Jolyon Palmer is aiming to do the business in Monaco next weekend.
How exciting is Monaco?
It is really fun – there is nothing quite like it. It is a unique event with all the glitz and glamour, all the yachts, all the rich and famous. It all adds to make a really fun place and a great event to be involved in. It is a special weekend and one I always love. Monaco is a cool place and so different behind the wheel, with adrenaline pumping from the first lap.
Talk us through a lap of the Circuit de Monaco…
It is difficult to catch your breath as it is 75 seconds of chaos! From the moment you hit the brakes at Sainte Devote and go up the hill, it is one corner after another, super quick and very bumpy. There are walls on the outside; you literally brush them and get as close as you can. Pinpoint accuracy and commitment are required for all of it – that is the challenge.
Have you ever hit a perfect lap in Monaco?
I’ve got pretty close and it feels very good. It is probably the best feeling you get in racing. It is about commitment and chucking the car in and hoping it comes out of the corner. When you do that for 19 corners, it is pretty special. I remember setting my GP2 pole position lap in 2014 knowing that nobody would beat it.
How do you prepare for this unique grand prix?
You need to build up to it steadily. It is a normal road, so the track changes as it evolves. You build up your confidence, which is important to do piece by piece. This year will be tough with the new cars. It is pretty much a two-hour race, and even qualifying will be hard. You have no chance to gather your thoughts or take a breath during the lap. Mentally, it is the hardest race of the year.
Do you ever find time to take in the atmosphere?
There are a lot of yachts and parties going on. I do get to scooter around when I head in or leave in the afternoon, which is fun and quite refreshing. It is great seeing the fans, but obviously I go quick on the scooter and get my knee down. Nobody is stopping me!
"It is difficult to catch your breath as it is 75 seconds of chaos! You have no chance to gather your thoughts or take a breath during the lap. Mentally, it is the hardest race of the year." Jolyon Palmer, Renault Sport Formula One Team Driver