The Monaco Grand Prix is the jewel in the crown for Formula 1 and the race everyone wants to win, and in Codemasters F1 2017 it's no exception. To do so not only requires immense skill but also the right car, one that has to be set up just right in order to win the race. This guide will talk you through how to get a good setup for the Monaco Grand Prix and how to get a race winning car.
The first, and most crucial, part of the cars setup is the aerodynamics. This is all about how much downforce your car produces and what level of front and rear wing you run. Remember, the higher the number here the more downforce you are putting onto the car. Monaco is all about grip and downforce, and does not rely heavily on engine power. Hence Red Bull’s pole and win in 2018 with Daniel Ricciardo. The Renault engine was down on power, even before his loss of MGU-K, but the chassis was so strong he was able to lead from pole.
For Monaco, I’d suggest you have pretty much all the downforce you can get on the car. So set your front wing to 11, but perhaps keep the rear wing at 10. Making the rear wing slightly slippery will give you a small straight line speed boost. Considering the best places really to overtake in Monaco are into turn one and exiting the tunnel, you will need some straight line speed to do so. Having a bit of leeway here helps, but if you are in the Mercedes you can afford to run the full 11-11 wings for the front and rear.
The transmission of the car affects how the power is transmitted to the rear wheels, and to change this you adjust the differential on and off throttle. If you unlock your differential more, you will have less tyre wear and a rather more gradual loss of traction. Locking the differential more will give you an advantage in outright traction, making it easier to power out of slower corners.
For Monaco, tyre wear is rarely a problem and it's usually a very safe one stop, even with the softest tyres in Pirelli’s range brought to the circuit. For this then you can afford a more locked setup perhaps though leaving some room for tweaking so as to not stress the tyres out too much. Too much of a locked setup may force you into a two stop race, and you may not be able to push so much in your second stint.
The camber is how the wheel sits vertically. The more negative camber, the more the top of the wheel will lean into the body of the car. Altering the camber also modifies the tyre contact patch with the surface of the track. For Monaco, it is best to have a fairly midrange setup with your camber. Too much camber will leave you with big problems tyre wear wise. With grip needed in Monaco, add a bit more negative camber but do not go too crazy in order to protect the tyres.
You also have the front and rear toe to worry about. Toe establishes whether the leading edge of the tyre points towards (toe in) or away (toe out) from the opposing tyre that is on the same axle. Formula One cars have their front wheels set with toe out which provide a sharper turning response. This, though, comes at a lack of front stability. Rear wheels use toe in, reducing responsiveness but increasing stability.
It's trickier to gauge what to do here around Monaco, but a larger amount of front toe will help around some of the faster sections of the track such as the swimming pool, where you need a car that responds well. To balance this out, you can lower the rear toe slightly, retaining some stability at a loss of some responsiveness, but this is balanced out with the front toe setup.
When it comes to suspension, you can adjust the front and rear springs, front and rear anti-roll bars and front and rear ride height.
A stiffly sprung car will help with aerodynamic stability but may result in the car being harsh on its tyres and skittish over bumps. A softly sprung car will absorb the bumps better, but may increase the chances of the car pivoting with aggressive acceleration and braking. This will affect your aerodynamic stability.
With the bumps in Monaco being quite severe, it would be best to have a stiffer car but don’t go all the way. Aggressive braking is needed to make passes around these streets so do not go too far. Around seven would suffice.
Adjusting the anti-roll bars will reduce the amount of body roll while turning into corners but will also put the tyres through more excessive loads through prolonged corners, such as Pouhon at Spa. Softer therefore will provide better traction through said corners, but the car won’t be as responsive.
There are only really two ‘prolonged’ corners in Monaco. At the top of the hill entering casino square and heading into the swimming pool. If you have balanced out the rest of the car well at this point, you can run stiffer anti-roll bars. With tyre wear not being a horrendous issue, you can afford to give up some tyre life.
The ride height is perhaps the more complex element of the suspension. Put simply, less ride height means the car sits lower and sticks to the ground more, a higher ride height will increase the amount of drag the car produces and can result in a loss of straight line speed. It can also have a negative effect on cornering as it increases the centre of mass.
A lower ride height is therefore advised around Monaco. Straight line speed is not a requirement per se around the streets of Monte Carlo, and even though a very low ride height may result in the cars aerodynamics stalling, you probably won’t find that much of an issue in Monaco.
Adjusting the brakes will alter the braking qualities of the car, and you do this by modifying braking pressure. An increase in this will result in shorter stopping distances and increase the chances of lockups. Lowering it will also reduce the chances of lockups but increase the stopping distances.
For Monaco I would have it fairly high, perhaps around 75 and no lower than 72. Here you will get a good braking distance to outbreak your rivals, and providing you adjust the next bit of the car accordingly you shouldn’t be in lockup city.
That next bit is the front brake bias. A more rearward bias will decrease the chance of front lock ups and reduce understeer. Moving it more towards the front will increase the understeer on corner entry and increase the chances of lockups.
Try to keep it around 57-60 for Monaco. I tend to run it more rearwards so probably around the 58-mark, lockups are something you want to avoid on such a narrow circuit.
Here we will be adjusting the front and rear tyre pressure. The lower the pressure, the softer the tyres, the higher the pressure, the stiffer the tyres.
Softer tyres have a larger surface area, improving traction and costing responsiveness under high load situations.
Increasing tyre pressures can improve your straight line speed with a reduction of rolling resistance but the tyre temperatures may rise.
It is best to have softer tyres for Monaco. The tyres don’t go under any extreme loads so will not wear so much, and better traction is always a positive here. Lower the front tyre pressures to around 21-22 PSI and the rear tyres to about 20 PSI.
Finally, the ballast. The ballast levels change the balance of the car. It only takes a shift of one each way to change the cars balance.
More ballast at the rear reduces understeer, meaning the car will turn better through corners and not be sluggish. A more forwards ballast will reduce oversteer, reducing the amount the car wants to come around from the rear.
With oversteer not really a problem in Monaco, you can run more rear ballast. You do not want to understeer into the barriers!
So there we have it, a setup guide to Monaco. Follow these instructions and you should be well on your way to a memorable victory!