Circuit de Monaco: The Ultimate Track Guide

Situated in the harbour-side of one of the most picturesque places in Europe, the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix is held every year in May. The cars and drivers are pushed to their limits as they slide through the streets of Monte Carlo on the Circuit de Monaco.


FIRST F1 RACE 1950
TRACK LENGTH 2.075 miles
NUMBER OF LAPS 78
NUMBER OF TURNS 19
MOST POLES Ayrton Senna (5)
MOST WINS Ayrton Senna (6)

Is there anywhere more synonymous with Formula 1 than Monaco? The most prestigious race on the calendar is the one that every driver hopes to win at least once in their career. Monaco’s affinity with motorsport began over ninety years ago. Anthony Noghes is the man who came up with the idea for a race around the streets of Monte Carlo, and was encouraged after drawing up plans and showing them to local racer Louis Chiron. Noghes had to convince the Royal family to run a race on their streets; but they didn’t take much convincing. William Grover-Williams won the first Monaco Grand Prix in 1929 and from there an almost annual tradition was born. Both Noghes and Grover-Williams are celebrated in Monaco today. The final corner of the track is named in honour of its creator, while a statue of Grover-Williams racing can be found on the inside of the first turn.

The race soon became a round of the European Grand Prix season and after a post-war revival led by Noghes in 1948, the event was included as a round of the very first Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship. The first F1 race here was won by Juan Manuel Fangio. It was then run for sportscars in 1952, before not being held in 1953 or 1954. Since 1955 however, the Monaco Grand Prix has appeared on the F1 calendar in every season.

It’s hard to pick which part of the Circuit de Monaco is the most iconic. After the cars have passed the Ste Devote Church at the demanding first turn, they run up the hill towards Casino Square, before finding the optimal braking zone at Mirabeau. From there, it’s downhill towards the hairpin – the slowest corner on the calendar – through Portier and into the tunnel. After the chicane, the speeds increase as the drivers head to Tabac before flying past La Rascasse restaurant and the final turn. Read more: Monaco – The Jewel in the Crown.

Monaco’s layout has remained largely the same over the years, In 1955, modifications to Ste Devote shortened the track by 35 metres and the start/finish line was moved from the harbour to its current location. 1973 saw the circuit extended by 135 metres, adding a new piece of track along the port area, and introducing a bend around the famous La Rascasse restaurant. Chicanes at Anthony Noghes and Ste Devote were added in 1976, and the turns near Casino Square were re-profiled. More minor changes followed, along with new pit buildings in 2004.

Despite being Formula 1’s slowest circuit, the track has been known to produce large crashes in the past. Two of the most famous crashes at the track are Alberto Ascari in 1955 and Paul Hawkins in 1965, who both crashed into the harbour but escaped unscathed. Lorenzo Bandini perished in a fiery crash at the circuit in the 1967 Monaco Grand Prix. In more recent years, both Jenson Button in 2003 and Sergio Perez in 2011 have been forced to sit out the remainder of their race weekends following huge shunts.

The streets of Monaco have seen plenty of drivers make their mark over the years. Graham Hill was the original “Mr Monaco”, winning the event five times in the 1960s. It is Ayrton Senna who has the most wins at the track, having won six times in his career – including in five consecutive races between 1989 and 1993. Michael Schumacher won the race five times in his career, while Alain Prost was victorious four times.

You won’t get a race full of overtakes around the streets of Monaco, but you will get two hours of drivers pushing the cars to the limit of their abilities and to the absolute edge in terms of the track’s barriers. The beautiful setting and the pure magic of Monaco alone is enough to keep things entertaining.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Monaco Grand Prix did not appear on the Formula 1 calendar in 2020. It was the first time since 1954 that Formula 1 did not visit Monaco during the season, ending a streak of 66 consecutive races at the circuit – the longest held by any circuit in F1 history. The event will return in 2021. 


🇲🇨 2019 RACE RECAP

On a weekend where Formula 1 remembered the life of Niki Lauda, Lewis Hamilton brought home a fitting victory in tribute, despite pressure from Max Verstappen.

Formula 1 headed to Monaco in a sombre mood following the death of Niki Lauda. Teams paid tributes with messages on their cars, while Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel each opted to run special tribute helmets. In his first home race with Ferrari, an unimpressed Charles Leclerc was eliminated in Q1. Hamilton started from pole but the action in the opening stages came courtesy of Leclerc, who made his way from sixteenth on the grid to twelfth. But his race unravelled as he picked up a puncture by making contact with Nico Hulkenberg and he eventually retired after sixteen laps. The major drama of the afternoon came during the pit stops, as Max Verstappen was unsafely released from his pit box into the path of Valtteri Bottas. Bottas was forced to take avoiding action and damaged his front wing on the barriers. Verstappen picked up a five second penalty for the incident. The track became blocked at La Rascasse as Kubica and Giovinazzi made contact, bringing out the yellow flags. Verstappen closed in on leader Hamilton in the second half of the race, causing Hamilton to become wary of the threat from behind. Despite nearly passing the Mercedes at the chicane after the tunnel, and making light contact, Verstappen’s attempts were ultimately futile due to his penalty. Hamilton took his third Monaco victory, while Vettel and Bottas took the final podium positions.


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FAST FACTS

  • The Monaco Grand Prix requires six weeks of preparations, with the placing of 3,600 tyres for tyre barriers, 33km of guard rails and 20,000 square metres of catch fencing. In addition, 1,100 tonnes of seating is built.
  • 670 marshals help out at the Circuit de Monaco over Grand Prix weekend.
  • Due to political unrest in France, there were concerns about a power outage during the 1968 Monaco Grand Prix. Race organisers borrowed power generators from a local film company to make sure the tunnel stayed illuminated during the race!
  • Louis Chiron is the only Monegasque driver who has finished on the podium at their home race. In the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix, he also became the oldest driver to have ever started an F1 race.
  • Between them, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost won ten consecutive Monaco Grands Prix between 1984 and 1993.
  • A wave crashing onto the circuit caused a huge crash on the opening lap of the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix.
  • In the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix, Harry Schell became the first driver to start a round of the championship in a rear-engined car.
  • Monaco is the only round of the championship where Free Practice does not take place on a Friday. Instead, it is held on Thursday.
  • Along with the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Monaco is one third of motorsport’s Triple Crown. Graham Hill is the only driver to have won all three events.

🇲🇨 MONACO GP WINNERS AND POLESITTERS

YearPolesitterTeam On PoleWinnerWinning Team
1950Juan Manuel FangioAlfa RomeoJuan Manuel FangioAlfa Romeo
1955Juan Manuel FangioMercedesMaurice TrintignantFerrari
1956Juan Manuel FangioFerrariStirling MossMaserati
1957Juan Manuel FangioMaseratiJuan Manuel FangioMaserati
1958Tony BrooksVanwallMaurice TrintignantCooper
1959Stirling MossCooperJack BrabhamCooper
1960Stirling MossLotusStirling MossLotus
1961Stirling MossLotusStirling MossLotus
1962Jim ClarkLotusBruce McLarenCooper
1963Jim ClarkLotusGraham HillBRM
1964Jim ClarkLotusGraham HillBRM
1965Graham HillBRMGraham HillBRM
1966Jim ClarkLotusJackie StewartBRM
1967Jack BrabhamBrabhamDenny HulmeBrabham
1968Graham HillLotusGraham HillLotus
1969Jackie StewartMatraGraham HillLotus
1970Jackie StewartMarchJochen RindtLotus
1971Jackie StewartTyrrellJackie StewartTyrrell
1972Emerson FittipaldiLotusJean-Pierre BeltoiseBRM
1973Jackie StewartTyrrellJackie StewartTyrrell
1974Niki LaudaFerrariRonnie PetersonLotus
1975Niki LaudaFerrariNiki LaudaFerrari
1976Niki LaudaFerrariNiki LaudaFerrari
1977John WatsonBrabhamJody ScheckterWolf
1978Carlos ReutemannFerrariPatrick DepaillerTyrrell
1979Jody ScheckterFerrariJody ScheckterFerrari
1980Didier PironiLigierCarlos ReutemannWilliams
1981Nelson PiquetBrabhamGilles VilleneuveFerrari
1982Rene ArnouxRenaultRiccardo PatreseBrabham
1983Alain ProstRenaultKeke RosbergWilliams
1984Alain ProstMcLarenAlain ProstMcLaren
1985Ayrton SennaLotusAlain ProstMcLaren
1986Alain ProstMcLarenAlain ProstMcLaren
1987Nigel MansellWilliamsAyrton SennaLotus
1988Ayrton SennaMcLarenAlain ProstMcLaren
1989Ayrton SennaMcLarenAyrton SennaMcLaren
1990Ayrton SennaMcLarenAyrton SennaMcLaren
1991Ayrton SennaMcLarenAyrton SennaMcLaren
1992Nigel MansellWilliamsAyrton SennaMcLaren
1993Alain ProstWilliamsAyrton SennaMcLaren
1994Michael SchumacherBenettonMichael SchumacherBenetton
1995Damon HillWilliamsMichael SchumacherBenetton
1996Michael SchumacherFerrariOlivier PanisLigier
1997Heinz-Harald FrentzenWilliamsMichael SchumacherFerrari
1998Mika HäkkinenMcLarenMika HäkkinenMcLaren
1999Mika HäkkinenMcLarenMichael SchumacherFerrari
2000Michael SchumacherFerrariDavid CoulthardMcLaren
2001David CoulthardMcLarenMichael SchumacherFerrari
2002Juan Pablo MontoyaWilliamsDavid CoulthardMcLaren
2003Ralf SchumacherWilliamsJuan Pablo MontoyaWilliams
2004Jarno TrulliRenaultJarno TrulliRenault
2005Kimi RäikkönenMcLarenKimi RäikkönenMcLaren
2006Fernando AlonsoRenaultFernando AlonsoRenault
2007Fernando AlonsoMcLarenFernando AlonsoMcLaren
2008Felipe MassaFerrariLewis HamiltonMcLaren
2009Jenson ButtonBrawn GPJenson ButtonBrawn GP
2010Mark WebberRed BullMark WebberRed Bull
2011Sebastian VettelRed BullSebastian VettelRed Bull
2012Mark WebberRed BullMark WebberRed Bull
2013Nico RosbergMercedesNico RosbergMercedes
2014Nico RosbergMercedesNico RosbergMercedes
2015Lewis HamiltonMercedesNico RosbergMercedes
2016Daniel RicciardoRed BullLewis HamiltonMercedes
2017Kimi RäikkönenFerrariSebastian VettelFerrari
2018Daniel RicciardoRed BullDaniel RicciardoRed Bull
2019Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes