Monaco Grand PrixView

By on Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lotus F1 Team

Formula 1 moves on to Monte Carlo this week for round six of the championship. The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the most challenging races on the calendar and one of the highlights of the season for fans and drivers alike. The race is considered the ultimate test of driving skills in Formula 1 because on the streets of the Principality there is no room for error and the drivers have to be inch perfect for 78 laps on Sunday afternoon.

Only Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber have multiple wins here, with Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel also having emerged victorious. McLaren holds a fabulous record in Monte Carlo with their 15 wins - same as the next two teams together: Ferrari (8) and Lotus (7). However, you’d be bold to bet on McLaren gaining a sixteenth victory this weekend. Red Bull has won the last three races in Monaco, while Ferrari hasn’t claimed victory since 2001.

There will be just one DRS zone in Monaco with the detection point shortly after ‘Piscine’ and the activation point after Anthony Nogues (the final corner). Pirelli expects two pits stops due to low tyre wear and degradation, in contrast to the last race at Barcelona.


The Monaco Grand Prix predates Formula 1. The race was inaugurated in 1929, when British spy William Grover-Williams triumphed. Monaco made its F1 debut in 1950 when Juan Manuel Fangio saw the chequered flag after more than three hours of racing, while he lapped all the drivers behind him. The event then took a break until 1955 - when it was designated the European Grand Prix - but has featured on the calendar every year since.

Red Bull/Getty Images

The 3.340 km long circuit has remained almost identical since 1950 and consists of the city streets of Monte Carlo and the famous harbour of La Condamine district. The course includes a tunnel which represents a big challenge as the drivers have to adjust their vision while racing from the fastest point of the track to a braking point in the daylight.

Monaco may be the slowest circuit of the season but its tight corners makes it one of the most demanding tracks in Formula 1. Limited overtaking opportunities mean that qualifying is of the utmost importance. Since its debut, the Monaco GP has only been won 10 times from a starting position worse than third place. Almost half of the events held to date have been won from pole position.

Olivier Panis won the 1996 race from 14th on the grid, the lowest position from which victory has been scored here since Formula 1’s inception. It was Panis’s only victory and one which came in a race affected by wet weather.

Jenson Button believes getting pole position in Monaco, as he did in 2009, is hugely satisfying. “Monaco is unlike any other racetrack in Formula One. A qualifying lap around there is an exhilarating experience for a driver: you turn into corners on the limit and you kiss every barrier at the exit.”

“The track’s quite narrow in places and there are some fast sections. The run up the hill from Ste Devote to Casino Square involves some quick changes of direction, as does the Swimming Pool, and the Tunnel is fast, loud and dark,” the McLaren driver added.


Ayrton Senna is the most successful driver in Monte Carlo. He gained five pole positions and won the race six times. Perhaps his most famous Monaco moment came in 1988, when he was leading comfortable before making a rare mistake. So great was his anger that he was not seen for several hours after the accident.

Seven times the Monaco GP has ended with less than one second gaps on the finish line. Senna won the 1992 race by 0.215s after a close battle for the lead in the final three laps with Nigel Mansell.

In 1965 Paul Hawkins escaped unhurt when his Lotus ended up into the Mediterranean. A decade earlier Alberto Ascari emerged intact after he crashed his Lancia into the harbour. The sea also caused trouble at the 1950 GP when a wave from the harbour flooded the Tabac Corner during the first lap. Nino Farina - in 2nd - spun and crashed while Juan Manuel Fangio slowed and managed to escape the chaos. The drivers behind them tried to avoid the carnage, but eight more crashed and retired.

The 1968 Grand Prix was marred by a large number of mechanical failures and accidents and after 16 laps there were just five cars left running. In 1982, five drivers found themselves involved in incidents in the closing stages. On the last lap, Didier Pironi led into the tunnel and ran out of fuel. The same happened to Andrea de Cesaris, before he could take over the lead. Derek Daly, the next leader, was racing a car with no front or back wing and then a damaged gearbox forced him to retire before he could start the final lap. Despite spinning off two laps earlier, Riccardo Patrese managed to restart his car by rolling downhill and took his first race win.

On eight occasions the race has been interrupted before the normal finish because of accidents, rain or… by mistake. The 2000 Monaco GP was red flagged during the first lap due to a glitch in the FIA software.

Timetable: (GMT+2)

Thursday 23 May

  • Practice 1: 10.00-11.30
  • Practice 2: 14.00 - 15.30

Saturday 25 May

  • Practice 3: 11.00-12.00
  • Qualifying: 14.00-15.00

Sunday 26 May

  • Race: 14.00

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