A track where it is not permitted to make a mistake
May 22, 2007
This weekend is kind of like a second home race for me, as Monaco is my European base when I am not in Brazil and so that is an extra reason to look forward to what is such a special event. It will be a very busy week with the extra day in the middle and even today (Tuesday) I have to make a quick trip to Geneva to fulfil an appearance for my sponsor, Piaggio Aero. Last week, I had a couple of days testing not far from home in Paul Ricard. I think the test went quite well for us. We were concentrating on finding a good set-up for the car when it is running the high downforce configuration that we use at Monaco. Apart from that the main thing was getting an understanding of the two types of tyre we will be using. Honestly, the tyre situation was not so easy to deal with, because over the two days I was testing, I had just a couple of sets of what Bridgestone is calling the “super-soft” and I was unlucky to be caught out in traffic on my first lap on these tyres. This was a shame, as it meant I could not exploit them properly. But we know this tyre is quicker than the other one, so it is not a big problem. Apart from that, everything went well.
“I have seen the weather forecast for the weekend and unbelievably, they say there is a chance of rain. Believe it or not, if it does rain, it will be a completely new experience for me, as I have never driven this track in the wet. But when it rains, it rains on everyone! Of course, Monaco is the sort of track where it is just not permitted to make a mistake and rain always increases the possibility of a mistake. It could make things even more of a lottery than usual, as will the new rules regarding having to use both types of tyre. If there is a Safety Car period, depending on what tyre you are on, it will either help you or go against you. But in a lottery, it is also important to have a bit of luck, so hopefully everything will work out for us this weekend.
“Even though I live in Monaco, I have not seen exactly where they have resurfaced the track. But I have seen all the work going on and it is amazing how quickly they build the circuit. It is very difficult in terms of logistics because there is so little space to do anything. I use some of the roads that make up the circuit on a regular basis: either I am going shopping or to a restaurant or to the supermarket, sometimes every day, so I know those bits particularly well, but it is very different once you are in a Formula 1. Even going round this track with my race engineer is a difficult job, so really, Thursday morning practice is the first chance to get a good understanding of any changes.
“Of course, my personal target is to win here and that would definitely be better than anything I have managed in Monaco before. My best result here is only a fifth place, but the word “only” is wrong because I was in a Sauber, when that team was still very new to F1 and at the time, that was not so bad. I also had a sixth with them, but last year I did not have a good weekend. I know that Monaco is a very unique race where there can be a lot of retirements, so the first thing is to try and finish the race.