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F1 makes its yearly trip to Monaco this weekend. The cars will make their way through the twists and turns of the tight streets of Monte Carlo, which have plenty of stories to tell about the nearly seven decades of F1 racing. The Monaco GP layout is one of the most iconic in F1.
Join us for a tour of the Circuit de Monaco, with everything you need to know about one of F1’s most storied racetracks.
Monaco GP Layout: Should We Value Tradition or Entertainment?
History, history – and a bit more history. The Monaco GP track was used for the first time all the way back in 1929 – 21 years before F1’s inception. The race was created by tobacco magnate Anthony Noghes, who was also the man behind the famous Monte Carlo Rally.
Monaco was part of the first F1 season in 1950, but as a non-championship round. The street circuit was only officially added to the schedule five years later, becoming a mainstay in the calendar. In fact, the Monaco GP had been run every year before 2020, when it was cancelled because of the pandemic.
The Monaco F1 track has seen six different layouts, although it has remained largely unchanged since the last major redesign in 1975.
Drivers start their lap around the Circuit de Monaco down Boulevard Albert, braking heavily into the famous Saint-Devote. Climbing uphill, the cars go through the fast Beau Rivage sweepers before slowing down for Massenet. Up next is the Casino right-hander. Exiting Casino, drivers go straight into the downhill section – while being mindful of the bump in the middle of the road.
After braking into the high Mirabeau, the cars continue downhill until reaching the infamous hotel hairpin, the slowest corner in F1. Exiting the hairpin, there is no time to stretch the legs, as drivers must brake hard again going into Portier. After that comes the high-speed tunnel section, which leads to the best overtaking opportunity in Monaco: the braking zone heading into the Nouvelle Chicane.
We are now at the port section, which is the fastest part of the track on average speed. Drivers go down a short straight, and then into the medium speed Tabac corner. Next comes Virage Louis Chiron, the first of the famous swimming pool esses. This is Monaco’s fastest corners, as drivers go almost flat-out through the chicane. Following another shortstraight, drivers brake heavily again to take the second swimming pool esses.
Heading into the final part of the track, the cars go through the tight La Rascasse, setting up for the crucial final corner – Virage Anthony Noghes, named after the Grand Prix’s creator.
Circuit de Monaco DRS Zones: Only One Zone
The Monaco F1 track only has a single DRS zone – and it’s not on the straight exiting the tunnel. On safety grounds, F1 banned the overtaking assist both inside the tunnel and on its exit. The only DRS zone is located on the main straight, with the detection point located on turn 17 (Rascasse).
Overtakes are a rare sight at Monte Carlo, and the single DRS zone only adds to the problem. Drivers can set up a move heading into Saint Devote, but it’s not the best overtaking spot around the track. Realistically speaking, the best chance is to do it the old way: slipstreaming out of the tunnel and outbraking the other driver into the Nouvelle Chicane.
Circuit de Monaco Racing History
|1955||Juan Manuel Fangio||Maurice Trintignant|
|1956||Juan Manuel Fangio||Stirling Moss|
|1957||Juan Manuel Fangio||Juan Manuel Fangio|
|1958||Jack Brooks||Maurice Trintignant|
|1959||Stirling Moss||Jack Brabham|
|1960||Stirling Moss||Stirling Moss|
|1961||Stirling Moss||Stirling Moss|
|1962||Jim Clark||Bruce McLaren|
|1963||Jim Clark||Graham Hill|
|1964||Jim Clark||Graham Hill|
|1965||Graham Hill||Graham Hill|
|1966||Jim Clark||Jackie Stewart|
|1967||Jack Brabham||Denny Hulme|
|1968||Graham Hill||Graham Hill|
|1969||Jackie Stewart||Graham Hill|
|1970||Jackie Stewart||Jochen Rindt|
|1971||Jackie Stewart||Jackie Stewart|
|1972||Emerson Fittipaldi||Jean-Pierre Beltoise|
|1973||Jackie Stewart||Jackie Stewart|
|1974||Niki Lauda||Ronnie Peterson|
|1975||Niki Lauda||Niki Lauda|
|1976||Niki Lauda||Niki Lauda|
|1977||John Watson||Jody Scheckter|
|1978||Carlos Reutemann||Patrick Depailler|
|1979||Jody Scheckter||Jody Scheckter|
|1980||Didier Pironi||Carlos Reutemann|
|1981||Nelson Piquet||Gilles Villeneuve|
|1982||Rene Arnoux||Riccardo Patrese|
|1983||Alain Prost||Keke Rosberg|
|1984||Alain Prost||Alain Prost|
|1985||Ayrton Senna||Alain Prost|
|1986||Alain Prost||Alain Prost|
|1987||Nigel Mansell||Ayrton Senna|
|1988||Ayrton Senna||Alain Prost|
|1989||Ayrton Senna||Ayrton Senna|
|1990||Ayrton Senna||Ayrton Senna|
|1991||Ayrton Senna||Ayrton Senna|
|1992||Nigel Mansell||Ayrton Senna|
|1993||Alain Prost||Ayrton Senna|
|1994||Damon Hill||Michael Schumacher|
|1995||Michael Schumacher||Michael Schumacher|
|1996||Michael Schumacher||Olivier Panis|
|1997||Heinz-Harald Frentzen||Michael Schumacher|
|1998||Mika Hakkinen||Mika Hakkinen|
|1999||Mika Hakkinen||Michael Schumacher|
|2000||Michael Schumacher||David Coulthard|
|2001||David Coulthard||Michael Schumacher|
|2002||Juan-Pablo Montoya||David Coulthard|
|2003||Ralf Schumacher||Juan-Pablo Montoya|
|2004||Jarno Trulli||Jarno Trulli|
|2005||Kimi Raikkonen||Kimi Raikkonen|
|2006||Fernando Alonso||Fernando Alonso|
|2007||Fernando Alonso||Fernando Alonso|
|2008||Felipe Massa||Lewis Hamilton|
|2009||Jenson Button||Jenson Button|
|2010||Mark Webber||Mark Webber|
|2011||Sebastian Vettel||Sebastian Vettel|
|2012||Mark Webber||Mark Webber|
|2013||Nico Rosberg||Nico Rosberg|
|2014||Nico Rosberg||Nico Rosberg|
|2015||Lewis Hamilton||Nico Rosberg|
|2016||Daniel Ricciardo||Lewis Hamilton|
|2017||Kimi Raikkonen||Sebastian Vettel|
|2018||Daniel Ricciardo||Daniel Ricciardo|
|2019||Lewis Hamilton||Lewis Hamilton|
|2021||Charles Leclerc||Max Verstappen|
|2022||Charles Leclerc||Sergio Perez|
Monaco has seen plenty of historic races and historic streaks. Ayrton Senna holds the record for the most wins – but his near-misses are just as famous. In 1984, Senna was one lap away from pulling off an upset for Toleman. Four years later, the future three-time champion crashed out from a one-minute lead over the rest of the pack.
Rain can usually spice things up in any weekend, and that goes double for Monaco. One of the most infamous races in F1 history, the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix saw three cars take the checkered flag, as crashes and mechanical problems decimated the field. It resulted in one of the biggest upset wins in the series, as Olivier Panis scored his first and only triumph.
A chaotic race in 2008 saw Lewis Hamilton pull off an unlikely comeback win. After crashing and flattening his left rear, the then McLaren driver executed the undercut to perfection, pitting for dry tyres to jump Robert Kubica and Felipe Massa.
Last year’s race also had plenty of wet track drama, with Red Bull successfully undercutting Ferrari. The Scuderia, meanwhile, made a series of mistakes, including a pit stop double-stack that cost Leclerc a potential home win.
What Lies Ahead for 2023
Monaco might be the best chance for the other teams to close down the gap to Red Bull. Since aerodynamic and straightline speed – the RB19’s strongest points – aren’t much of a factor at Monte Carlo, we could see a closer battle at the front of the pack. That being said, Red Bull still has the edge on long runs, so the Austrian powerhouse is still the favorite to win.
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