The Mercedes-AMG team continue to dominate the 2014 Formula 1 season, having taken their fifth straight win and fourth straight one-two finish last time out in Spain. Lewis Hamilton now leads the championship by three points from team-mate Nico Rosberg, and both are previous winners around the streets of Monte Carlo.
Hamilton goes into the Monaco weekend having taken the lead of the championship for the first time in Spain last time out, having also taken his fourth consecutive race win, the first time in his career he has managed this feat. He won in Monaco back in 2008 in tricky conditions, and will want to win the race that everyone wants to win again in 2014.
”It’s been a busy few weeks for me, both on track and away from it, but I’m pleased to be getting back to racing again next weekend,” said Hamilton. “And what a place to get back to it! Monaco is just incredible to drive and any driver will tell you that’s the race they want to win. So many great names become legends around this circuit. It’s an honour to fight for your place amongst them and a real test of your skills behind the wheel.
“The last few races have been just incredible. I honestly never expected I’d win four consecutive Grand Prix in my career and I’d love to continue that run here. I’ve had some work to do in terms of getting the car exactly as I want it after the weekend in Spain: it was so close between our cars at the end and I need to keep pushing to find any extra edge I can. The car has been strong at every race so far and I’m sure it’ll be the same in Monaco, so we should be set for an entertaining weekend.”
Team-mate Rosberg will be hoping to regain his Championship lead after losing it last time out at the Spanish Grand Prix. Despite being German, he calls Monaco his home, and will want to add a second win around the street circuit after triumphing there in 2013, the second win for the Rosberg family in Monaco after his father Keke won in 1983.
”Monaco: my home town! Obviously, I associate many wonderful memories with this place,” said Rosberg. “It’s where I grew up and where I now live as an adult. But in sporting terms too, I have had some great moments there: in particular last year when I won there for the first time in my Formula One career. That was an absolutely incredible feeling. Driving a Formula One car there is simply fantastic and it’s an event every driver looks forward to each year.
“Overall I was quite pleased with the last race weekend in Barcelona. Disappointed, of course, not to have taken the win but happy that the team achieved another one-two finish. The Championship battle is very close and to re-gain the advantage at my home race would be fantastic, so I’ll be pushing harder than ever to make that happen. I had a productive day of testing in Barcelona where we made some good progress with braking and starts: two areas that I feel are costing me time at the moment. Hopefully that will give me the extra edge next weekend. It should be an exciting weekend and I can’t wait to get started.”
Toto Wolff, the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport knows that the races preceding Monaco are no indication of what will happen in the principality as it is a unique challenge, and knows any mistake by driver or team will be punished. Despite the dominant start to the season, he feels the team is still taking each race as it comes, and are keeping their feet firmly on the ground.
”We came away from Barcelona with plenty of positive points and the most encouraging was that our development package worked, which allowed us to maintain a healthy gap to our rivals on that circuit,” said Wolff. “But Monaco is a different story every year. It’s a place that rewards driveability, confidence and a strong qualifying performance. Most of all, though, it’s about avoiding mistakes: the drivers have no room for error and neither does the team.
“We are heading to Monaco with our feet on the ground because it is a place that can bite you if you get over-confident. We have a quick Silver Arrow and Lewis and Nico are specialists around the streets. But we need to bring every piece of the puzzle together if we want to maintain our run of success next weekend.”
Technical Executive Director Paddy Lowe has praised the efforts of the whole team after four consecutive one-two finishes and five consecutive wins in 2014. He admits the challenges of Monaco are different to what has gone before, and he does not know which teams will be competitive around the streets this weekend.
“It’s an amazing achievement to take five wins in a row and even more so to have four consecutive one-two finishes,” said Lowe. “It’s a tremendous endorsement of all the hard work from everyone at Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart. Another highlight was to once more see a great demonstration of the level of competition between our two drivers. To be separated by just six tenths at the flag proves once again just how evenly matched they are.
“Monaco, of course, is a very different prospect. It’s a tough event both logistically and practically for the team and also highly demanding for the drivers. Building momentum through each session is crucial and the unforgiving nature of the track can make even the smallest mistake a significant one relative to your weekend as a whole. Any track time lost around Monaco is a missed opportunity, more so than at any other circuit, so it’s crucial to get it right from the very first lap on Thursday.
“We won there last year with Nico which was a fantastic result at the time and Lewis has also been impressive there in the past, including taking a victory of his own in 2008. It’s a driver’s circuit and both Lewis and Nico are on top form, so we’re expecting an exciting contest. The circuit itself is so unique that it’s difficult to predict which teams will be strong at this race. Certainly, we wouldn’t expect to have the same margin of advantage as we enjoyed in Barcelona. But we’re nonetheless hopeful of another good performance.”