vintage ferrari car on a monaco stamp

1. Steeped in Formula One History: The Monaco Grand Prix was first staged in 1929 and became part of the pre-Second World War European Championships. Monaco then became part of the very first Grand Prix - as we known it – the World Championship of Drivers in 1950. The only other current circuits that were involved at the inception were Silverstone, Monza and Spa-Francorchamps.
Monaco has been a permanent fixture on the Formula One calendar since 1955.

2. Circuit: The basic layout of the circuit has been the same since 1950, but there have been several revisions over the years. The most significant revision was in 1973 when the swimming pool was built on the harbour front and the track was adjusted to take the cars around it. The Gasworks hairpin was replaced by La Racasse and Anthony Noghes corners in the same year. A slight revision was made in 2015 to realign Turns 12-14 (Tabac to the Swimming Pool) making the track 3m shorter.

3. Racing in the Street: It takes 6 weeks and around 250 construction workers to assemble the circuit throughout the streets of Monte Carlo and La Condamine. It then takes another 3 weeks to disassemble. The structure includes around 33 km of safety barriers, 20,000 square metres of wire fencing, 3600 tyres to create barriers and 1,100 tonnes of grandstand seating.

4. Short: The total distance covered is 161.887 miles (78 laps of a 2.075 mile circuit) which is considerably under the FIA’s 190 mile minimum. But because it is unthinkable in Formula One to do without (or mess with) the Monaco Grand Prix – an exception is made.

5. Slow: Unsurprisingly, due to the tight, narrow nature of the track - the slowest corner in Formula One is found in Monaco. The Hairpin, also known as Turn 6 - is taken at around 30mph – requiring drivers to apply the maximum steering lock to take them around.

6. Safety: In the late 1960s/early 1970s Jackie Stewart’s safety campaign helped to improve the circuit by adding Armco barriers. Before this hay bales and sandbags were widely used.

7. Tunnel: Monaco is one of only 3 circuits in Formula One history that has included a tunnel. The other two are the Detroit Street Circuit (1982 – 1988 Detroit Grand Prix) and the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi (since 2009). The tunnel runs under the Fairmont Hotel – taking the drivers from Portier to the Nouvelle Chicane. Difficulties with the tunnel section sare a change of light quality (poor visibility, light to dark, dark to light) and a change in the aerodynamic quality – meaning that a car can lose 20-30% of its downforce. And before the extremely wet Grand Prix here in 1984 – Bernie Ecclestone (at Niki Lauda’s request) famously ordered local fire crews to wet the tunnel floor to create the same grip as on the rest of the track.

8. Most Visited: The Circuit de Monaco is the second most visited location in Formula One history, after Monza in Italy.

9. The First Winner: The first Monaco Grand Prix was won by Argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio in 1950, in an Alfa Romeo. Fangio dominated the first decade of Formula One motor racing and won the Drivers Championship 5 times – a record that he held for 46 years until Michael Schumacher won the championship for the 6th time in 2003.

10. Mr Monaco: British driver Graham Hill was nicknamed ‘Mr Monaco’ after winning 5 times in the 1960s. But it is Brazilian Ayrton Senna who still holds the record for the most wins with 6 – taking 5 consecutive victories between 1989 and 1993. Michael Schumacher has 5 wins here and Lewis Hamilton 3.

ferrari car getting the chequered flag

11. Ayrton Senna: The true ‘Mr Monaco’ was also close to winning here in 1988 and achieving an unassailable 7 consecutive Monaco Grand Prix wins. Senna was leading in 1988 until an uncharacteristic crash at Portier with 12 laps go put him out of the race – handing victory to his rival Alain Prost.

12. McLaren: The most successful Monaco Grand Prix constructor is McLaren. They have won here a total of 15 times. The last time was in 2008 with Lewis Hamilton.

13. The Monegasque Driver: To date, there have been 4 Formula One drivers native to Monaco – Louis Chiron, Andre Testut, Olivier Beretta and Charles Leclerc.

14. The Oldest Driver: Louis Chiron won the 1931 non-championship Monaco Grand Prix. In 1955 he became the oldest driver to enter a Formula One race, finishing 6th at the Monaco Grand Prix aged 55 years and 292 days.

15. Alternative Podium: Until 2017, there was no podium (as such) at the Monaco Grand Prix. After the race, the top 3 drivers had to park their cars on the pit straight, then instead of assembling on a podium – they headed to the royal box of Prince Albert II where the winner received the trophy from the prince.

16. Fastest Lap: The fastest ever lap was achieved by Lewis Hamilton in Qualifying (Q3) at the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix: his time 1:10.166.

17. Harbour: 2 drivers in the race’s history have crashed and ended up in the harbour. Italian Alberto Ascari was leading the race in 1955 before crashing through the hay bale/sandbag ‘barrier’ after approaching the chicane too quickly and ending up in the Mediterranean. His car sank. Ascari managed to free himself and was rescued with just a broken nose.
10 years later in 1965, Australian Paul Hawkins lost control, spun at the chicane on the 79th lap (of 100) and also ended up in the harbour. Amazingly he was unhurt.

18. How Important is Pole? Overtaking is very difficult around the street circuit of Monte Carlo. But not impossible. In the past 7 Monaco Grand Prixs, only 3 have started and finished in pole position: Nico Rosberg in 2014, Daniel Ricciardo in 2018 and Lewis Hamilton in 2019.

19. Triple Crown: Along with the Indianapolis 500 and 24 Hours of Le Mans – the Monaco Grand Prix forms part of the ‘Triple Crown.’ Graham Hill is currently the only driver to have won all 3 and achieved this accolade.

20. Fewest Finishers: A famously challenging track, Monaco holds multiple records for the fewest number of finishers in a Formula One race. In 1966, just 4 finished from 16 starters and in 1996 only 3 crossed the finishing line. The winner in 1996 was Olivier Panis who started 14th on the grid in a Ligier – driving a great race in wet conditions to take the only Formula One win of his career.

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