Clip The Apex
We seem to be missing a thread on the upcoming Berlin e-Prix so I thought I'd start one. The course is 2.469km long (do we really need 3 places of decimals) and will last for 33 laps, starting at 4pm CET. It is on the site of the old Templehof Airport in Berlin has 17 corners so is far more twisty than some of the previous races, given the "destruction derby" nature of some of the e-Prix's I wonder how many will many to get to the end.
Sebastien Buemi became the first driver to win two races in the series at Monaco but is still only third in the drivers table behind Lucas di Grassi and Nelson Piquet jnr. For those that don't know, drivers have to drop one race result at the end of the season but with all of the top three having managed at least one DNF this is likely to make a huge amount of difference to the final result.
I'm sure Nick Heidfeld will be wanting to perform well at his home race but after his positive showing in the first e-Prix in China he hasn't really troubled the front runners. The things I'm most looking forward to is seeing who Bruno Senna will hit this race and will Scott Speed and the Nicki Shields finally stop flirting go out on a date.
Enough of my nonsense. Hopefully we can looked forward to some more close racing and some very brave and daft overtaking maneuvers, lots of locking wheels and cars drifting through corners. You don't need 1,000 bhp and ear drum bursting exhausts to make a motor race Bernie, watch and learn.
There is something - indeed, almost everything - different about the Monaco Grand Prix. Free practice will take place on Thursday, and F1 will take Friday off. The race will be 40km shorter despite having more laps than any other Grand Prix, and its winners will jump out of the car straight to the 'podium', which will be made up, simply, of a red carpet. Most strikingly, Bernie Ecclestone does not ask for a fee from the organisers in order to include the Grand Prix in his Championship.
The track is old: it has scarcely changed since 1929. The building of the Ranier III Swimming Stadium in 1972 still represents the biggest change that has ever been made to the course. It is very slow by Formula One standards - pole laps frequently average less than 100mph, and the shortening of the distance does not prevent the winning time pushing over one and three-quarter hours even when the red flag has not been thrown. Some of that is also because the Safety Car is so much more likely to appear.
The Safety Car doesn't prevent overtaking in Monaco too much more than the layout itself does - with the pole sitter having won every dry Grand Prix there since 2004, with 2008 standing as the only wet event in that period, won by Lewis Hamilton from third having planted the wall at exactly the right moment! Track position is vital; an undercut is difficult to pull off, and passing someone on dodgy tyres is staggeringly hard. Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso found in 2011 that the only overtaking that occurs in Monaco is when they were overtaken by events.
Winning at Monaco is an interesting achievement. It can certainly underline your reputation as a great (Senna's 6, Schumacher's 5 and Prost's 4), although there are some conspicuous absentees (Clark, Piquet, Mansell). Some find a groove there that they don't maintain elsewhere (Webber, Coulthard, Trintignant), and some have their solitary moment in the sun there (Trulli, Panis, Beltoise). Either way, those that win at Monaco will tell you it is the best circuit on the calendar to win on. Graham Hill's legend will always be founded upon his achievements here.