Magical Monaco is back

2015-05-20 06:00

REGULARLY words are used to describe things and situations and just as often the true meaning of these over-used words is lost. But if you have ever looked for a true definition of opulence, then look no further than Monte Carlo.

The Monaco Grand Prix weekend is arguably the race most looked forward to on the calendar. It’s the visual representation of what Formula 1 can and should be. It’s glamorous, drenched in money and diamonds, daringly fast and dramatically out of place.

The history alone of the famous Monte Carlo race is enough of a tale to weave the most majestic of Formula 1 stories.

For around these famous streets the definitive legends of the sport artfully plied their trade. So rapt was the great Ayrton Senna with the Anthony Noghes circuit that he described it as the most extreme out-of-body experience he had ever had behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car, as if it were a sixth sense driving him around the narrow streets, centimetres from the barriers.

Even in the year 2015, this venue and circuit has lost none of its magnificent charm and remains the jewel in the Formula 1 crown.

This means too that qualifying is as important as ever. It could be the end before the weekend has even begun, considering the definite advantage that Mercedes hold over one lap.

But don’t consign anyone else’s chances to the scrap heap just yet. In 2009, Jenson Button’s all-dominant Brawn secured pole position by a few thousandths of a second over the lacklustre attempt of a car Ferrari slapped together that year.

Then there is the potential undercut on new Pirelli rubber. The supersoft is a choice this weekend and the performance advantage of this particular compound has been nearly two seconds in some circumstances.

It has been the case so far this season that Ferrari are a lot kinder to their tyres than Mercedes and they will undoubtedly be looking to exploit such an advantage this weekend.

However, Ferrari’s advantage isn’t quite as clear-cut as that. Much will depend on the temperatures and it will have to err on the sizzling side of things for Ferrari to have a genuine leg up on Mercedes.

Alas, if no one else can stem the Silver Arrow’s dominance this weekend at least the rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg should be quite intense.

Last year’s Monaco Grand Prix was shrouded in controversy, thanks mostly to Nico Rosberg’s “mistake” in qualifying. It cost Lewis Hamilton the chance of snapping up the coveted pole position and put the fraying tension between the two on display for the world to see.

In 2015 the story reads a bit differently. Although Hamilton starts the weekend in the lead of the driver’s championship for the first time this season, he is the one who will have to make the running around these famous streets.

Consider Rosberg’s dominant win in Spain and add to the equation that he has quite an affinity for Monaco and has won on the last two visits to the principality then it certainly looks like a leg up on his teammate.

The Monaco GP is literally the most regal event on the F1 calendar, given that the trophies at the end of the race are presented by the Monaco royal family. Now all we need to know is who will be crowned maestro of the Monaco streets

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