Motorsport: Monaco remains the jewel in Formula 1’s crown

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Updated: May 24, 2015

For revheads like us, this is one of the biggest weekends of the year with three of the most iconic events on the calendar scheduled over the next 24 hours. Action starts in Europe where the focus of the F1 world will shift to the time-honoured Monaco GP before the second leg of this motorsport trifecta – the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500. Then in Charlotte, North Carolina, it’s the running of the Coca-Cola 600 – the longest race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

 

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2015 Formula 1 season – Monaco Grand Prix: 78 laps, 3.337km circuit length, race distance 260.286 km; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Sunday, May 24, 10pm

The Monaco GP is one of the most identifiable events in sport. Run through the streets of Monte Carlo against the backdrop of the world’s richest principality, it encapsulates Formula 1 – money, glamour and iconic motoring brands. The first race dates back to 1929 and it has been a mainstay of the World Drivers’ Championships since 1955. The Armco barrier-lined circuit leaves no margin for error, demanding more concentration than at any other Formula 1 circuit. Cars run with maximum downforce and brakes are worked hard. However, as a sporting event, it rarely lives up to its billing. The tight, narrow and twisty nature of the circuit means few genuine passing opportunities exist so drivers at or near the front of the grid have a massive advantage.

 

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That’s a shame, as it’s a circuit that was once a massive test for driver and machine. Graham Hill was known as “Mr Monaco” in recognition of his five wins; a record only eclipsed by Ayrton Senna’s six victories, including an incredible five in a row from 1989-93. Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher also won the race five times. This is also the “home” GP for several drivers, including Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg (pictured below), Jenson Button, Daniel Ricciardo and Felipe Massa. Indeed, it’s the reigning world champion Hamilton who will start from pole position for the fifth time this the season, and for the first time at Monaco. Rosberg will be next to him in P2. The Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel will start in his usual P3 position.

 

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He’ll hope to split the Silver Arrows team at the start. The Red Bulls of Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat were surprisingly prominent and finished fourth and fifth respectively. They managed to out qualify the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen who will start in sixth, as his qualifying problems continue. The drivers were struggling for grip as the low track temperature made it hard for them to get their tyres up to optimum temperature ahead of their quick lap. This issue was most troubling for the Williams team, who did not manage to qualify either of their cars for Q3. Valtteri Bottas was surprisingly knocked out in Q1, while teammate succumbed in Q2. There’s little value at the top of the field as has been the case for much of the season.

 

Suggested bets

Lewis Hamilton – fastest lap ($1.85)

Nico Rosberg – win ($4.50)

Safety car – no ($4.50)

Jenson Button – points finish ($1.90)

• Coca-Cola 600 & Indy 500 previews to come in separate posts

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