Rubens Barrichello says that he is ‘hopeful’ that Williams will perform well in Monte Carlo this weekend, around a track that the Brazilian thinks should ‘play into [the teams] hands’.
Team technical director Sam Michael, looking ahead to the Monaco Grand Prix, says that big changes to the FW32 will be needed: “From a technical perspective, Monaco is a race on its own. The circuit demands a softer set-up than usual and maximum downforce, so after a series of upgrades brought to the car in Barcelona, this is the second race in succession when we will be making some significant changes to the car, although some of these updates will not carry through to the rest of the season with the possible exception of Singapore.”
The track has some quirks all of its own that demand a special set-up, for instance the traction limits at Rascasse, the importance of carrying speed through St Devote, the highly cambered exit of Mirabeau and the high steering angles required at Loewes.
“From a driver point of view, the race is one of the stiffest tests of ability as the narrow circuit demands they use the full track width and run close to the barriers to find lap time. In recent seasons, we have performed well in Monaco and both the engineers and drivers will be working hard to build on the points finish from last weekend.”
Barrichello knows that qualifying is more important in Monaco than at any other circuit on the calendar, and explains how racing around the principality is a unique experience
“Monaco is a completely different track to Barcelona and has a completely different set of challenges to any of the other circuits we race on. It's crucial to qualify well because it's so difficult to overtake, so getting the car set-up correctly in practice is really important. The car needs to be well balanced and have good traction; because it's a street circuit, you don't get a lot of grip from the track. Mechanical rather than aero strength is key and you really have to be on top of the car all the time.
“Monaco is a special track. It's so pleasurable to drive fast and it's perfect for taking the car to the limit. I particularly like the Casino Square section. When people watch it on TV, I don't think they realise that we are going at about 200mph! I'm quite hopeful for the team this race. The track should play into our hands and the weather could also play its part again this weekend. We shall see.”
The Brazilian’s teammate, German rookie Nico Hulkenberg, is looking forward to getting back in the car after finishing only 15th in Barcelona and nursing a damaged car for much of the race. “This will be the first time I have driven Monaco in a Formula One car and I'm really excited about it. I've driven the track in GP2, but I think this weekend will be a completely different experience. After Barcelona, I'm pleased this is a back-to-back so I can race again straight away.
“The track is fairly intense. All the corners are pretty tricky to negotiate, the swimming pool complex is fairly quick and Loewes and the tunnel are really awesome to drive. In general, Monaco is a special place to host a Grand Prix and I can't wait to get out there and get going.”