Motorsports Mondial

Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg qualified in first and third positions during this afternoon’s qualifying session for the 70th Monaco Grand Prix. Michael will start from sixth position on the grid tomorrow, while Nico will line up in second place.

• Michael qualified on pole for the first time since the 2006 French Grand Prix but will start from P6 after a grid penalty

• Nico’s third place in qualifying will translated to a front row start for tomorrow’s race

• Last year, Sebastian Vettel qualified on pole by 0.441s; today, the same gap covered the top five qualifiers!

Michael Schumacher
It is simply a wonderful feeling to set pole after such a long time, and particularly here in Monaco. Okay, it has taken a little bit longer than I might have wanted in the second chapter of my career, but that makes it even sweeter. It’s just beautiful. We already thought that this circuit should suit us, and it’s the perfect confirmation of all the work from every team member in Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart – a big thank you to every one of them, because this is a team result. Of course, it’s unfortunate that I won’t start from the very front but that’s how it is. I will do as well as I can. We know that overtaking is tough but with DRS and KERS, you might as well try it – and you can be sure I will.

Nico Rosberg
I am pleased with the result today and especially for what we have shown as a team in the past few weeks. We have had a couple of difficult races since the win in China but there has been a lot of hard work to turn it round, and today we were on top as a team which is great to see. Thank you to everybody back at base who has brought us back to the front again. I had a pretty smooth qualifying session, and managed to save two sets of new super soft tyres for the race, but it was just so close out there this afternoon, it’s incredible and fantastic for Formula One. Congratulations to Michael, he did a fantastic job. Of course, I am sorry for him that he must take the penalty, but that means I will be on the front row in Monaco. And at a race where overtaking can be so difficult, that’s a great place to start.

Ross Brawn
It was a wonderful qualifying session and we are obviously delighted. Michael will take a five-place penalty tomorrow, but today he was the quickest guy out there – congratulations to him. Nico did a fantastic job as well, and was in the hunt for pole throughout the session. Having both drivers in the top three shows that the team has done a superb job this weekend to dial in the car and follow the evolution of the track. But it was a real team effort today and my thanks also to everyone back at the factories in Brackley and Brixworth. Now, we have one more step to make. Last year, we suffered big problems with the tyres at the beginning of the race. That is something we must avoid tomorrow.

Norbert Haug
What a phenomenal performance from Michael. He was the fastest man on track today when it counted and Michael truly deserves this P1 result. His five-place penalty puts him back on the third row while Nico will start from the front row tomorrow. Thank you to everybody in our team for a great effort today. Inside our team, our belief in Michael was never in danger and this has paid off big time.

Pos Driver Team Time Gap 
 1.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             1m14.301s
 2.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m14.381s
 3.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m14.448s
 4.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m14.583s
 5.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m14.639s
 6.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m14.948s
 7.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m15.049s
 8.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault        1m15.199s
 9.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m15.245s
10.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     no time
Q2 cut-off time: 1m15.322s Gap **
11.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes 1m15.421s   + 0.510
12.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       1m15.508s   + 0.597
13.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m15.536s   + 0.625
14.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault     1m15.709s   + 0.798
15.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m15.718s   + 0.807
16.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m15.878s   + 0.967
17.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m16.885s   + 1.974
Q1 cut-off time: 1m16.491s Gap *
18.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault     1m16.538s   + 1.120
19.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault     1m17.404s   + 1.986
20.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth    1m17.947s   + 2.529
21.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth         1m18.096s   + 2.678
22.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth    1m18.476s   + 3.058
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth         1m19.310s   + 3.892
24.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       no time

F1Weekly podcast # 577

F1weekly podcast number 577

This weeks interview: Luis Sa Silva

Lotus GP’s Aaro Vainio takes first GP3 win in Monte Carlo

After securing pole yesterday, Finnish ace Aaro Vainio went one step better by winning the prestigious Monaco race, the first in the history of the GP3 Series. It was a debut career win in the Series for the Lotus GP driver to make a perfect start to the weekend.

With so much anticipation before the race, 26 eager drivers got their first wheel to wheel action around the famous street circuit as the race got underway in hot and sunny conditions. Vainio made the start and defended P1 but it was Atech CRS GP’s Tamas Pal Kiss who got the better of Ocean Racing Technology’s Kevin Ceccon and snuck into P2 before the first corner.

Conor Daly who had started from P8 on the grid was deemed to have made a jump start and later suffered a drive through penalty. However, after initially moving away at the start, he was unable to getaway and yellow flags were waved as miraculously all the drivers behind the American managed to avoid his Lotus GP car.

After the first lap, the Finn had already built up a 1.170s advantage over Pal Kiss and maintained his pace. With Monaco notorious as a circuit extremely hard to overtake, there were battles throughout the field, which were very intense. David Fumanelli got the jump over his MW Arden team mate Mitch Evans at the start to go P4 and then had to hold off a very determined New Zealander for the remainder of the race. There was also a titanic tussle for P6 between Daniel Abt and Antonio Felix Da Costa (Carlin), with the Portuguese star crawling all over the back of the Lotus GP star in an attempt to find a place to out-manouerve the German.

Ethan Ringel made contact with the barrier at the exit of Sainte Devote, which brought an abrupt end to his race, his Atech CRS GP was cleared under yellow flags. Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Vainio edged out his lead over his Hungarian rival and was over three seconds ahead. Marlon Stockinger (Status Grand Prix) and Tio Ellinas (Marussia Manor Racing) got into a dogfight that was too last until the chequered flag for P8, as did Alex Brundle who was defending the last points position in the top ten from Alice Powell (Status Grand Prix) and his Carlin team mate William Buller who started 15th after an imposed grid penalty from Round 1 in Barcelona.

Pal Kiss continued to try and claw back the advantage Vainio had built up and the duo pulled out a near 8 second margin over Ceccon in P3. The Finn was not going to surrender his lead and produced a lights to flag victory in Monaco to charge to the top of the Drivers Standings. Pal Kiss took P2 and Ceccon produced his best result of his GP3 career with a rostrum finish. Fumanelli maintained P4 to beat his team mate Evans home, ahead of Abt, Felix Da Costa, Stockinger, Ellinas and Brundle.

Vainio now has an 18 point lead over Evans in the Standings with Daly third. Reverse pole for Race 2 goes to Marlon Stockinger and the race will take place tomorrow – Saturday at 17.55 CET.

Cecotto powers to Monaco victory

Venezuelan on top of the world after feature win

Johnny Cecotto dominated his rivals with a seasoned performance to lead from lights to flag and claim a historic victory in this morning’s feature race in Monaco, looking untroubled by Marcus Ericsson and Giedo van der Garde as he claimed his first ever GP2 podium finish on the top step in the fabled principality.

The victory was set up when the lights went out: the Venezuelan made a strong start while fellow front row starter Max Chilton was slow off the line, handing Cecotto an easy run to Ste Devote. Ericsson squeezed by the Englishman for P2, while van der Garde had an open line around the outside to follow the Swede up the hill ahead of Chilton, Luiz Razia, Jolyon Palmer, Davide Valsecchi and Esteban Gutiérrez.

With the tight, twisty street circuit famously difficult to overtake on, the field held station while their teams weighed up pit stop strategies, but the front pair were soon swapping fastest laps as they pulled away together from their rivals. James Calado pitted on lap 11 from P14 to try and leap frog a few cars ahead of him, but the leaders took a much more conservative approach.

Ericsson and van der Garde finally pitted on lap 22, with Cecotto in a lap later: the Venezuelan edged back out ahead of the Swede, and the pair resumed their individual battle for victory, with series leader Valsecchi holding on for 2 more laps to push up to fourth place and clear air as he set the pace in an attempt to claim even more points.

Gutiérrez and Razia had lost out in the pitlane battle and were running 8th and 9th on the road as the race wound down, but they were soon in for more bad luck as they were lapping a backmarker: the Mexican ran too deep at the chicane and bounced over the kerbs and into the wall, breaking his front wing and leaving debris on the track which punctured the Brazilian’s right rear. The pair were straight into the pits and out of the points for the day.

But out in front Cecotto held on against race long pressure from Ericsson to claim his first win in an echo of countryman (and 2010 GP2 Champion) Pastor Maldonado’s fabled Monaco history, while van der Garde crossed the line 5 seconds later to close out the podium.

Valsecchi kept his point score ticking over with a fourth place finish just ahead of Chilton, with Palmer in sixth, Calado taking advantage of a sharp pitstop for seventh while local driver Stéphane Richelmi put himself on pole for tomorrow’s sprint race, with Nathanaël Berthon ninth and Stefano Coletti unable to use his pace for anything more than tenth place and the bonus for fastest lap.

Valsecchi maintains his lead in the series with 141 points, edging away from Razia on 104, while Calado and van der Garde move up to 75 ahead of Chilton on 67 and Gutierrez on 59 points, but all eyes in Monaco were on Johnny Cecotto, who claimed the biggest result of his career with victory in his former home town.

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Motorsports Mondial

Cecotto storms to Monaco pole

Venezuelan steals top spot on last lap

Johnny Cecotto crushed his rivals’ dreams of glory with a stunning last lap in the first ever split GP2 qualifying session this afternoon in Monaco to take the top spot in Group B, along with pole position, ahead of Group A leader Max Chilton and Marcus Ericsson.

The Venezuelan’s best lap of 1:21.195 was set as he crossed the line to close out the second session, pipping his Swedish rival’s formerly quickest lap by just 0.054 after a restart for a single lap following a red flag period for a spin by Rodolfo Gonzalez.

The first session saw local rivals Stefano Coletti and Stéphane Richelmi swapping fastest laptimes with Giedo van der Garde, but as the session ran down the Dutchman kept going faster, looking certain to claim at least a front row start as his rivals struggled to keep up until the chequered flag dropped, when Chilton put together an astonishing lap of 1:21.320 to steal provisional pole by a tenth from van der Garde and Jolyon Palmer.

A few minutes later session two was underway, with Tom Dillmann, Gonzalez and Fabio Leimer setting the pace until Ericsson stepped up with a string of astounding laps to lead the session by over six tenths and claim pole position. When Gonzalez spun there were only 3 minutes remaining on the clock as the red flags came out, and it looked as though the Swede had claimed his prize.

Cecotto, however, had other ideas, and against the odds managed to find the space to repeat this morning’s performance and take the top spot on the timesheets from Ericsson, with Luiz Razia also improving on his last tour to pinch third in the session from Davide Valsecchi.

With the grid to be formed in two rows in order from the sessions, Cecotto takes pole from Chilton with Ericsson, van der Garde, Razia, Palmer, Valsecchi, Josef Kral, Leimer and Esteban Gutiérrez, lining up behind them: it is a grid that promises fireworks in tomorrow’s feature race in the principality.

Motorsports Mondial

Renault Sport F1 preview to the Monaco GP

The Principality plays host to the sixth round of the championship, which has so far produced a different winner each time out. Williams F1 Team’s Pastor Maldonado sealed victory at the last event, marking the debut win for the Williams-Renault package in its latest incarnation.

Williams, along with Red Bull Racing, Lotus F1 Team and Caterham F1 Team, will require a highly responsive engine to be delivered by Renault Sport F1 to suit the tight, sinuous bends of the 3.340km Monte Carlo circuit. As such, the challenge is to deliver a highly responsive engine through maps that target torque through the lower rev limits of the engine (around 15 – 17,000rpm) rather than the top end (16 – 18,000rpm) to give drive and response on the entry and exit to the corners.

The average speed round the track is the lowest of the year, just 160kph, and the engine spends a touch over 50% of the lap at full throttle, compared to around 70% at the purpose-built facilities. The top speed peaks at only 290kph through the tunnel section compared to well over 320kph (with DRS-activated) at the last event in Spain.

The curved pit straight is not really a straight at all and the run to the first corner from pole position is the shortest of the season: only 140 metres. The pole sitter will cover this distance in approximately four seconds, which will not give a significant amount of time for KERS to be activated fully.

The run from the first corner to Casino Square sees the circuit climb over 30m in just 10secs. A responsive engine is key here and engine maps will be designed to work with short gear ratios to hit the rev limit at the top of the hill. There could be a possibility to use KERS on this climb, but the steep gradient will reduce its effectiveness.

The streets of Monaco are notoriously bumpy and the engine will hit the rev limiter on several occasions throughout the lap. This is particularly hard on the internals of the engine, which become highly stressed. Even if it’s just for a nano second, running over a bump could cause the car to take off. With no load running through the wheels the engine suddenly hits the rev limiter, causing a loss of time and potential damage to the engine. Drivers try to avoid the largest bump on the run down from Casino into the Mirabeau by running off line.

The Grand Hotel Hairpin sees the engine running at the lowest speed and revs it reaches on track at any point in the year; just 44kph and around 6,500rpm. It is also the only point on the calendar where the driver needs to shift his hands on the wheel to get enough lock on the steering wheel.

The tunnel section is the only chance the cars get to hit top speed and maximum rev limit apart from the short pit straight. The driver exits Portier in 2nd gear and shifts up through the gears through the tunnel. The engine needs to have good acceleration here so the driver can reach vMax quickly; the ‘straight’ is very short – only 670m from the exit of Portiers to the chicane, or around eight or nine seconds.

While the tunnel section provides a welcome breath of air for the engine as it reaches the top speed, it’s not clean air – the enclosed nature of the tunnel means the air going into the engine through the airbox is as hot as the ambient temperatures seen in Malaysia or Abu Dhabi.

Romain Grosjean, Lotus F1 Team

Every driver loves Monaco – the precision needed on each lap is just phenomenal, both from yourself and from the engineering team. In any formula this is the case, but even more so in F1 where the cars are so sensitive. Even though I know the track from GP2, it’s my first time driving an F1 car in Monaco, so I have been spending a lot of time preparing. We need to have confidence in the engine and know that it will deliver the power and grip into and out of every single corner so you can attack the track. In fact, I expect it will be the race where I spend the most amount of time working with the engine engineer as getting the right response out of the slow corners can win you tenths of a second.

Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations

Monaco is a massive challenge to get right. In terms of man power hours Monaco is the race that RSF1 engineers spend the most time preparing – anything from two to four days in the dyno and the design office compared to around one day for an average race such as Spain.

It’s incredibly slow so the focus is on delivering driveability through the lower rev ranges but also getting the gear ratios right to give effective acceleration between the corners. Getting the correct ratios is always a compromise; the right gear ratio for one corner is not necessarily right for the others.

In addition we have to provide effective cooling solutions as the high number of turns means that the engine isn’t given any respite over the course of a lap and systems can overheat if not monitored correctly. The dirt and debris from being a street track means the inlets can become blocked, but we can’t afford to put any cooling holes or additional louvre panels to help out – the tight corners demand such high downforce settings that every bit of bodywork affects performance.

The bumps are also a major issue for engine engineers. The drivers will run over manhole covers, kerbs, white lines and sometimes even huge bumps so the engine hits the rev limiter much more than we do at a permanent track like Sepang or Monza. To avoid this we pay particular attention to the shift light pattern and even encourage the driver to shift early.

It’s a difficult one to get right but we’re really keen to do well. So far this year our partners have been having a good run and we are pleased that our contribution has helped in some way. Renault engined teams have scored more than any other engine over the championship, with two wins and six podiums so we naturally very motivated to continue this form in Monaco.

Motorsports Mondial

WILLIAMS F1 MONACO GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: The 78 lap race on the demanding 3.34km long partially resurfaced Monaco circuit is unique and is undoubtedly one of the most stringent tests of the season for both driver and team alike, with little to no margin for error. On the back of Pastor’s excellent win in Barcelona both drivers are eager to get back on track, aiming to bring both cars home in the points on Sunday afternoon. The team’s preparations for Monaco have been somewhat hampered by last Sunday’s garage fire, but the impact of the fire has been mitigated by what can only be described as a  Herculean effort by the factory and our suppliers to restock both the damaged equipment and car parts. We would also like to thank the generous offers of help from the other teams, highlighting once more the excellent sportsmanship that exists in Formula One and high levels of comradery throughout the pit lane.

This is the first race this year where both the soft and super-soft tyres will be available and the latest forecast predicts a dry weekend.  As always in Monaco qualifying will be critical, as will race strategy to ensure that track position is maintained, but with further upgrades coming to this event we are hopeful that we can continue to make decent progress and look forward to a good weekend.

Pastor Maldonado: Monaco is a very challenging circuit for the drivers both physically and mentality because you have to concentrate fully at all times, but I really enjoy this challenge and I have traditionally done well here in the past. I am full of confidence after my win at the last race so I go to Monaco with high hopes of getting another strong result for the team.

Bruno Senna: Monaco is one of my favourite tracks because despite being a street circuit it has a lot of flow to it and when you get dialled in you can put in some good laps. I have performed well there in the past and hopefully that trend will continue this weekend and we can get some good points.

Rémi Taffin, Head of Renault Sport F1 Track Operations: Monaco is a massive challenge to get right. In terms of man power hours it is the race that RSF1 engineers spend the most time preparing – anything from two to four days in the dyno and the design office compared to around one day for an average race such as Spain. The track has the lowest average speed of the year due to the high number of tight corners so the focus is on delivering driveability through the lower rev ranges but also getting the gear ratios right to give effective acceleration between the corners. The bumps are also a major issue for engine engineers. The drivers will run over manhole covers, kerbs, white lines and sometimes even huge bumps so the engine hits the rev limiter much more than we do at a permanent track like Sepang or Monza. To avoid this we pay particular attention to the shift light pattern and even encourage the driver to shift early.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director: We are bringing the soft and the supersoft tyres: the two softest compounds in our range. The nature of the circuit means that wear is low and cars rely heavily on mechanical grip, which makes this combination well suited to Monaco. With overtaking very difficult, qualifying and race strategy play an even more significant role than usual, and the supersoft tyre – which we’re seeing for the first time this year – is sure to be an important part of that. This tyre benefits from a very quick warm-up time, which means that it gets rapidly up to temperature to ensure optimal grip.

Motorsports Mondial

2012 Monaco Grand Prix Preview

Sahara Force India looks forward to round six of the season, the Monaco Grand Prix.

Monaco GP: Vijay’s Vision

The Monaco Grand Prix has always been a personal favourite of mine. It’s a wonderful venue to experience Formula One and nowhere else comes close to capturing the atmosphere and glamour that surrounds the race. 

I would love to see us performing well this weekend and challenging for points once again. We’ve certainly made progress with the car lately, but the whole grid remains very closely matched. Just a couple of tenths can separate ten positions on the grid so nobody can afford to take anything for granted. 

We also know that Monaco can be an unpredictable race so anything is possible. Our focus will be on making sure we qualify well to get track position for Sunday. 

Paul on Monaco

Paul Di Resta gets set for a busy week in Monaco.

Paul, tell us what Monaco means to you…

The Monaco Grand Prix is probably the highlight of the year and the race that every driver wants to win. It’s always a really busy weekend: the grandstands are packed, the yachts are in the harbour and everybody is looking for the best view. When the weather is nice it really helps make for an electric atmosphere.

Along with Silverstone it’s another home race for you. Does it feel extra special?

It’s where I live now and it’s interesting to see how much busier Monaco gets when the race comes to town. It’s really nice to go home each night, sleep in your own bed and enjoy your own space. Also, I will have a lot of family and friends around me who come down to watch the race.

Let’s talk about the lap and which parts stand out for you…

It’s a circuit that’s all about confidence and commitment, and you need to build up your speed through the weekend to extract the maximum laptime. There are some great corners, such as Casino Square where you arrive at 185 mph and brake as you turn into a blind corner. Then there’s the slowest corner of the year, the hairpin, taken in first gear using maximum steering lock. For the end of the lap through the swimming pool you really feel the downforce and you need a car that can ride the bumps and kerbs. It’s a real challenge for drivers and engineers to get the perfect car.

Nico on Monaco

Nico Hulkenberg looks forward to racing in Monaco.

Nico, you were back in the points in Barcelona and you had some good battles along the way. Did you enjoy the race…

It felt good to pick up a point, especially because I spent so much of the race battling with Mark [Webber] for tenth place. I pushed so hard because there was no way I was going to give up that point, but there was a lot of pressure for a long time. The strategy and pit stops were perfect, too, so I have to thank my crew for that.

Tell us your thoughts on the Monaco Grand Prix – is it a weekend you enjoy?

I enjoy the challenge of Monaco. There’s no part of the lap where you can relax for a second – even the main straight is not really a straight. I do like street racing in general because you need to grow with the car over the sessions to find the limits. If you get it right you’re only a few centimetres from the barrier so there’s no margin for error.

How is your feeling with the car after five races?

I think we have taken a good step forward with the developments we made for Spain and they will continue to help us in Monaco. We still have work to do to understand and fine-tune them along with the set-up, so that is something the team is working on. When you see how close the teams around us are it can really make a difference to find even the smallest gain.

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