F1's drivers braced for a 'trickier' time in 2014 trying to master Monaco
'Tail-happy' turbo cars set to increase street race challenge
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 20/05/14 3:08pm
Formula 1's drivers are expecting the challenge of driving around Monaco's famously tight and undulating streets to be increased this weekend by 2014's more skittish turbo challengers.
The increase in torque produced by the new-generation cars, and the simultaneous loss of rear downforce under the 2014 regulations, has made them noticeably more 'tail-happy' than their predecessors.
The last grand prix in Spain was characterised by the sight of drivers having to fight their cars around the aerodynamically-demanding lap and Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle observed that as a result "they'll be fearsome to guide round the streets on Monaco".
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who is eyeing a fifth straight race victory on Sunday and second in Monte Carlo, is aware the increase in power means drivers will have to tread particularly carefully this year.
"Naturally when we go there, I've got to drive the same way I'm driving now: be cautious on power, otherwise it's the same as every year: as hard as you can, as fast as you can, using every little bit of road you can," the Mercedes driver said.
"But of course big tank-slappers, you can't have that at Monaco; last year, getting the power - the rear just planted and staying down - you didn't have any oversteer moments. This year's going to be tricky for everyone."
Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, last year's Monaco GP victor, agreed: "Yeah, it will be a little bit more of a challenge this year because we have less grip and traction than we had last year and harder tyres. So it will be even more exciting but that's all good."
The close proximity of the barriers around the 3.34km track has habitually made the Monaco GP one of F1's most unpredictable and chaotic events, with drivers often heavily punished for the slightest of mistakes.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo knows that the grid will have to be on their guard during the 78-lap race, but the Australian is up for the challenge.
"We may not have to get too carried away with getting close to the walls, because if the rear snaps, then as we saw with [Valtteri] Bottas in Melbourne, a similar scenario, where he had that incident and yes, things like this are probably more likely to happen but that's what we get paid the big bucks for, yeah?" Ricciardo admitted.
"So I'm sure we will be right."
And Jenson Button, the most experienced driver in the field, is confident the grid will ultimately manage just fine.
"It will be a bit tougher but we thought it was going to be horrendous this year, the driveability on exits, and it's not really been that bad," the McLaren driver said.
"Monaco will be tough, a step further, but we seem to cope okay."
The Monaco GP is live only on Sky Sports F1. The channel's extensive coverage begins with Practice on Thursday May 22.