This weekend the famed Grand Prix of Monaco will take place. The BMW Sauber F1 team is expected to do well in this race even though only one car (Kubica) will be tuned specifically for this demanding course.

Nick Heidfeld blew his motor during practice and the team scrambled to replace it so that he would be able to get back racing; whether or not this will effect both drivers is still unknown. The rain forecasted will be a further complication and may create treacherous conditions for the drivers.

If you are lucky enough to have the “Speed ” channel you can tune into this race on Saturday and Sunday with a start time around 8am EST.

LONDON, England (CNN) — Renault ‘s Fernando Alonso is worried rain could turn the Monaco Grand Prix into a “nightmare. ”
Heavy rain is forecast for both Saturday ‘s qualifying session and Sunday ‘s race. Renault ‘s Alonso, who has won the last two Monaco grands prix, told reporters that it was “virtually impossible ” to drive the car during a wet practice session last season, even with the driver aids which had since been removed. “This year it would be a nightmare, ” said Alonso, “although I suppose a good result is possible because many cars might crash. I don ‘t have a good feeling about it, though, so I hope it stays dry. ” McLaren ‘s Lewis Hamilton, who finished second behind the Spaniard last year, was equally concerned about the weather forecast.
“It will be especially difficult here in the wet, especially this year without traction control, ” the Briton said.

History and background:

The Monaco circuit is the shortest GP course in the calendar at 3.340 kilometres. Nowhere else does a race cover more laps (78). The race distance of 260.520 kilometres is the shortest of the season.

Monaco has hosted 54 Grands Prix since 1950. The length of the course has fluctuated between 3.145 km and 3.370 kilometres. For the first 14 GPs the race distance covered 100 laps. The most successful driver in Monaco to date remains Ayrton Senna with six wins.

Only since 2004 have there been garages for the cars along the pit lane in Monaco. Prior to that, teams had to push the cars back and forth between makeshift garages in the paddock or an underground garage for each practice and qualifying session and the race.

On Fridays, the Formula One engines traditionally remain switched off in Monaco. That is why the first two free practice sessions are held on Thursday.

Covering an area of 1.97 square kilometres, Monaco is the world’s second smallest independent state after the Vatican. It comprises the districts of Monte Carlo, La Condamine, Fontvieille, Le Larvotto, Les Moneghetti and Monaco Ville. The total population of this state, which imposes neither income tax nor inheritance tax, is 33,300. Of these, 5,070 are true Monegasques. Monaco has the highest population density of any state in the world. The head of this constitutional hereditary monarchy is Prince Albert II.

Monaco Grand Prix – Practice, Thursday – 22.05.08

Weather: partly sunny, partly overcast, 19-20 °C Air, 19-37°C Track

Monte Carlo (MC). Both BMW Sauber F1 Team drivers, Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld, had a troublefree second practice session in preparation for the world’s most famous Grand Prix, and they stayed well away from Monte Carlo’s crash barriers. In the first session Heidfeld was forced to park his F1.08 next to the Café de Paris due to an engine failure. For the second session he had a fresh engine, which the regulations allow up to Saturday.

Robert Kubica:
BMW Sauber F1.08-03 / BMW P86/8
1st Practice: 6th, 1:16.834 min / 2nd Practice: 6th, 1:16.296 min
“The two practice sessions were quite ok today. It was a very busy Thursday and we covered a lot of laps. We now have to see how we can improve the car for Saturday.”

Nick Heidfeld:
BMW Sauber F1.08-05 / BMW P86/8
1st Practice: 14th, 1:18.263 min / 2nd Practice: 11th, 1:16.426 min
“In the first session I realized the engine was losing power, so then looked to find a good spot to stop. Of course the failure cost us running time and data, but we still managed to make several changes to the car for the second session. It was a general improvement. Taking into account it is Monaco, I would say my car is very driveable.”

Willy Rampf (Technical Director):
”We were not able to complete our normal programme. This was because there were some interruptions during the sessions. Beside that we had to change the engine on Nick’s car after the first session. We repeated some of the things we did at our latest test in Paul Ricard, because the track characteristics here in Monaco are very special. Because of this we used the wheel covers at the front. Now we have more than a day to evaluate the data, before we concentrate on the qualifying set-up for Saturday.”

Monaco Grand Prix.

22nd – 25th May 2008
6th of 18 World Championship races


Munich/Hinwil, 16th May, 2008. No other Formula One race offers quite the same blend of sport and spectacle as the Monaco Grand Prix. To the outside world, this 78-lap race through the streets of Monaco is the highlight of the Formula One calendar, and it commands a huge worldwide audience. Spectators thrill to the sight of drivers rocketing through the city streets and past the harbour at speeds of over 280 km/h. The more well-heeled onlookers even bring their own floating ringside seats, while others pack the trackside apartments that have been specially vacated and sublet for the occasion.

The excitement of seeing and being seen is surpassed only by the excitement of driving this circuit. Both the BMW Sauber F1 Team drivers, Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica, are avowed street circuit fans. And they know that in Monte Carlo far more hangs on the outcome of the Saturday qualifying than in other races of the season. Getting a good place on the grid is half the battle in Monaco, where overtaking opportunities are almost as few and far between as a reasonably priced meal in a local restaurant. The BMW Sauber F1.08 will be set up with a special downforce-maximising aerodynamics package to help it make the quickest possible progress through the unusually large number of tight twists and turns.

Robert Kubica will already be getting into an urban frame of mind the Sunday before the Monaco Grand Prix, on 18th May, when he drives a BMW Sauber F1 Team car the 11 kilometres from Faenza to Brisighella in Italy to pick up a special kind of Formula One award – the Lorenzo Bandini trophy.

Winning such a tradition-rich trophy means a lot to the 23-year-old Pole. “This is a big honour for me, and it comes as a surprise given the rather disappointing season I had in 2007. It’s great that some people seem to believe in me and my abilities. I am particularly pleased that this award also has to do with my ‘performance’ off the race track – and that attitudes and actions that I don’t really stop to think about have earned me an award like this. I’m really looking forward to the drive, too. That will be the icing on the cake!”

Kubica isn’t the only team member to be honoured at the event in Brisighella. Peter Sauber will be picking up a trophy too – for his lifetime achievements.

Thoughts on Monaco:

Nick Heidfeld:
“I’m a real fan of narrow street circuits like this. Lots of people have tried to describe what it’s like driving through these streets that are like canyons in a Formula One car. I’ve never been able to think of a comparison that really does it justice, so I won’t even try. You simply have to experience it for yourself. This is a circuit that’s totally unforgiving of even the smallest driving error. If you run out of road, there’s nowhere to go except into a crash barrier.

“Monaco goes quite crazy during Grand Prix weekend. The town and the harbour are all packed to bursting point. Of all the GP races, this is definitely the one that has the most to offer spectators. For one thing, there’s nowhere else you can get so close to the action. The engine noise is stupendous and the razzmatazz is simply unique. I always enjoy coming to Monaco. That said, I have to admit it’s all a bit too frenzied for me in the long run, which is why a few years ago I decided to move to Switzerland.”

Robert Kubica:
“I am really looking forward to Monaco. I was very strong there in 2007 and I am a big fan of narrow street circuits with barriers right next to the track. Monaco is one of these tight and narrow circuits. There are three or four really nice corners like the swimming pool chicane or the Casino section. The track is quite tricky to understand and it is not easy to find the right set-up of the car in Monaco. Without traction control it will be an even bigger challenge to drive there. We will have to see how our car suits the track. I hope this works at least as well as last year and I expect a good result.”

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director:
“Monaco is one of the great institutions in Formula One. Like Spa, Monza and Silverstone, it’s one of those circuits that have made Formula One what it is today. Monaco is Formula One up close and personal. Nowhere else do spectators get quite so close to the action as in the streets of the Principality. And no other Grand Prix is as famous or as glamorous as this one. The yachts, the parties, the show business – nowhere are they such an integral part of the Formula One experience as here.

“In sporting terms, the important thing in Monaco is driving precision, a good aerodynamics package to add as much downforce as possible, and an engine with good drivability at low revs. On reliability, I’m very satisfied with our record so far. With five races behind us, we’ve driven the maximum number of race laps possible at this stage in the season – apart from the 11 laps Robert lost in the first Grand Prix in Australia, after his accident with Kazuki Nakajima. We’ve finished well into the points in all our races so far, and we’ll be aiming to repeat that in Monaco.”

Willy Rampf, Technical Director:
“In the absence of traction control, Monaco will be a very special challenge this year for both the drivers and the engineers. Traction is all-important at this venue, where accelerating out of so many slow corners puts a really heavy strain on the rear tyres. Only the softest tyre compounds will be used.

“Monaco is also the Formula One race with the lowest average speed, so everyone does all they can to maximise downforce and cooling. Downforce is more important on this circuit than aerodynamic efficiency. And since on this closed-in street circuit even the smallest mistake can catapult you out of the race at a moment’s notice, the drivers have to find a set-up that allows them to steer a very precise line between the barriers. In my view, this circuit should suit us well.”

Facts and figures:

Circuit/Date Monte Carlo/25th May 2008
Start time (local/UTC) 14.00 hrs/12.00 hrs
Lap/Race distance 3.340 km/260.520 km (78 laps)
Corners 12 right-hand and 7 left-hand corners
2007 Fernando Alonso, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes,
1 hr 40:29.329 min
Pole position
2007 Fernando Alonso, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes,
1:15.726 min
Fastest lap
2007 Fernando Alonso, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes,
1:15.284 min
Data 2007 (race):
Full-throttle percentage: 42%
Top speed: 286 km/h
Longest stretch at full throttle: 8 sec / 510 m
Gear changes per lap: 54
Tyre wear: medium
Brake wear: high
Downforce level: very high

Driver Nick Heidfeld Robert Kubica
Date of birth 10.05.1977 07.12.1984
Place of birth Mönchengladbach/Germany Krakow/Poland
Nationality German Polish
Residence Stäfa, Switzerland Monaco
Marital status
Partner Patricia Papen,
daughter Juni, son Joda Single
Height 1.67 m 1.84 m
Weight 61 kg 69 kg
F1 debut 2000, Melbourne 2006, Budapest
GP starts 139 27
Pole positions 1 1
Wins – –
Podium places 8 3
Fastest laps 1 –
Best placing 5th (2007) 6th (2007)
Total points 160 69
Points 2008 20 (5th place) 24 (4th place)

BMW Sauber F1 Team
Founded 01.01.2006
Locations Munich (DE) and Hinwil (CH)
F1 debut 2006, Melbourne
GP starts 40
Pole positions 1
Wins –
Podium places 7 (4 x 3rd / 3 x 2nd)
Fastest laps 1
World Championship placings 5th (2006), 36 points
2nd (2007), 101 points
2nd (2008), 44 points after 5 GPs

Season 2008:
Nick Heidfeld Robert Kubica
Qualifying Race Points Qualifying Race Points
Australian GP 5th 2nd 8 2nd DNF –
Malaysian GP 7th (grid 5) 6th 3 6th (grid 4) 2nd 8
Bahrain GP 6th 4th 5 1st 3rd 6
Spanish GP 9th 9th – 4th 4th 5
Turkish GP 9th 5th 4 5th 4th 5

Compliments of :BMW/Sauber racing