Short Track Madness
May 25, 2006 | 9:25 A.M. EST
This weekend, as the top open wheel cars in the world tackle Formula One’s shortest track, difficulties are bound to appear.
"This is the Grand Prix of the season: the atmosphere is nice - there are so many things. It’s got history," said 2004 race winner Jarno Trulli. "It’s not easy to win. It’s probably much easier to lose than win and anything can happen."
With the small nature of this street course, the challenge level is incredibly high and a good qualifying effort is of utmost importance in order to celebrate on Sunday. Because of the premium placed on qualifying, Saturday’s session might prove to be disastrous as all 22 cars could potentially take to the 2.092 mile circuit at the same time, leading to lots of traffic and hot tempers.
"The problem is going to be just being on the track at the right time. Honestly, I think we should have a different qualifying (system) for here because probably five percent of us won’t say anything about qualifying, that we had a free lap, and the rest will all be (talking about) traffic, even in the last session," said Honda’s Rubens Barrichello.
"Probably not as much in qualifying three, but first qualifying is going to be like hell, really."
While "hell" might sound extreme, it is a sentiment that is shared by many others in the garage this weekend.
"My feeling is similar to everyone here, that we have to qualify on Saturday because we are a little bit concerned. We know that Monaco so far has always been a difficult circuit on which to qualify well without traffic and on Saturday, we will be around 22 cars out there, I think too many to find a good clear lap, especially the first two qualifying sessions which will be really really difficult," said Trulli.
"I think there will be a big fight in order to find a clear lap and try to play a good strategy, not only for the race but also for qualifying and I’m sure someone will unfortunately pay and some others will be a bit luckier. But we will see. For sure I expect a tough Saturday afternoon."
With no changes to the format expected before Saturday, qualifying is quite unpredictable even for drivers like Juan Pablo Montoya, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, the fastest full time drivers in today’s practice sessions.
With Montoya being one of the countless drivers admitting that "Every part of the circuit is different and challenging," expect the unexpected in Saturday’s qualifying session.