F1 – Grand Prix De Monaco
The Formula One Circuit de Monaco is back with the seventh round of the Formula One World Championship. This time around, it’s one of the most challenging street circuits – Circuit de Monaco. The circuit is laid out around the harbour of the Principality of Monaco. The circuit is usually referred to as “Monte Carlo”, as the track layout is within the Monte Carlo neighbourhood of Monaco.
The brain behind such a brilliant track was Antony Noghès, the president of the Monegasque motor club – The Automobile Club de Monaco, and a close friend of the ruling Grimaldi family. The very first race ever held here was in 1929 by Antony Noghès and his friends from the club. The first Formula One race ever held here was in 1950 and has always been a part of the Formula One Calendar since 1955. The very first F1 winner of Monaco GP was none other than Juan Manuel Fangio, the Alfa Romeo racer back in the days. He won it from pole position.
The circuit is 3.337Km long (2.074 mi). The circuit consists of 78 laps, covering a total distance of 260.286 Km. The average time clocked here by drivers is anywhere between 1 minute 10 seconds to 1 minute 16 seconds in free practices and qualifying and a little longer during the races. The fastest lap record here is held by Lewis Hamilton, which he achieved in 2021, the impressive lap-time being 1.12.909 on Mercedes W12. This year we might see a faster lap time, courtesy – of change in regulations.
The circuit consists of a total of 19 corners, all of them being extremely challenging for the drivers. The circuit has a total of six left-handed corners and 13 right-handed corners. This circuit has only one DRS Zone, the DRS detection zone on turn 17.
Interesting Past Battles:
Although Monaco is not an action-packed circuit for the fans, there have been quite a few dramatic moments at this circuit. Let’s look at some of the past battles/drama here:
The Wet Victory:
In 1984, the track conditions were evil. It rained heavily, and the race was still continuing. It was undrivable. On lap 31, the clerk of the course – Jacky Ickx, decided to stop the race based on his best judgement at the time. Alain Prost stopped just before the finish line, and Ayrton Senna crossed the line. It was a controversial first position, which eventually went to Alain Prost despite the fact that he didn’t cross the finish line. Initially, Senna thought he won the race, but the win was awarded to Alain Prost of McLaren-TAG, which made Senna Furious.
In 1992, the last lap of the Monaco GP was so thrilling a battle between the then two impeccable rivals – Ayrton Senna of McLaren-Honda and Nigel Mansell of Williams-Renault. Senna was leading the race, and Mansell was closely following him. At certain turns of the circuit, it almost felt like Mansell would overtake Senna here. But Senna again showed the world why he was a World Champion. He defended his position brilliantly, not giving in an inch of space for Mansell to overtake. Ayrton Senna won the Monaco GP by less than half a second to Mansell, making it his fifth win at the circuit.
The 1996 Spectacle:
The 1996 Monaco GP is one of those spectacles which (to the best of my knowledge) has never happened in Formula One. The race started on a wet track (it just rained heavily before the race). The drivers struggled for grip, and many of them collided, either into the barriers or into each other. THREE DRIVERS!! Yes, only three drivers finished the 1996 Monaco GP – Olivier Panis, David Coulthard and Johnny Herbert. Olivier Panis was the winner of this GP. He was the First French Driver, driving for a French team (Ligier-Mugen-Honda) to win the 1996 Monaco GP. Perhaps that was his only win in his Formula One career, and his odds of winning were 300/1.
Chilton vs Maldonado:
In 2013, Max Chilton and Pastor Maldonado had a go at it. At turn 12 on lap 45, the Marussia-Cosworth of Chilton just touched the Williams of Maldonado before entering into the corner. Maldonado’s car bounces off the track and hits the barrier. The session was red-flagged immediately because the barrier needed repairing (Yes, you read that right!). Maldonado was walking after such a crazy incident, which was heart-warming for the fans.
Ricciardo’s Pit-stop Blunder:
In 2016, Daniel Ricciardo’s RedBull was leading the Monaco GP, with Hamilton behind. Ricciardo was ahead of Hamilton by a margin equal to over a pit stop. But there was a miscommunication between him and his pit crew on lap 32. Daniel entered the pits for a change of tyres, but the crew was not ready for a pitstop. They brought the tyres when he stopped at his garage, wasting a crazy amount of his time. But that was all Hamilton needed to get ahead of him and eventually go on to win the 2016 Monaco GP. That was one of RedBull’s worst pit-stop disasters, which cost them and Daniel some valuable points.
Action on Sunday:
In all honesty, this circuit is very narrow for neck-to-neck action, as quoted by Nelson Piquet – It’s just like riding a bicycle around your living room. Drivers in the past (Senna vs Mansell in 1992, for example) have struggled to get past each other on this circuit. There is going to be high traction (if it doesn’t rain) and high downforce on this circuit. Hence, the team’s pit-stop strategies and car settings will mainly revolve around these two factors.
Each and every turn at this circuit will be crucial for the drivers as they are challenging and require perfect exits. We can probably see some action between Turn 19 and Turn 1 (The Main Straight), the Portier (Turn 8), the Tunnel (Turn 9) and the Nouvelle Chicane (Turn 10). The Nouvelle Chicane (Turns 10 and 11) is where the probability of crashes is high. Many drivers in the recent past have crashed there. Hence, the exit at these turns will be crucial for the drivers.
Due to the new regulations, we can definitely expect some action even at the most unusual corners, just like Barcelona. Qualifying positions will be crucial for the teams here as overtaking at this circuit will be highly restricted no matter how fast the car.
Ferrari is now behind RedBull by 26 points, and Mercedes is slowly catching up. We might see some crazy strategic battles between these three teams here this weekend. Max Verstappen will indeed look to extend his lead over Charles Leclerc, while Sergio Perez might be back with a vengeance.
It is said that Charles Leclerc is cursed here, as he has never been able to finish a race at this circuit (his home race), either in Formula One or in Formula 2. On May 17, Charles Leclerc drove the Legendary F1 car – The Ferrari 312B3. This was also driven by the Legendary three-time Formula One World Champion Niki Lauda. But unfortunately, he lost the rear and headed into the barriers at the La Rascasse corner (Turn 17). Some fans believe that his curse has now been lifted, and he will see the Chequered Flag, while some fans still think otherwise. Only time will tell.
The weather forecast is primarily sunny for Free Practice and Qualifying, but there can be mild rains on Sunday during the race. If it rains, it will be interesting to see how the teams strategize and play it out. Stay Tuned with The Sportsway for more updates