Visibility and bumps key to Monaco F1 success

Riding the bumps and kerbs in Monaco will be key

Opinion among drivers is that, while they may be able to follow more closely, visibility and a handling the bumps will prove difficult at this weekend’s Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix.

All-new aerodynamic regulations were introduced into the sport this season with the express aim of allowing cars to following one another more closely.

The by-product of that, it was hoped, would be improved on-track action with greater overtaking.

For the most part, that has been achieved with consensus that cars can now follow more closely than before.

However, around the tight confines of Monaco, drivers are not expecting passing to be any easier.

The current generation of car are two metres wide, as they were in the early 1990s, though visibility has been reduced through larger wheels and bodywork above the front axle.

“The visibility is worse in these cars than in the past,” admitted Kevin Magnussen.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a massive issue. It’s going to be harder to see the apex, but I think it’s going to be okay.”

With the regulations introducing a new aerodynamic philosophy, Alex Albon suggests lap times will be notably slower than previous seasons.

F1 this year has employed ground effects, channelling the airflow under the car to generate more grip.

That has seen teams look to run their cars as low as possible to increase grip, which rises naturally as the car’s speed increases.

Around the bumpy Monaco streets, teams will not be able to drop the ride height as low as they’d like, meaning the cars will likely produce less downforce, resulting in slower lap times.

“I think it’s going to be one of them tracks where we’re going to be quite a lot slower than previous years, I imagine,” said Albon.

“It’ll be interesting. There’s be a little bit more of knowing how to ride the kerbs and a bit more of a rhythm, and finding where the bumps are.

“So it will add a bit more character to the circuit – it already has a lot.

“Visibility, I think for me only Jeddah was kind of a comparable feeling to it,” he added.

“I struggled a little bit with vision, it’s not easy, especially when you start focusing in some places.

“But we’re getting used to it now, I think as drivers, and it’s not such a big problem.”

Cars this year are stuffer than they’ve been for some time, the vibrations sent through the car to the driver.

Add in porpoising for some and the challenges posed by the revised aerodynamic rules, and matters are complicated for drivers.

The event will also pose a challenge for teams, most of whom are still not completely up to speed with their 2022 packages which are longer, heavier, and stiffer than before.

“Yeah, all of that is going to be a challenge,” admitted Aston Martin’s chief technical officer, Andy Green.

“So we will be taking it nice and gently to start with, as much as you can in Monaco.

“But I think one of the positives of the changes that we’ve made is give us room to adapt the set-up to places like Monaco.”

Williams’ Dave Robson, head of vehicle performance for the squad, unsurprisingly shares Albon’s opinion in that riding the bumps will be a key differentiator.

“Monaco is always a unique challenge,” he said.

“This year, yep, it’ll be a little bit different because the cars do require slightly different things.

“But I think ultimately, so long as you can ride some of the bumps and the kerbs, then the most important thing really is just giving the driver confidence that they can get round the corners, and they can attack the whole lap.

“So in that regard it’s not too different than if you have to give up a little bit of downforce through right height to get that balance and confidence, then I think that’s perfectly acceptable in Monaco, and something we would have done to varying degrees in the past anyway.”

Opening practice for the Monaco Grand Prix begins at 22:00 AEST on Friday.

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