2012: Monaco GP: Preview

It is hard to believe that we are already a quarter of the way through the 2012 season, and what a season it has been so far. This weekend it is time for the Monaco GP, a firm favourite among drivers and fans. There have already been five different winners from five different teams at the first five races of the year – will we see a sixth this weekend? Six different teams have had drivers stand on the podium and all but three teams have scored points. It has certainly been unpredictable and exciting, and hopefully the trend will continue in Monte Carlo.

Monaco GP Stats

Circuit Name: Circuit de Monaco
Number of Laps: 78
Circuit Length: 3.340
Lap Record: 1:14.439 M Schumacher (2004)
2011 Results: 1. Sebastian Vettel 2. Fernando Alonso 3. Jenson Button

There are six previous Monaco GP winners on the grid: Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Räikkönen and Michael Schumacher.

Last Time Out

Pastor Maldonado and Williams were the surprise package last time out as he won the race ahead of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen. Maldonado had the pace in both qualifying and the race, allowing him to secure victory. Lewis Hamilton had initially been on pole position before a refuelling problem saw him sent to the back of the grid after he stopped on track after his pole lap. Hamilton sent a message to his critics as he made a two stop strategy work, including a 30 lap stint, to finish in eighth place and ahead of his team-mate. Red Bull did not have the most impressive of weekends, however Sebastian Vettel salvaged sixth after a late charge. Michael Schumacher had another disappointing race when he retired after a collision with Bruno Senna, which also ended the Brazilian’s race. Felipe Massa had another race to forget while his team-mate once again scored strongly to move him to the top of the championship, tied on points with Vettel. Kamui Kobayashi finished a fine fifth in the race, while displaying some of his wheel-to-wheel overtakes which had earned him fans when he made his debut.

The Monaco GP weekend feels like the hardest to predict so far. If we are to have six different winners from six different teams then Lotus are in the prime position to do it. Both Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean are capable of it but will either of them be on the top step. Red Bull have won for the past two years but with the tightness of the pack in 2012, it will be much harder for them to make it three in a row. McLaren are the most successful constructor around the streets of Monte Carlo, and Lewis Hamilton is still looking for his first win of the season. Without the problems which have been niggling the team for the past few races, they certainly have the car to do it. Jenson Button has been suffering a lot with the handling of his car but hopefully he will be able to get to grips with it come the weekend. Ferrari still aren’t happy with their car, but Fernando Alonso has far been exceeding expectations. Sauber have been on the podium once so far this season with Sergio Perez, while Kamui Kobayashi looked feisty last time out – they could well add another podium to their collection. Pastor Maldonado says Monaco is his favourite track, and with a car that wasn’t quite up to scratch for Williams last year he was on for strong points,until an accident took him out of the race. After a race win in Spain, I think we could see the Venezuelan on the podium  again. All in all, really it is anybody’s game – good luck predicting the outcome of this one!

Schedule

(Remember Free Practice is on Thursday)

Local Monaco time

Free Practice 1 10:00 Thursday
Free Practice 2 14:00 Thursday
Free Practice 3 11:00 Saturday
Qualifying 14:00 Saturday
Race 14:00 Sunday

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