Heikki Kovalainen: Pole position crucial in Monaco

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Prohibitive: Monaco's tight streets.

In Monaco qualifying is more important than any other Grand Prix. You’re building up all the way through the weekend in the practice sessions for the crucial qualifying.

Hamilton confident of ending Rosberg’s Monaco dominance
– Hamilton signs three-year contract extension with Mercedes
– Rosberg happy to see Mercedes battle with Hamilton continue

Pole position allows you to control the race and forces your opponents to compromise their tactics. Unless you have a nightmare start, the person in pole position should hang on to the lead.

It is a very different circuit and there are a couple of key factors that you have to focus on when tackling that track. You must stay on the road to maximise the track time.

The track is dirty but it evolves all the time. You have to stay out and do longer runs than you usually do on a circuit to get your eye in because it is narrower than other circuits and there are some tricky elements to the course.

The other thing that you need to do in Monaco is set up the car in a sharp way at the front so it turns well. If you have a car that under-steers, you can’t have any confidence going into the braking zones so it is essential that your car is very pointy.

As soon as you turn the steering wheel, the car needs to react. This will make you confident and will allow you to brake deep into the corner of the braking area and react quickly.

In normal Grands Prix you can try out your braking and corners on Friday but in Monaco you can’t do that. You have to build up the rhythm and go for it in the qualifying.

You have to feel confident and completely in control before you encounter that critical qualifying. These circumstances make the weekend very special.

Glamorous: Monaco's street circuit.

Drivers make a bigger difference in Monaco than on other circuits. However, you still need a good car to do well. With an average car you simply can’t challenge

Sometimes when the conditions change due to rain, it opens up the chances for an underdog to do well. If it is dry it is challenging to overtake so you need to produce the spectacular to succeed and finish on the podium.

Monaco memories

Away from the track, there is always a lot of interest because of the glitz, glamour and famous parties. But as driver you genuinely don’t really get to go to them.

It’s such a hectic and busy weekend you just want to get back home and wind down from the action. However, if you ask Kimi Raikkonen, he probably has some funnier stories!

Heikki’s prediction

1. Hamilton; 2. Rosberg; 3. Vettel

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Hamilton confident of ending Rosberg's fine run in Monaco

Simon Peach 23/05/2015
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Confident: Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton believes he is in a “fantastic” place to end Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg’s winning streak at the Monaco Grand Prix – not that he will lose any sleep should he fall short this weekend.

– Hamilton signs three-year contract extension with Mercedes
– Rosberg happy to see Mercedes battle with Hamilton continue
– Stevens revels in taking part in pre-Monaco charity match

The reigning Formula One world champion has begun his title defence with three wins and approaches round six fresh from signing a lucrative three-year deal with the Silver Arrows.

Hamilton wants to celebrate that contract by getting back to winning ways with the “perfect weekend” in Monte Carlo, having lost to Mercedes team-mate Rosberg last time out in Spain.

Victory saw the German close the gap to 20 points and a third straight victory on the streets of the principality would see that shrink further.

Hamilton is confident of thwarting his team-mate, though and impressed in practice on Thursday. He was 0.74 seconds ahead of second-placed Rosberg in a rain-affected second practice, with Ferrari duo Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen more than a second behind Hamilton in third and fourth.

“I feel good coming into this weekend,” the British driver said ahead of Saturday’s final practice and qualifying. “I’ve trained hard over the last two weeks and I feel mentally and physically fantastic. How that comes out on the track, we will see.

“I have not won here since 2008 and even then it was not a spectacular weekend in terms of how quick I was. This is my third year where potentially I have a car that can win here and Nico has won the last two, so I need to make some changes and I am confident I can do that.”

Hamilton knows today will be crucial in determining the result in Monaco, echoing compatriot Jenson Button’s assertion that it is probably more important than Sunday due to the difficulty in overtaking on the street course.

He did everything to try and get past Rosberg last year without success and knows qualifying will be vital to preventing his Mercedes team-mate winning a third in a row here – something only Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Graham Hill have achieved.

“If he gets that, he gets that,” Hamilton said. “I want to win the championship ultimately. “This is just another race that adds to the big picture. There is more beyond this weekend. Your life does not start or stop this weekend.

“It is great if you have it and a great accomplishment and experience, but get the points. Naturally I want to win, but I want to win the world championship, which is way more important than this race.”

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Lewis Hamilton deserves his cash, says Niki Lauda

Sport360 staff 21/05/2015
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Happy for Hamilton: Niki Lauda.

World champion Lewis Hamilton deserves all the money he earns from his new three-year contract with Mercedes, according to team director Niki Lauda.

– Hamilton signs three-year contract extension with Mercedes

– Rosberg happy to see Mercedes battle with Hamilton continue

– Stevens revels in taking part in pre-Monaco charity match

Austrian Lauda, a three-time world champion, was closely involved in the negotiations that led to the confirmation of a deal that is widely reported to be worth more than 100 million dollars.

His former McLaren team-mate and fellow Briton Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion, said he had heard of the money that Hamilton may earn. "It's amazing," he said.

Mercedes gave no details of the financial arrangements in their announcement Wednesday confirming the contract.

But Lauda said: "The world champions like Vettel, Alonso and Lewis all deserve roughly the same. They work for the money and they earn it.

"When you see how they drive and what they achieve, how Lewis has been driving, it is really something."

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