Pirelli preview the Monaco Grand Prix Pirelli heads immediately from one of the quicker tracks seen on the calendar to the very slowest, but at the same time definitely the most glamorous: Monaco. The tight and twisty confines of the Principality are ideal territory for Pirelli’s PZero Red supersoft tire, which makes its debut in Monaco. For the first time, by extension, it is also twinned with the PZero Yellow soft tire – which becomes the ‘prime’ nomination after five grands prix as the ‘option’.
The PZero Red supersoft is one of the most extreme tires in Pirelli’s range. While not quite a qualifying tire, it still provides the ultimate performance offered by any of the PZero line-up. One of its characteristics is the remarkably short warm-up time, meaning that all the performance is available right from the beginning, but it’s extremely soft compound consistency means that it has an anticipated range of fewer than 10 laps: even less at the beginning of a race when the cars are full of approximately 200 liters of fuel. With the Monaco street circuit characterized by few overtaking opportunities, qualifying is of crucial importance.
However, with very little run-off, incidents and interruptions are common. Weather conditions can also vary, making Monaco one of the most unpredictable and exciting events of the year. In the past there have been a number of surprise winners, and the combination of tires nominated by Pirelli this year give teams scope to improve their prospects through some creative strategies, as has already seen at the previous round in Barcelona.
Pirelli’s motorsport director says:
Paul Hembery: “Monaco is a fantastic race that makes no sense on the one hand as it’s so different from everywhere else, but it’s still the jewel in the crown of the calendar on the other. We’re very excited to see our PZero Red supersoft tires making their debut around the twisty streets this weekend, although this type of circuit will obviously be a completely new experience as we’ve only tested on permanent tracks. The supersoft rubber is designed to provide outstanding performance over a short period of time but this comes at the price of durability, so all the teams will have to consider their strategies carefully. Getting it right will make the difference between winning and losing. For longer runs, the PZero Yellow has already proven itself to be a reliable and popular product so far this year, contributing to extremely close racing while providing the drivers with all the confidence they need to push to the maximum. We said from the start that we wanted to give racing back to the racers, and we’re hoping very much that Monaco will be a classic example of this.”
The men behind the steering wheel say:
Jarno Trulli (Team Lotus): “Monaco is a very special experience for everyone who takes part. It’s one of the most exciting events in the whole year and whether you’re driving or just walking around, you can almost breathe in how exciting it is. Every driver in the world wants to win in Monaco and I count myself very fortunate to have done so in 2004, but you’re under so much pressure it can be difficult to get time to think and concentrate on the actual race. Getting in a good lap is also a challenge, but if you can manage the traffic it’s very satisfying. The tires will obviously play a big part. We’ve already seen this season how important it is to get your tire strategy right and at a circuit like Monaco where aero performance doesn’t play such a crucial role I think the performance of the tires will be even more critical.”
Technical notes and tire choices so far:
Monaco is the slowest race of the year, with a track surface that evolves over the course of the weekend. With the streets open to traffic not only before the race but also during the evenings throughout the grand prix weekend, the amount of mechanical grip is constantly changing and very hard to predict.
The legendary Ayrton Senna (who contested his first grand prix with Pirelli) is the most successful driver at Monaco with a total of six race wins – five of them consecutive – while McLaren is the most successful constructor with 15 wins: most recently in 2007 with Fernando Alonso.
Monaco holds the record for being the race with the fewest number of pit stops in recent history: in 1992 there were just two pit stops throughout the entire race, with Martin Brundle (Benetton-Ford) stopping on lap 17 and Nigel Mansell (Williams-Renault) stopping on lap 71. It was also the race that had the fewest finishers, when just four drivers were classified in 1966.