Monaco Grand Prix 2015 Preview: Start Time, TV Times, Weather, Schedule, Odds
The Monaco Grand Prix has long been considered the jewel in Formula One's crown. Held on the absurdly tight, twisty and slow streets of one of the smallest countries in the world, the race will be the sixth round of the 2015 season.
This will be the 73rd time a grand prix has been held on the Circuit de Monaco and 62nd time it has been a part of the world championship.
The list of winners reads like a who's who of F1 greats—the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio, Jackie Stewart, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher have all won here on more than one occasion.
Only two of the current field, Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg, are members of the multiple-winners club. Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel have a single victory apiece.
Mercedes are heavy favourites heading into the race. Will Hamilton add to his tally and extend his championship lead, or will Rosberg complete his hat-trick? Or could Ferrari, Williams or even Red Bull spring a surprise?
Practice on Thursday may provide the first clues.
Read on for a full preview of the weekend ahead including current standings, a circuit map and guide, tyre-compound information, DRS zone locations, TV times, session times, weather forecast and odds.
Current Championship Standings
Nico Rosberg's victory in Spain gave him 25 valuable points in the title race—but by coming in second, Lewis Hamilton limited the damage. Sebastian Vettel fell further behind despite chalking up his fourth podium of the season.
The current top 10 are:
In the constructors' championship, Mercedes have broken through the 200-point barrier after just five races (it took them six last season). Ferrari have 132 points (more than double their total at this stage in 2014) and lie second, while Williams remain comfortable in third.
The nine teams with at least one point are:
Data sourced from the official F1 website.
Circuit de Monaco
The Circuit de Monaco is the slowest and shortest F1 circuit on the calendar and isn't really suitable for modern cars. Overtaking is almost impossible unless the car ahead is held up by traffic, safety rules which apply elsewhere are conveniently ignored and safety car appearances are common.
If you're looking for excitement and action, look elsewhere. Want to watch a procession? Come this way...
But while it's not everyone's cup of tea, a lot of fans are glad Monaco remains a part of our sport, and history and tradition continue to take precedence over rationality and sense.
Turns 1 and 2
A lap begins on the curved pit straight with a short run down toward the slow-to-medium-speed right-hander of Turn 1, St. Devote.
Named after the patron saint of Monaco, this corner used to be tighter; changes made in recent years see the roundabout which usually occupies the apex here removed for the race, making the corner more open and, sadly, a little easier.
Out of St. Devote, the cars head up a steep hill, flicking left and right through a series of kinks. None require much steering input, and it's flat-out from top to bottom, but one of these kinks does at least have a name: Beau Rivage, Turn 2.
Turns 3 and 4
As they approach the top of the hill, the drivers slow and turn in to one of Monaco's most daunting corners, the long and quick left of Massenet (Turn 3).
It's blind all the way through with barriers on either side; drivers simply have to trust their memories as they stream through. At the exit, they flick to the left-hand side of the circuit and brake for the slow-medium right of Casino Square (Turn 4).
Getting it right here is critical to a good lap time, as the corner leads out into a straight.
Turns 5, 6, 7 and 8
The drivers swing violently to the right on the straight to avoid the huge bump on the left-hand side, then head downhill toward the slow and tight right-hander of Mirabeau Haute (high Mirabeau). This is the corner where Nico Rosberg "accidentally" locked up during qualifying last year and secured pole position.
It dips downhill quite steeply as it heads out through a left-hand kink and downhill to the most famous corner in F1: the incredibly slow left-hand hairpin of Turn 6.
Given many names over the years, this corner is currently the Fairmont Hotel Hairpin, named after the establishment which overlooks it. But to some it'll always be Leows, Grand Hotel or Station—some of its former titles.
Overtaking into here is possible, usually if the car has its line or speed compromised by the car ahead of it, but the poor steering lock of F1 cars makes it tough. Drivers taking the inside line may find they can't turn the wheels far enough to make the corner—as demonstrated by Kimi Raikkonen last year.
Anyone who successfully navigates the hairpin accelerates for a second or two before braking again for the slow, 90-degree right of Mirabeau Bas (Turn 7, low Mirabeau). Another throttle-squirt later, it's the tight right of Portier (Turn 8).
A good exit here is very important, as the track heads into the tunnel for the longest full-throttle section Monaco has to offer.
Turns 9, 10 and 11
Almost as soon as they exit Portier, the drivers are plunged into relative darkness as they enter Monaco's most unique feature: the tunnel under the Fairmont Hotel. It's full-throttle all the way through the fast right-hander of Turn 9 and out onto the harbourside.
The downhill slope is quite steep here, and the circuit is very bumpy as the cars brake hard for the slow, left-right Nouvelle Chicane (Turns 10 and 11).
It's possible to overtake here, but the way the corner is laid out and the the narrow nature of the track means the defending driver will often be forced across the run-off by the attacker.
This can lead to some seemingly unfair and inconsistent penalties for exceeding the track limits to maintain an advantage.
At the exit, the drivers get the power down as quickly as possible and speed out onto a short straight.
Turns 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16
The cars accelerate alongside the famous Monaco harbour and past lines of luxury yachts before braking lightly and turning in to the very tricky medium-speed left of Tabac (Turn 12).
This corner always looks especially impressive from the onboard camera as the drivers turn in to kiss the apex before letting their cars drift wide toward the barrier on the outside.
Providing the corner is navigated safety, next up is the relatively quick left-right chicane (Turns 13 and 14), which makes up the first part of the Swimming Pool complex.
Though made a little easier over the years, this remains one of the best places to see how ridiculously quickly the cars are going—even the Manors will look like they're carrying far too much speed.
As soon as they exit the right-hander, the drivers straighten up and brake hard for the much slower, tighter right-left chicane of Turns 15 and 16. Though slow and tight, only an incredibly brave (or foolish) driver will try to overtake into here.
Turns 17, 18 and 19
It's back on the power at the exit and along a very short, curved straight which ends as the drivers brake for the left-hand kink of Turn 17, which leads immediately into the slow, right-hand hairpin of Rascasse (Turn 18).
The drivers aim to miss the barriers on the inside by mere inches before a brief squirt of the throttle takes them to the final corner, the slow-medium Anthony Noghes (Turn 19).
The initial right-hand turn is simple enough, but the barriers cut in at the exit. A little steering correction is needed, sometimes causing the rear of the car to squirm about, as the drivers commit a heavy foot to the loud pedal and head back down the pit straight toward the end of the lap.
The entry is on the inside between Turns 18 and 19, and the exit is on the inside just after Turn 1.
Tyres and DRS
The Circuit de Monaco features mostly low-speed corners which don't put significant stresses through the tyres. It's also very low-grip—year-round road traffic dumps all manner of dirt and grime over every inch of the circuit, leaving a thin film between the tyre and the surface proper.
As the weekend progresses, repeated running cleans the racing line, and useful rubber is deposited. This allows the tyres to stick to the tarmac a little more, but overall grip levels never reach those of a purpose-built race track.
Pirelli are therefore providing their grippiest, softest tyres: the red-marked supersoft and yellow-marked soft.
At proper racing speed, these tyres would probably produce a two-stop grand prix. However, it's so difficult to overtake at Monaco that no one is willing to risk a loss of track position. As a result, the cars often lap multiple seconds shy of their "true" pace to ensure their tyres last for a one-stop strategy.
There's only one safe place to put DRS in Monaco: the short, curved pit straight.
The detection point lies between Turns 16 and 17, with the activation point just after the exit of the final corner. The zone runs the length of the pit straight, ending with braking for Turn 1.
However, don't expect overtaking to happen here. The straight is barely 500 metres in length—nowhere nearly long enough for modern cars to have a chance to overtake.
Given its location, there should be little surprise that Monaco has a warm, Mediterranean climate. Springtime highs are typically a shade below 20 degrees Celsius, while May features rain an average of around one day in six.
The current forecast for the weekend ahead is for changeable conditions. Temperatures will be around the seasonal average, with showers possible every day.
These could turn into more prolonged spells of rain—which could make things very interesting indeed.
BBC Weather will have the latest as we get closer to the race.
Lewis Hamilton remains the favourite despite losing out to Nico Rosberg at the last race in Spain. Ferrari's odds have lengthened, while Toro Rosso have shorter overall odds to win than Red Bull.
The top 10 favourites are:
|Carlos Sainz Jr.||300-1|
With little in the way of run-off, Monaco usually sees at least one safety car; it's 1-8 odds that we see it at least once. No appearance is 9-2. They should really offer odds on the number of safety cars...
Five drivers are still without a point. Pastor Maldonado is evens to break his duck in Monaco, Fernando Alonso is 11-10, Jenson Button is 5-4 and Manor pair Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi are 40-1 and 50-1, respectively.
And with rain a possibility, some of the less-fancied drivers might have a chance at a podium. Toro Rossos are usually good in the wet—Max Verstappen is 33-1, and Carlos Sainz Jr. 50-1.
All odds sourced from Oddschecker.com and correct at the time of publication.
TV Times and Session Times
As always, the Monaco Grand Prix weekend will consist of three free practice sessions, qualifying and the race. But there's one key difference here: The first two practice sessions take place on Thursday, with Friday as a free day.
The session times are as follows:
|Practice 1||Thursday||10 a.m.|
|Practice 2||Thursday||2 p.m.|
|Practice 3||Saturday||11 a.m.|
All times given are Monaco local time (CEST, UTC +2). The official Formula One website has a useful tool on its homepage to convert them to your own time zone.
In the United Kingdom, live coverage of all sessions will be provided by Sky Sports F1. The programming times are as follows (all times BST):
|Session||Day||Session Start||Sky Start Time|
|Practice 1||Thursday||9 a.m.||8:45 a.m.|
|Practice 2||Thursday||1 p.m.||12:45 p.m.|
|Practice 3||Saturday||10 a.m.||9:45 a.m.|
|Qualifying||Saturday||1 p.m.||12 p.m.|
|Race||Sunday||1 p.m.||11:30 a.m.|
Free-to-air highlights of qualifying and the race will be shown by the BBC.
|Session||Day||Session Start||NBC Start|
|Practice 1||Thursday||4 a.m.||4 a.m. (SLE)|
|Practice 2||Thursday||8 a.m.||8 a.m. (NBCSN)|
|Practice 3||Saturday||5 a.m.||5 a.m. (SLE)|
|Qualifying||Saturday||8 a.m.||8 a.m. (NBCSN)|
|Race||Sunday||8 a.m.||7:30 am (NBC)|
Enjoy the weekend!