The Monaco Grand Prix is easily the biggest challenge in Formula 1. With Armco barriers hugging the circuit and 19 testing corners it is a true balancing act for both man and machine. You have the painfully slow Grand Hotel Hairpin and Portier section to navigate before reaching the incredibly quick and dangerous Swimming Pool. Monaco takes no prisoners and requires a unique setup to the rest of the F1 2018 game. With that challenge though comes an immense satisfaction with every flying lap. Monaco can be one of the most fun tracks to drive in any racing game with the right setup.
We take no prisoners with our aerodynamic settings here. Throw as much wing on as you can get away with, that means 10 on the front and 11 on the rear. Why not a full 11-11 set up? Well, you only see a marginal cornering advantage from an 11 front wing compared to 10, and you create more drag than is helpful. For all its corners Monaco does have some long flat out sections, from turn 1 up the hill to Massenet and then through the tunnel, so we don’t want too much drag on the car.
This part is all about how the power gets delivered through the rear wheels and onto the tarmac. A locked differential forces the wheels to turn at the same rate despite surface friction, while an unlocked one allows them to turn at different rates. For Monaco we want good traction out of the corners, particularly Portier which leads down to the only overtaking opportunity of the lap at the Nouvelle Chicane. Too locked and we’ll start to wear the tyres too much. Monaco is very kind to tyres, but later on in the setup we will exploit that fact, so we can’t too much here.
We lock up the on throttle differential to 86 percent so that we can get good traction, and then set a 76 percent off throttle differential to allow the tyres to rotate freely at turn-in, this creates a smoother and more responsive turn in, vital for Monaco.
Monaco is all about responsiveness, so we have loaded up on camber and toe so we get a car capable of dealing with all these tricky corners.
Camber describes the vertical alignment of the tyres with the body of the car. In F1 all four tyres are set with negative camber, so that the top of the tyres are closer together than the bottom. This generates more grip when cornering, something we want a lot more of due to the flat out nature of the Louis Chiron chicane and the speed we want to carry through the Swimming Pool. We have added almost the maximum camber to the wheels. Much like the front wing, we have avoided increasing this too much otherwise we compromise straight line speed.
Toe describes the horizontal alignment of the wheels, with the front tyres set to toe out, meaning the front of the tyre is pointing away from the body, while the rears are set to toe in, with the front of the tyre pointing into the body. This makes for a more responsive car on turn in and a more stable car under acceleration. We do the same with toe as we do with camber and load up on it, again coming just short of the maximum allowed.
All this camber and toe stresses the tyres, but as I said the Monaco surface is very kind to your rubber, so you can extract grip in the setup. Even if your tyres start to let go toward the end of a stint, no one can get past you on track at the end of the race.
Monaco makes extreme demands of our suspension setup. We have softened both the front and rear suspension to 3. This makes the car far more stable and compliant. It does reduce responsiveness a little, but it allows us to make corrections more easily and stay out of the barriers. A soft suspension also means weight can shift rearward and aid traction and acceleration.
The anti-roll bars, however, are stiffened, especially at the front. This is where we get our responsiveness back. By making the front anti-roll bar as stiff as possible we have a nose that will turn when we need it to even at speed. This is very useful for the final sector. The rear doesn’t need to be as stiff, as we want more weight out on the rear tyre to allow us to get the power down. This again creates tyre wear, but we are throwing caution to the wind since qualifying is everything at Monaco.
With ride height we want to create a rake by having a slightly higher rear. Here we set it to 3-4 which is rather extreme. It means you can’t take as much kerb at places like the Nouvelle Chicane and have to avoid the bump down to Mirabeau, but it also helps us with straight line speed. A lower car also helps with cornering responsiveness.
Stopping power is vital, but lockups have to be avoided. This is an aggressive set up designed to maximise our qualifying potential, so we have set the brake pressure to 90 percent. This means we can get stopped in a hurry on the exit of the tunnel into Sainte Devote, but it does increase the risk of lockups. Through Mirabeau to Portier you should be gentle as there is no room for error there. At least at the Nouvelle Chicane and the Swimming Pool there is some escape room if you do suffer some under-rotation.
We have set the brake bias a shade back at 58 percent to create a little oversteer and again make the car easier to turn in.
We have added some tyre pressure to the fronts so that they are more responsive, but only put them up to 23.4psi so we don’t build the temperature too much. That increase also reduces the rolling resistance down the straights.
We’ve done the opposite to the rears and deflated them a touch, down to 21.1psi, so that we get more surface area and improved traction. It also lowers the tyre temperature and helps preserve them a little.
We have moved the ballast back to 7 to improve traction and also create a touch more oversteer. It can be tempting to move it back more but that risks the car becoming unpredictable on turn in and under acceleration.
So there is our set up for Monaco. The track takes a long time to master, but with this setup you should be able to carry good speed through the final sector as well as get yourself around the hairpin in good time. See you on the time sheets!
Monaco Grand Prix Wet Lap Setup
Front Wing: 8
Rear Wing: 11
On Throttle: 50%
Off Throttle: 100%
Front Camber: -2.50
Rear Camber: -1.00
Front Toe: 0.05
Rear Toe: 0.20
Front Suspension: 5
Rear Suspension: 3
Front Anti-Roll Bar: 10
Rear Anti-Roll Bar: 7
Front Ride Height: 5
Rear Ride Height: 5
Brake Pressure: 88%
Front Brake Bias: 52%
Front Tyre Pressure: 23.0 psi
Rear Tyre Pressure: 21.1 psi
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