There are few race tracks around the world that evoke the kind of memories and emotion than what the Monaco grand prix circuit is able to conjure.
Formula 1 fits into a very determinately and carefully crafted mould; majestically immense backdrops such as China or Abu Dhabi with fast, sweeping corners and kilometre long straights are its true forte. On few rare occasions the status quo gets pushed aside and F1 is taken out of its comfort zone. In its place you’re left with a Formula 1 car, breathlessly, slicing its way through the city streets of Monte Carlo. You’re left with 3.3 odd kilometres and nineteen of the most magnificent corners ever to grace a Formula 1 racing calendar.
This is the one weekend of the year that the teams bolt on the biggest rear wings they have in the shed and run the suspension as soft as they possibly can to comply with the unique mixture of bumps, inclines and nuances of the Anthony Noghes circuit.
Much of the story in 2012 has centred on what tyre maker Pirelli have given the teams to go racing with. The influence of the Pirelli tyres has unquestionably had a game-changing impact on the 2012 championship. While some drivers have invested their time and energy towards criticising and finding fault with the tyres other have chosen to just get on with job. Whatever the case may be we know a few things for sure – Pirelli have brought excitement back into Formula 1 racing; it’s ensured that strategy plays a bigger role in qualifying and on race day and it has brought racing closer together than it’s been for quite a while; all of these are certain positives from a spectator’s point of view.
What is more, the Pirelli tyres aren’t the true villain in the nay-sayers story. Rather the fully loaded fuel tanks at the start of the race are the real culprit. Any day of the year a load of 150 to a 160 kgs of fuel is going put enormous stress on four tyres, making them wear faster. On average the Pirelli tyres last for about a twelve to fifteen lap stint during the first phase of the a race. Were re-fuelling to be introduced and cars ran with considerably less fuel onboard it would lessen the stress on the tyres and longer stints would be guaranteed. Some interesting food for thought.
Right about now it would be the time to insert some reasons for why McLaren will have the car to beat this weekend or how Fernando Alonso has the potential to steer his Ferrari towards the sharp-end of the field. While both these scenarios have every chance of playing out this weekend there are also several others that have a very real shot at developing. Everything that has gone on in the first races of 2012 suggests that Monaco is perfectly set up for a sixth different race winner.
At the best of times Formula 1 is an unpredictable sport and in 2012 this truth has been stretched to its absolute limit. Five different race winners in the first five races has transformed this season into fiercely contested battle the magnitude of which we haven’t seen in some time.
Any one of Vettel, Webber, Button, Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonen and even beyond to the likes of Monaco specialist Pastor Maldonado, either of the two Mercedes or Romain Grosjean could walk away as the winner of the prestigious Monaco Gp. That is how impossibly unpredictable and absolutely immense F1 2012 is. Just to prove that the Monte Carlo grand prix truly does stand out from the rest, it’s the only race on the calendar for which an exception is made in terms of free practice as the usual Friday free practice sessions moves to Thursday instead. This isn’t just any race and Formula 1 isn’t just any sport – this is life.