It’s tight, it’s bumpy and it’s a major challenge for the drivers and the teams, but the Monaco Grand Prix is one of the world’s greatest sporting events, and Lotus Racing is confident of putting on a very good show at a venue where much of the Lotus history was created. Looking ahead to the weekend’s action are team drivers Jarno Trulli, a Monaco winner in 2004, and Heikki Kovalainen, with Team Manager Graham Watson giving insight into the logistical problems Monaco presents, Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne providing insights from the pitwall, and Team Principal Tony Fernandes discussing his first Monaco race at the head of an F1™ team.
Graham Watson: “The challenge really begins as soon as the Spanish Grand Prix finishes as we have to pack up everything there and then get it all over to Monaco in time to try and finish setting up by Tuesday night. We have some very experienced truckies and mechanics in the team, who know their way around the confines of the Monaco paddock, and that definitely helps us make sure we can meet all our engineering deadlines, and have the cars ready to go out on track on Thursday morning. We may be one of the new teams, and we definitely don’t have as much equipment yet as some of the more established names, but we’re still able to pack in everything we need to cope with any eventuality over the weekend, including a composite and fabrication workshop on site, which hopefully won’t be needed, but with the nature of Monaco in mind, are necessities here.”
Mike Gascoyne: “Monaco is obviously a unique place. I enjoy walking around as you realise what a mad place it is to race cars! Engineering wise it’s a major challenge – it’s very bumpy with lots of slow corners and qualifying is critical as it’s almost impossible to overtake, but I still love it! We should do ok here – we’re good in the slow speed sectors and both our guys are experienced in dealing with the bumps and the traffic, particularly Jarno whose win here was very special, so all in all I’m looking forward to it.”
Jarno Trulli: “It’s something very special in Monaco. 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 here, and I was lucky enough to do so in ’04, but the whole experience can be tough – it’s important for us to concentrate on the race, and here you’re under so much pressure it can be difficult to get the time to think, and concentrate on the actual race, but that’s how it is, so we deal with it.
“Getting in a good lap is also a challenge, but if you can manage the traffic it’s very satisfying. One of the most important parts of the circuit is through the swimming pool – you change direction at high speed, then brake for the next chicane, which is slow but you still need to get through it quickly. You jump over the kerbs there, not too much or you launch yourself into the wall, but just enough to carry the speed through. That’s why concetration levels are important – get that right every time and you’re ok – if not, you’re out.”
Heikki Kovalainen: “I obviously didn’t get the chance in Barcelona to build on the step forward we took with the updates so I’m looking forward to getting back on track and pushing on. It’s so busy on track in Monaco there’s no time to relax, and there are no run off areas so you pay heavily for any little mistakes, but I really like street circuits as they reward good car control, and I think we’ll be pretty good here from how the car felt in Spain. I’ve managed to get a round of golf in with Tony since we left Barcelona, and it’s probably not fair to say how he got on… but generally it’ll be good to get out on track again and keep up the momentum we’ve had all year.”
Tony Fernandes : “I’ve been coming to Monaco ever since AirAsia first came into the sport as a sponsor, and it’s somewhere I love coming to. It’ll be great being here with Lotus Racing – pretty emotional as Lotus has so much history here. It’ll be a special moment for me and a huge amount of fans to see the green and yellow on track again, so I can’t wait for Thursday and to see the cars out there at what’s almost their third home race!”
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