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Are F1’s current cars too big for Monaco?



Of course, the stakes for a successful passing maneuver on the streets of the Principality are high, and any misjudgment by a driver can often be costly.

While Monaco has earned a reputation for a time when F1 cars weren’t particularly large, the current advent of oversized machines has exacerbated that.

Twenty years ago, the F1 car was about 4.5m long and 1.8m wide. It was still very difficult to accommodate two cars running side by side at the same time. Since then, through various regulatory changes, their size has ballooned: each car is now two meters wide, and most are more than 5.5 meters long.

Three-time F1 champion Nelson Piquet once thought Monaco was like riding a bicycle in his living room; today, it might be like driving a Challenger tank through an en-suite bathroom.

Packaging and aerodynamics are the main culprits in explaining why F1 cars have grown so bloated over the years. Aerodynamicists started to discover that running on a longer floor provided more downforce, so the wheelbases got longer and longer over the years. As the car grows, the interior can be repacked to ensure the body becomes more compact, creating a more aggressive “Coke bottle” section at the rear of the car.

Aerodynamic changes in 2017 brought yet another change to the inflated dimensions of F1 cars, which expanded to two meters after nearly 20 years at a track width of 1.8 metres. This is to increase the speed of the cars, but at the cost of their ability to race closely around the track.

While many of the 2022 changes are being enforced to remove restrictions imposed by the 2017 rule, the broad-gauge cars are still in place. Developments carried over to 2023 have blunted the initial impact of last year’s follow-up improvements between cars.

Lando Norris and George Russell have a rare side-by-side moment in 2022.

A rare side-by-side moment in 2022 between Lando Norris and George Russell.

Photography: Zak Mauger / motorsport pictures

There are certainly reasons to think F1 has overtaken Monaco as the venue, but that may just be a perception – after all, many question Monaco’s place on the schedule, even with the much smaller cars.

Let’s use overtaking times as a measure of the cars’ ability to race each other around Monaco, with contextual elements marked in the overtaking times charts for each season below to illustrate their effects.

In the 1993 race, Alain Prost, propelled by his recovery drive after a penalty and a post-start stall, was high on the action despite the wide-track car. These cars were generally smaller and more nimble, and thus better suited to handling the Monaco track than the cars that followed.

The refueling rules have led to a sharp drop in overtaking numbers, as teams feel they can adopt a better strategy for overtaking in the pit lane, rather than attempting to risk overtaking on the track. The peaks in 1997 and 2008 came in wet play, and the natural attrition in 1996 didn’t produce many passes.

Although 2005 and 2006 proved that if the safety car brought the field together, overtaking was possible with the ability to move around the field with a fuel strategy that largely overshadowed earlier narrow lane rules. Michael Schumacher, who resumed driving from behind in qualifying in 2006, undeniably improved the latter’s figures after being eliminated for parking the Ferrari at Rascasse in qualifying.

When refueling was abandoned in 2010, the passing numbers initially showed no improvement, but starting in 2011, the total rose to a more stable double digits. This coincides with the addition of DRS, but the overtaking aid is generally considered to be of limited use on the finish straight.

With the return of broad-gauge cars in 2017 and beyond, the numbers dropped immediately. The length and width of the car—and therefore, the weight—increased, and the car became bulkier as a result.

Fully locked in the normal setting, required to go through the Fairmont hairpin, the current car cannot turn. Suspension arms are often modified to ensure that the wheels can turn adequately.

With the only Monaco race following the aerodynamic rule change taking place in wet and dry conditions, it is too early to say whether the current cars are no longer equipped to handle the track. A dry race in 2023 will be needed to showcase what the current generation is really capable of, although that looks unlikely as forecasts for the region point to rain for the grand prix weekend.

Twenty-nine overtakings were completed in the dramatic 1993 Monaco Grand Prix - a total that has never been matched since.

Twenty-nine overtakings were completed in the dramatic 1993 Monaco Grand Prix – a total that has never been matched since.

photographer: motorsport pictures

But science has shown that smaller, lighter cars are better suited to Monaco because the inertia is reduced so the driver can benefit from a more direct steering character. In theory, this would allow for more precise overtaking and defensive maneuvers, rather than dashing from the inside and hoping the car stops.

Since the rule change in 2017, our measure of track ability has dropped significantly. By comparison, Formula E – which is 1700mm wide – can do more than 100 overtakes per race in a 45-minute race in Monaco. It would be hypocritical, then, to say “you can’t overtake in Monaco”; if F1 ever chooses to return to small Racing, Monaco has the chance to host a decent race…


Formula E qualifying in Jakarta: Günther on pole again




Maximilian Günther kept his form from rounds 10 to 11 in Jakarta. There, too, the German-Austrian driver secured pole position.

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Barcelona F1 qualifying pace a ‘confirming moment’ for Alpine




Pierre Gasly repeated Ocon’s performance at the Principality, finishing fourth on a day when others failed to get it right, although he was later held back by Carlos Sainz ) and Max Verstappen were relegated six places.

Ocon, meanwhile, had a less-than-perfect lap in Q3 but was still seventh ahead of Sunday’s grid thanks to a team-mate’s penalty.

“It’s fantastic,” Ocon said when asked by Autosport about the car being fourth fastest again.

“If you had told me two games ago, I wouldn’t have believed it.

“Credit to Viry and Enstone for the work they’ve done, as those upgrades we’ve brought to them are clearly working.

“It’s a moment of confirmation after Monaco, the car is obviously more dynamic, so we’re happy.”

Ocon admitted he didn’t have the best overtake on the final lap, which contributed to his lack of Gasly.

“We optimized very well in all qualifying sessions, except for my performance in Q3,” he explained.

“Probably the tires weren’t as good at the start of the lap as all the other runs we maxed out, and in the rear I didn’t have that good grip.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team

Photography: Erik Junius

“It was a bit like Fernando (Alonso), I lost the rear entry to Turn 10, I went a little wide and I lost a lot of lap time there. So there was definitely more possibility today, but it was A great place to start.

“I was really happy today because it was so close and it meant that if we had good lap times we could be there, which is fantastic.

“I hope F1 will stay like this for a long time, and P1 will do likewise.”

Before his penalty was confirmed, Gasly responded to Ocon’s statement about the state of the team.

“I’m very happy for the team because it’s the best qualifying of the season,” he said.

“It’s more important than the result itself. I’m happy with the evolution we’ve shown over the past few weekends.

“It’s early in the season and I’m getting to know the team every weekend. They’re getting to know myself, you know, it’s about putting things together. I really feel like every weekend, we’re taking a step forward. .

“It was a really strong lap. I always look further. When I see Carlos coming in second with less than 10th, it really shows that we are on the gear we have There is potential, and the upgrades are working.

“Overall, there are a lot of positives in this qualifying session.”

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De Vries predicts Spanish Grand Prix: 'Lots of relegation to tyres'




Nyck de Vries has performed much better in Monaco than at previous Grands Prix this season. The Dutch seem to have brought this form to the Spanish country. Around Barcelona, ​​the AlphaTauri drivers had a great time. He started the race in 14th place. In a press conference with GPblog and others, De Vries looked to the future.

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