Monaco GP: Preview & five predictions for Monte Carlo

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It's that time again as Formula 1 prepares for the biggest event on the calendar, the Monaco Grand Prix in Monte Carlo.

Whether you love it or loathe it, there is denying the race around the twisty streets remains one of the most iconic sights in the whole of sports and the principality is ready to write another chapter in its history.

 This year also marks a special milestone as Monaco commemorates 90 years since the first ever Grand Prix, organised by Anthony Noghes in 1929 with the race a permanent part of the F1 calendar since 1955.

Over the period the same basic layout hasn't altered too much either with only the chicane after the tunnel, the Swimming Pool section and the area around La Rasscasse the major changes since that first year.

Otherwise, it all starts at Sainte Devote, climbs the hill to Casino Square, circles the Leows/Grand Hotel/Fairmont hairpin and then blasts along the seafront back to finish line.

All the greats have tasted success in Monaco, from Moss and Fangio to Stewart and Lauda and Prost but three drivers stand out in particular.

Graham Hill and Michael Schumacher are both five-time winners while Ayrton Senna sits one above them with six victories in Monte Carlo.

Formula 1 arrives in the South of France this year needing a shot in the arm with Mercedes' domination continuing last time out in Spain, as they scored a quite unfathomable fifth consecutive 1-2 finish.

In recent years though, Monte Carlo hasn't been the easiest circuit for the German manufacturer, so is this the moment the championship sees its first big twist?

Here are my five predictions for the Monaco GP:

Mercedes won't enjoy a sixth one-two

There's a significant different heading into this year's race compared to the past few seasons, Mercedes has very different strengths.

Whereas it has always been about their engine, in 2019 it is the chassis that has made the difference and particularly in low-speed corners of which Monaco has plenty.

Even Red Bull, the usual leaders in this area, admit their car isn't as good so the signs do point to more of the same in terms of domination.

But there is a lot of other factors to consider in Monaco, so while it is likely Lewis Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas will win, it just seems time for the one-two train to end.

Verstappen is the man to break the streak

The main competition to Mercedes will come from Max Verstappen, a driver who is typically very fast but also accident prone in Monte Carlo.

That second part has barely been evident since his crash in final practice at this race last year, however, and if he can keep it out of the barriers, the Dutchman can cause a stir.

Leclerc to have a difficult homecoming

I've singled out Leclerc but this is more about Ferrari, who may well have their most difficult weekend of the year in the Monegasque's home town.

A tricky chassis and no real straights to use their power means the Scuderia will be third best at best and looking to capitalise on any opportunities around them.

McLaren & Toro Rosso to shine

Trying to decipher the midfield in Monaco is almost impossible as the gaps will be very small and any moment can make or break a weekend.

However, Toro Rosso has been particularly good in recent years and McLaren has a decent enough car to continue their strong start to 2019.

Carlos Sainz also has a great record in Monaco, while Lando Norris and Alex Albon have been very good so far this season.

Ricciardo's bite won't match his bark

Last year's winner at this race, Ricciardo has been talking up his chances of a big result in Monte Carlo with Renault.

The problem is, the premise to his speed at Red Bull was trust in the car and that simply hasn't happened yet at his new team.

Therefore, a much trickier weekend is likely as perhaps even don't be surprised if the Australian pushes his luck a little too far.

That concludes our look ahead to the Monaco Grand Prix. After two relatively calm years, let's hope for a little more madness to spice up the 2019 season this weekend!

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