Friday, 27 May 2011

The Magic of Street Circuits

This weekend sees 2011's Monaco Grand Prix - perhaps one of the most prestigious races on the calendar. It's also one of the year's street races and my god, you know this one's a street circuit. Watching practice yesterday (no practice on a Friday as it's a local holiday) I was struck by just how wrong things could go should a driver get even slightly off line. Several crashes occurred, with bits of front wing flying off of the cars and no doubt straight onto eBay. Perhaps this is why winning a race like Monaco is so special - you have to win on driving ability more than how quick your car is or how much downforce you have (and trust me, downforce is vital here).

I do love street circuits. I think you get much more of an element of excitement at a street circuit than you do anywhere else. Drivers have to be brave to overtake. They also have to have massive amounts of talent, and street circuits are places where you can really judge the talent of a driver. Of course, if someone makes a mistake you can hardly call them untalented - as far as I'm concerned, driving somewhere round Monaco at that high speed instantly makes you talented regardless of where you finish.

There's some interest surrounding the tyres this weekend too. Pirelli have brought their soft and super-soft tyres, a combination which we haven't seen yet. It's not exactly clear how the super-softs are going to react, and the lack of space on the circuit could mean that getting off line onto the marbles wouldn't be forgiven as much as at other tracks. A comment was also made yesterday about the surface of the circuit itself. Obviously, a street circuit isn't going to be as well kept as a permanent track - the surface of the track isn't designed for racing cars, but rather for ordinary traffic. At the moment, it's not clear whether this will mean that the track is harder or easier on the tyres. No doubt I'll update you when I've worked it out!

So, as it's the local holiday in Monaco there's no F1 action today. Qualifying is tomorrow, as is the final practice, so I will be glued to the screen all weekend as ever!