Prost: To win Monaco takes talent, racecraft and luck
It takes talent, racecraft and a pinch of luck to win at Monaco. Few drivers can say the ingredients have come together on race day and yielded that elusive victory. Fewer still have grabbed a win more than once. Renault ambassador Alain Prost has won on four occasions, in 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1988.
For Prost, winning on the streets of Monaco requires a little something extra from a driver, and for everything to come together.
“For me Monaco is really a special event. It’s the same for most of the drivers, but some don’t like it – they don’t like the track, they don’t like the fact that it’s so demanding…but for me, it was a place where you wanted to be, and you wanted to be good. There is something about the atmosphere that is unique to Monaco.”
“There is more of everything. There are more people, more demands in terms of appearances, more chances to lose concentration…it is tough. But on the other side the ‘more’ makes the ambiance. It’s just part of the event so you need to think about the race weekend in another way.”
“Your approach for this race has to be different and it really depends on the years. Sometimes you feel well, sometimes you want to push, to drive and you feel good. You need to do a more before you get in the car or work with the engineers. You also need to have time for yourself, a bit more organization.”
“For instance, when you walk from the paddock to the garage, there are the spectators. You have to consider that as an extra; it’s not extra work or a job, but it’s a game and you need to play it. You need to plan well.”
“The track is very particular and demanding for the driver. The set-up for the car is hard as the F1 cars are so big, so powerful. You need to think that there two separate things to build. There is the set-up of the car, to understand what you want to achieve for Saturday and qualifying.”
“Then what you want to achieve for Sunday and the race. At the same time you have to build your own confidence as a driver and with the car. That is the most difficult part.”
“You also have to consider that the track is going to improve from the Thursday to the Sunday. You have all the support races, and more and more rubber goes down. Once you have done Thursday you need to think and imagine what will happen on Saturday.
“That is really tough and, on the other side, there is absolutely no room for mistakes. Not even a small one as you can mess the whole weekend with just one mistake.”
“On race day itself, you have to manage your race depending on what is happening. Some things you cannot predict or know.’
“Unless you start on pole, you need to manage the race very differently depending on your track position, if you are fourth, fifth, sixth… you may be quicker than the guys in front, but you cannot overtake.”
“You may go into the race with a strategy but you have to manage based on what is happening in the race. This is one time when you cannot prepare anything before. You just have to have confidence in the engineers, with the pit wall and drive your own race.”
“I’ve won there four times but I think my best memory came in 1986. There are only two or three times it happens in your career, and this race I felt so good in the car and we dominated the race.”
“I had such a good feeling in the car that it felt like nothing could happen. For this to happen at Monaco was a pleasure. I could really enjoy it, and that’s why it’s so special.”
“Now, when I go to Monaco I still love the place. I think about the past, but I don’t want to do it again. That was a different time. But the ambiance is still there, that hasn’t changed. You can’t compare it to any other event.”