qualifying, meaning there isn’t much rubber left on the surface by the time of Sunday’s race. As a result, cars run a special high-downforce configuration in Monaco to help maximize grip.
The slippery surface in combination with slow speeds mean minimal wear and degradation for the tires. As a result, Pirelli has nominated its softest compounds: the C3 as the White hard, the C4 as the Yellow medium, and the C5 as the Red soft. We may also see the new Cinturato Blue full wet tires used this weekend, as some rain is predicted for Sunday’s race. The new tires don’t need blankets when not in use, according to Pirelli.
A number of teams had plan to run their first upgrades of the season at the previous round in Imola, and we may see them instead launched at Monaco. Mercedes-Benz AMG has confirmed it will run six upgrades this weekend, including new mounting points for the suspension, redesigned sidepods, and a revised rear wing.
Going into the weekend, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen leads the Drivers’ Championship with 119 points. Fellow Red Bull driver Sergio Perez is second with 105 points and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso is third with 75 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull leads with 224 points, versus the 102 of Aston Martin and 96 of Mercedes. Last year’s winner in Monaco was Perez, driving for Red Bull.