2022 F1 Monaco Grand Prix preview: Qualifying is key

Round seven of the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship takes place this weekend around the streets of Monaco.

The Monaco Grand Prix is the most famous on the calendar, but it’s also a bit of an anomaly due to its low speeds, a result of it running along the tight streets of the principality. Just 42% of a lap is taken at full throttle. The conditions make overtaking extremely difficult, so qualifying at Monaco is more important than at any other track.

The race was on 1950’s inaugural F1 calendar and has been a regular fixture since 1955. The layout of the 2.1-mile Circuit de Monaco has remained largely unchanged over the years, the biggest updates taking place in 2004 when a new pit complex was built.

Its tight layout and close walls mean there’s no margin for error, so even with the low speeds drivers need full concentration at all times. Braking as little as seven feet too late can ruin the entire weekend. If a driver’s lucky, they’ll end up on an escape road. If not, the car is wrecked.

Circuit de Monaco, home of the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix

Circuit de Monaco, home of the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix

Monaco sees around 80 significant changes of steering direction and 52 gear changes per lap. When you add the constant throttle and brake paddle inputs, you can see just how hard the drivers are working on every lap.

Grip levels are also low since the circuit consists fully of public roads that open to normal traffic each evening of the race weekend, so there isn’t much rubber left on the surface by the time of Sunday’s race. As a result, cars run a special high-downforce configuration in Monaco to help maximize grip.

The slippery surface in combination with slow speeds mean minimal wear and degradation for the tires. As a result, Pirelli has nominated its softest compounds. The C3 is the White hard, the C4 is the Yellow medium, and the C5 is the Red soft. The weather forecast calls for fine conditions during Saturday’s qualifying but Sunday’s race may see some of the wet stuff.

Going into the weekend, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen leads the 2022 Drivers’ Championship with 110 points. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is second with 104 points and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez is third with 85 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull leads with 195 points, versus the 169 of Ferrari and 120 of Mercedes-Benz AMG. Last year’s winner in Monaco was Verstappen driving for Red Bull.

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