20 May 2014
F1 qualifying and strategy even more important for Bottas in Monaco
Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa will both be looking to score points in a race they call 'home', but accept that Monaco's F1 weekend requires a lot of concentration.
Valtteri Bottas has pinpointed another strong qualifying performance as key to a successful outcome to this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix.
The Finn lined up a fine fourth on the grid for last weekend's Spanish round, and admits that a repeat of that would put him in a strong position for raceday – provided his team does its bit in calling the Sunday strategy correctly...
Although he succumbed to a charging Sebastian Vettel to finish fifth in Barcelona, Bottas maintained Williams' solid start to 2014, as the team racked up its fourth ten-point haul from five races, and there is nothing more that the inaugural GP3 Series champion would like than to add a similar haul in the Principality.
“I am really confident driving there now that I have experience and am looking forward to the race,” the Finn noted, “However, there is no room for mistakes in Monaco as the barriers will punish you. Qualifying in Monaco is the most important of the season as the design of the circuit makes it very hard to overtake in the race, and strategy is also important in the race as you want to make sure that no time or positions are lost during the pit-stop - it will be hard to make those positions up.”
Without a race in his native Finland, Bottas joins those rivals who call Monaco a 'home' race – a sentiment shared by Williams team-mate Felipe Massa, who somewhat greedily claims two 'home' races.
“I love Monaco,” the Brazilian veteran points out, “I live there, so it's great to be able to go home and see the family and sleep in my own bed after each day in the car.”
A frustrating start to 2014 has left Massa some 22 points shy of his team-mate heading into round six of the season, at a circuit he has always professed to struggle on, despite twice finishing on the podium in the Principality.
“Monaco is a special place, there are no tracks like it on the calendar and that makes us enjoy it even more,” he reflected, “We will need good stability for the circuit as it's so tight - and traction is more important than top speed. The slow corners are very slow, but the track demands a lot of focus. The barriers are close, and it takes time getting use to driving right up against them. Sometimes you can even touch them and still do a good lap…..”
Williams has not won in Monaco since Juan Montoya's 2003 triumph, and has only topped the podium on three occasions in total, and head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley is keen to ensure that it picks up the biggest reward it can this weekend.
“Clearly Monaco is very different to where we have been so far this season,” he pointed out, “It's a race of attrition and small mistakes can hurt you badly. The race engineer plays a key part of the race weekend as they have to think a little outside the box and work differently in terms of car specification.
“This has taken up a lot of time preparing in the simulator, and the whole team are flat out all weekend, ensuring all the finer details are covered and the approach is correct - if this all goes well, then we should be able to get some good points.”
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