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The Monaco Grand Prix, the Jewel in the crown of the F1 calendar is this weekend. What can I add about how great this race is? It’s not just the glitz and the glamour; it’s also one of the toughest challenges you can have as a racecar driver. It’s the slowest track on the calendar but because of its tight constraints – in a F1 car – it feels like the fastest track you will ever race on.
You flick right and left through the streets of the principality with only inches to spare on each side, literately a blink away from crashing. Lap after lap, on the verge of sliding into the barriers focuses your mind like no other challenge in motor racing. It’s mentally exhausting and when you do well here, the satisfaction of a job well done does not get any higher.
Before I go any further about the coming weekend, let us just pause for a second to consider what happened at the previous race in Barcelona. Max Verstappen, who at 18 years of age, became the youngest ever Formula 1 race winner. It’s a result that has been 14 years in the making. He has lived and breathed the art of racecar driving and his win showed the sort of composure most drivers never achieve in their lifetime, never mind at the tender age of 18.
His preparation has been like no other driver and what he achieved still boggles my mind. His story is for me, one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen and I do not believe there will ever be another like it. What we witnessed in Barcelona feels just like when Michael Schumacher or Sebastian Vettel first burst on the scene and just like them, this could be the start of a legend.
Anyway, let’s now turn our minds back to Monaco. It’s a track that should still see the Mercedes cars as favourites. They were the fastest through the tight sector three in Barcelona – and that is usually a good indicator of form for the Monaco GP. However Red Bull Racing will really give them a run for their money this weekend.
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have said they have put their first lap clash in Barcelona behind them. Whether that is true or not, one thing for sure is that their rivalry is heating up to such a level that we may see more mistakes from either or both of them this weekend. Whichever one manages to keep their cool the best, will probably come out on top.
As for the rest of them, it will be interesting to see if Ferrari can bring something extra to this race. They have not won here since 2001 and while Vettel says he can end that win drought, I have my doubts.
McLaren have also been quite bold in the press and have been quoted as saying that they believe they should be in the fight for best of the rest behind Mercedes and Red Bull this weekend. It’s quite a claim for a team who only just squeaked into Q3 in Barcelona for the first time since they began this new partnership with Honda. But with two proven race winners around Monaco in Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, it’s possible they could surprise.
Monaco always seems to throw up unexpected results or performances, and this weekend should be no exception.
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