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The building of the circuit takes six weeks, and the removal after the race another three weeks. The race circuit has many elevation shifts, tight corners, and a narrow course that make it perhaps the most demanding track in Formula One racing. Despite the fact that the course has changed many times during its history, it is still considered the ultimate test of driving skills in Formula One. It contains both the slowest corner in Formula One (the Grand Hotel hairpin, taken at just 50 kilometers per hour (31 mph)) and one of the quickest (the flat out kink in the tunnel, three turns beyond the hairpin, taken at 260 kilometers per hour (162 mph)) which perhaps sums up its difficulty.
Due to the tight and twisty nature of the circuit, it favours the skill of the drivers over the power of the cars. However, there is very little overtaking as the course is so narrow and dangerous. Racing round the course has been likened to riding a bicycle round your bathroom or, in Nelson Piquet's words, "Flying a helicopter in your living room". The famous tunnel section (running under the Fairmont Hotel, marked in grey in the circuit diagram above) is said to be difficult for drivers to cope with due to the quick switch from light to dark, then back to light again, at one of the fastest points of the course. As a result, race outcomes tend to be decided by grid positions as well as pit strategies.
Several attempts have been made to improve cramped conditions in the pit garages. In 2003, a substantial amount of land was reclaimed from the harbor to slightly change the shape of one section of the circuit; this left more space for new pit garages, which debuted in the 2004 event.
The circuit is generally recognised to be less safe than other circuits used for high profile events. If it were not already an existing Grand Prix, it would not be permitted to be added to the Formula One schedule, for safety reasons.
The lap starts with a short sprint up to the tight St. Devote corner. This is a nearly 90 degree right-hand bend usually taken in third or fourth gear. This corner has seen many first lap accidents, although these are less common since the removal of the mini roundabout on the apex of the corner before the 2004 event, making the entrance to the corner wider. The cars then head uphill, before changing down for the long left-hander at Massenet.
Out of Massenet, the cars drive past the famous casino before quickly reaching the aptly named Casino Square. The cars snake down the next short straight, avoiding an enormous bump on the left of the track, a reminder of the unique nature of the circuit. This leads to the tight Mirabeau corner, which is followed by a short downhill burst to the even tighter Grand Hotel hairpin (formerly known as Loew's Hairpin, or Station Hairpin before that). It is a corner which has been used for many overtaking manoeuvres in the past. However it would be almost physically impossible for two modern F1 cars to go round side by side, as the drivers must use full steering lock to get around. It is so tight that many Formula 1 teams must redesign their steering and suspension specifically to negotiate this corner.
After the hairpin, the cars head downhill again to a double right-hander called Portier before heading into the famous tunnel, a unique feature of a Formula One circuit. As well as the change of light making visibility poor, a car can lose 20-30% of its downforce due to the unique aerodynamic properties of the tunnel.
Out of the tunnel, the cars have to brake hard for a tight left-right chicane. This has been the scene of several large accidents, including that of Karl Wendlinger in 1994, and Jenson Button in 2003. The chicane is probably the only place on the circuit where overtaking can be attempted. There is a short straight to Tabac, a tight fourth gear corner which is taken at about 195 km/h (120 mph). Accelerating up to 225 km/h (140 mph), the cars reach Piscine, a fast left-right followed by a slower right-left chicane which takes the cars past the swimming pool that gave its name to the corner.
Following Piscine, there is a short straight followed by heavy braking for a quick left which is immediately followed by the tight 180 degree right-hander called La Rascasse. This is another corner which requires full steering lock; it will be remembered for a long time as the venue of one of the most suspicious maneuvers in recent Formula One history after the 2006 season when Michael Schumacher appeared to deliberately stop his car in qualifying so as to prevent Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber — who were both following and were on flying laps — from out-qualifying him. The Rascasse takes the cars into a short, adversely-cambered, straight that precedes the final corner, Virage Antony Noghes. Named after the organiser of the first Monaco Grand Prix, the corner is a tight right-hander which brings the cars back onto the start-finish straight, and across the line to start a new lap.
Thu 21 May 2009
Thursday Practice 1 10:00 - 11:30
Thursday Practice 2 14:00 - 15:30
Sat 23 May 2009
Saturday Practice 11:00 - 12:00
Sun 24 May 2009
all sessions available on bbc red button or bbc one
01 Jenson Button 41
02 Rubens Barrichello 27
03 Sebastian Vettel 23
04 Mark Webber 15.5
05 Jarno Trulli 14.5
06 Timo Glock 12
07 Lewis Hamilton 9
08 Fernando Alonso 9
09 Nick Heidfeld 6
10 Nico Rosberg 4.5
No virtual lap this time as rfactor screws up round Monaco, but it'll be back for Istanbul!01 Brawn-Mercedes 68
02 RBR-Renault 38.5
03 Toyota 26.5
04 McLaren-Mercedes 13
05 Renault 9
06 BMW Sauber 6
07 Ferrari 6
08 Williams-Toyota 4.5
09 STR-Ferrari 4
2008 - L. Hamilton (McLaren)
2007 - F. Alonso (McLaren)
2006 - F. Alonso (Renault)
2005 - K. Raikkonen (McLaren)
2004 - J. Trulli (Renault)
Ferrari haven't won here since 2001
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