Annually, around 20 Formula One races occur in various locations worldwide. While some races come and go each year, a few remain as constant as the appearance of the Abominable Snowman in a Las Vegas casino - one such event is the Monaco Grand Prix.
It could be argued that in terms of prestige, a win at the Monaco Grand Prix is only surpassed by claiming the Formula One Drivers' Championship. This race, characterized by its significant impact on qualifications, rare overtaking, and the slowest average driver speed in the F1 calendar, is renowned for its rich history. Decades ago, the urban circuit gained a reputation for its dangerous and unpredictable nature: position changes due to incidents are uncommon but often dramatic, demanding the utmost focus from drivers.
Alongside the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Monaco Grand Prix constitutes the so-called "Triple Crown of Motorsport": anyone who triumphs in all these races may well be proclaimed the eternal FIA president.
A key contributor to the Monaco GP's prestige is its storied past. The race, held in the small Côte d'Azur state, first took place in 1929 and was won by William Grover-Williams behind the wheel of a Bugatti Type 35B. The Monaco GP made its debut on the Formula One calendar in 1950 and has been a fixture in the championship since 1955.
By 2017, the Monaco Grand Prix had already been held 74 times. The 3.337 km circuit through the city streets runs by the windows of the world's most famous people, and the renowned exit from the tunnel is met with applause from rich people watching the race on their yachts. Due to the low average speed of the Monaco GP, it is also the only race on the Formula One calendar that does not meet the FIA's mandated 305-kilometre minimum race distance.
The circuit is a dangerous one – there is no shortage of major accidents and the safety car appears every year. However, racing there was even more dramatic up until 1969. Prior to that year, the race in Monaco took place on unprepared streets: everyday cars were removed, but there were no barriers or safety zones. If a driver made a mistake, he would crash into a bus stop, a shop or even a train station. Alberto Ascari and Paul Hawkins were even less fortunate – they are known as the only drivers to swim in the Mediterranean during a Formula One race. After a series of incidents, the most dangerous parts of the streets used for the race were railed off in 1969, and in 1972, the Circuit de Monaco was almost completely Armco-lined so that the drivers wouldn't fly off after an accident.
The title of Monaco GP "Champion of Champions" could be awarded to Ayrton Senna, who secured victory six times, including five consecutive wins between 1989 and 1993. Out of his ten starts in Monaco, he reached the podium with Champagne in hand eight times. Fernando Alonso uniquely won the race in consecutive years for different teams, claiming victory for Renault in 2006 and McLaren in 2007. As a team, McLaren boasts the most success, with 15 of their drivers taking first place. Michael Schumacher, a five-time winner of the race (like Graham Hill), holds the current lap record with a time of 1:14.439, set in 2004.
If the Monaco Grand Prix would like to get on the Formula One calendar today, it would not be possible due to the lack of safety and the low average speed. However, respect for history allows for exceptions to be made, even in the calendar of the Queen of Motorsports.
RACE WEEKEND - FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX DE MONACO 2023
Race Highlights | 2022 Monaco Grand Prix