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The Magic of Monte Carlo: Monaco Grand Prix Preview

The Magic of Monte Carlo: Monaco Grand Prix Preview

15 May 2014

Set against the stunning backdrop of the picturesque Mediterranean, the Grand Prix de Monaco is the jewel in the Formula 1 crown and the most prestigious of all the Grands Prix. Alongside the Indianapolis 500 and the Le Mans 24 Hours, the race is considered part of the triple crown of Motorsport. Graham Hill, the man known as “Mr Monaco” for his five wins at the event during the 1960s, is the only driver to have achieved the elite triple crown. The glamorous street circuit is the slowest and most difficult of all on the Formula 1 calendar as it narrowly swerves around the streets of Monaco, challenging drivers with its tight corners, numerous elevation changes and tunnel. It is also the race all drivers desire to win.

Nestled near south-eastern France with the French Riviera to the west and the Italian Riviera to the east, the principality of Monaco is the world’s second smallest country (after Vatican City) and home to some of the richest people in the world. With its casinos, high-end boutiques and high-rise apartments boasting million dollar views, this glittering playground for the rich and famous is the perfect host for the world’s most intoxicating Motorsport event.

This year marks the 72nd running of the Grand Prix de Monaco and the illustrious race has a long and rich history. The first Formula 1 race here took place in 1929 and was won by William Grover-Williams, a special agent who worked for the Special Operations Executive inside France during World War II. Driving a Bugatti 35B, Williams beat the heavily favoured Mercedes driver Rudolf Caracciola. In 1950 the event was included in the inaugural FIA World Championship of Drivers, one of only six Grand Prix races which counted towards the Championship at the time.

The winners’ list of this auspicious race reads like a Who’s Who of Formula 1 World Champions. The late Ayrton Senna holds the record with six victories, five of which were consecutive. Joining him on the champion’s honour roll of multiple wins is Michael Schumacher (5) Alain Prost (4), Jackie Stewart (3), Niki Lauda (2) and Fernando Alonso (2). Considered the ultimate test of a driver’s skills, the difficult circuit eluded triple world champion Nelson Piquet who likened manoeuvring through the narrow streets to “flying a helicopter in your living room”. But it is the famous tunnel section that causes the most difficulty for drivers; a quick transition from light to dark and back to light again.

Six of the current grid has tasted success at Monaco – Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen. With the circuit favouring driver skill over power, the 2014 Grand Prix de Monaco is an opportunity for anyone to win. The only certainty is that while the drivers negotiate their way through the tight and twisty track, tackling the hazardous hairpins and treacherous tunnel, Formula 1 fans worldwide will be treated to a spectacle that only Monaco can deliver.