The Formula One Monaco Grand Prix is right up there with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500 as one motorsport’s top events, and despite its beautiful location and party atmosphere it’s actually one of the toughest races on the calendar. The race lines are so close to the barriers that there is no margin for error, with drivers needing to remain 100 percent focused nearly the entirety of the race.
The Monaco Grand Prix was on the inaugural F1 calendar back in 1950 and it’s been a regular fixture since ’55. The layout of the 2.1-mile circuit has remained largely unchanged, the biggest updates taking place in 2004 when a new pit complex was built.
Being a street circuit, the grip levels change the whole weekend and the surface can also be quite bumpy. Because of this, the cars are set at their maximum ride height and allowances are also made for the steering, which is necessary for the tight, twisting corners. Accordingly, the race has the lowest average speed of the year.
Looking at this weekend’s weather forecast, we can expect generally bright skies with cloudy intervals and ambient temperatures hitting a peak of 73 degrees F (23 degrees C) during the day. There’s also the possibility of some showers throughout the weekend. Pirelli has nominated its Supersoft and Soft tires for the race.
As always in Monaco, qualifying will be critical, as will race strategy to ensure that track position is maintained. Last year's winner was Mercedes AMG’s Nico Rosberg.
The German’s biggest threat this year will come once again from his own teammate Lewis Hamilton who has just signed a new contract to drive with Mercedes through the end of the 2018 season. The Briton’s previous contract was due to run out at the end of this season, and the negotiations became a major talking point during recent races. Though financial terms weren’t made public, it’s thought Hamilton will be receiving a base salary of approximately $32 million per year with bonuses potentially pushing the total north of $45 million a year.
Since making his F1 debut with McLaren in 2007, Hamilton has started every one of his 153 races with Mercedes power, and this track record includes 36 victories, 15 of them with the Mercedes works team. But the Monaco resident’s links with Mercedes go even further back. In a statement, Hamilton said Mercedes has been supporting him since 1998 and that he was very proud that his new contract will see him mark 20 years with the automaker in 2018.
Hamilton currently leads the 2015 Drivers’ Championship with 111 points. Rosberg is second with 91 points and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is third with 80 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes leads with 202 points followed by Ferrari with 132 points and Williams with 81 points.