The Magnificence of the Monaco Grand Prix

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 28: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT03 and Yuki Tsunoda of Japan driving the (22) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT03 on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 28, 2022 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202205280604 // Usage for editorial use only //

This weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix has prompted a few emails and questions from new fans ranging from curiosity as to why this race is so special to outright criticism as to why F1 still races in the streets on Monaco. I thought I would give a broad overview of why it’s special.

The Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix stands as an unparalleled event in the world of motorsports. Held on the picturesque streets of Monte Carlo, Monaco, this race has a distinct aura and charm that sets it apart from any other Grand Prix on the calendar. What makes the Monaco Grand Prix so special? How does it differ from other races, and why does it continue to captivate racing enthusiasts around the globe.

Why is the Monaco Grand Prix so special?

The Monaco Grand Prix holds a special place in the hearts of drivers, teams, and fans alike. Here are some key reasons behind its uniqueness:

  1. Historical Significance: With a history dating back to 1929, the Monaco Grand Prix is one of the oldest and most prestigious races in Formula 1. It has witnessed legendary victories, iconic moments, and unforgettable battles, cementing its place in motorsport history.
  2. Challenging Circuit: The Circuit de Monaco is a tight, narrow, and unforgiving street circuit that demands the utmost skill and precision from drivers. With its tight corners, elevation changes, and limited overtaking opportunities, it poses a unique challenge that tests the mettle of even the most seasoned racers.
  3. Glamorous Setting: Nestled on the French Riviera, Monaco exudes luxury, opulence, and glamour. The race takes place amidst stunning coastal scenery, lavish yachts, and exquisite architecture, creating an extraordinary backdrop for the competition.

Why is the Monaco Grand Prix different?

While every Formula 1 race has its distinctive characteristics, the Monaco Grand Prix stands out in several notable ways:

  1. Street Circuit: Unlike purpose-built circuits, Monaco’s track is laid out on the public roads of Monte Carlo. This street circuit adds an element of unpredictability and excitement, as drivers navigate tight streets lined with barriers just centimeters away. It requires exceptional car control and concentration.
  2. Tradition and Prestige: The Monaco Grand Prix is steeped in tradition and elegance. The royal presence, the ceremonial aspects, and the glamorous parties all contribute to an aura of prestige surrounding the event. It attracts not only avid motorsport enthusiasts but also celebrities, socialites, and high-profile individuals from around the world.
  3. Unique Schedule: The Monaco Grand Prix used to follow a different schedule compared to other races. In the past, practice sessions took place on Thursday instead of Friday, allowing the streets to be reopened to the public on Friday. The qualifying session on Saturday becomes even more crucial due to the limited opportunities for overtaking during the race itself. However, that has changed this year and I am sad to see that but I imagine the teams are happy with the change.

Why is the Grand Prix so popular?

The popularity of the Monaco Grand Prix transcends the boundaries of motorsport and captures the attention of a global audience. Here’s why it continues to be a fan-favorite:

  1. Glitz and Glamour: The Monaco Grand Prix seamlessly blends high-speed racing with a glamorous atmosphere. The presence of celebrities, luxurious parties, and the allure of the French Riviera all contribute to its appeal, making it a magnet for fans who enjoy the intersection of sports and entertainment.
  2. Spectacular Setting: The picturesque backdrop of Monaco adds to the race’s allure. The track winds through the narrow streets of Monte Carlo, offering breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea and the city’s iconic landmarks. The combination of a challenging circuit and stunning visuals creates an unforgettable experience for both spectators and television viewers.
  3. Rich Motorsport Heritage: Monaco’s long-standing association with motorsport, coupled with its heritage, adds to the race’s popularity. It is regarded as the crown jewel of the Formula 1 calendar, and its history is interwoven with the legacies of racing legends such as Ayrton Senna, Graham Hill, and Michael Schumacher.

The Monaco Grand Prix also holds the record for the slowest average speed of any Formula 1 race. Due to its tight and twisty nature, the average speed achieved by the drivers during the race is significantly lower compared to other circuits on the calendar.

In fact, the slowest recorded average speed in the history of the Monaco Grand Prix was set in 1966, when the race was won by Jackie Stewart at an average speed of just 79.67 miles per hour (128.02 kilometers per hour). This unique characteristic adds an intriguing aspect to the race, as drivers must balance speed with precision while navigating the challenging street circuit. Despite its slow pace, the Monaco Grand Prix remains one of the most thrilling and prestigious races in motorsport.

It’s a broad overview but we will get in to the details on our race review. We will, of course, cover the entire race in our Race review podcast which can be found here:

The Parc Fermé Podcast on Spotify:

https://open.spotify.com/show/2WJF63nMACMJSvZez2bBrE?si=368976cdbd3d4f65

The Monaco grand prix review podcast on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdhWgAXm6f-5XlbK16tjyQQ

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peter

Everything you say is absolutely right! Spot on (as The International would say).
I would add a small item: The set up for the cars in Monaco is like no other race in the calendar… the steering rack is different.
The drivers’ precision needed is what is exciting for me, more than the glitz.

Fabio

The cars have unfortunately outgrown the track, if they reduced the size and weight of them, then it might get back to the excitement it used to.

charlie w

All fine and reasonable points except the obvious: it remains a boring race to watch on television. F1TV will be doing the broadcasts this weekend instead of TV Monaco for the first time. With the urban build-up around the harbor, all the beautiful sight-lines are gone. Now, it’s a concrete jungle on a narrow path. Perhaps here, DRS should be dropped completely to make the racing a little better. Or just make it a night race.