Monaco Grand Prix 2016 Preview: Start Time, TV Info, Weather, Schedule, Odds
After a spectacularly unpredictable Spanish Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton took Nico Rosberg out on Lap 1 and Max Verstappen claimed his maiden victory, Formula One heads down the Mediterranean coast to Monaco.
The Monaco Grand Prix was first held in 1929 and has been run continuously since 1955.
Run through the tight, twisty streets of the city, Monaco remains perhaps the toughest test of the season for the drivers. Even the smallest mistakes are punished with a race-ending smash into the Armco barriers lining the circuit. If you hate the endless run-off areas at the modern, Hermann Tilke-designed tracks, Monaco is the race for you.
"When I think of Monaco, I always remember the first time I drove there in a Formula 1 car and went at full speed," said Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat in the team's race preview. "The first lap was a bit scary, as it's so narrow!"
Rosberg, the championship leader, was raised in Monaco and has won the last three races there. Last year, Hamilton was on track for victory until he made an ill-advised pit stop behind the safety car after Verstappen drove into the back of Romain Grosjean, handing the race to his team-mate.
Will Mercedes retain their dominant form and get through Sainte Devote with both cars intact, or will Red Bull and Ferrari take advantage of Monaco's unique characteristics to close the gap to the Silver Arrows?
Keep reading for a full race weekend preview, including TV times, current championship standings, a circuit map and guide, tyre and DRS information, weather forecast, odds and session times.
Despite not scoring any points in Spain, Rosberg continues to lead the drivers' championship.
However, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen overtook Hamilton for second place, marking the first time since the U.S. Grand Prix last year that the Mercedes drivers are not one-two in the drivers' table.
Here are the top 10 drivers heading into the Monaco Grand Prix:
Ferrari narrowed the gap to Mercedes to 48 points in the constructors' championship, with their second- and third-place finishes in Spain. With Verstappen's win, Red Bull are now within 15 points of the Scuderia for second.
Here is the table for the constructors' championship:
Circuit de Monaco
Instead of bland numbers or corporate sponsors, each corner of the Monaco circuit has a historical name. In fact, several parts of the circuit have barely changed since the first Monaco Grand Prix.
Because the track is just 3.337 kilometres long, the race lasts 78 laps, necessitating some 3,666 gear changes, per the official F1 website.
Overtaking is notoriously difficult in Monaco, and the first corner is one of the best (or only) places to do it. The pit straight is short, but drivers will have DRS as they approach the 105 km/h Sainte Devote. There is a bit of run-off area around the corner but first-lap collisions are almost inevitable here.
Beau Rivage, Massenet, Casino Square
Beau Rivage is not a corner, but a long, uphill climb with a few kinks, followed by the sweeping Massenet and Casino corners, taken at approximately 150 km/h and 130 km/h, respectively.
"Turns 3 and 4 are probably the most glamorous corners of the Championship, as we go past the casino and the Cafe de Paris," said Carlos Sainz, per the Toro Rosso race preview. "It's a very special feeling to drive through here the first time, as well as it being one of the most challenging parts of the track."
Mirabeau and Grand Hotel Hairpin
After a short blast out of Casino Square, the drivers brake heavily for Mirabeau Haute. The cars slow from more than 200 km/h to about 85 km/h for a sharp right-hander as the track falls away toward the hairpin.
The Grand Hotel Hairpin ranks with Eau Rouge and the Parabolica as one of the most iconic corners in F1. It is also the slowest, at just 45 km/h in the current generation of F1 cars. The exit from the hairpin throws the cars immediately into the Mirabeau Bas right-hander.
Portier and the Tunnel
Portier is not an overtaking zone—unless your name is Nico Hulkenberg. He famously dove down the inside of Kevin Magnussen here in 2014, surprising the Dane and stealing a place.
The corner is most famous, though, for Ayrton Senna's crash there while leading the 1988 race, handing victory to his team-mate and rival, Alain Prost.
Like Beau Rivage, the Tunnel is not a corner in the sense that the drivers need to brake for it. Rather, it is a flat-out blast through a sweeping, right-hand curve.
As drivers exit the Tunnel, they brake for the chicane. This section of the track is quite bumpy, but it also provides the second decent overtaking opportunity.
It has also been the site of several large crashes, including one for Sergio Perez back in 2011, although the corner has since been modified to provide more run-off space.
Tabac and the Swimming Pool
Tabac is a fast left-hander as the circuit hugs the edge of the harbour. It is followed by two chicanes that take the track around the swimming pool in the Rainier III Nautical Stadium. The first chicane is taken at more than 230 km/h, while the second one is much slower, approximately 105 km/h.
"Turns 12, 13 and 14 are the fastest and nicest corners—this is my favourite part of the track, and I can't wait to be racing there again this weekend!" said Sainz, per Toro Rosso's race preview.
Rascasse and Antony Noghes
In 2014, Jules Bianchi muscled Kamui Kobayashi out of the way at Rascasse on his way to scoring Marussia's first and only points in F1.
The right-hander is nearly as slow as the hairpin, at less than 60 km/h, with the entrance to the pit lane on the right side of the corner exit.
The final corner, an 80 km/h right-hander with a small kink at the exit, is where Michael Schumacher illegally passed Fernando Alonso at the end of the 2010 race. From Antony Noghes, it is a short sprint to the start/finish line and the end of a lap around the Circuit de Monaco.
All circuit data is from the FIA race preview.
Monaco Grand Prix Tyres and DRS Zones
Pirelli added a fifth tyre compound—ultrasoft—to their range this year, but Monaco is the first time it will be used at a race weekend (they will appear again in Canada and Austria).
Both Mercedes, both Red Bulls and Renault's Kevin Magnussen selected 10 sets of the ultrasofts. At the other end of the spectrum, each Manor driver will have just six sets of the new, purple-coloured tyre.
Manor racing director Dave Ryan admitted that his team might need to be more aggressive with their tyre choices in the future.
"There's no disputing if you look at the tyre choices other teams have made, they've been a bit more aggressive than we have been and maybe we need to go in the same direction," he said, per ESPN F1's Nate Saunders. "But we're comfortable with what we had, we feel we had the right tyres available at the last race."
According to Pirelli's race preview, there is not much grip on the streets of Monaco and, consequently, "Wear and degradation is the lowest seen all year, making one-stop strategies possible even on soft compound tyres."
There is only one DRS zone in Monaco, on the pit straight. The detection point is located on the short run between the exit of the swimming-pool section and Rascasse.
The activation point immediately follows the final corner, Antony Noghes, as drivers usually need every inch of the short pit straight to attempt a pass.
Monaco Grand Prix Weather Forecast
Monaco is on the French Riviera, sandwiched between Nice and the Italian border. Its location on the Mediterranean coast helps moderate the temperature, even in the summer.
As of the time of publication, the BBC forecast is calling for some clouds on Thursday, with a high of 19 degrees Celsius. There is no running on Fridays in Monaco, and Saturday will be mostly sunny, with a high of 23 degrees.
On Sunday, heavy rain showers are expected during the race, with a high of 20 degrees.
Monaco Grand Prix Odds
The Mercedes drivers remain the favourites in Monaco, but Verstappen's success in Spain and Renault's possible engine upgrade have boosted the Red Bulls ahead of Ferrari—at least in the oddsmakers' views.
The best odds available for the top-10 favourites in Monaco are:
Vettel is 33-1 to steal his first pole position since Singapore last year, but he is much more likely to post the fastest time in the first free practice session, at just 11-1.
You can get 50-1 odds that there will be no retirements on Sunday—highly unlikely, given Monaco's tight, unforgiving barriers and the possibility of heavy rain.
If you are predicting carnage, there are good odds for the winner to come from somewhere other than the front row: 8-1 for third or fourth place and 16-1 for fifth, sixth or seventh.
All odds are taken from Oddschecker and correct at the time of publication.
Monaco Grand Prix Session Times and TV Times
Here are the times for the three free practice sessions, qualifying and the race:
|Practice 1||Thursday||10 a.m.|
|Practice 2||Thursday||2 p.m.|
|Practice 3||Saturday||11 a.m.|
The above times are in local Monaco time (CEST, UTC+2). You can convert the times to your local time zone using the helpful tool on the official F1 website.
In the United Kingdom, Sky Sports F1 has live coverage of all the sessions. The programming start times are as follows (all times BST):
|Practice 1||Thursday||8:45 a.m.|
|Practice 2||Thursday||12:45 p.m.|
|Practice 3||Saturday||9:45 a.m.|
Channel 4 will show free-to-air highlights from qualifying and the race.
In the United States, NBC has live coverage of all the sessions on various platforms, including NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra, with programming start times as follows (all times EDT):
|Practice 1||Thursday||4 a.m. (Live Extra)|
|Practice 2||Thursday||8 a.m. (NBCSN)|
|Practice 3||Saturday||5 a.m. (Live Extra)|
|Qualifying||Saturday||8 a.m. (NBCSN)|
|Race||Sunday||7 a.m. (NBC)|
Enjoy the race and the rest of the weekend.
Follow me on Twitter for updates when I publish new columns and for other (mostly) F1-related news and banter: