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Postcard from Monaco/2

This was the view as we walked from the GP2 garage (and media car park) to the F1 paddock each morning.  The Med really is this shade of blue…most days…azure sea

Believe it or not, there was a bulldog sitting with the couple on this scooter in front.  He – the bulldog, that is – was cool and calm, wedged in by the rider’s feet  dog on bike

If the F1 pit lane was tight at Monaco, take a look at how the GP2 teams were obliged to operate. Not only did they have to run the cars from equipment temporarily placed on the road but there were also 13 teams…Congested pit lane

 Good to see Jean Ragnotti – that very fast French ex-F3 and rally driver – again in the pit lane.  We won’t mention his other claim to fame (shunting the Safety Car during the 1995 Monaco GP)…

Jean Ragnotti

Oliver Panis and family looked a bit tense as they watched young Aurelien Panis qualify mid-field for the Renault 3.5 raceOlivier sad

 

You may wonder what this is all about but I was taken by the attention to detail in the Monaco paddock: I like the serious fire hose there and the “port-a-cabin” toilets that fit perfectly within the arch. 

Paddock detail

 

The happy scene after Richie Stanaway’s victory for Status Grand Prix in the GP2 sprint race.  That’s Dave Stubbs – former Williams team manager – on the rightStatus team shot

Casino Square, Saturday morning

Jo Siffert

There are few more exhilarating pieces of real estate than Monaco’s Casino Square on Grand Prix Saturday so this year I recorded my thoughts and impressions on this podcast:

I also took a few photos to illustrate some of the dynamics on view – specifically at the entry to the square, where the road is positively-cambered and then bumpy, and the guardrail is at its most forbidding.  It is here, as the cars burst into sight at a variety of different angles, that the spectrum of techniques can best be appreciated.  (The professional photographers, like those on the left, very rarely face this entry to the Square. IMG_0979 The more scenic – more dramatic – shot is of the backs of the cars as they accelerate downhill.  This is indeed a visual treat – but by then the job for the driver at Casino is three-quarters over: providing he has manipulated the entry well, the second phase of the right-hander is mainly about driving the car to a specific exit point between 6-12in from the Armco.  The problem arises when the driver asks too much of the car because of incorrect – or insufficient – early/mid-corner manipulation going into the left-hander.  This, then, is the key area.)

These are not great photographs; I concede that.  Hopefully, though, they give some idea of what I’m trying to describe in the video. I’ve also added a shot I took at the entry to the pit lane. As if he knew we were heading to Casino Square, there was Jo Siffert, as cool as ever.

Lewis Hamilton: perfectly poised thanks to his decreasing brake pedal pressure/steering load/throttle tease mid-corner manipulation (all of which has taken place just prior to this photo being taken).  By the time he came into view at Casino, Lewis’s car looked as if it was on rails, with a massive amount of road on which to dance  Lewis

Nico Rosberg: because in the milliseconds prior to this photo being taken he has been manipulating the rear less effectively than Lewis, Nico is now obliged to ask more of the car mid-corner – and then of the left-front as he immediately transfers the load and turns towards the right-hander (see Seb Vettel below).  Nico’ judgement is superb in terms of car placement but his relatively poor mid-corner manipulation leaves him with no room in which to play when he’s on a really quick lap…which is why he resorted later in qualifying to something as basic as late-braking into Ste Devote.  Therein lay the difference between Lewis and Nico at Monaco this year
 Nico 3

 

Daniel Ricciardo – despite the Red Bull RB11-Renault being a more “darty” car than the Mercedes, he still created a nice mid-Casino Square transition zone via spectacular manipulations of the rearRicciardo 

Daniil Kvyat – slightly sharper edges to his inputs but on the same path as DanielKvyat

Sebastian Vettel – always fearsome here, with understeer dictating his entry, particularly on the prime tyre.  He and Nico Rosberg were very similar in style through Casino but the Ferrari’s slightly inferior grip level made it all the more dramatic

Vettel

Felipe Nasr – impressively neat in the Sauber (but not as “flat” in the transition stage as Lewis or the RBR guys)Nasr

Max Verstappen: very like Lewis through Casino (with Carlos Sainz right there with him)Max

Postscript:  when horsepower was everything at Casino SquareHdP + hp

 

 

Postcard from Monaco

imageMonaco has a different feel to it on the earlier days of race week: fences imageare still being erected, truckloads of flowers arrive in abundance.  Here are a few of the sites from Monaco Wednesday and Thursday (from top to bottom): Jacky Ickx, Rainer Schlegelmilch and Michael Turner smile for the iPhone;image the View From The Top is as dramatic as ever; Max Verstappen looms large on Monaco harbour – just as he does on the circuit; Monaco is now the only F1 race not to be produced by FOM TV. Your world feed is in the hands of Euromedia France.  Good to see some young fans supporting genuine McLaren Orange and Genuine Bruce; imageNot all of the new architecture is tedious; McLaren’s new interior design business (ha ha) is conveniently opposite their merchandisimagee store; Thierry Boutsen’s doing well – his high-end aviation business has moved into smart new offices on the Rimageue Grimaldi; I liked this painting of Richie Ginther’s shark-nose in one of the gallery windows; no kerbs at the Tabac apex – just guardrail.  A nice test; by contrast, these are thimagee kerbs that bite you at the ultra-quick entry to the swimming pool section; it has to bimagee done – a sandwich jambon with Orangina under the grandstand on the outside of Tabac.  The water on the road is from one of the most intensive plastic-chair cleaning projects I’ve ever seen…very Monaco…; imagegood to see Giancarlo imageFisichella again (here with Pat Behar of the FIA); forget the Chelsea Flower Show – these are for one of the F1 paddock motorhomes; Louis Chiron in amongst the yachts. imageimageimage

imageimage

Then as now…

Browsing through Autosports from 50 years ago, as you do when the talk in the UK turns to the elections, I came across these three gems.  The first is a letter written by my friend, Sheridan Thynne, (future director of Williams Grand Prix Engineering, below, centre, chatting to Nigel and Rosanne Mansell) about the standards of driving in Mini racing at the time:

“Three or four years ago a racing Mini cost little more than half what it does today.  Racing was close and very exciting, but accidents were rare.  Drivers like Sir John Whitmore, Christabel Carlisle, John Aley and Mick Clare could, to put it bluntly, drive.  Lesser lights” (and I think here that Sheridan is bashfully thinking of his own efforts) “considered themselves lucky to be in the same race as they, trying to learn something as they flashed past at impossible angles but in total control.  Formula One World Championship, French  Grand Prix, Magny Cours, France, 5 July 1992.

“Nowadays it seems that, until one has caused the odd pile-up, been pictured regularly out of control and set a deplorable example of lack of skill to the spectators, one cannot be considered a Mini driver.”

Right: Sheridan Thynne, in his later Williams days, confers with Nigel and Rosanne Mansell

The second was the perfunctory way Autosport previewed the upcoming F2 meeting at Snetterton.  By today’s standards, it amounts to a motor race of staggering depth and power.  Back then, it was just the Autocar Trophy meeting, meriting but half a column in the Pit and Paddock section of the magazine…

“Britain’s second F2 international, the Autocar Trophy meeting, is to be held at Snetterton tomorrow (Saturday).  A first-class line-up is assured, with entries from Brabham, Lotus, Cooper, Merlyn and Lola and Honda, Cosworth and BRM engines.  The entry includes:

Jack Brabham (Brabham-Honda); Denis Hulme (Brabham-Honda); Graham Hill (Brabham-BRM); Trevor Taylor (Brabham-Cosworth); Alan Rees (Brabham-Cosworth); Jochen Rindt (Brabham-Cosworth); Jo Schlesser (Brabham-Cosworth); David Prophet (Brabham-Cosworth); Bill Bradley (Brabham-Cosworth); Mike Beckwith (Brabham-Cosworth); Tony Hegbourne (Lola-Cosworth); Jim Clark (Lotus-Cosworth); Brian Hart (Lotus-Cosworth); Peter Revson (Lotus-BRM); Jackie Stewart (Cooper-BRM); John Taylor (Cooper-Ford); Chris Irwin (Merlyn-Cosworth); Richard Attwood (Lola-Cosworth); Mike Spence (Lotus-BRM); Tony Maggs (Lola-BRM); David Hobbs (Lotus-BRM).

Would any sane-minded person have missed this race back in 1965?  I can picture it now: early departure from wherever, Cortina boot packed with the picnic basket; and then that long, tension-filled traffic jam on the A11 as Snetterton draws near. White-coated officials. Race programmes fresh from the printing press. Fluttering flags. Crisp PA announcements. And the thought that anyone who mattered in the motor racing world was there, in Norfolk, racing gorgeous little F2 cars…

Finally, I think Gregor Grant might well have been seeing the future when he wrote about Jack’s new Brabham-Honda:

“Jack Brabham had little joy with the Brabham-Honda, the engine of which the Japanese mechanics couldn’t get going properly at all.  It sounded fine but seemed to lack poke and was the slowest of the 20 cars which turned up.  However, knowing the Brabham set-up, it will not be long before it is sorted.”

 

Selamat Pagi!

…or “Good Morning” in Malay.  Join me and my colleague, Craig Scarborough, as we drive to the Sepang F1 circuit on the Thursday before the Petronas Malaysian GP:

What they’re wearing

Plenty have been the changes in F1 helmetwear over the past few months – particularly with Lewis Hamilton using his customary Arai to win in Melbourne before switching to a Bell helmet for practice in Malaysia and China. At Ferrari, the bastion of Schuberth since the early Michael Schumacher days, Sebastian Vettel is remaining loyal to Arai – and Schuberth have in turn now switched their team supply to AMG Mercedes Petronas. Anyway, before it gets too complicated, here’s the list as it stood in Malaysia:

 

Bell helmetsLewis helmet

Lewis Hamilton (practised only in Sepang and China), Kimi Raikkonen, Romain Grosjean, Pastor Maldonado, Roberto Mehri, Ferrari pit stop crew (probably)

 

Schuberth helmetsNico Rosberg

Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez, AMG Mercedes pit stop crew

 

Arai helmets2015_Helmet_019-2

Lewis Hamilton (raced in Melbourne, Sepang and China), Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Daniel Ricciardo, Daniil Kyvat, Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz, Will Stevens

Images: LAT Photographic

 

 

 

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