2013 Monaco Grand Prix Preview

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The streets of Monte Carlo welcome Formula One for its annual event, attracting the rich and famous from all over the globe for the sport’s jewel in the crown: the Monaco Grand Prix. It is the ultimate test of a driver’s talent behind the wheel and his mental agility, requiring 78 laps of near-perfect precision; anything less sees them finish in the wall, which is never too far away. In Formula One, it doesn’t get much bigger than winning in Monaco.

Monaco Grand Prix Talking Points

Can Mercedes win, finally?

It’s been a talking point since the start of the season, and Mercedes will now be keen to get the monkey off their back. In Spain, overtaking was easy, making Rosberg and Hamilton susceptible to overtakes. Monaco is a different story though, with there being only two real overtaking opportunities on the track. Good tactics and a resolution of their rear tire issues could see the Silver Arrows finally win a grand prix in 2013; their pace in FP1 and FP2 is an encouraging sign that this could be possible.

Just how much of an issue are the Pirelli tires?

Monaco has always been relatively kind on driver’s tires, with a one stop strategy being utilized by most of the field last year. Sergio Perez is confident that he can stop just once on Sunday, and Pirelli have stated that a two-stop will be the optimum strategy for the front runners; a far cry from the four-stop ‘fiasco’ that ensued in Spain. Monaco could see Pirelli regain some credit.

Three and easy for Red Bull in Monaco?

Red Bull Racing has a fine record in Monaco, claiming its first podium there in 2006 and winning the last three races in the principality. As a result, it may surprise many to see them languishing towards the bottom half of the top ten in practice, and the pressure is on for them to return to winning ways this weekend. Luckily, they have the drivers with the most combined Monaco wins of any team on the grid (3), and cannot be written off after practice alone.

Mixed signals from Williams after an odd Thursday

After faring so poorly in the opening five races, you may expect Pastor Maldonado’s P6 finish in FP1 to bring some joy to Williams. However, their response after practice was still somewhat subdued, admitting that the changes made to his car for FP2 (where he finished P14) did not work. Regardless, this race still appears to be the team’s best chance of scoring any points so far this season.

Caterham and Marussia pin their hopes on a crazy race

Monaco has a tendency to produce a crazy race every now and then. In 1996, just three cars finished and Olivier Panis won for Ligier in what is widely considered to be the most surprising race of all time. Therefore, maybe, just maybe, if Caterham and Marussia can keep it on track, they could possible record a strong finish to give either team a stranglehold on P10 in the constructors’ championship. Points may be out of the question, but if it’s going to happen anywhere, it will be at Monaco.

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Track: Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo (3.34km)
Laps: 78
Corners: 19
Lap Record: Michael Schumacher 1:14.439 (2004)
Tire Compounds: Super-Soft (Option); Soft (Prime)
2012 Winner: Mark Webber (Red Bull)
2012 Pole Position: Mark Webber 1:14.381
2012 Fastest Lap: Sergio Perez 1:17.296
DRS Zones: Main straight (T19 to T1)

Thursday – Free Practice 1: Session report
Thursday – Free Practice 2: Session report
Saturday – Free Practice 3: 11:00am local/05:00pm ET
Saturday – Qualifying: 14:00pm local/08:00am ET
Sunday – Race: 14:00pm local/08:00am ET

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”