No pillar of salt, Williams F1 looks forward to Monaco

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Williams F1 had a difficult weekend in Spain and by all measure, this weekend could prove a challenge as well. Monaco is an anomaly among the sprawling tracks like Spa Francorchamps and Monza. It is a departure from the self-devouring circuits such as the Tilke tracks as they twist in upon themselves and defy character or elevation. Monaco is a different beast.

Each team approaches Monaco with a sense of relenting. A notion that the results are a compromise for the pageantry that has historically resided at the Monte Carlo street circuit. An understanding that the pomp and circumstance of Monaco trumps the pinnacle of speed once a year with destinies reliant on luck and attrition. The clear knowledge that passing is impossible and winners can come from anywhere on the grid and qualifying is as much a part of the race as the actual race itself.

For these reasons teams look for special setup’s on their cars for one race out of the year. They tend to look for massive downforce and reliability with over three thousand gear changes but the team who can run fastest on the public roads of this principality are often the brave men who stand atop the podium. Williams F1 is seeking some modicum of compromise charged with a dollop of destiny in the hopes that their car could place well or at least leave Monaco with some points in hand and get back to the racing that is F1.

Sam Michael, Technical Director

From a technical perspective, Monaco is a race on its own. The circuit demands a softer set-up than
usual and maximum downforce, so after a series of upgrades brought to the car in Barcelona, this is
the second race in succession when we will be making some significant changes to the car, although
some of these updates will not carry through to the rest of the season with the possible exception of
Singapore.

The track has some quirks all of its own that demand a special set-up, for instance the traction limits
at Rascasse, the importance of carrying speed through St Devote, the highly cambered exit of
Mirabeau and the high steering angles required at Loewes. From a driver point of view, the race is
one of the stiffest tests of ability as the narrow circuit demands they use the full track width and run
close to the barriers to find lap time. In recent seasons, we have performed well in Monaco and both
the engineers and drivers will be working hard to build on the points finish from last weekend.

The look of Monaco is rustic and steeped in old world charm. It betrays the sports bleeding-edge technology and while we often consider this a slow circuit, Williams F1 driver Rubens Barrichello reminds us that looks can be deceiving:

Rubens Barrichello

Monaco is a completely different track to Barcelona and has a completely different set of challenges
to any of the other circuits we race on. It’s crucial to qualify well because it’s so difficult to overtake, so getting the car set-up correctly in practice is really important. The car needs to be well balanced and
have good traction; because it’s a street circuit, you don’t get a lot of grip from the track. Mechanical
rather than aero strength is key and you really have to be on top of the car all the time.

Monaco is a special track. It’s so pleasurable to drive fast and it’s perfect for taking the car to the limit.
I particularly like the Casino Square section. When people watch it on TV, I don’t think they realise
that we are going at about 200mph! I’m quite hopeful for the team this race. The track should play into
our hands and the weather could also play its part again this weekend. We shall see.

Perhaps even more daunting for a driver is to face this beast for the first time in a F1 car. The speed, competition and technical demand will be a difficult hill to climb for any young driver and yet that is the exact position Nico Hülkenberg finds himself:

Nico Hülkenberg

This will be the first time I have driven Monaco in a Formula One car and I’m really excited about it.
I’ve driven the track in GP2, but I think this weekend will be a completely different experience. After
Barcelona, I’m pleased this is a back-to-back so I can race again straight away.
The track is fairly intense. All the corners are pretty tricky to negotiate, the swimming pool complex is
fairly quick and Loewes and the tunnel are really awesome to drive. In general, Monaco is a special
place to host a Grand Prix and I can’t wait to get out there and get going.

No matter the outcome, chances are Monaco will be what it always is…a spectacle of speed in the confines of a small, well-heeled principality fusing the technology of today with the canvas of yesterday. Let us hope, for Williams F1’s sake, that they crown jewel of F1 treat the team with respect and gives them just rewards.

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