motorsport

The Monaco Grand Prix: All You Need to Know

May 22, 2017

- Grant Whittington

Make no mistake; the world of motor sport is well-populated with a number of seminal and iconic events. Some of these are more prestigious than others, of course, while three in particular form the so-called Tripe Crown of motor sport.

These events are the Indianapolis 500, 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Monaco Grand Prix, each of which has an incredibly rich heritage full of glamour, excitement and elite level sport at its most thrilling.

If there is one of these events that truly stands out, however, it is the Monaco Grand Prix. A true icon of Formula 1, it has wowed audiences since 1929 and remains the one race that every single competitor really wants to win.

Given this and the fact that the latest instalment will take place in Monte Carlo on May 28, we look at back at the history of the event and ask who is favourite this time around?

The Monaco Grand Prix: A Brief Guide

Much of the allure surrounding this race has to do with the location, with the lavish and luxurious Monte Carlo having hosted 61 of the 74 Grand Prix’s that have been held in Monaco. The stunning Monte Carlo street circuit, which is 3.34km in length and only second to Monza when it comes to the number of races staged, has certainly set the scene for some incredible drama during the last 67 years.

Monte Carlo has been kinder to some drivers that others, however, with the late, great Brazilian Ayrton Senna having won an impressive six times at the Monaco Grand Prix (including five consecutive triumphs between 1989 and 1993). McLaren have earned the most wins from the team perspective, claiming first place on the podium a grand total of 15 times, although their last success came nine years ago in 2008.

In fact, Mercedes have won the last four races at Monte Carlo, while their star driver Lewis Hamilton is also the early favourite to win this year.

This Years’ Event: What Do You Need to Know?

Most F1 Preview and Predictions have Hamilton narrowly ahead of his Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel according to the bookmakers, although the German’s early season form has seen him open up a six point lead over his English rival in the Drivers’ Championship. These two have won four of the five Grand Prix events hosted so far in 2017, and while talented drivers like Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen remain in contention it hard to look beyond the two overwhelming favourites at this time.

Elsewhere, it was recently announced that former champions Jenson Button will return to the wheel as a temporary replacement for McLaren driver Fernando Alonso in Monaco. The Spaniard has agreed take part in the coveted Indianapolis 500, which overlaps with the Monaco Grand Prix and has done for several years. Button, who signed a contract with McLaren that committed him to replace any driver who was unavailable after his retirement last year, will therefore make an emotional return to a venue where he was victorious during his championship year in 2009.

This will add an interesting dimension to the race, which may well boil down to a battle with Mercedes and an increasingly efficient Ferrari. The latter team is arguably quicker at present, and this was evident during Valtteri Bottas’ win at the Russian Grand Prix on April 30. While the Finnish driver won from third on the grand, his fastest lap was slower than both Ferrari Drivers, with Kimi Raikkonen shaving nearly half a second off his time.

If this trend continues, the outcome of the race could well come down to which of these drivers (and Hamilton) delivers the best performance in qualifying.

The Last Word

As a street circuit, Monte Carlo remains one of the most difficult races in the world to win, while the glitz and glamour that surrounds it only introduces another layer of excitement.

The type of challenge provided by the winding Monte Carlo track would appear to suit a naturally talented driver like Hamilton, as the combination of skill and speed may be too much for his rivals to bear. This rule has certainly been born out in the history of the event, with the incredibly gifted duo of Senna and Michael Schumacher having claimed 11 wins between them at this famous circuit.

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