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The Monaco Grand Prix is the most prestigious race on the F1 calendar and, for most, the most historic as well. Although it first featured in the F1 calendar in the championship’s first season and hosted its second ever race, the Principality of Monte Carlo held the first race on its streets in 1929. Over its 94-year history it has been held 79 times and has only stayed out of the F1 scheduled from 1951 to 1954, as well as 2020 because of the global pandemic.
With the 80th running of the race about to take place on Sunday, let’s look at four of the most memorable races there. We exclude the 2016 race from the list since you can read a full review of the race here.
1970 Monaco Grand Prix
Jackie Stewart took one of the most important pole positions of the season but was unable to convert it to a race victory. The defending champion remained in first place for the opening few laps, ahead of Chris Amon, Jack Brabham, Jacky Ickx, Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Jochen Rindt. On lap 27 of 80, Stewart’s engine started misfiring and he was out of contention for the win, with Brabham taking over at the front after he overtook Chris Amon. Stewart joined Ickx and Beltoise on the sidelines, after they had retired with mechanical issues. Amon was the next to join the retirement list, with a suspension failure, leaving Brabham with a comfortable gap over the Lotus.
However, that gap got progressively smaller and on the last lap the Lotus was on Brabham’s tail. Approaching the final corner, a hairpin at the time, Brabham moved to the inside to defend, while overtaking a backmarker as well. He was too ambitious though, braking later than he should have and he went straight, hitting the wall. Rindt passed him with no trouble and took his second Formula 1 victory. Brabham brought his damaged car home 25 seconds later, retaining his second position over Henri Pescarolo. Denny Hulme was third prior to Amon’s retirement but dropped a couple of positions and finished fourth after some gearbox malfunctions. Graham Hill, Mr. Monaco, started last but was fifth at the finish, ahead of Pedro Rodríguez.
1982 Monaco Grand Prix
René Arnoux took pole in the streets of Monte Carlo and led for the first fifteen laps, until he spun out of the race on his own and handed the reigns to Alain Prost, who had passed Riccardo Patrese earlier. Things stayed still at the top for several laps, until rain fell towards the end.
With three laps remaining, Prost crashed heavily at the seafront chicane and retired. Patrese picked up the lead, but on the very next lap he spun at the Loews hairpin. Crucially, despite stalling, he took advantage of the downhill section to get his car restarted. Didier Pironi had sustained a bit of nosecone damage early on, but he avoided further errors and was in first position as the final lap started. Entering the tunnel, his Ferrari ran out of fuel and he could go no further. Andrea de Cesaris was running second and was about to get the lead, until he also ran out of fuel, at the Casino section.
Derek Daly was running third at the time of Pironi’s retirement and he was going to pick up the lead with the two leaders halted. However, his car also stopped before he could do it, as it finally succumbed to earlier damage. Amazingly, the winner of the race -for the first time in his career- was Patrese! Pironi and de Cesaris were classified second and third respectively, despite retiring. Daly was classified fourth, ahead of Mansell, who rejoined after repairs. James Hunt, as a commentator for the BBC, summed up the race in the best way: “Well, we’ve got this ridiculous situation where we’re all sitting by the start-finish line waiting for a winner to come past, and we don’t seem to be getting one!”
2008 Monaco Grand Prix
Qualifying in Monaco is always important and Felipe Massa mastered it on Saturday. He led a Ferrari one-two in qualifying, with Kimi Raikkonen second, 28 thousandths of a second back. Lewis Hamilton was not far off either, just 52 thousandths from pole. Heikki Kovalainen was fourth, ahead of Robert Kubica, Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso.
Sunday greeted drivers with rain and the race got bad for the Finns before it even started. Ferrari fitted Raikkonen’s tyres too late and he was later given a drive-through penalty, while Kovalainen had an issue with his steering wheel and started from the pitlane. Massa held the lead through St. Devote, while Hamilton passed Räikkönen and slotted in second. On lap 6, Hamilton had contact with the walls at Tabac and he had to pit because of a puncture. It was a blessing in disguise, as he filled his tank with fuel. He was down to sixth, but quickly rose to third, as Raikkonen served his penalty and Alonso hit the barriers.
The rain got heavier, as was proven by David Coulthard and Sebastien Bourdais crashing out of the race and the safety car was out. The race resumed with Massa leading from Kubica and Hamilton, until he made a mistake at St. Devote and surrendered the lead to Kubica. The Pole pitted on lap 26 and the Brazilian pitted seven laps later. Hamilton picked up the lead, after getting fuel in his earlier stop and Massa got back ahead of the BMW. The track then dried and everyone pitted for dry tyres, while Hamilton stayed in the lead, from Kubica, who swapped places with Massa again, after making the switch at the right time.
Despite his early scare at Tabac, Hamilton won for the first time in the streets of Monte Carlo. Kubica was the winner of the battle with Massa and took second. Adrian Sutil had an excellent race for Force India and was running fourth, until he was rear-ended by Raikkonen eight laps from the end and the heartbroken German retired. Mark Webber took over fourth, while Sebastian Vettel was fifth and Rubens Barrichello was sixth, for his first points since 2006. Kazuki Nakajima finished seventh, while Kovalainen recovered from his early issues for a point.
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