Two names that are inextricably linked are Monaco and Formula One. First run in 1929 the Monaco Grand Prix is today one of the most prestigious and important automobile races of the year.
The race is held on Monaco’s narrow streets and includes hill climbs, hill decents, tight corners and tunnels, making it one of the most demanding race tracks in the world. Nelson Piquet highlighted the difficulty by saying;
“Monaco was like trying to ride a bicycle in your living room”.
It is also a bit of an anomaly as FIA mandate states Formula One races must be 305km (190mi), Monaco however is the only race circuit that isn’t.
The first race in 1929 was won by William Grover-Williams driving a Buggatti and the race became part of the European Championship in 1936, lasting until the outbreak of WWII. After the war a new category of racing was created known as Grand Prix which continued until 1949.
1949 also saw the race cancelled because of the death of Prince Louis II and 1950 saw the introduction of the term Formula One, a term that still is used today.
Up until the 70’s there were no barriers, so if a driver crashed he hit whatever was there including shops, cafes, trees, the train station or in the case of Paul Hawkins, the harbour. By 1972 the circuit was almost entirely enclosed and the pit lane was moved to the waterfront. In 1973, saw a new series of bends added as a swimming pool had been built on the harbour and the race had to be diverted around it. The track has remained, more or less, the same since then.
Ayrton Senna has had the most wins with 6, including 5 in a row between 1989-93, as well as 8 podium finishes in 10 starts. His first victory in 1987 was followed on the Monday with him being arrested for riding a motorcycle around the circuit without a helmet.
Three, two, one…….go