Monaco is considered to be a challenge like no other for Formula One drivers; the twisting nature of the circuit and proximity of the unforgiving barriers heighten the concentration needed of even the most intense of racers. History tells us that Ayrton Senna and Graham Hill are the undisputed masters of all-time, Senna heading the record books with six wins to Hill’s five. In recent times, Michael Schumacher managed to tame the beast on five occasions as well, edging out Alain Prost on four. But of the current grid, who teases and respects the armco in equal quantities?
You might think that Kimi Raikkonen would be a Monaco master, the Finnish driver known for his ice-cold approach to racing. Raikkonen is certainly a driver I would expect to do well on the streets of Monte Carlo, but the McLaren and Ferrari winner has only visited the Monaco rostrum twice in his seven attempts to date. Kimi’s first podium was for his second place in 2003, improved upon in 2005 with a victory from pole position. In 2006 and suffering from poor reliability from his McLaren, a small fire on his car forced retirement, Raikkonen famously being videoed storming off to a nearby yacht to calm down. A modern-day Monaco master, he isn’t.
What about David Coulthard? The Scot has certainly raced at Monaco a fair few times and has won the race on two occasions. Both wins came from his years at McLaren, the first being in 2000 and repeated in 2002. Coulthard has also managed a second-place in 1996, a pole position and fastest lap in 2001 and a third place in 2006 for current team Red Bull Racing. But when you look at Coulthard racing in Monaco, it is hard to be inspired by his efforts around the track. Is Coulthard a modern-day Monaco master? I don’t think so.
Giancarlo Fisichella is another driver who has been around for a while as well, occasionally in competitive cars, but the Italian has never won the race. Fisi’s best result was a second place in 1998, way back in his Benetton days. The Roman has also managed a third place 2000 but hasn’t bettered either of these results. Continuing the longevity theme, Rubens Barrichello might be considered a master of the track, but alas he isn’t. Barrichello’s best results came in 1997, 2000 and 2001 when the Brazilian finished second on each occasion. A fastest lap in 2002 and a third-place in 2004 is the best Rubens has been able to muster, and aside from his surprise ’97 podium for Stewart, each of his rostrum visits have been with the Ferrari team. Therefore, it would appear practice doesn’t always make perfect.
That just leaves Fernando Alonso left from all the serious contenders of Monaco-masterdom. The Spaniard has twice won at Monaco, once in the Renault in his second championship-winning season of 2006, and last year at the helm of the McLaren MP4-22. Alonso also took pole position on both occasions and set the fastest lap in 2007. So does that make Fernando the modern-day master of Monaco? Statistically, maybe. But I’m not sure he falls into the same category as Senna or Hill when it comes to judging his abilities at the track. Not yet, anyway.
Either way, irrespective of your opinion on Alonso and the Cote d’Azur circuit, Alonso is probably worth an outside bet if you’re so inclined. But in reality, I’m expecting Raikkonen to take his second victory to equal current drivers Coulthard and Alonso in the record books.
Who do you consider to be the modern-day masters of Monaco?[poll:14]