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News - Monaco GP
Good Times in Monaco
03 Jun 2013
Monaco. The race every driver wants to win, but also the race where everyone wants to be. There are many elements that conjure to make this the glamorous, legendary and eagerly awaited race it is – and there are just as many off the track as on it. As we arrived in a Monaco, the glistening of the harbour with its collection of luxury yachts, basking in the Mediterranean sun, gave a first hint of what was to be a very interesting weekend for us.
As tradition goes in the Principality, the first practice sessions were on Thursday, making it a slightly longer race weekend for everyone involved: nobody ever seems to complain about having to spend an extra day around here, however! The first two sessions produced some solid results for us, with our drivers showing how evenly matched they are by finishing both halves of the day following each other in the timesheets.
Monaco being the cool and glitzy place it is, the eyes of the world’s media are on the Formula One circus – which means there are many more interviews, appearances and events than during the more usual race weekends (something for which the extra day does help). In particular, one event captures the imagination of everyone who follows the sport – the famous boat parties. Ask who you want, you’ll always get the same answer – the best party in town on the Monaco Thursday night is the one organised by Signature, the popular Indian whisky brand, on the Indian Empress. Hosted by our Team Principal and Managing Director, Dr Vijay Mallya, it is THE place to be for celebrities, crowned heads (such as His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco) and virtually everyone who is someone in the world of F1. It’s legendary. Everyone in the team is really proud it’s OUR Team Principal hosting it.
No doubt many of the invitees must have been glad Friday was a day off – if only because the party was still going strong past four in the morning. The drivers and team personnel, however, had long disappeared: there might have been no session the following day, but the schedule looked full for everyone anyway. Filming sessions, Skype chats, phone interviews – as the media multiply, nowadays, so do the engagements for our boys. Thankfully, there is also time for more pleasurable activities – such as meeting the very dedicated fans who came to wish the team well during the autograph session in the pit lane, and who were treated to a performance of our pit crew, who practiced stops in front of the ecstatic crowd.
Friday evening was not without its glamour. One cherished Monaco tradition is the Amber Lounge Fashion Show, where the drivers exchange their overalls for the latest couture and strut around on the catwalk. Adrian took part, looking smart in his tailored double-breasted jacket; several drivers’ girlfriends also acted as models for a night, bringing a touch of feminine beauty to the evening. It’s events like these that make Monaco special – an occasion for drivers, team personnel and media to let their hair down and enjoy themselves alongside people we work with all year.
We all know, however, that if you want to party hard, you have to work hard first – and hard work is what everyone in the team put in all weekend. An off by Adrian in FP3 meant the boys in the garage had to show exactly why they are some of the best mechanics in the world: the VJM06 was in tip-top shape for the start of qualifying, and helped Adrian to P8 on the grid. Paul was a bit less fortunate in qualifying, and even though he was left disappointed in P17, the confidence we all had in him and in the pace of the car reassured us about our chances come Sunday.
The race in Monaco is unique. Everyone says you can’t overtake here. Everyone knows any mistake, no matter how small, can put an end to your race. Despite a lot of safety improvements, it’s still an old school track that rewards a driver’s skill, bravery and precision. For two hours – even more, given the red flag – we watched the race unfold, on the edge of our seats. Screaming at every overtaking manoeuvre. Enjoying two inspired drives by Adrian and Paul, who would have surely been the top picks if any official ‘Driver of the Race’ award was given.
Paul was the man on the move in the first half of the race, passing his rivals at turn one – where normally such a brave move would have been rewarded with a too-close-for-comfort look at the Ste Devote barriers. An early stop gave him clear track ahead, and he ground out laps in the region of two seconds faster than anyone else on track. Paul didn’t put a thumb wrong throughout the race and was just outside the points-paying positions before half the distance was gone.
Adrian was biding his time, following a train of drivers with so many titles they’d have sunk in the asphalt had they been carrying all their trophies with them. Despite the incredible determination to overcome his streak of unlucky races, he patiently waited for the right moment to pounce. Having stalked his prey, like a predator Adrian struck when the time was ripe. Button first, Alonso next, then the limping Perez. P5 materialised. The just reward for a fantastic weekend. Behind Adrian, Paul also made the points, ninth place coming at the end of a race in which he showed just why he is so highly rated in Formula One.
The Monaco Grand Prix brought us 12 points, a good haul that sees us extend our lead over McLaren for fifth in the Championship. With a third of the season gone, the 44 points accrued so far are a testimony to the quality of our work. Misfortunes meant we could, and probably should, have had more. But we’ll head to Canada with the confidence that our car and drivers are on top of their game – and aim for even more than we had under the beautiful Monaco sun.