The Monaco Grand Prix sits alongside the Indianapolis 500 and the 24hrs of Le Mans as one of the most prestigious automotive races in the world.
A Monaco Grand Prix was run in 1948, won by the future world champion Nino Farina in a Maserati 4CLT. Although the 1949 event was cancelled due to the death of Prince Louis II, it was included in the new World Drivers’ Championship the following year. The race provided future five-time world champion Juan Manuel Fangio with his first win in a World Championship race, as well as third place for the 51 year old Louis Chiron; his best result in the World Championship era. However, there was no race in 1951, and in 1952, a year in which the world drivers’ championship was run for less powerful Formula Two cars, the race was run to sports car rules instead and did not form part of the World Championship. Since 1955 – when Maurice Trintignant won in Monte Carlo for the first time and Chiron again scored points and at 56 became the oldest driver to compete in a Formula One Grand Prix – the Monaco Grand Prix has continuously been part of the Formula One World Championship.
It was not until 1957, when Fangio won again, that the Grand Prix saw a double winner. Between 1954 and 1961 Fangio’s former Mercedes colleague, Stirling Moss, went one better, as Trintignant, who won the race again in 1958 driving a Cooper. The 1961 race saw Moss fend off three works Ferrari 156s in a year-old privateer Rob Walker Racing Team Lotus 18, to take his third Monaco victory. Graham Hill won five of his 14 Grands Prix at Monaco
Britain’s Graham Hill won the race five times in the 1960s and became known as "King of Monaco" and "Mr. Monaco". In the 1965 race he took pole position and led from the start, but went up an escape road on lap 25 to avoid hitting a slow backmarker. Re-joining in fifth place, Hill set several new lap records on the way to winning. The race was also notable for the debut of Honda in the World Championship, and for Paul Hawkins’ Lotus ending up in the harbour. A similar incident was included in the 1966 film Grand Prix.
By the early 1970s, as Brabham team owner Bernie Ecclestone started to marshal the collective bargaining power of the Formula One Constructors Association (FOCA), Monaco was prestigious enough to become an early bone of contention. Historically the number of cars permitted in a race was decided by the race organiser, in this case the ACM, which had always set a low number, around 16. In 1972 Ecclestone was starting to negotiate deals which relied on FOCA guaranteeing at least 18 entrants for every race. A stand off over this issue left the 1972 race in jeopardy until the ACM gave in and agreed that 26 cars could participate – the same number permitted at most other circuits. Two years later, in 1974, the ACM managed to get the numbers back down to 18.
Because of its tight confines and punishing nature, Monaco has often thrown up unexpected results. In the 1982 race René Arnoux led the first 15 laps, before retiring. Alain Prost then led until four laps from the end, when he spun off on the wet track, hit the barriers and lost a wheel, giving Riccardo Patrese the lead. Patrese himself spun with only a lap and a half to go, letting Didier Pironi through to the front, followed by Andrea de Cesaris. On the last lap, Pironi ran out of fuel in the tunnel, but De Cesaris also ran out of fuel before he could overtake. In the meantime Patrese had bump-started his car and went through to score his first Grand Prix win.
In 1983 the ACM became entangled in the disagreements between Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile (FISA) and FOCA. The ACM, with the agreement of Bernie Ecclestone, negotiated an individual television rights deal with ABC in the United States. This broke an agreement enforced by FISA for a single central negotiation of television rights. Jean-Marie Balestre, president of FISA, announced that the Monaco Grand Prix would not form part of the Formula One world championship in 1985. The ACM fought their case in the French courts. They lost the case and the race was eventually reinstated.
For the decade from 1984 to 1993 the race was won by only two drivers – Frenchman Prost and Brazilian Ayrton Senna. Prost, already a winner of the support race for Formula Three cars in 1979, took his first Monaco win at the 1984 race. The race started 45 minutes late after heavy rain. Prost led briefly before Nigel Mansell overtook him on lap 11. Mansell crashed out five laps later, letting Prost back into the lead. On lap 27, Prost led from Ayrton Senna’s Toleman and Stefan Bellof’s Tyrrell. Senna was catching Prost and Bellof was catching both of them. However on lap 31, the race was controversially stopped with conditions deemed to be undriveable. Later, FISA fined the clerk of the course, Jacky Ickx, $6,000 and suspended his licence for not consulting the stewards before stopping the race. The drivers received only half of the points that would usually be awarded, as the race had been stopped before two thirds of the intended race distance had been completed. Formation lap for the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix.
Senna holds the record for the most victories in Monaco, with six, including five consecutive wins between 1989 and 1993, as well as eight podium finishes in ten starts. His 1987 win was the first time a car with an active suspension had won a Grand Prix. His win was very popular with the people of Monaco, and when he was arrested on the Monday following the race, for riding a motorcycle without wearing a helmet, he was released by the officers after they realised who he was. At the 1992 event Nigel Mansell, who had won all five races held to that point in the season, took pole and dominated the race in his Williams FW14B-Renault. However, with seven laps remaining, Mansell suffered a loose wheel nut and was forced into the pits, emerging behind Ayrton Senna’s McLaren-Honda. Mansell, on fresh tyres, set a lap record almost two seconds quicker than Senna’s and closed from 5.2 to 1.9 seconds in only two laps. The pair duelled around Monaco for the final four laps but Mansell could find no way past, finishing just two tenths of a second behind the Brazilian. It was Senna’s fifth win at Monaco, equalling Graham Hill’s record. After Senna took his sixth win at the 1993 race, breaking Graham Hill’s record for most wins at the Monaco Grand Prix, runner-up Damon Hill commented that "If my father was around now, he would be the first to congratulate Ayrton."
The 1996 race saw Michael Schumacher take pole position before crashing out on the first lap. Damon Hill led the first 40 laps before his engine expired in the tunnel. Jean Alesi took the lead but suffered suspension failure 20 laps later. Olivier Panis, who started in 14th place, moved into the lead and stayed there until the end of the race, being pushed all the way by David Coulthard. It was Panis’ only win, and the last for his Ligier team. Only four cars finished the race.
Seven-time world champion Schumacher would eventually win the race five times, matching Graham Hill’s record. As of 2010, he also holds the current lap record with a 1:14.439, according to the official Formula One website. In his appearance at the 2006 event, he attracted criticism while provisionally holding pole position with the qualifying session drawing to a close, by stopping his car at the Rascasse hairpin, blocking the track. A result of this was that yellow flags were waved, so that competitors were obliged to slow down, thus meaning they would not be able to beat Schumacher’s lap time. Although Schumacher claimed it was a genuine accident, the FIA disagreed and Schumacher was sent to the back of the grid.
Schumacher again was involved in controversy in the 2010 grand prix, after returning from retirement. The race was an incident packed race, with 4 safety cars periods. The last safety car period began on lap 75, and continued to the end of the race. Article 40.13 of the FIA Formula 1 sporting regulations states that "If the race ends while the safety car is deployed it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking". The safety car did enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap, and most cars appeared to cruise to the finishing line, without overtaking, as the rule suggests. However, Fernando Alonso, in 6th place at the time, suffered wheel spin when exiting the Rascasse hairpin, allowing Schumacher to nip up the inside into the final corner, Anthony Noghes. Schumacher therefore finished 6th, and Alonso 7th. Immediately after the race, both Ferrari (Alonso’s constructor) and Mercedes (Schumacher’s constructor) argued their cases, unusually, in front of the TV cameras before the Stewards (normal procedure is to present cases and evidence to the race stewards and allow them to make a decision, before talking to the media). Ferrari argued that the rule (article 40.13) was absolute, and that Alonso should be awarded the place back with Schumacher receiving a penalty. Stefano Domenicali, the Ferrari team boss, explained that he explicitly told his drivers that they were not to overtake (Alonso wished to try to pass Hamilton for 5th, and Felipe Massa wanted to pass Robert Kubica for 3rd position), and that they would not be overtaken either. Both Ferrari drivers confirmed that they had been told this. In opposition, Ross Brawn, Mercedes’ team boss, argued that in fact the race was not finished under safety car conditions, as the safety car was no longer on track and the warning signals – the yellow flags and ’SC’ safety car signs – were gone and had turned to the green flag (meaning full racing). He revealed that he had told Schumacher and his other driver, Nico Rosberg, that overtaking was allowed. After a lengthy period discussing the incident, the Stewards decided that Schumacher was in the wrong, and gave him a 20-second penalty, which demoted him out of the points into 12th. Alonso was returned to 6th place.
In July 2010 Bernie Ecclestone announced that a 10-year deal had been reached with the race organisers, keeping the race on the calendar until at least 2020.
Read more about the Monaco GP on Wikipedia
Circuit Name: Circuit de Monaco
Number of Laps: 78
Circuit Length: 3.340 km
Race Distance: 260.520 km
Lap Record: 1:14.439 [Michael Schumacher, 2004]
Thursday 23rd May 2013
Practice 1: 10:00 – 11:30
Practice 2: 14:00 – 15:30
Saturday 25th May 2013
Practice 3: 11:00 – 12:00
Sunday 26th May 2013
Last Time Out...
2012 Monaco Grand Prix
Grand Prix Debut
Driver: Derek Warwick
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