Lewis Hamilton, twice a winner of the Monaco Grand Prix, says it is important to build up the speed gradually around the Armco-lined street circuit, with the fastest times of the weekend to be set at the optimum time in qualifying.
The British race won around the principality in 2008 and again in 2016, with the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team racer admitting that he has spent time with his engineers to go through past races in Monaco in order to improve his race craft, and even goes as far as driving around the circuit in his road car.
With the wider cars of 2017, Hamilton is expecting some drivers to exceed the limit during the weekend, especially with the Armco often millimetres away from the racing line.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time now,” said Hamilton. “I spend a lot of time at the factory with the engineers to understand past races. Just the other night, I was driving around the track in my Smart car, visualising the circuit. It’s not so easy, though, when there are lots of cars around!
“The most important thing is that you have to learn to walk before you run. You have to build up to the pace so that, by the time you work up to that second run in Q3, you’re at 100%.
“We have new cars this weekend which are wider and faster, so that’s going to be a massive challenge. In trying to push the car as close as you can to the limit, it’ll be a real test of your awareness of where the car is. I’m sure there will be some brushing of the barriers…”
Hamilton also feels the more experienced drivers have the early advantage in Monaco, with mental strength important as they chase the perfect set-up.
“It’s a circuit which is all about mental strength,” insists Hamilton. “You need to be sharp and clear. Experience counts here too – that helps massively in setting the car up.”