After the false glamor of Miami, race won by Max Verstappen, place, Sunday at 3 p.m., at the real circuit in town: Monaco. An urban, historical and specific Grand Prix which obeys five rules to hope to win.
The real sinews of war. In the narrow streets of Monaco, overtaking is almost impossible. To avoid getting stuck in traffic, only one solution: get pole position. The "real" race is played on Saturday. A perfect lap allows a driver, even of a less powerful car, to expect a good performance. However, you have to gauge your risk taking: hitting the wall during qualifying can ruin all hopes. In 2021, at the wheel of a capricious Ferrari, Charles Leclerc takes pole position. Too confident, he set off again to improve his time and crashed his single-seater into the pool rail. His dream of victory took the water. He was unable to start the next day, his car being too damaged.
This is the highlight of the race. At 3 p.m. sharp, the twenty single-seaters set off and rushed towards Sainte-Dévote. If it is the occasion of some (rare) daring overtakings, this mythical bend is especially often the place of a traffic jam or a pile-up. Negotiating this first difficulty is essential to dream of a podium.
In a GP where overtaking is very limited (the 2021 edition did not count any after the first lap!), strategy is the essential element of a good result in the principality. A badly calibrated pit stop and the victory can fly away. Last year, Ferrari ruined the race of solid leader Charles Leclerc by calling him to the pits too early: he would finish fourth. Same misadventure in 2016 for Daniel Ricciardo. At the wheel of his Red Bull, the Australian is living a dream weekend: pole position, fastest lap and race lead. He rushes into the pits at full speed. Patatras, the tires are not ready. Lewis Hamilton wins.
In Monaco, you have to keep your composure whatever the circumstances and seize the slightest opportunity without putting yourself in danger. Witness, the 2001 edition. David Coulthard fights against Michael Schumacher for the world title. He took pole position in the Principality but was unable to start due to an electronic problem. Here it is at the bottom of the grid. His hell can begin: his ascent is hindered by Enrique Bernoldi. The Scot remains blocked for 33 laps behind the Arrows. He tries to overtake without success. He will finish fifth far behind Schumacher who takes off for the title.
Drivers in Monaco are tightrope walkers. They must flirt with the rails, even kiss them, but never make contact. The driver in the lead must be careful not to make any mistakes: the right braking at the right time, avoiding the terrible bump between the Casino and Mirabeau, coping with the changes in light in the tunnel and not being disturbed by the spectators. Advice that Ayrton Senna did not follow. On May 15, 1988, the little prince of Monaco (6 victories) dominated the Grand Prix. He chained the lap records and had more than 50 seconds over his rival Alain Prost. His stable asks him to lift his foot. On the 54th lap, he hit the wall at Portier. Alain Prost wins. “ I was so close to perfection this weekend, that I relaxed. I invited error, and that's the lesson I learned that day, "analyzes after the race, annoyed, the Brazilian.