Casino Square, Saturday morning
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. 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
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
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