x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Lewis Hamilton: tyre issues will aid overtaking in twisty Monte Carlo

The McLaren driver predicts there will be overtaking at the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday while the FIA will monitor the use of the Drag Reduction System in practice.

Lewis Hamilton, in action in 2009, is predicting an exciting Monaco Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton, in action in 2009, is predicting an exciting Monaco Grand Prix.

MONTE CARLO // Lewis Hamilton has predicted there will be overtaking in the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday, pinpointing the Pirelli tyres as being the key factor to creating excitement in Monte Carlo.

The FIA, motorsport's world governing body, introduced an energy-saving power-boost device called Kers, a Drag Reduction System (DRS) and new quick-wearing tyres at the start of the season, all of which were intended to improve the potential of overtaking.

The result has been five compelling grands prix filled with pit-stops, on-track overtaking and strategic racing.

However, the Monte Carlo street circuit - a narrow, challenging, twisting track - is notorious for its lack of passing and is regularly cited by the F1 fraternity as the sport's most difficult and dangerous track.

Hamilton, who won the race in 2008, believes "a combination of DRS, Kers and the tyres will really make the racing come alive", adding that he would "love to see some overtaking action and some hard racing this year".

Pirelli was asked to create tyres which degrade quickly in the hope of more position changes during races, and Hamilton believes that will be the factor that creates an entertaining race, adding that the DRS will not be as useful as at other races.

"The aerodynamics will only really start working properly once we've reached the braking zone for [St Devote Chapel], so I don't think we'll see too many DRS-assisted overtaking moves," he said. "However, the tyres will probably give us the greatest scope for excitement and the best chance of passing. The drop-off we encounter as the tyres go off should create opportunities for overtaking."

Drivers have expressed some concern about the use of DRS in Monaco on a circuit that is already considered one of the most challenging on the calendar due to the proximity of the barriers to the track and the fact that if a driver does crash, especially in the tunnel, it often is a very big crash.

The DRS is scheduled to be used here, though the FIA have confirmed that they will reconsider their position if problems arise in Thursday's practice.

Charlie Whiting, the F1 race director, said in a press conference in Spain: "If we think there is a problem, then we can stop its use. If there was something that we felt was wrong and dangerous, then we would stop it. But we can do that with any part of the car, so it's not unusual."

Monaco has been on the F1 calendar since the series started, in 1950. Michael Schumacher, the seven-time world champion who has triumphed four times in Monte Carlo, said it was the tradition of the event that ensured the series keeps going there.

"The street circuit may be somewhat anachronistic when we usually care so much about safety, but the race is so special on the Formula One calendar that for once, you just go for it," he said.

Sebastian Vettel, who won in Spain last weekend, his fourth race in five events, knows of the challenges Monaco offers.

The German oversteered into the corner at St Devote in 2009, but he returns this year a world champion and is determined to join an exclusive club of past winners.

"It would be very nice," Vettel said. "But we have to keep working hard and be ready. You have to push as hard as on a normal race track, but the smallest mistake can bring a big penalty."

Vettel's teammate at Red Bull Racing, Mark Webber, won here last year.

"There are a lot of question marks going into this year's race in terms of how the tyres will be and the strategy could be the most complicated of the year," the Australian said. "It's a track that I've always seemed to do reasonably well at and I have some of my best memories as a racing driver there."

 

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae