PRIXVIEW – Monaco Grand Prix

Features Prixview Testing & Race Reports

Round five of the season sees F1 return to a street circuit with the most famous and iconic Grand Prix around Monte Carlo, the administrative district and largest quarter Principality of Monaco and neighbouring La Condamine. For many of the drivers, this is their second home Grand Prix.

Since the first race in 1929, there have been seventy-eight races only being cancelled between 1938 and 1947, before becoming a permeant round of the championship in 1955, with last years race the first to be cancelled since 1954 due to the pandemic. It is one of the oldest and the most prestigious races in all of motorsport, forming one part of the triple crown.

It boasts iconic corners, Sanite Devote, Casino Square, Tunnel and Rascasse all corners which roll of the brain. Overtaking is difficult and mistakes are costly, put together with focus this is one of the most challenging races of the year, rewarding bravery but also punishing mistakes.

The Portier corner is key to achieving a good lap time around Monaco. It is preceded by the Loews hairpin, the slowest corner in Formula One, and followed by the tunnel, one of the few flat-out sections of the track. But this has seen drama as drivers brake for the Nouvelle Chicane.

This means communication and strategy can be key, the race often runs up to the time limit because of safety cars and accidents. That means races can be won and lost by the timing of pit stops, although tyres aren’t a limiting factor the short pit lane and safety cars make this a strategical race rather than one where lap time and overtaking is important.

Qualifying is one of the most important of the year and one of the most challenging for the drivers, they need to find the balance between pushing the car to the limit and not crashing or damaging the cars. Also, they need to be wary of other drivers and being caught out by yellow or red flags due to others making mistakes.

Surprises are not uncommon in both qualifying and the race, as this circuit is one where drivers need to weigh up risk v reward. Being on track at the right time is going to be crucial, especially given how close the midfield has been in qualifying this season, being wary is the most important skill.

Monte Carlo is often described as driving your bike around your living room, it is one of the most difficult races of the season to overtake. But that creates crazy racing, it also means that the strategy is very important and can win but also lose races. But being in front is a huge advantage as it can bring rewards, this circuit isn’t about out speed but the driver’s skill.

Some say that a victory in Monaco is second to becoming world champion, this is because of its unique challenges and is sometimes described as F1’s Super Bowl or the flagship race of the season.

Although it’s a circuit that is difficult to overtake the drivers have always loved the challenge and drama of Monte Carlo. Last years race was the first to be cancelled since 1954, when it became one of the permeant races along with Britain, it was held sixty-four times before being cancelled last season.

In the 1955 race, Maurice Trintignant won in Monte Carlo for the first time and Chiron again scored points and at 56 became the oldest driver to compete in a Formula One Grand Prix. It was not until 1957, when Fangio won again, that the Grand Prix saw a double winner.

The 1960s were dominated by the ‘king of Monaco’ or ‘Mr Monaco,’ Graham Hill who won the race five times during the decade. First winning in 1963 followed by three more wins including his final win before being killed in a plane crash at Elstree in 1975. Schumacher equalled Hill in 2001, but the great Ayrton Senna dominated the race taking six wins between 1987 and 1993.

In the 1982 race, René Arnoux led the first 15 laps, before retiring. Alain Prost then led until four laps from the end, when he spun off on the wet track, hit the barriers and lost a wheel, giving Riccardo Patrese the lead.

Patrese himself spun with only a lap and a half to go, letting Didier Pironi through to the front, followed by Andrea de Cesaris. On the last lap, Pironi ran out of fuel in the tunnel, but De Cesaris also ran out of fuel before he could overtake. In the meantime, Patrese had bump-started his car and went through to score his first Grand Prix win

The 1994 race followed Senna’s and Roland Ratzenberger’s deaths at Imola, in a highly charged weekend another accident in practice saw Karl Wendlinger crash in FP1. Schumacher claimed the first pole position of his Grand Prix career.

Mika Häkkinen qualified second, which was also the highest starting position thus far in his career, starting third and fourth on the grid. With the first two grid positions empty for the race and painted them with the colours of the Brazilian and Austrian flags.

Schumacher went on to score the first victory in Monaco and the first Grand Slam of his career making him the first driver other than Alain Prost or Ayrton Senna to win the Monaco Grand Prix since 1983.

Monaco often throws up abnormal results and winners as in 1996, when Olivier Panis took his only race win and saw only three (actual) finishers David Coulthard and Johnny Herbert. Most retirements coming from collisions or technical problems. Schumacher took his first of three wins for Ferrari in Mont Carlo in 1997. After the two Williams retired, Schumacher showed his skills in the wet to take victory by fifty-three seconds.

Coulthard took victory in 2000, the McLaren driver rejoining second following his final stop before inheriting the lead from Schumacher when his rear suspension broke. The Scotsman built a seventeen-second lead to becoming the first Scottish and British driver to win the Monaco Grand Prix since Jackie Stewart in 1973.

Sir Lewis Hamilton’s first win came in wet and changeable conditions in 2008, the McLaren driver took the lead of the race when his rivals made their first stop and at his second stop he switched first to the soft tyre. Following the final safety car caused by Nico Rosberg after he hit debris. Hamilton would have to wait eight years until his second win around the principally when Red Bull messed up the pit stop of Daniel Ricciardo allowing Hamilton

Rosberg dominated the race in the early years of the hybrid era but the minor regulation changes in 2017 unmasked the weaknesses of the Mercedes on street circuits with Ricciardo getting reedition from Red Bull’s error in 2016. That was despite him nursing the car with an MGU-K failure and six out of eight gears functioning, to date this remains the Australian’s most recent win.

Facts and figures

Round 06 of 24
Race Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monaco 2021
Venue Circuit de Monaco, and Monte Carlo, Monaco
Configuration 2015 6th variation
Circuit Length 3.337 km (2.074 mi)
Laps 78
Race Distance 260.286 km (161.734 mi)
Lap Record Race 01:14.260 (Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer, 2018)
Outright 01:10.16 (Sir Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 2019)
Most wins drivers Ayrton Senna (6)
Most wins manufacture McLaren (15)

Fast facts

  • The Swimming Pool section only became part of the circuit in 1973, before that a ramp was built over the Rainier III Nautical Stadium to create a straight from Tabac to Rascasse. The Swimming Pool section features four corners Louis Chiron, Piscine (Swimming Pool in English), and turns fifteen and sixteen.
  • Monaco holds the record in the modern F1 era for the least number of cars to finish a race, only four cars made it to the chequered flag in both 1966 and 1996.
  • Monaco is the shortest Grand Prix in terms of miles but the longest in terms of laps. It is around thirty miles shorter than the average Grand Prix distance and seven laps longer than the race in Sao Paulo and Spielberg. This race often runs to the two-hour time limit.
  • Thirty-three kilometres of safety rails are erected. This is on top of three thousand six hundred tyres for tyre barriers and twenty thousand square metres of wire catch fencing. That is
  • As an engine supplier Mercedes has more wins than any other, winning pre-war three times and five times between 2013-2019, six-time with McLaren and once with Brawn.

Event timetable

Session

Local

BST

Thursday

P1 11:30-12:30 10:30-11:30
P2 15:00-16:00 14:00-15:00

Saturday

P3 12:00-13:00 11:00-12:00
Qualifying 15:00-16:00 14:00-15:00

Sunday

Race 15:00 14:00

What happened in 2019?

Sadness returned to the paddock after the sport lost another one of its charismatic leaders Niki Lauda. The Austrian was world champions three times, and more recently served as non-executive chairman of Mercedes. He had survived a live changing accident at the 1976 German Grand Prix, but the injuries lead to a double lung transplant last year but he failed to recover from.

His team were on it again around the streets of Monte Carlo, it was a close battle between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. The Finn pushed the car to the edge, but Hamilton went even further nearly hitting the wall at Rascasse, taking pole. Ferrari was again unable to mount a challenge Sebastian Vettel clipped the wall through Tabac while Charles Leclerc was knocked out in Q1 after being called to the weighbridge and failing to do a second run.

Hamilton was locked in a battle with Verstappen throughout the race, the Dutchman tried to get close he took his chances at the Harbour Chicane making contact. It was another disappointing home race for Leclerc, the Ferrari driver spun causing a puncher which led to his retirement.

Mercedes reacted bringing both drivers in, but Verstappen was wrongly released into the path of Bottas. They kissed and Bottas wheel rim caught the wall causing a slow puncture, but with the safety car still deployed he only dropped behind Vettel to fourth, and eventually, Verstappen was awarded a five-second penalty for the unsafe release.

But it was Hamilton who took his fifth win of the season, holding off Verstappen. The question was where was the Ferrari and what could do in the middle of the season, with the Montreal upgrade?

Race Result – 1) L. Hamilton, Mercedes, 01:43:28.437, 2) S. Vettel, Ferrari, +2.602, 3) V. Bottas, Mercedes, +3.162

What to watch for?

Mercedes and Red Bull remain locked in battle for this championship, I think a lot of this is going to be down to the strategy of the teams both in qualifying and the race. The final sector in Barcelona saw the teams close on track with Mercedes again using better strategy to beat Red Bull. Strategy teams need to be able to adapt quickly throughout the weekend as things happen, which can unsettle confidence.

But we know thar Verstappen never had a clean weekend in Monaco, he really needs to come out strongly and not making mistakes. This is a circuit that you need to build yourself into through the weekend and that’s the thing we and the teams need to watch as the tiniest knock in any confidence the drivers.

First proper street circuit since Singapore 2019, I think there could be a little bit of rustiness when it comes to driving on the edge around a street circuit, we need to remember it’s a very different to other modern street circuits. I think there will be more accidents because the type of circuit Monaco is. This weekend could provide another dramatic race and anything can happen

Charles Leclerc has never scored points in F1 or F2 at his home race. Monaco is a race which is about strategy and communication because things can change very quickly. It’s a short lap as well, meaning there isn’t much room and in qualifying, we have seen blocking on track by accident, this season we have seen a step forward for Ferrari.

If they can have a good qualifying, I believe Ferrari can have a good race, but we know the team has a better car at this season, this is a low-speed circuit where overtaking is difficult meaning that they can get a good result. We know that in the opening four races of the season has seen a very close midfield in both qualifying and the race, making it important to get as high up the grid as possible.

This weekend is the 750th race for Williams, I think this could be either a good or bad weekend given the design philosophy they have taken with their car. Based on Imola, I think this could be a strong race, because it’s a low-speed circuit and they still face the challenge of getting the timing of being on track right in qualifying which has been close this season.

2018 vs 2019 Race Data

P1 Fastest

P2 Fastest

P3 Fastest

Q1 Fastest

Q2 Fastest

Q3 Fastest

Race Time

Fastest Lap

2019

01:12.106 01:11.118 01:11.265 01:11.434 01:10.618 01:10.166 01:43:28.437 01:14.279

Diff

-0.020 -0.723 -0.521 -0.579 -0.660 -0.644 -26.370 +0.019

2018

01:12.126 01:11.841 01:11.786 01:12.013 01:11.278 01:10.810 01:42:54.807 01:14.260

A lap of Monte Carlo

Daniel Ricciardo runs on the inside as he starts the lap on the short straight to Sanite Devote before he moves to the inside briefly before breaking. Returns to the outside as he approaches Sainte Devote nicely through then goes to the outside. Carries the speed off up the hill through the kink at Beau Rivage, breaks as he goes through Massenet goes to the inside setting himself up well through Casino Square.

Breaks on his way to Mirabeau Haute hits the apex as he round the kink. Breaks as he goes through the slowest corner of the season, around the apex before running into Mirabeau Bas taking a bit of the kerb. Goes to the outside setting himself up nicely for Portier gets a good exit going to the outside stays there as he genitally carries speed through the tunnel. Moves on the latter part of the corner to the inside, before going back to the outside. Breaks 100m before the Nouvelle Chicane hits the apex on entry and gets a good exit. Carries a bit of speed on his way through Tabac.

Continues to speed up on his way to Louis Chiron taking the chicane nicely. Breaks on the exit of the Swimming Pool, good through fifteen. Breaks early for Rascasse takes it slowly going to the outside and does the same at Antony Noghes. Goes to the inside where he stays doing a 1:10.810 to take pole.

Tyres

White Hard (C3)

Yellow Medium (C4)

Red Soft (C5)

Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.