There’ll be white-knuckle action all around the circuit, but the big fight is likely to be a high-octane ding-dong at the pointy end of proceedings between rival Mercedes pilots, Hamilton and Rosberg.
Brit Lewis is currently leading the championship, but German driver – and local resident – Rosberg is desperate to ensure his title hopes aren’t left in a critical condition as the chequered flag is waved.
Saturday’s qualifying is going to be more important than ever. With the Monaco circuit virtually impossible for on-track overtakes it’s a huge boost for the driver who grabs pole.
There’s also the needle from 2014’s GP here, when Rosberg parked his car on the track and forced Lewis to miss out on his final flying lap – and any chance of grabbing pole from the German. Their relationship still hasn’t recovered.
So, don’t skip the qualifying for this one, or you’ll be missing half the race.
Qualifying: 1PM Saturday
Race: 1PM Sunday
Watch the race live on Sky or highlights on BBC 1
How to drive a lap: Nico Rosberg’s 2014 pole lap
Take a ride round the Monaco GP circuit with Nico Rosberg as he races to a controversial pole position at the 2014 event.
Track map: Know your corners
Get acquainted with some of F1’s legendary corners and track sections image credit
Monaco GP 2015: Essential info
The 2015 Monaco GP at-a-glance guide…
Track: Street circuit.
Race start time: Sunday, 1pm UK time
Track length: 3.337 km
Tyre allocation: Soft (yellow) and Supersoft (red)
DRS Zones: One (pit straight).
Lap record: Michael Schumacher: 1:14.439 (Ferrari, 2004)
2014 pole: Nico Rosberg: 1:15.989 (Mercedes)
Circuit lowdown: McLaren Honda's track guide
Monaco is unlike any other venue in Formula One. It’s the shortest and slowest circuit on the calendar, but it’s also one of the most challenging, owing to the narrowness of the Principality’s streets and the proximity of the barriers.
The 3.340km/2.075-mile layout has remained largely unchanged since it first hosted a world championship grand prix in 1950. There have been minor alterations over the years in the name of safety, such as the easing of Rascasse and the introduction of TecPro barriers, but the original challenge and character of the circuit remain intact.
Technically, the circuit is very demanding. There are many short bursts of acceleration from low speed, all of which put an emphasis on traction, and the bumps in the road force teams to run their cars with much softer suspension than at a conventional racetrack. The steering angle of the front wheels has to be increased as well, in order to make it round the Loews Hairpin.
Much of the track has been re-surfaced since last year, but the asphalt is expected to remain slippery. Grip levels will improve as more rubber gets laid down over the course of the weekend, but the teams will be chasing the mechanical grip provided by Pirelli’s two softest compounds, the Soft (Prime) and Supersoft (Option). Engine driveability will also have a large bearing on performance.
McLaren is the most successful constructor in the history of the Monaco Grand Prix, having won the race 15 times. Five of those victories came with the late, great Ayrton Senna; of the team’s current line-up, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button have both previously won the race.
Chances of a safety car: Barrier action expected
Chances of a safety car: High. According to the McLaren Honda team, there’s an 80 per cent chance of a Safety Car – largely due to the lack of run-off. There was one Safety Car period last year, following an accident involving Adrian Sutil
Key corner: Where the it's all happening
Key corner: Casino Square. The entry and the exit are both blind, requiring bravery and precision from the driver to get right, according to MacLaren’s race briefing.
Gear changes: How many shifts for a McLaren
Gear changes: 48 per lap/3744 per race
Fuel consumption: How thirsty is the McLaren Honda
Fuel consumption: 1.5kg per lap, the lowest fuel consumption rate of the year
Don't put the kettle on: You could miss the best bits
Don’t put the kettle on: McLaren says: Between laps 25-27. With it being so difficult to overtake around Monaco, track position is king. Last year’s race was won using a one-stop strategy, the top four cars starting on the Supersoft tyre and then switching to the Soft
Brit racer and McLaren Honda driver Jenson Button gives his thoughts on the upcoming race:
“It’s true what they say – Monaco is the jewel in the crown of the Formula 1 calendar in every sense. It’s a real test of man and machine working in harmony to hook up the best lap, and maintain that consistency lap after lap. It’s very easy to make mistakes there, and you need complete confidence in the car and incredible control and accuracy to get the most out of a lap. Qualifying is so important because overtaking is famously tricky; we’ve been steadily improving our starting positions since the beginning of the season, so I’m hopeful we’ll see further progress on Saturday.
“Monaco is a low-speed circuit that doesn’t rely that much on aerodynamic performance, but you do need good balance and driveability. I’m hopeful we can sort out the balance issues we had on my car in the last race, so Monaco should see an improvement. After a disappointing race in Barcelona, naturally it’s easy to be frustrated when you step out of the car, especially when you feel you deserved more. I firmly believe that we’re making solid progress, which is why having a difficult race is hard to take. However, we’ve put that race behind us and I think we’ve a decent chance of continuing our upward trend in Monaco.
“I love Monaco; I won there in 2009 and the feeling you get driving there is absolutely mega. While nothing beats the feeling of racing at your home grand prix, Monaco has become an adopted home race for me, so driving around these famous streets so close to where I live makes it even more special. Racing at Monaco is an incredible challenge – being precise on turn-in, hitting the apex and balancing the throttle, while being as patient as possible to get the best exit, is a real art. The flow of corners in the middle sector – from Mirabeau, into the Hairpin and on to Portier – is particularly tricky, as it’s so easy to go a foot off the racing line and end up in the wall. Monaco always produces great drama, which just adds to its legendary status as one of the best grands prix on the calendar.”
Inside track: Matt Morris, McLaren
Get the low-down on round six of the 2015 Formula 1 season from Matt Morris, McLaren’s Director of Engineering.
2015 F1 race schedule
2015 car from defending F1 Constructor’s Champions, Mercedes-Benz image credit
Here’s a heads-up for petrol heads around the UK… plan your life around the following dates of F1 race weekends for the 2015 season.
You can watch all 20 Formula One races live by subscribing on Sky Sports, but for those who choose not to subscribe, the BBC will show 10 live races and highlights of the remaining 10.
Here’s the full schedule of free F1 coverage from the BBC:
2015 Grand Prix schedule: Live races on the BBC
2015 Grand Prix schedule:
Australia: 15 March – Highlights Malaysia: 29 March – Live China: 12 April – Highlights Bahrain: 19 April – Live Spain: 10 May – Highlights Monaco: 24 May – Highlights Canada: 7 June – Live Austria: 21 June – Highlights Great Britain: 5 July – Live Germany: 19 July – Highlights Hungary: 26 July – Live Belgium: 23 August – Live Italy: 6 September – Highlights Singapore: 20 September – Highlights Japan: 27 September – Live Russia: 11 October – Live United States: 25 October – Highlights Mexico: 1 November – Highlights Brazil: 15 November – Live Abu Dhabi: 29 November – Live
Or subscribe to Sky to see all races live…
Want to subscribe to Sky for live coverage of all race weekends, simply click here.
Pick a winner: Your prediction for 2015 F1 season
Lewis Hamilton with Vladimir Putin after winning 2014 Russian GP: image credit
Click below and enter your vote for the driver you think will take the chequered flag to win the 2015 Drivers’ Championship.
Place your vote here
In the pits
With top F1 cars so evenly matched for pace and power, overtaking on some circuits is extremely difficult. This is why places and races can be lost and won in the pitlane. Here we look at a Sauber infographic explaining just what everyone’s getting up to when an F1 pilot hits the pits for a new set of boots.
We don’t get many Formula One cars in the Crawley Down Group’s bodyshop, but here’s how much in parts alone it costs to put the cars back together when they slip off the black stuff.
Rough costs of parts to rebuild a crashed F1 car
Got the F1 bug… then take to the cockpit
Just because your daddy doesn’t run an international banking conglomerate, it doesn’t mean you can’t get behind the wheel of a single-seater race car – or even a ex-Formula One racer. Here’s out guide to getting into the cockpit and heading out on to the track for an adrenaline-fueled shot of high-octane auto anarchy. We’ve broken it down into various budgets so everyone can take the wheel…
From £15.00: Full-motion F1 Car Racing Simulator
Lets Race are the only F1 simulator venue in the UK!
An ideal entertainment venue for groups and events of all types! Lets Race is the only F1 racing simulator venue in the UK and allows digital speed freaks discover if they might just be the next Lewis Hamilton. All the Grand Prix tracks can be found with our friends at Lets Race in Horley, where you can tackle the same track that F1 racers will be battling on this Sunday! Important info: Drivers must be min 1.5m tall. How much: From £15.00 Where:Get your Lets Race tickets here.
From £199.00: Single-seaters at Silverstone
Single-seaters at Silverstone
With Lewis bringing the F1 title back to Britain, what better way to celebrate than by heading to Silverstone for a hi-octane session of white-knuckle driving in a 150bhp Formula Silverstone single-seat race car. Riding just millimetres from the ground, you’ll be blasted from 0-60mph in just 4.3 seconds and be glued to the black stuff as you corner at speeds that’d leave road cars spinning hopelessly out of control. Become one with your machine as the stupendous traction flings you from corner to straight with heart-stopping power as you take on the challenge of Silverstone’s Stowe Circuit. The package offers a 30-minute safety and technique briefing – where participants learn about braking, cornering, clipping kerbs and safety flags – followed by 20 minutes driving behind a pace car, before being let loose to pilot their bucking, snorting, steed for 20 solo mins of driving ecstasy. Once driven – forever smitten. Important info: All drivers must have held a full licence for at least one year, stand between 5’2”-6’6” and weigh no more than 18 stone. How much: From £199.00 Where:Get your Silverstone Single Seater Thrill here
Drive a genuine Formula One car
Pay for your ride – like a real F1 pilot
We’ve saved the ultimate experience for last… but driving a genuine Formula One car will literally be the experience of a lifetime for any petrol head. Apart from turning up at the British GP and carjacking Lewis Hamilton, there’s just nowhere to go beyond this. With a 0-60mph time of just 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 200mph, the chance to drive a 600bhp ex-Formula One GP car around a genuine race circuit is truly unbeatable. The full-day experience starts with a safety briefing, after which the track action commences with five familiarisation laps of in a sports saloon driven by a race instructor. You’ll then drive the saloon car for 10 laps before climbing behind the wheel of an Aston Martin and Ferrari 360 for two six-mile sessions – honing skills for the move up to 10 paced laps in a single-seater. After this, you’ll drive seven un-paced laps in the single-seater followed by 10 laps in the stunning Formula 3 race car, before 10 mind-blowing laps in the awesome 1996 Italian Forte Corse or 1994 Arrows GP cars – previously raced by F1 stars Luca Badoer and Aguri Suzuki. Lunch and an F1 certificate are also included. You’ll be just like a real modern-day racing driver – paying for your seat in an F1 car. Car spec: Car: Ex-Formula One, Power: 600bhp, Transmission: Six-speed manual sequential, Engine: 3.0-litre Nicholson McLaren Cosworth V8 or Judd KV 3.0-litre Important info: Drivers must be at least 21, stand between 5’-6’4” and weigh no more than 18 stone. Their chest and upper arm girth must not exceed 54?. A full driving licence must have been held for a minimum of 36 months and needs to be produced. Voucher valid for 24 months. Location: Three Sisters, Lancashire How much: Brace yourself… £1,599 Where:Book an F1 experience here
How to become a racing driver for less: Lawnmower racing
So, you want to be an F1 racer, but your dad’s not CEO of a multi-national conglomerate? Don’t despair, get on the road to racing glory with our guide to alternative and affordable racing formulas. First up it’s the grass-roots sport of Lawn Mower racing…
What is it: As the name suggest, it’s a racing formula where drivers compete on converted lawn mowers.
Isn’t it a bit slow: Compared to F1 it might be a little pedestrian, but sitting inches from the ground on a lawnmower doing up to 50mph will certainly get the adrenaline pumping in most wannabe racers.
How much does it cost: Whereas you’ll need well in excess of £5million to buy your drive for a back-of-the-grid F1 outfit, getting a top seat in lawnmower racing will cost you anything from £500-£1000. Membership will be another £40 for a season, with £10 race fees. Still considerably shy of the millions you’ll need to finish last in F1.
Great! Where can I find out more: Simple. Head to the British Lawnmower Racing Association’s website here
Lawnmower racing in action: Watch this video and get a taste of the action.