Renowned for its difficult overtaking, McLaren will be looking to push for grid position during qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix.
McLaren will need to ensure they qualify as high up the grid as possible in preparation for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix.
After a one-year hiatus due to Covid-19, Formula 1 returns to one of the most historic street circuits in the world. Known for its long F1 history, the track in Monte Carlo is also notoriously recognised as being one of the hardest tracks on the calendar to overtake at.
With minimal places around the circuit to gain an advantage and afford the opportunity to pass, drivers place the utmost importance on qualifying. Given the fact that being stuck behind slower cars in traffic can drastically alter the race outcome for many teams.
After struggling for speed during practice, and failing to exploit missed opportunities during qualifying over the last two grand prix’s. Both McLaren drivers will need to push to get the most out of the car over the weekend. As the team attempts to hold off the charging cars of Ferrari, who are inching their way closer and closer to McLaren in the Constructors’ Championship.
What the drivers say
Well aware of the fact that securing a good qualifying position will no doubt bolster the team’s chances of holding off a Ferrari charge, Lando Norris is excited to be back racing at Monaco.
The last time Norris saw Monaco was his rookie F1 season in 2019 where he finished eleventh. Much has changed since that time, with the young Brit far better equipped to compete with the top drivers. As shown by his stellar start to the year.
“I’m very excited to go racing in Monaco again, it’s an awesome track with a lot of history, and one of the most challenging circuits in Formula 1,” Norris said. “It’s been a strong start to the season for me personally, but also for the team. We’re up against strong competition in both the Drivers and Constructors’ Championships, so we’re working hard to extract every bit of performance we can.
“We know that Monaco is going to be a tricky weekend, with so much riding on qualifying, but we’ll be giving it our all to start the weekend well on Thursday and score some decent points come Sunday.”
While Daniel Ricciardo has gotten off to a slower start than perhaps he would have liked, we are seeing improvement from week to week for the new McLaren recruit. Monaco will provide Ricciardo with back-to-back races at tracks that he is fairly comfortable and confident with.
The Australian was happy heading into the Spanish Grand Prix, stating the amount of time he has spent at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over the years during testing and racing would allow him to focus more on the MCL35M. The same could be said with the Monaco Grand Prix. With Ricciardo experiencing success there during his time with Red Bull.
“Monaco is my favourite circuit on the calendar, and I really missed driving there last year,” Ricciardo said. “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 where you can turn up for a track day and drive, you have the Monaco Grand Prix and support events and that’s it. So, I’m incredibly excited to be going back, we’ve been deprived of that place for nearly two years.
“We’ve been making a lot of progress over the last few races, and I think that really showed in Spain. I’m really starting to get to grips with the car and build my confidence. 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.”
The momentum that is starting to pick up with Ricciardo will only further benefit McLaren. Norris will continue to push to try and stay ahead of his teammate. While having two drivers that are consistently scoring points will help the team retain third place in the constructors’ standings.
Gulf livery to debut at Monaco Grand Prix
McLaren recently revealed their one-off Gulf livery which will make its debut at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix. The partnership of Gulf and McLaren goes back some decades, with the pair renewing the partnership for 2021.
Splashed in light blue and papaya, the MCL35M will really stand out on track, with an early push to make the livery a permanent feature for the remainder of 2021.
“It’s really cool to be racing there in Gulf colours and to be writing history with the team,” said Norris. “The blue and the orange work really well together on a race car and I think the fans are going to love seeing it racing around the streets of Monaco. I’ll also be running a special race helmet for the weekend, inspired by Gulf’s iconic colours, so keep your eyes peeled for that too.”