Monaco is considered to be a challenge like no other for Formula One drivers; the twisting nature of the circuit and proximity of the unforgiving barriers heighten the concentration needed of even the most intense of racers. History tells us that Ayrton Senna and Graham Hill are the undisputed masters of all-time, Senna heading the record books with six wins to Hill’s five. In recent times, Michael Schumacher managed to tame the beast on five occasions as well, edging out Alain Prost on four. But of the current grid, who teases and respects the armco in equal quantities?
You might think that Kimi Raikkonen would be a Monaco master, the Finnish driver known for his ice-cold approach to racing. Raikkonen is certainly a driver I would expect to do well on the streets of Monte Carlo, but the McLaren and Ferrari winner has only visited the Monaco rostrum twice in his seven attempts to date. Kimi’s first podium was for his second place in 2003, improved upon in 2005 with a victory from pole position. In 2006 and suffering from poor reliability from his McLaren, a small fire on his car forced retirement, Raikkonen famously being videoed storming off to a nearby yacht to calm down. A modern-day Monaco master, he isn’t.
What about David Coulthard? The Scot has certainly raced at Monaco a fair few times and has won the race on two occasions. Both wins came from his years at McLaren, the first being in 2000 and repeated in 2002. Coulthard has also managed a second-place in 1996, a pole position and fastest lap in 2001 and a third place in 2006 for current team Red Bull Racing. But when you look at Coulthard racing in Monaco, it is hard to be inspired by his efforts around the track. Is Coulthard a modern-day Monaco master? I don’t think so.
Giancarlo Fisichella is another driver who has been around for a while as well, occasionally in competitive cars, but the Italian has never won the race. Fisi’s best result was a second place in 1998, way back in his Benetton days. The Roman has also managed a third place 2000 but hasn’t bettered either of these results. Continuing the longevity theme, Rubens Barrichello might be considered a master of the track, but alas he isn’t. Barrichello’s best results came in 1997, 2000 and 2001 when the Brazilian finished second on each occasion. A fastest lap in 2002 and a third-place in 2004 is the best Rubens has been able to muster, and aside from his surprise ’97 podium for Stewart, each of his rostrum visits have been with the Ferrari team. Therefore, it would appear practice doesn’t always make perfect.
That just leaves Fernando Alonso left from all the serious contenders of Monaco-masterdom. The Spaniard has twice won at Monaco, once in the Renault in his second championship-winning season of 2006, and last year at the helm of the McLaren MP4-22. Alonso also took pole position on both occasions and set the fastest lap in 2007. So does that make Fernando the modern-day master of Monaco? Statistically, maybe. But I’m not sure he falls into the same category as Senna or Hill when it comes to judging his abilities at the track. Not yet, anyway.
Either way, irrespective of your opinion on Alonso and the Cote d’Azur circuit, Alonso is probably worth an outside bet if you’re so inclined. But in reality, I’m expecting Raikkonen to take his second victory to equal current drivers Coulthard and Alonso in the record books.
Who do you consider to be the modern-day masters of Monaco?[poll:14]
i think i’d like to wait until after qually to answer this. but provisionally for me it’s alonso.
he did throw it into the barriers in the tunnel once though didn’t he? that must count against him.
Really? I hoped the post came across as a more vague overview of the drivers performances through the recent seasons, but you seem to think that qualifying in 2008 will confirm your decision? I’m all intrigued now…
I’d take Fernando Alonso as an early pick. If I could wait a few more years and then pick I would have a better idea, but then again I may pick Alonso again.
“but you seem to think that qualifying in 2008 will confirm your decision? I’m all intrigued now…”
well he binned it in fp2 so that goes against him.
i’d like to see how each of the drivers shape up in non-TC’d cars. might be a significant difference to rethink current assumptions.
I wanted to vote DC (LOL!) but just read
http://www.sniffpetrol.com/category/crazy-dave/ and boy! It was hilarious..
Well, Maldonado did okay in last year’s GP2 event, and has taken pole again this afternoon. Not sure he can be considered a master yet. 😉
Lewis Hamilton. Okay, a prediction more than a statement of fact but I don’t like any of the suggestions…
I intentionally left Lewis off because he hasn’t accumilated enough races at Monaco yet to be considered. I’ll take your prediction though, Clive. So who do you think is a current Monaco master…?
[…] At Blog F1, Oliver White asks which modern-day drivers are most impressive in Monte Carlo? […]
I think Clive is saying that, in fact, we still don´t have a modern-day´s Master of Monaco. But Jacques Laffite said that Lewis’s driving around here reminds him of Senna. So…
I agree there is no modern master of Monaco.
But Hamilton could become one… Let’s wait and see. After watching the FP1/2 I must say Lewis did impress me a lot! Hope he can make it, even if he is not my favourite driver.
Senna’s shadow is going to stay for a while… because Ayrton was not just a great driver, he had such an amazing personality!
For what it’s worth, I thought Alonso did really well in Monaco qualifying today. He was complaining to his engineers that he had little rear grip, but managed to get into Q3 and then went seventh. Team mate Piquet qualified seventeenth.
After seeing the messy way Lewis tackled Monaco in qualifying, I’m not convinced he is in any way a Monaco master. He just happens to be quick there.
There may be another case for watching and considering Lewis on the list beyond just the F1 performances.
He has won convincingly on the streets of Monaco in all of his races (GP2 etc) with the exception of 2007 when he was second behind his team-mate Alonso. Some of the analysis I have read suggests that he was considerably quicker over that weekend, when we factor in fuel loads, lap, qualifying and pit times etc.
just a thought…