Everything is more intense in Monaco: it's certainly a tougher track for Lance and Fernando to negotiate, but there's also a tight garage for the team to operate from, more guests for hospitality to entertain, more sponsors, more media, more attention, more fans, more, more, more. And usually, this would be all-consuming, but with the cancellation of last weekend's Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, and Wednesday's announcement of our 2026 works partnership with Honda, Team Principal Mike Krack has got a lot to talk about this week, shared with I / AM members first.
This is Mike on…
"Cancelling a Grand Prix is a great disappointment – but it was the correct decision. Of course, it's a shame for all the fans who didn't get to see the cars at Imola, both those travelling a long way by air or rail, and the very passionate local crowd. We hope many of them can get to another Grand Prix in 2023.
"It is, however, important to stress it was absolutely correct for the organisers to call off the race when they did and they had our full support. Not only were conditions very bad at the circuit but the strain the local emergency services were under made running a huge event in the region a distraction they simply could not accommodate."
The knock-on impact
"The team reacted very well to the cancellation of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix and huge credit goes to our travel office. They got everyone home – which is no easy thing at short notice – and got everyone out again to Monaco this weekend without too much disruption. Flights from England to the South of France during Monaco Grand Prix week are not easy to come by – you have to work hard to find them – but they did a good job and as a result, we've had a little more time to rest, a little more time to prepare and come to Monaco in good shape. I hope we can make gains from that."
The magic of Monaco
"This both is and isn't a special race. The same points are on offer here as they are everywhere else and, in that sense, it's business as usual and we need to maximise our result… but, it's Monaco. We're all fans, and it is a special race. There's no place you can get as close to the cars, to the pits and the paddock, and that's very, very nice for everyone who will be spectating at the Grand Prix this weekend.
"For the team, however, Monaco does throw up some complications: everything is very, very tight. There's no space at all and this only adds to the challenge. It's tough for the drivers, too, as they thread the cars at high speed between the Armco barriers. One mistake, and that's it, session over. It's very hard to not make these mistakes – but it'll be the drivers that stay fault-free who bring the points home."
"There's a sense around the paddock that Monaco should be good for us – but inside the team we have to approach that view with a degree of caution. With absolute honesty, I'd agree that a circuit without long straights is not a downside for us – but there are no guarantees. We have to be careful because we've never seen the Red Bull in its Monaco configuration. Ferrari had upgrades in Miami; Mercedes is bringing upgrades here.
"We've got some upgrades too – some of which we had planned for Imola and a few more bits that are ready for this weekend – and much will depend upon how the development race plays out. In that respect, it'll be a busy weekend. We need to validate our upgrades and make sure they are performing as expected."
Drivers making the difference
"The most important thing in Monaco is to have the wheels turning. The drivers need time to get used to the track because you can't go out here and expect to have them running 5mm from the guardrails on their first lap. They need time in the car and we have to prioritise that – and if it means leaving out some of the engineering work to give the drivers more laps in practice, then that's what we'll do.
"They need to build confidence, getting closer, closer, closer to the barriers, braking a little later, a little later, a little later. It's putting those laps in that gives them that confidence to find the limit. If they don't have that, they have to leave more margin for error and that costs laptime. This isn't something to worry us: as Lance and Fernando said after Baku, the AMR23 is a forgiving car and very driveable. That should help us – but still, we have to centre our preparation in Monaco around the drivers."
"Irrespective of theoretical performance, my favourite subject in these columns applies very strongly in Monaco. We have to perform at 100 per cent. We simply cannot make any mistakes if we want to finish ahead of our rivals – and the potential for making mistakes in Monaco is very, very high. The slightest slip in concentration from the drivers and they'll be off; one wrong call on strategy and you'll fall behind slower cars with no real ability to pass. The pressure to be fully focused and on top of your game is intense."
"Finally, our big news this week was signing a deal to partner with Honda from 2026. We need a works engine to become regular World Championship contenders. Teams with customer deals rarely win World Championships – when they have, it's because they've done something dramatically better than their works partner and that doesn't happen very often in modern F1.
"Having an exclusive partnership with one of the best power unit manufacturers in F1 is fantastic. We wanted a partner with the same commitment to winning that we have – and Honda has racing threaded through their DNA. Their ambitions perfectly match our own, and this deal feels like the final piece in the jigsaw that will allow us to make our ambitions a reality."
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