Fernando Alonso says drivers up and down the FIA Formula 1 World Championship paddock always look forward to the Monaco Grand Prix, and he calls it a thrill to race in between the barrier-lined streets.
The Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula 1 Team driver has been one of the standout performers so far in 2023 with four third place finishes in the opening five events, and he is looking to build on his strong start to the year this weekend.
Alonso, twice a winner at Monaco back in 2006 and 2007, admits he is curious to see how his AMR23 will work around one of the slowest tracks on the calendar, with the team perhaps having an eye on taking the fight to Oracle Red Bull Racing at the very front of the field. However, he knows a strong Saturday Qualifying session is important if he is to be in contention in the race on Sunday.
“It’s a bit of a home race for me in Monaco, so it’s a short commute to the track!” said Alonso. “It’s good to be back racing after the Grand Prix cancellation last weekend, but we hope everyone is safe in Italy and in the end it was the correct decision to not race that weekend.
“Monaco is a race we always look forward to as Formula 1 drivers. It’s such a thrill to race around these streets, there is nothing quite like it. We are curious to see how the car performs on a low-speed circuit such as this.
“Making sure we nail the car set-up and getting into a rhythm early will be important. As overtaking is so difficult in Monaco, grid position is also going to be pivotal to the result on Sunday.
“If we can have a strong Saturday, that will set us up nicely for another good result this weekend.”
Monaco “requires full focus and full commitment” – Lance Stroll
Team-mate Lance Stroll admits it was disappointing not to race last weekend at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari after the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was cancelled due to local flooding, but the Canadian feels it was the correct decision not to go ahead with the weekend.
“While we’re looking forward to going racing again, I know the thoughts of the team continue to be with the people affected in the Emilia Romagna region,” said Stroll. “Imola is a track we love racing at, but the safety of all those involved always has to come first and we recognise that the correct decision was made to cancel the race.”
Stroll says he will need to remain fully focused throughout the weekend in Monaco, with any mistake likely to be heavily punished, and the tight and twisty nature of the Circuit de Monaco makes it even more of a challenge.
“The Monaco Grand Prix is really special; a Grand Prix like no other,” he said. “It requires full focus and full commitment, pushing you more over one lap than any other track on the calendar. There are no long straights – only tight and twisty streets – so there’s not really time to think.
“You just have to trust your intuition. It’s been said before, but it’s a real privilege to race on a track with so much history and I have many great memories of epic Grands Prix here.”