Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are set to continue their battle for the world championship this weekend as the 2017 Formula One season moves to Monte Carlo for the Monaco Grand Prix. With news coming out that a number of changes have been made to the Monte Carlo track ahead of the race, all the drivers will be hoping to make the most of the three practice sessions they have.
One of the big driver changes we are going to see at the Monaco Grand Prix is the return of 2009 world champion Jenson Button, who is set to compete in a one-off race for McLaren, as Fernando Alonso is set to compete at the Indy 500 this weekend. McLaren have been struggling for most of this season, but they did manage to put in a strong performance at the Spanish Grand Prix, when Alonso finished 12th.
Button too was really impressed with all the improvements the team made prior to the Spanish Grand Prix, and despite all the experience he possesses, the former world champion admitted that Monaco was always a challenge.
"It feels slightly surreal to be back in the cockpit for the Monaco Grand Prix. I'm looking forward to stepping back behind the wheel for one of the craziest, unpredictable and exciting races of the year," Formula One's official website quoted Button as saying.
"Monaco is truly unique as a track, and requires a lot of work to fine-tune the car and optimise the set-up for the narrow layout. It's always a challenge – a huge challenge, for any driver – but a really exciting challenge, and has always been up there in my favourite races of the year."
Despite Button's return, all the attention is no doubt going to be on Vettel and Hamilton. The Ferrari driver feels that his car's shorter wheel base will give him an advantage and a good opportunity at retaining the lead in the drivers' championship.
As for Mercedes, the Silver Arrow head into this race on the back of two wins, in Russia for Valtteri Bottas, and in Spain for Hamilton, and the Brit feels mental strength and experience will play a big factor at Monaco.
"I've been doing this for a long time now. I spend a lot of time at the factory with the engineers to understand past races. Just the other night, I was driving around the track in my Smart car, visualising the circuit. It's not so easy, though, when there are lots of cars around!" Hamilton said.
Another key factor to focus on is the tyres. Pirelli are expecting this to be the quickest race in Monaco to date, thanks to a combination of the soft rubber and 2017's faster machinery.
With degradation not going to be a factor at all, all the teams will be favouring soft compounds. As a result Pirelli have brought their three softest tyres, the yellow-marked soft, the red-marked supersoft and the purple-marked ultrasoft.
Where to watch
The practice session 1 for the Monaco Grand prix is set to start at 10:00am local time, 1:30pm IST and 4:00am EST.
Practice session 2 – 2:00pm local time, 5:30pm IST and 8:00am EST
Practice session 3 (Saturday) – 11:00am local time, 2:30pm IST and 5:00am EST
TV and live streaming information
Spain: TV: Movistar
Australia: TV: Ten HD. Live Streaming: Ten Play.
India: TV: Star Sports SelectHD2. Live Streaming: Hotstar.
UK: TV: Sky Sports F1. Live Streaming: Watch Sky Sports.
USA: TV: NBCSN. Live Streaming: NBC Sports Live.
Asia: TV: Fox Sports. Live Streaming: Fox Sports Play.