Early Monaco GP predictions: The favourite, two teams in the mix and a potential dark horse

Uros Radovanovic
Monaco GP predictions ahead of the 2024 edition.

The Monaco Grand Prix is upon us, and the early predictions are in from the Principality.

After a brief hiatus, the thrill of Formula 1 returns, and this time, it roars back to life at one of the most iconic venues in the sport – Monaco.

Monaco is not just another race on the calendar; it’s a spectacle, a tradition, and perhaps the most unique challenge of the season. Despite its many quirks and challenges, this legendary street circuit has remained a staple in the Formula 1 world, drawing in massive crowds to witness the glamour and drama unfold in the heart of this stunning city.

Let’s take a look into the intricate details of this highly anticipated race. We’ll explore what makes Monaco so special, what engineers will focus on to gain that crucial edge, and which teams are poised to dominate the tight and twisty streets of Monte Carlo.

The one and only goal at the Monaco GP

When talking about this street race, engineers have only one goal – as much aerodynamic downforce as possible. Drag is almost irrelevant here, given that Monaco is the slowest race on the calendar. This means that even the slower teams might have a chance to surprise if they find that extra downforce boost.

However, the main problem with this track is that it hasn’t kept up with the performance growth of Formula 1 cars, which are now much bigger and faster than they used to be.

Larger car dimensions on such a narrow track lead to overtaking problems, which are extremely difficult in Monaco. There’s almost no room for overtaking except on the main straight, which isn’t particularly long.

This means that qualifying in Monaco is the most crucial qualifying session on the entire calendar. The driver starting from pole position on Sunday will have a much easier task of maintaining that position compared to other tracks.

What also sets Monaco apart from other circuits is the precision it demands from the drivers. If you’re not fully focused and millimetre-precise, Monaco will punish you, and you will lose a lot of time.

Additionally, the narrow walls leave no room for even the smallest mistake, which can easily end your race.

When it comes to tyres, Pirelli has chosen its softest compounds for this weekend – C3, C4, and C5. The low speeds and many slow corners cause very little tyre wear on this track. Therefore, unless it rains like last year, we can expect a one-stop race in Monaco.

However, if you want to keep your position, you must perfectly time your pit stop so that you don’t end up behind slower drivers, who are very difficult to overtake later.

In short, maximum performance and perfect precision on Saturday, along with a good strategy on Sunday, can lead you to a good result.

How have the teams prepared for Monaco?

As we have already mentioned, maximum downforce is the key factor here. Teams will strive to extract maximum downforce from every aerodynamic element, regardless of high drag and dirty air.

From the image above, you can see the rear wing configurations. Compared to some earlier races, there are no different approaches here, as everyone has opted for the most aggressive package that will provide maximum downforce.

What will set some teams apart from others is the way they implement the high downforce rear wing with other aerodynamic elements.

The absolute favourite in this segment is certainly Red Bull, from whom we have seen in previous races how they use a more aggressive aero package compared to other teams. Their high efficiency in overall aerodynamics allows them to do this without excessive drag loss or maximum speed.

More as we look ahead to the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend

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When you add to that Max Verstappen’s incredible form in qualifying, it’s no wonder that Red Bull remains the favourite.

However, Ferrari and McLaren can mix things up.

In Imola, we saw how Ferrari in particular is extremely fast and stable in slow corners. Their new upgrade package has brought them improvements in this segment but also problems with maximum speeds on the straights.

But given that this weekend we are racing at a place where good top speed is the least necessary, Ferrari fans have reason for high expectations.

Additionally, there’s the Aston Martin team, which was very close to winning at this venue last year. Aston Martin also brought a significant upgrade package to Italy, but it seems they haven’t quite found the right car settings yet to fully utilise these new upgrades. If they have found some answers over the past few days, they could be a dark horse this weekend.

All in all, we can expect a very interesting battle in Monaco.

Driver skills will come to the forefront here, and the most precise driver will very likely be the fastest.

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