Monaco is a track which highlights drivers’ skills more than any other on the schedule. Car performance therefore has less of an impact upon the final result than under normal circumstances. The circuit requires a car to be setup for maximum downforce and braking, and calls for a large degree of technically ability (if not bravery) on the part of the driver. The qualifying position is of utmost importance as it is extremely difficult if not virtually impossible to overtake another car on the narrow course.
Prerace and Qualifying
My teammate Daniel Ricciardo is presently in 17th position and P1 on the team while I am leading the Drivers’ Championship (but P2 on the team). The disastrous showing in Spain in the previous race did not improve my case to be the first driver (however having several wins and being the current points leader should more than compensate for that debacle).
Three laps were run during practice on the red option tire where I would post the fastest time of 1:23.389. This is the first time during the season that the red option tires were used in the opening segments of the race weekend.
The first qualifying session was run on the yellow option tire and I would be at the top of leaderboards again with a fastest lap of 1:20.993, almost 2 ½ seconds faster than my best practice lap and 2 seconds faster than the second place driver during the segment.
The second qualifying session was also run on the yellow option tire however this time I posted a disappointing fastest lap of 1:22.563, a significant drop off from my previous segment.
The final qualifying segment or “shootout” was again run on the yellow option tire, and although I did not post my fastest lap of the weekend qualifying I did manage to put up the best lap at 1:21.618 for my first pole position of the season.
Things are definitely looking up for the race as the front row position is exactly what I need to avoid getting caught up in the pack on a course where overtaking is effectively nonexistent.
I am always hesitant about what I view as “short pitting”, that is going in before halfway and leaving more laps to run than before entering pit road. The interesting thing here is the option tire specification for the race start does not indicate if it is yellow or red option tires.
Although one of the shortest race distances of the season, the lap count and number of turns are among the highest which will put some stress on the brakes (as well as increase wear on the tires).
There is no chance of rain during the race which is a welcome relief as it allows me to concentrate on driving the track and not racing the other competitors. I couldn’t imagine how difficult it would be to run this race in a downpour on the blue wet weather tires.
Research and Development
Presently I have a suspension arm improvement which increases mechanical grip by 10%. This bonus was achieved back during practice at the Chinese Grand Prix in week three.
I am going with the default settings here as I do not want to mess with anything given the complexity of the tight circuit with numerous turns and elevation changes.
Race Laps 1-5
This is one bad ass screen shot of the first pole position of the season.
If there was ever an event where KERS would be emptied from the start, this is it.
The frantic scramble to get through Sainte Devote (turn one) is underway.
I am able to maintain the lead heading into the apex of the critical first turn that leads to the claustrophobic Beau Rivage narrowing of the track. This is definitely not a place you want another vehicle along either side.
This is a sadistically misleading wide expanse where three cars could fit side by side going in but (just out of sight up the hill) only one can really come out.
This blind corner going into the Grand Hotel Hairpin (turn six) is quite a challenge under race conditions.
The elevation change through the Mirabeau Bas (turn seven) along with the snaking transition of the track is quite significant and mistakes here can scrub off a ton of speed heading into the tunnel.
After depleting KERS at the start of the race here on lap two I have it available to utilize in one of the longer “straights” of the circuit while flying through the tunnel. Even these relatively high speed areas have blind spots on such a compressed track.
This leads up to a heavy braking point at the Nouvelle Chicane (turns 10 and 11) which is one of the few overtaking spots on the track.
At the start of lap three DRS is enabled which can be utilized if the car is within one second of another vehicle in the designated employment zone.
This is just a gratuitous glamour shot of the STR7 chassis. While running this lap Lewis Hamilton would post the fastest lap of the race (to this point) at 1:24.528 on lap two.
While I would shave 0.445 off of my time and post 1:24.266 for lap three, Hamilton would again be faster and put up a lap of 1:24.111 while trying to close the gap. On lap four I would drift the car too far to the right heading into the hairpin at turn six and brush the guardrail.
The scrapes on the chassis can be seen in the Red Bull logo along the side. With full damage modeling on for the season, such impairments to the car on a tight track can accumulate over time and at this point it is unknown what I have done to the red option tires.
Fernando Alonso would post the fastest lap of the race (to this point) at 1:24.058 on lap four.
Lap Time Results
Lap 1: 1:28:265 (P1)
Lap 2: 1:24.712 (P1)
Lap 3: 1:24.266 (P1)
Lap 4: 1:24.226 (P1)
Lap 5: 1:23.553 (P1) Fastest Lap
Race Laps 6-10
During the previous lap five I would put up the fastest time at 1:23.553 (the result is reported on the following lap, here while I am racing on lap six).
During this lap the wear on the red option tires is becoming evident as it becomes more of a challenge to hold the car to the optimal entry and exit point for each turn.
At the start of lap eight my crew chief notifies me to pit as I shave off 0.408 during the previous circuit and post a new fastest time of 1:23.509. The deterioration of the red option tires can be seen in the car overlay image to the right (the right rear tire being the worse for wear).
The Red Bull team removing the worn tires and replacing them with yellow option tires which should provide a little less grip but increased duration over the previous set (which I will need as I have twelve additional laps to complete).
The team nails a fairly decent stop at 4.330 as I drop to P4 while exiting my stall.
The Tag Heuer signage just outside of the pit exit is just beyond the start finish line, the first time this season where I have experienced a pit road entrance and exit that was mostly contained on a single lap.
Not everyone pitted at the same time which put me in traffic during the exit lap. This caused some tense moments in navigating through several areas that only one vehicle could pass. By the end of the 10th circuit I would move up to P2.
Lap Time Results
Lap 6: 1:23.917 (P1)
Lap 7: 1:23.509 (P1) Fastest Lap
Lap 8: 1:40.762 (P9) Pit Entrance Lap
Lap 9: 1:27.567 (P7) Pit Exit Lap
Lap 10: 1:25.338 (P2)
Race Laps 11-15
Heading into Sainte Devote (turn one) a critical moment of the race takes place as Hamilton is exiting pit road from his stop (the little white dot on the track map under my red dot and the vehicle in my right mirror).
Beating him out of the pits and through the turn places me back in P1.
During the previous lap 13 I post the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:23.389. For some reason Hamilton has disappeared from the drivers list.
With the castle on the hill overlooking the track this camera angle in La Rascasse (turn 17) is one of the best looking in the entire game. Even with a one second pulse set on the FRAPS screen capture application, it took until this lap to take the best image the race up to this point.
Red Bull gave me wings and here on lap 15 I am apparently doing my best to clip them. This is a combination of several factors, not the least of which is the accelerated wearing of the right rear tire. This is not the first time this season that I would be leading a race late and cause myself problems by pushing too hard when I should be dialing it back and simply logging laps.
Lap Time Results
Lap 11: 1:23.558 (P1)
Lap 12: 1:24.538 (P1)
Lap 13: 1:23.389 (P1) Fastest Lap of the Race
Lap 14: 1:23.596 (P1)
Lap 15: 1:25.719 (P1)
Race Laps 16-20
Here on lap 16 the damage to the right front wing assembly can be seen as I am missing several pieces that had the “Red” portion of the Red Bull logo along the vanes. My crew chief acknowledged the incident and rightfully instructed me to stay out, only to come in if I develop handling problems.
I am leading at Monte Carlo, the crown jewel race of Formula One. The only way I am coming in is if it is in Parc Ferme or a box.
That is unless I decide to clip the other wing. Here on lap 17 while attempting to exit through the turns 18 and 19 kink and on to the front stretch I slam into the barrier on the left turning the wing assembly warning indicator to red.
Here on lap 18 the damage to the front is quite readily apparent. The framework is there, but additional vanes are gone and the handling is noticeably more difficult.
On lap 19 while trying to nurse it home for the win, Pedrode la Rosa moves over to allow me to pass heading into turn 10.
The AI version of la Rosa would immediately tuck in behind and race me hard through the final turns until I could finally break contact with him here.
Coming out of La Rascasse (turn 17) for the final time I nail the best screen capture of the season (so far).
I would hang on (despite my worst efforts not to) for the win at the prestigious street circuit.
Lap Time Results
Lap 16: 1:25.433 (P1)
Lap 17: 1:24.541 (P1)
Lap 18: 1:24.320 (P1)
Lap 19: 1:25.911 (P1)
Lap 20: N/A
A great many white knuckle moments on the controller lead to a satisfying result. I finish with a total race time of 28:30.841, 7.298 seconds ahead of Mark Webber in P2. Hamilton, who I had to get past into the first turn as he was coming out of the pits with the lead on lap 13 is shockingly nowhere to be seen on the leaderboard.
What a difference a single race makes. At the end of the Spain event I was only nine points up on Hamilton who was P2 in the championship standings. My win at Monte Carlo and his failing to place in the top ten to score any points increases my lead to 34.
The 25 points for the victory place me at 112 for the season.
The Race Objective here of 1st is the updated requirement after taking the pole position (heading into the race weekend the expectation was to finish in 9th place or better).
Team Mate Challenge Data
Through six events I have outraced the first driver on the team five times and have amassed a staggering 112 Championship Points to his four.
I think it is time for some changes around this place.
The sensation of speed it quite high at this track and the most vivid that I have experienced in a racing video game in recent memory. The narrow track which is almost entirely enclosed with little to no run off area can actually produce a nauseating feeling when driving in cockpit view.
This was one of the most difficult racing events I have ever struggled through to complete, as several brushes with the wall can attest to. In terms of playing games, I was very fortunate to hold it together and pull off the victory.