Monaco Grand Prix 2016 Preview

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Our Formula 1 fanatic takes a look at what is shaping up to be a fascinating Monaco Grand Prix

This weekend we head to the Circuit de Monaco for the "Jewel in Formula One's Crown", the Monaco Grand Prix. This circuit leaves absolutely no margin for error and will separate the weak from the strong, quickly. With the cars running on maximum downforce, the constructors better have done all they can to make sure the cars are in tip top condition and that their brakes are able to work overtime. Overtaking is next to impossible on this track so the practice and qualifying sessions take on a whole new dimension, becoming even more urgent than before. Pole positions are more valuable in this race than at any circuit on the calendar.

Monaco Grand Prix | Sunday 29 May | Circuit de Monaco | 13:30

Previous Race
Like nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, nobody expected what happened in Catalunya to transpire. Kim Kardashian thinks she can break the internet? No, only two Mercedes drivers getting taken out right at the beginning can do that, and that is exactly what happened! Here is how it went down.

After Rosberg passed pole-sitter Hamilton into Turn 1, Rosberg's car slowed through Turn 3, somehow in the wrong mode (rookie error!). So Hamilton took advantage of his teammates mess up and closed in on Rosberg so quickly that once the Brit ducked inside for the pass, he couldn't back out. Rosberg, however, closed the door so suddenly that Hamilton had no choice but to go all 'Mad Max' and drive onto the grass. When Hamilton spun, he collected Rosberg and it was over for both of them, as both Mercedes' ended up in the gravel trap. The stewards deemed it a racing incident, and a very unfortunate one at that.

This crash changed the game significantly and put the Red Bull boys, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, in the lead. They were followed by a most probably over ecstatic Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz and the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.

Sainz' face must have fallen as both the Ferraris cleared him by lap 10, giving them only the Red bulls to clear. Ferrari followed Red Bulls strategy, albeit loosely. Ricciardo pitted on laps 11 and 28 while Vettel pitted on Laps 15 and 37. Verstappen pitted on Laps 12 and 35, Räikkönen pitted during Laps 13 and 36.

Pirelli predicted a three-stop race as the fastest and that the medium tire could only go about 23 laps. Verstappen and Räikkönen didn't get those memos, or at this point couldn't give a fig. So while Ricciardo and Vettel came in for their third stops the Dutchman and the Finn stayed out, which proved to be a wise decision (what does Pirelli know, right?) with youngster Verstappen ahead of Räikkönen at the front of the race as of Lap 43. This youngster, who has only just been promoted to driving for Red Bull proved his mettle at this point, lapping perfectly and not allowing a frustrated Raikkonen past, even though he was basically breathing down Verstappen's neck.

Verstappen held out and crossed the line in first place making the crowd go moggy and completing a ( I bet the Red Bull boys are glad they promoted him!). Further back, Vettel and Ricciardo fought like two angry pit bulls for the table scraps, the German staying ahead to finish third. The Aussie endured a late puncture for the second race in a row but managed to finish fourth. After those two came Valterri Bottas in fifth, 55 laps later ( I kid). Sainz earned a worthy 6th place for Toro Rosso ahead of Sergio Perez for Force India, Felipe Massa in the second Williams, Jenson Button scoring points for McLaren in ninth, and Daniil Kvyat winging home a late charge to finish tenth in his first weekend back at Toro Rosso.

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Track
The track in Monte Carlo needs three things from a driver for him to even consider winning; a combination of precision driving, technical excellence, and sheer bravery are what this track requires from all who deem themselves worthy to race on its hallowed surface.

It is a vicious track that leaves no margin for error, and as I said in my intro, almost no room to overtake so qualifying in a good position is of the utmost importance. The drivers will have to do 78 laps of this gruelling track, with a race distance of 260.286km and a circuit length of 3.337.

Monaco has many downhill's and twisty turns totaling 19 all in all with its DRS detection zone starting at the 17th corner and the activation zone coming into play a little bit after the 19th corner and running all the way over the starting line and finishing right before the tracks first turn.

The weather for this weekend is expected to be sunny for the most part, with a few clouds rolling in to see what the excitement is all about. Temperatures are expected to reach 24 degrees on Friday, and 23 degrees on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

The sun is predicted to disappear and rain replace it on Sunday (race day). Making this track even more tricky. I think this one will be an edge of your seat nail biter folks.

To Win Outright
Lewis Hamilton 27/20 | Nico Rosberg 15/10 | Daniel Ricciardo 8/1 | Max Verstappen 8/1

Fastest Qualifier: 
Daniel Ricciardo 8/1

Once you think you can make a safe bet, this season of F1 changes the game completely, like in Spain. I think we will see Daniel Ricciardo take the fastest qualifier solely because of his record on this track, with him getting the fastest lap down in 2015. His odds are not the greatest, but they aren't the worst either and getting a winning bet on him is more likely than people think, considering his record on the track.

To Win Outright:
Lewis Hamilton 27/20

I want to believe that young Verstappen can continue from his great victory last weekend and show the older boys what is what, but considering the difficulty of the track and his relative inexperience, I am going to have to go for one of the top runners from Mercedes. I want to believe they will get back in the game and I'm sure they will. It is still relatively early days in the season and anything can happen. So barring any crashes or technical difficulties (sigh) Hamilton is the one to go for this time.

Value Bet
Podium Finish: Max Verstappen 5/4
considering what he pulled off in Spain,  I see this kids confidence being at an all-time high and knowing the bad luck that has dogged contenders like Mercedes this season we may see the young Max get a podium finish. If he keeps up with the top dogs in the qualifying he will most likely be able to secure himself a podium finish this race. As I said before the only reason I don't have him winning outright is because of the difficulty of this track and his inexperience relative to the other drivers.

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