Monaco Formula One race in Monte Carlo circuit is one of the hottest events of motor racing and not only. The glamour and the glitz make it fashionable. The circuit, the slowest of the Formula 1 Championship, is rugged and challenging with many sharp inclines and declines, tight corners and tunnels.
Monte Carlo, a city of Monaco, is located above the ocean. The tiny Principality of Monaco covers a total area of little more than two square kilometres. Monaco was the second circuit of the history to receive formulas 1 in 1950, after Silverstone, but there were races since 1929. The circuit, which remained nearly identical since 1950, is 3,340 km long, and it’s one of the last where the talent of the pilot makes the difference.
Passing the line, the pilot arrives at Sainte Dévote curve, the track goes up until the left-right of the Casino of Monte-Carlo, from there, goes down again to the right curve of the Mirabeau. It continues then to the slowest turn of the championship: Virage Fairmont (formerly Virage Loews). The section of the Portier brings to the sea, where the track borrows a tunnel and carries out to the baffle close to the port. Then turn on the left of the Tobacco Shop, the section of the Swimming pool, then the stiff turn on the right with Rascasse, follow-up of the curve Anthony Noghes, then finally the line of the stands.
The Monaco Grand Prix stands alone, almost distinct from the sport from which it was born. A combination of precision driving, technical excellence and sheer bravery is required to win. The Armco barrier-lined circuit leaves no margin for error. Cars run with maximum downforce and brakes are worked hard. Overtaking is next to impossible. The Portier corner is key to achieving a good lap time. It is preceded by the Loews hairpin, the slowest corner in Formula One, and followed by the tunnel, one of the few flat-out sections of the track.
To win in Monaco places a driver's name on a list that includes many of history's all-time greats. The record of wins resides with Senna, who won six times. The race has been a regular fixture of the world championship since 1955, but in that time the circuit has changed remarkably little. Slight alterations were made for the 2003 event, in particular a new, gentler entry to the Rascasse corner, with even bigger changes in 2004, with a new pit complex and increased spectator capacity.
A course through the streets of Monte-Carlo was devised by Anthony Noghes, the general commissioner of the Automobile Club of Monaco. Today’s circuit includes many of the same roads, although construction in the city and increasing safety requirements have led to some changes. This includes the section passing along the harbour front. In the 70s a swimming pool was built further along the harbour and the circuit acquired four additional corners to dodge around it. A fast chicane was built at the harbour, and this too was changed on safety grounds in 1986. The relocation and repositioning of some barriers has improved sight lines and increased run-off space at some corners. Further minor changes for 2015 slightly reduced the length of the lap.
The opulence and glamour of Monaco have few rivals. Formula 1 is champagne, celebrities and beautiful women, but in Monte Carlo this is different. On Monte Carlo’s roads, all is more elegant, more charming. Grace Kelly and Caroline Grimaldi were waiting the winner in front of the podium.
Michael Schumacher said that Monaco’s circuit is the worst from the safety point of view, but it’s worth to risk once a year as a win here makes the history. And he did it five times. The place, the race and the razzmatazz, it’s well worth it.
It is the premier F1 race that runs along city streets — a tortuous course snaking between the skyscrapers, hotels and historic buildings. It also takes over Monte Carlo completely. Major roads are shut. Everyone likes to bring their best wheels to Monte Carlo. Apart from the flash cars, you also see a lot of elderly gentlemen with swish young ladies clinging to their arms. One of the great sights of Formula 1 is the Paddock, the array of multi-storey motorhomes, a phenomenon that has taken off in the past few years.
The Monaco Grand Prix never fails to capture the imagination: hazardous hairpins, a treacherous tunnel, helmet-hurling tantrums and yachts and yachts of cocktail-quaffing celebrities. Nelson Piquet once described Monaco’s race as like ‘riding a bicycle around your living room’.
Fatal attraction: The Circuit de Monaco has claimed four fatalities through the decades, most recently in 1967 when Italian Lorenzo Bandini’s Ferrari crashed at the harbour chicane and burst into flames.
‘Mr Monaco’: The nickname of British driver Graham Hill, who won five Monaco races in the 1960s.
Thurs-ty work: Monaco is the only F1 race when practice begins on Thursday, allowing the streets to be opened to the public again on Friday.
Sea ya later: Two drivers, Italy’s two-time world champion Alberto Ascari in 1955 and Australian Paul Hawkins in 1965, have crashed into Monaco’s harbour.
Royal flush: Monaco is synonymous with royalty and the race was cancelled in 1949 – the year before it joined the new Formula One World Drivers’ Championship – due to the death of Prince Louis II.
Slippery when dry: On rainy days, the track’s famous tunnel is usually the only dry part of the course. However, on a dry day in 1981 the tunnel was the only wet part of the course after water used to put out a fire in a hotel seeped through the concrete roof of the tunnel onto the track. Even in normal conditions, the swift change from light to dark in the tunnel is notoriously difficult for drivers to adjust to.
Course length: 2.075 miles (3.34km) times 78, featuring 19 turns.
Six: Number of weeks it takes to prepare the public streets for the grand prix, and three weeks to return them to their normal configuration.
Barriers to progress: with no safety barriers in place until 1969, the race was a serious safety hazard for civilians but, remarkably, no spectators were ever killed at the race. However, by 1972, the circuit was completely lined with safety barriers.
Softly, softly approach: as the slowest race on the calendar, Monaco does not place undue stresses on tyres.