The blue sky, blue ocean, fantastic backdrop – to think we’re racing here this weekend is just fantastic. When you sit down and think about it, as Formula 1 moves increasingly eastwards there are some classic races that must stay on the calendar even if some of the new places have given us some great races. This one tops the list.
Monaco just brings everything alive. Everybody wants to be here, the sponsors, many of whom have boats in the harbour; the drivers all want to do particularly well, the prince is here; we have that gala dinner on the Thursday before the race; Monaco just has its own style.
All promoters try to do something different to give their race a unique flavour, its own identity, but Monaco doesn’t even have to try because it’s got all this. It is funny, but the races that seem to stick in the mind are street races. Singapore sticks out for that reason. The fact that it’s a night race helps, but people can engage with street races, sponsors love them, and the racing generally gives us something to talk about.
Moving closer to PUMA, it is no surprise that Ferrari have rearranged their technical department. I have said all year long that they needed to do something, and last week after it was announced that Fernando Alonso had signed away the rest of his racing life to Ferrari, I wondered what had given him the confidence to commit to 2016.
I can only assume that he was given some assurances by Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo before he signed. Even if he did not know the exact details, I’m sure he knew something was in the air.
I think Alonso’s drive in Spain on Sunday was one of the best I’ve ever seen – he made a superb start from fourth off the dirty side of the grid, yet was in the lead by the time he rounded the first corner. It was absolutely remarkable, and if in ten years time you want to show a young driver how its done, then a replay provides the perfect lesson. The most impressive thing about it is that he seemed to do it was such relative ease.
If he can do the same this Sunday then we are in for a tremendous race. He has to get it up to the front of the grid, but that applies to all the drivers. The old adage of having to qualify well counts here more than anywhere else, so for that reason I think Saturday’s qualifying session will be absolutely electric.
We don’t know exactly what a difference KERS and the DRS wing will make around here, and of course Pirelli’s supersoft and soft compounds are unknowns in Monaco. The Red Bulls are strong, with Sebastian Vettel quickest in the first session, although it was a pity to see last year’s winner Mark Webber having to sit out some of his session due to a gearbox issue.
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg looked good during both sessions, so McLaren and Mercedes also look to be a threat. But my man of the day is Alonso: he just oozed class as he sped around in both sessions, and his fastest time of the day clinches it for me.
So the grand prix could easily turn out be a five- or even six-horse race, although the two keys will be qualifying and the run down to Turn 1. Each should be absolutely incredible to watch, and the rest of the race promises to be equally unpredictable as the Safety Car and varying strategies come into play.