Both Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz managed to find their way to the Energy Station, which as usual here in Monaco, floats in the harbour just outside the paddock. That proved to be the easy part of their day. It goes without saying that, prior to this weekend, our two drivers have spent hours discussing the Monaco track and what happens here with their engineers, as well as spending plenty of time in the simulator experiencing it for themselves.
However, there was one aspect of the most famous race on the calendar that doesn’t feature in the simulator, nor in the engineers’ notes: namely, how to find the pits! Max and Carlos were about to head off there, when they realised they didn’t know the way and one of our press officers had to accompany them. (Carlos has raced before, but the support races live in a completely different paddock.) Things were still complicated when they got there, as they searched in front of the pit lane for the usual engineers pit perch. No sign of it there, so they went out the back of the garage, where we keep the tyres and other equipment, until it was pointed out that, with the very strange pit garage layout unique to this race, the engineers all sit upstairs. Just trying to locate the stairs in these garages is tricky enough, but eventually they made it. Rest assured, once they sit in the cockpit of their STR10 tomorrow morning for the first free practice session – Thursday instead of Friday here in Monaco – they will know exactly what they have to do.
It looks like being a thrilling weekend, with the first appearance this year of the softest tyre in the Pirelli range, the Supersoft tyre providing plenty of grip once the track surface has cleaned up and got some rubber down on its surface. That might take a while, as rain is expected several times this weekend, starting with the first free practice session tomorrow morning. For the connoisseurs, Saturday’s qualifying hour is possibly the highpoint of the weekend in terms of maximum excitement and that’s with good reason: in ten of the past eleven years, Sunday’s winner has started from pole position.