Formula One

Monaco GP Track Layout, Turns and DRS Zones Analysed

F1 Monaco GP Track Layout
Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-23. 26.05.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, Monaco, Practice Day. –, EMail: [email protected] © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images – Photo by Icon sport

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

1955Juan Manuel FangioMaurice Trintignant
1956Juan Manuel FangioStirling Moss
1957Juan Manuel FangioJuan Manuel Fangio
1958Jack BrooksMaurice Trintignant
1959Stirling MossJack Brabham
1960Stirling MossStirling Moss
1961Stirling MossStirling Moss
1962Jim ClarkBruce McLaren
1963Jim ClarkGraham Hill
1964Jim ClarkGraham Hill
1965Graham HillGraham Hill
1966Jim ClarkJackie Stewart
1967Jack BrabhamDenny Hulme
1968Graham HillGraham Hill
1969Jackie StewartGraham Hill
1970Jackie StewartJochen Rindt
1971Jackie StewartJackie Stewart
1972Emerson FittipaldiJean-Pierre Beltoise
1973Jackie StewartJackie Stewart
1974Niki LaudaRonnie Peterson
1975Niki LaudaNiki Lauda
1976Niki LaudaNiki Lauda
1977John WatsonJody Scheckter
1978Carlos ReutemannPatrick Depailler
1979Jody ScheckterJody Scheckter
1980Didier PironiCarlos Reutemann
1981Nelson PiquetGilles Villeneuve
1982Rene ArnouxRiccardo Patrese
1983Alain ProstKeke Rosberg
1984Alain ProstAlain Prost
1985Ayrton SennaAlain Prost
1986Alain ProstAlain Prost
1987Nigel MansellAyrton Senna
1988Ayrton SennaAlain Prost
1989Ayrton SennaAyrton Senna
1990Ayrton SennaAyrton Senna
1991Ayrton SennaAyrton Senna
1992Nigel MansellAyrton Senna
1993Alain ProstAyrton Senna
1994Damon HillMichael Schumacher
1995Michael SchumacherMichael Schumacher
1996Michael SchumacherOlivier Panis
1997Heinz-Harald FrentzenMichael Schumacher
1998Mika HakkinenMika Hakkinen
1999Mika HakkinenMichael Schumacher
2000Michael SchumacherDavid Coulthard
2001David CoulthardMichael Schumacher
2002Juan-Pablo MontoyaDavid Coulthard
2003Ralf SchumacherJuan-Pablo Montoya
2004Jarno TrulliJarno Trulli
2005Kimi RaikkonenKimi Raikkonen
2006Fernando AlonsoFernando Alonso
2007Fernando AlonsoFernando Alonso
2008Felipe MassaLewis Hamilton
2009Jenson ButtonJenson Button
2010Mark WebberMark Webber
2011Sebastian VettelSebastian Vettel
2012Mark WebberMark Webber
2013Nico RosbergNico Rosberg
2014Nico RosbergNico Rosberg
2015Lewis HamiltonNico Rosberg
2016Daniel RicciardoLewis Hamilton
2017Kimi RaikkonenSebastian Vettel
2018Daniel RicciardoDaniel Ricciardo
2019Lewis HamiltonLewis Hamilton
2021Charles LeclercMax Verstappen
2022Charles LeclercSergio 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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About the author

Fernando Ferreira

Brazilian sports writer. You will often find me talking about motorsports, tennis, football and just about everything in-between