Then as now, brushing the barriers is key to being quick in Monaco

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At 2.075 miles long the Monte-Carlo circuit in Monaco is by far the shortest track on the Formula One calendar.

But much of its length is bordered on both sides by unyielding barriers. F1 drivers notice a stark difference between it and modern circuits built to the FIA’s exacting standards, with flat curbs and vast expanses of tarmac run-off.

They key to lapping quickly at Monaco has always been to maximize what little space is available by running right up to those daunting barriers, as two-times world champion Emerson Fittipaldi (pictured) noted recently:

“Because it’s so narrow, and because its walls are so close, you have to be prepared to brush the Armco very gently on almost every exit.

“I always used to say that you knew when you’d driven a quick qualifying lap at Monaco because your tires’ sidewalls would be scuffed white all the way around, indicating that you’d brushed the walls frequently but consistently on almost all the turns.”

What was true for Fittipaldi four decades ago remains true for F1 drivers today, as Felipe Massa’s race engineer Rob Smedley explains:

“We always ask the drivers to brush the barriers as much as possible, because that’s where the lap time comes from.

“Once, me and a colleague went to watch a race in one of the junior formulae from the entrance to the Swimming Pool section: well, when we saw how close they got to the barriers at over 200 kph [124mph], we said to ourselves that maybe we ought to have a bit more respect for the drivers.”

Formula One: Recapping the past week’s news

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While the FIA Formula 1 World Championship is still two months away from beginning its 2018 season, this past week did bring about news items that filled out the 2018 grid and shed some light on individual team and car launches as the season-opening Australian Grand Prix draws closer.

Below is a recap of F1 news from this past week:

Williams Signs Sirotkin for 2018 Drive, Names Kubica as Reserve Driver

The saga of the second seat at Williams Martini Racing was finally resolved early on in the week, with former Renault Sport F1 Team test driver Sergey Sirotkin officially confirmed as a teammate to the incumbent Lance Stroll in 2018.

The announcement concluded months of speculation that saw multiple drivers test for the team in an auditioning capacity. Most notably, Robert Kubica looked to be a main contender for the seat before Sirotkin emerged as the favorite.

However, Kubica, who has not raced in Formula 1 since a devastating rally accident in 2011 left him with brutal injuries to his right arm, was named as a reserve and development driver for the team.

This announcement also completes the 2018 Formula 1 driver lineup, with all 11 teams having their seats now filled. Among those who were left without F1 drives are Paul Di Resta, who drove for Williams at the Hungarian Grand Prix in relief of Felipe Massa and even tested with them during the Winter months, and Antonio Giovinazzi, who filled in for Pascal Wehrlein at the Australian and Chinese Grands Prix.

Former Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat is also without a race seat for 2018, but did sign on with Scuderia Ferrari as a development driver.

Mercedes, McLaren Reveal Dates for Their 2018 Car Launches

While most teams have not yet released dates for when their 2018 cars will be publicly launched, three notables have.

Mercedes AMG Petronas will introduce its 2018 challenger on February 22nd, the same day Ferrari is doing so, while McLaren will unveil its car one day later on the 23rd.

Testing will commence on February 26th at Circuit de Catalunya.