Both the circuit and the race were the brain children of Anthony Noghes, cigarette magnate and founder-president of the Automobile Club de Monaco. He proposed a major auto race for Monaco, to attract tourism to the tiny country. But first he needed a circuit. His tale involved driving for "days on end" around the principality, searching for a suitable course. His travels came to the attention of the local gendarmes, until the Palace quietly "hinted" that they start assisting M. Noghes. Even though he drove over almost every road in the country, he always wanted to highlight the harbor and casino. Plan after plan was discarded, until a friend suggested that Noghes pare back the route to the bare minimum, and work from there.
That bare minimum went uphill on the Avenue d'Ostende, then a quick right onto Avenue de Monte-Carlo. The route passed between the Hotel Monte Carlo, and the eponymous casino, continuing onto Place du Casino and following that around the park and past the building. After the famous hump, the road became Avenue des Spelugues, and that led to another right, and the sharp downhill past the train station. The extremely tight 200° left at the station was judged to be just wide enough for the cars, and further down another right led the cars under the tracks and to the seafront. Back to almost sea level, the cars took another right onto Boulevard Louis II. The initial route followed the boulevard all the way back to Rue de Sainte-Devote, where another hairpin put them back on Avenue d'Ostende.
Noghes had a circuit, but it had obvious flaws. It was only just over a mile in length, and had little room for pits and spectators. Plus it was cut off from the harbor. A first modification came from adding a chicane by the north breakwater of the harbor, and running the course along the Route de la Piscine back to Ste. Devote. It was an improvement, but more was needed. Another early idea for the course had taken the cars south along the pedestrian Quai Albert 1er to the area known as Rascasse (from the early fishing village days), then east along the harbor and up the hill near the Palace. Noghes realized that his current circuit could go left at Ste. Devote, continue south on the wide boulevard of Albert 1er, then make a right hairpin at Rascasse and head north on the street Boulevard Albert 1er.
It had all fallen into place. The wide pedestrian boulevard could handle the start/finish and pits, with enough room for grandstands. The track was now almost two miles around, long enough to attract the top Grand Prix cars. The first race was held in 1929.
The circuit takes six weeks to prepare and three weeks to return to normal. It is laid out on the streets of the Monte Carlo neighbourhood of Monaco, hence its common name Monte Carlo.
The circuit is very demanding, being a tight twisty circuit with unforgiving walls very close to the cars. The circuit features the slowest corner in the entire championship (the Grand Hotel hairpin is taken at just 50 kph/31 mph). However, because of the tight nature of the circuit, overtaking is rare, usually limited to pit stops.
The circuit also passes through a tunnel which is very difficult for drivers, as there is a quick change from the natural light outside the tunnel to the artificial light inside back to the natural light outside. All this takes place in just a few seconds.
Following the tunnel is a tight left-right chicane. This has been the scene of many big accidents as drivers need to brake hard in order to slow down, Karl Wendlinger and Jenson Button being the most notable victims in 1994 and 2003.
Deaths at the CircuitEdit
One death has occurred at the circuit during F1 races. This was Lorenzo Bandini in 1967, who flipped his Ferrari at the chicane, which then caught fire in some straw bales. He died three days later from burns.
This was the original layout, with the pits in an 'island' between the two straights on the west side of the harbor, and the track going up the hill then around the casino, sharply downhill by the old rail depot, then along the waterfront and through the old short tunnel. The start/finish line was on the harbor front, with the field having to navigate the Gazometre corner just after the start. The track measured 3.145 km/1.954 mi.
The only real difference was to move the start/finish line to the city side of the pit straight, making the Gazometre the final corner, instead of the first one. And, over time, guard rails had been replacing hay bales around the perimeter of the circuit. The track length was unchanged.
In a attempt to increase safety, the pits were moved to the harbor front on the north side of the harbor. Cars entered the pits via the old chicane, which was widened for the purpose. The circuit went straight past the old chicane, with a new chicane roughly 100 m before the Tabac corner. The longer straight before the new chicane meant that speeds made a minor jump, with the pole in 1972 1.8 seconds faster than in 1971. The pits were seen as an improvement, but not optimal.
A combination of the need for improved facilities and a public works project led to the first major changes in the track ever. The construction of a new public swimming pool, along with a new pedestrian promenade along the harbor front, gave the opportunity for a revised track and dedicated pit lane. The chicane (and escape road) was returned to its pre-1972 configuration. The north harbor straight was shortened slightly, as the Tabac corner had been moved to the east. The track ran on the new promenade, with the old roadway just after Tabac now used for grandstands. Almost halfway along the west harbor front, the new public swimming pool (Piscine) had been built, so the track made a sharp left-right jog around the pool, then a right-left back to the promenade. The track now had a short spurt with a slight left curve, then had a sharper left, followed by a 180 degree right around the La Rascasse ("Swordfish") club. A quick hundred meter straight, and then a sweeping right led back onto the old main straight. The new pit lane led off to the right just after the Rascasse club, and used the old harbor front road way, before rejoining the circuit just after start/finish. The track measured 3.278 km./2.037 mi., and was several seconds slower than before, but with a proper pit lane for the first time.
In 1976, the track was lengthened and slowed slightly. At the Anthony Noghes corner just before the main straight, the cars now had to deviate around a traffic island, making for a sharper right turn, followed by a very slight left when entering the straight. An almost mirror image diversion was place at St. Devote, where cars breaking at the end of the straight had to almost brush the barriers on the left, before making another sharp right around a traffic island. This lengthened the lap to 3.312 km./2.058 mi., and increased lap times once again.
Around this time, a new hotel opened where the old railway station was located. The size of the hotel required a more than doubling of the length of the tunnel, which now started about 100m after the track reached the waterfront.
The next update on the safety checklist was the chicane on the north side of the harbor, which had been virtually unchanged (except in 1972 since the race was founded. For 1986, there had been a short new section, built on pilings out over the harbor at a reported cost of one million pounds. At the location of the old chicane, the track made a sharp left, then went back right before a quick left kink rejoined the old circuit. The drivers felt the money was well spent, both in increased safety and in creating a new passing zone. The circuit now measured 3.328 km/2.068 mi.
CurrentEditMonaco is regarded as the "street circuit with the most elevation change." 42 meters separate Turn 4 (Casino) - the highest point in the circuit - and Turn 16 (Rascasse) - the lowest point.
Grand Prix Winners at Circuit de MonacoEdit
Multiple Winners (Drivers)Edit
|6||Ayrton Senna||1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993|
|5||Graham Hill||1963, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1969|
|Michael Schumacher||1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001|
|4||Alain Prost||1984, 1985, 1986, 1988|
|3||Stirling Moss||1956, 1960, 1961|
|Jackie Stewart||1966, 1971, 1973|
|Nico Rosberg||2013, 2014, 2015|
|Lewis Hamilton||2008, 2016, 2019|
|2||Juan Manuel Fangio||1950, 1957|
|Maurice Trintignant||1955, 1958|
|Niki Lauda||1975, 1976|
|Jody Scheckter||1977, 1979|
|David Coulthard||2000, 2002|
|Fernando Alonso||2006, 2007|
|Mark Webber||2010, 2012|
|Sebastian Vettel||2011, 2017|
Multiple Winners (Constructors)Edit
|15||McLaren|| 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1998,|
2000, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008
|10||Ferrari||1952, 1955, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1981, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2017|
|8||Mercedes||1935, 1936, 1937, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019|
|7||Lotus||1960, 1961, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1987|
|5||BRM||1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1972|
|4||Bugatti||1929, 1930, 1931, 1933|
|Red Bull||2010, 2011, 2012, 2018|
|3||Alfa Romeo||1932, 1934, 1950|
|Maserati||1948, 1956, 1957|
|Cooper||1958, 1959, 1962|
|Tyrrell||1971, 1973, 1978|
|Williams||1980, 1983, 2003|
Wins by Country (Drivers)Edit
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