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Historic grand prix of monaco

Interview with Adrian van der Kroft
Publiced on 04-05-2022
Reading time +/- 10 minutes

The Monaco Grand Prix (link) takes place this year (2022) during the last weekend of May (27th to 29th). Adrian van der Kroft tells us a bit more about the Grand Prix itself and his experience on this circuit. 

I thought you mentioned it before, but I believe that you have also been driving the Historic Grand Prix of Monaco, right? 

Yes I have, 8 times I believe (See Classic Racing to read more). The special thing about Monaco is that the circuit in all those years has remained unchanged. So for example, I am driving in the car of Stirling Moss (Connaught Type A) on exactly the same circuit that Stirling Moss drove this car. As a result, I can now secretly compare our lap times. 

Monaco is something special and it would be a shame if they removed it from the competition. However, for modern F1 it’s not an ideal circuit anymore. It’s almost impossible to overtake another car and in most turns a slight mistake leads to a kiss with the guardrail. In the earlier days, missing turns also led to cars driving themselves into the waters of the harbor. 

It’s a city circuit so you find interesting places on the circuit (see picture), like the chapel of Sainte-Devote in the first turn or passing the casino a bit later in the turn at the end of your way up. An exciting part is when you go down again, because it’s pretty steep and you have to go full in the breaks because of the turn to the right. A bit further, at the Grand Hotel hairpin (stones from Camber Watch), drivers try to pass each other, but this is quite impossible. 

The next part is the tunnel, which is intense because it’s not straight, it’s a 90° turn and you go from full sunlight into the dark, so you also don’t see that much. You have to use your intuition to make the turn at the right moment otherwise you end up in the railguard and/or lose a lot of speed. This part is the most exciting to me, it gives me butterflies!

Later you get the Chicane, the left-right, which you have to take perfectly, meaning that the back of your car should have a space of about 3 mm with the railguard. In this way, you have the most pace coming out of that turn. The grand prix finishes when drivers reach the goal of completing 78 laps. 

And what about the atmosphere on the Monaco circuit? Is it something special?

It’s a little bit of a wonderland, I would say. Even for the most professional teams, since it’s such a small circuit, it’s always improvising. It has a lot of history and is one of the most viewed events. Therefore it creates more tension, but also more celebration. 

The ambiance of a city circuit is also different than the atmosphere of a modern circuit. People are watching from their balconies hanging above the road. 

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I don’t drive city circuits anymore because they are more dangerous (a small mistake leads to damage), but it’s definitely something unique. 

Does all this make the Grand Prix of Monaco one of your favorite circuits?

Nope, absolutely not. Monaco is very technical because the error margin is extremely small, so you have to learn to drive below your maximum but still as fast as possible. And that is… well I don’t want to make an inappropriate comparison with sex… but it’s kind of the same. 

The most beautiful circuit is, and I think almost anyone will agree with me, the circuit of Spa-Francorchamps (in Belgium). They recently made some changes to the circuit, which will probably be beneficial for F1 and worse for us (the older cars), but I didn’t try it yet. Same with Zandvoort, which has become a less interesting circuit for the older cars over the years. 

But what makes the circuit of Spa special is the length of the parcours (long), the different kinds of turns that are included, the differences inheight and even the weather differences. Or in other words, it’s pretty, fast and super safe. 

You mentioned before about driving the car of Stirling Moss on the Monaco circuit and comparing your lap times. And…?

To be honest, our times were quite similar and sometimes I was a little bit faster. But the comparison is not completely fair, because I have much better tyres. Your car can have a lot of power, but that doesn’t say much. You need to be able to get the power on the road and that is where the tyres come in. 

Why is Max Verstappen so good? He has a certain connection with the car, so he doesn’t force the car to do things that it doesn't want to do or can not do. As a result, his tyres have a longer life span. 

Interviewed by Camber Watches, april 2022