23 November 2017

The history of the Monte Carlo circuit

Driving
Author
Carl

Where the magic of the city Grand Prix is made.

  

The Monte Carlo circuit immediately brings to mind the Grand Prix of the past: a city circuit that incredibly goes through the streets of the Principality of Monaco and climbs around its most prestigious historic buildings, even reaching the sea: a daring track that demands great skill and a good dose of risk from the driver.

Today the track hosts along its corners the annual Monaco Grand Prix Formula 1 and the Formula 3, Formula 3000 and Formula 2 races. The Grimaldi Family traditionally awards the prizes.

 The first Grand Prix in Monte Carlo was competed in 1929. However, the event has only been regularly held every year since 1955. Today the circuit is inadequate compared to other, in terms of power and safety, but the Grand Prix continues to be held: it is a mundane as well as a sports event.

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[Photo credits: www.vanityfair.it]

 

Over the years the circuit has undergone some changes, but nothing that significant. Since 2004 the positions of the lane and the boxes have been inverted: today it is the only Formula 1 circuit where the boxes do not face the track.

Another unique aspect of the event is that the first trial session is on Thursday, while in the other races it is always on Friday.

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[Photo credits: motor-chicche.blogspot.it]

 

Immediately after the starting line, drivers face a tight right corner called Sainte Dévote. Among the most famous corners in the circuit are then Casino, followed by Mirabeau Haute.

The Montecarlo circuit also boasts the Grand Hotel Hairpin, the tightest and slowest corner in the entire Formula One world: just think that drivers turn the steering wheel 180 degrees to get around it!

Other noteworthy corners are the double chicane Louis Chiron/ Piscine and the Antony Noghes corner that takes its name from a rich trader who organized the first editions of the Monte Carlo Rally and the Monaco Grand Prix.

The Monaco race is a tight and twisty circuit, full of manholes, and it requires shifting gears continuously, as well as difficult overtaking.

The Fairmont Hairpin or Loews Curve, a famous section of the Monaco Grand Prix and the slowest corner in Formula One.

It is no coincidence that the history of this circuit is also studded with tragic events and dramatic pages. In 1967, Lorenzo Bandini died in a terrible accident. Other historic incidents on this circuit, fortunately with less serious consequences, involve the drivers Alberto Ascari in 1955 and Karl Wendlinger in 1994.

However, there are also countless magical moments tied to this race: only the greatest have always excelled here: Ayrton Senna, who won six times, five of them in a row, Michael Schumacher, Graham Hill, Alain Prost and Gilles Villeneuve.