The famed Monaco Grand Prix is set to take place this weekend, the largest race on the F1 calendar.
Having been deprived of the race for nearly two years, with the last race held in 2019 due to the pandemic forcing the cancellation of the 2020 race.
The narrow track makes Monaco one of the toughest races on the calendar with little margin for error.
The three practice sessions will be crucial, giving drivers the opportunity to get comfortable on the winding track and use to the slow-speed corners.
Saturdays will be one of the most exciting days of the Grand Prix weekend, with the qualifying session having a huge bearing on the race unlike any other circuit.
Monaco is one of the most difficult circuits to overtake on, as was the case in 2018 where the top six in qualifying remained unchanged at the races end and in 2019 when Lewis Hamilton started the race in pole where he remained to win the Grand Prix.
Ricciardo and McLaren
For Aussie Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren, Monaco comes at an important time in the season, currently sitting third in the constructor’s championship ahead of Ferrari by five points.
Ricciardo is no stranger to success at Monaco having won the Grand Prix in 2018 where he had to fight off a surging Sebastian Vettel while suffering engine issues.
He has also claimed two third place finishes in 2014 and 2017 and a second place in 2016 where a poor pitstop cruelly cost him first place.
“Monaco is my favourite circuit on the calendar, and I really missed driving there last year, said Ricciardo”.
“It’s such a unique place to drive and as F1 drivers we’re incredibly lucky to get the opportunity to race there. It’s not like any other circuit in the world.”
Therefore, with qualifying being so important McLaren will need to ensure they give everything on Saturday to try and secure two top 6 spots on the grid to edge out Ferrari.
McLaren currently have the third fastest average qualifying time over the first four races, with Ferrari following closely behind, .07 of a second slower.
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“We know we’ll have our work cut out for us in Monaco, given how important qualifying is and how close we are to the competition, but we’ll give it our all and try to bring home some solid points for the team,” said Ricciardo.
Ricciardo’s teammate, Lando Norris, who just signed a new deal with McLaren, has been in career best form this season and will be looking to continue that at Monaco.
With three top six finishes and a podium finish in Emilia, Norris will be one to keep an eye on this weekend.
If McLaren are able to secure two top 10 finishes this weekend they will remain the only team to have both drivers score in the points in every race this year.
Ferrari will be aiming to continue their success from the Spanish Grand Prix where the team was able to outpoint McLaren for the first-time this season.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc will have something to prove this weekend having failed to finish a race at Monaco in both attempts in 2018 and 2019.
For his teammate Carlos Sainz, he will be hoping to get some more points on the board currently sitting behind both McLaren drivers in the standings.
McLaren to celebrate Gulf partnership with retro livery
It was also announced this week that McLaren will be donning the iconic blue and orange colours of Gulf Oil for the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix to celebrate their historic partnership.
The two brands recently revived their relationship in July 2020, having a deep seeded affiliation which began in the 1960’s with team founder Bruce McLaren.
Both McLaren drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris will wear specially designed race suites with their race helmets sporting retro designs which will be raffled for the McLarens mental health charity partner, Mind.
McLaren used the colourway at Le Mans in 1997 but this will be the first time featured on a F1 car.
“We’re enormous fans of brave and bold design, and the striking Gulf blue is among the most loved liveries in racing, a celebrated piece of culture which transcends the world of motorsport”, said McLaren CEO Zak Brown.
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