IS there such a thing as a ‘home town advantage’ in F1 racing?
The competition is so fierce and the drivers of such calibre that they all slot into the various circuits with relative ease.
It’s a different story for the cars, though. Some cars do better on some circuits than others — and Renault is hoping to find some magic for Sunday’s Grand Prix in Monaco.
Daniel Ricciardo and teammate Nico Hülkenberg both live in Monaco, and both rate the annual Grand Prix on the tight streets of the principality as the highlight of the season.
“It’s my favourite race of the year because of all the adrenaline and excitement you get from it,” Ricciardo said
“Insane is probably the best way of describing the circuit.
“It almost feels like you shouldn’t be allowed to race on it. I sit in traffic on these roads in my day to day life, so when May comes around I know it’s almost time to have that one opportunity a year to race on them – that’s pretty crazy when you think about it.
“Last year’s victory is up there with one of my best wins, that’s for sure. To take pole position in Monaco on two occasions is an amazing feeling, especially as you’re giving it full beans for just over a minute and your adrenaline is pumping.
“But to have won in Monaco is a dream come true and it was made even sweeter after missing out in previous years from excellent positions.”
What he and Hülkenberg need are cars tuned to the conditions, and that’s what the team is striving to do for Sunday’s race.
“The first five races of the year have been disappointing, but as ever we have adapted to address the situation,” team principal Cyril Abiteboul said.
“We understand the overall level of our car and the progress we need to make to satisfy our objectives, but at the same time, we appreciate the role circumstances have played in those five races.
“We have the necessary ability, resources and resilience at Enstone and Viry, but also two determined and talented drivers to recover our real competitiveness level.
“Monaco is a circuit that offers a huge challenge, and it’s one that gives surprises too.
“Daniel enters this Grand Prix as last year’s pole sitter and race winner and we’ll be counting on his and Nico’s experience to give the result we need to lift our campaign.”
Hülkenberg also said there was nowhere quite like Monaco.
“It’s a real highlight of the year and the race I most look forward to.
“Everything is special there, the prestige of the event itself, the history and the glamour.
“You get a real buzz all weekend from the atmosphere. I live in Monaco so I stay at home throughout the race weekend and enjoy all the comforts that provides.
“There are a couple of street circuits on the Formula 1 calendar in Baku and Singapore, which are great in their own right, but Monaco is just fantastic and incomparable.
“It gives you a huge adrenaline rush and you really feel the sensation of speed there with walls tight on both sides for the whole lap.
“Monaco is about having confidence and being able to be on the limit.”
Chassis technical director Nick Chester virtually echoed the German driver’s words.
“Monaco is a unique track, very slow, bumpy and tight,” he said.
“Each lap can be extremely busy and to allow the driver to focus solely on the driving, you need consistency from the chassis and engine every lap.
“Ultimately, Monaco is about confidence. When a driver is confident it can make a big difference, we will do everything we can to get Nico and Daniel happy with car balance so they can focus on the track.”
Getting back to the home town advantage thing. Well, Ferrari young gun Charles Leclerc not only lives in Monaco — he was born there.
It’s anyone’s race, and if you’re a betting person, well, there’s always the principality’s famous Casino.
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