It might be the most glamorous location that F1 visits in its ten-month world trip, but many drivers admit that they would rather spend less time hanging around in Monaco.
Although a lot of the grid also live in the Principality, the elongated four-day grand prix meeting does not find favour with those who would rather run to the more familiar Friday-Saturday-Sunday format, claiming that the traditional 'day off' between practice and qualifying serves little useful purpose, other than for entertaining the sponsors.
“I would prefer to drive on Friday and have Thursday off,” F1 veteran Rubens Barrichello, who makes his 18th Monaco appearance this weekend, admits, “It's kind of a boring Friday, really. You cannot sleep because it's more noisy because other people are driving on the track, so I would rather have the weekend as a normal one and have Friday and keep on going.”
The Brazilian's rivals reveal that there is little time to relax on the day off, with a mix of sponsor functions, engineering debriefs and training that can be slotted in to the available time.
“It would be good if we could have Thursday and
Friday to run around and have some more fun,” fellow veteran Michael Schumacher agreed, “Usually, we have events. On my side, I have a couple of events that I have to look out for, and probably a bit of time with the team to prepare for the day after. Then the rest is just relaxing.”
Nick Heidfeld and Jarno Trulli, who joined Barrichello, Schumacher, Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button in Wednesday's official FIA press conference, both shared similar views on the unusual Monaco format.
“I would prefer to drive on Friday,” Heidfeld noted, “As it is now, you have some meetings with the engineers and some PR stuff to do but, basically, in your mind, you're just looking forward to the next day - you want to get into the car and get on with it.”
“It's the longest weekend of the season and I don't think any one of us enjoys it because, logistically, Monaco is difficult - we all know that,” Trulli added, “We spend one more day in such a chaotic situation, a day that most of the time is spent doing PR or media or anything like that. On Friday, what will I do? We still have to decide, [but] I hope I can get a ride on my bike and then lay down by the pool. However, I'm sure I will have to come here and do some work.”
Indeed, only Rosberg, a Monaco native and resident, appeared happy with the situation, convinced that he would have more time than most to relax and prepare for the rest of the weekend.
“For me it's fine [as it is],” he smiled, “A quick engineer meeting, but then straight to the pool with friends and have a good time and relax. It's nice like that.”