Formula One Monaco Grand Prix preview

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Circuit de Monaco, home of the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix

Circuit de Monaco, home of the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix

We’re in for an exciting weekend of racing, with the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 and the Nürburgring 24 Hours all taking place.

Further amping up the excitement this year is McLaren’s decision to field a car in the Indy 500 and get its star Formula One driver, Fernando Alonso, to drive it. With the two events clashing, Jenson Button has come out of semi-retirement to drive Alonso’s F1 car in Monaco.

Despite the competition this year, the Monaco GP is and always will be a jewel in the motorsport calendar. The race was on the calendar for the inaugural season of F1 in 1950, and it’s been a regular fixture since ’55. This history, together with the glitz and glamor, and the knowledge every driver wants a Monaco GP win under their belt, makes it well worth the watch.

The race is held on the Circuit de Monaco, a street circuit stretching 2.071 miles.  The layout has remained largely unchanged over the years, the biggest updates taking place in 2004 when a new pit complex was built. Tight confines make overtaking hard. It also makes the Monaco GP the slowest race on the calendar.

The slow speeds mean tire degradation is at a minimum, allowing for a one-step strategy. Having brought the three hardest compounds in the range to the previous Spanish GP, tire supplier Pirelli has now brought its three softest compounds to Monaco: soft, supersoft and ultrasoft.

After Friday’s practice session, Mercedes AMG was well behind the pack late on the day. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was the fastest followed by Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo and then fellow Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen. Mercedes’ star driver, Lewis Hamilton, was eighth while his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was 10th on the day. Mercedes is now looking at the car setup to see where it went wrong.

Going into tomorrow’s qualifying session and Sunday’s race, Vettel leads the 2017 Drivers’ Championship with 104 points. Hamilton is close behind with 98 points and Bottas is third with 63 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes leads with 161 points. Ferrari is close behind with 153 points and Red Bull is a distant third with 72 points. Last year’s winner in Monaco was Hamilton.

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