FORMULA 1 MONACO GRAND PRIX

Posted By F1 Fast Lap













Monte Carlo

Race Date:
25 May 2014
Circuit Name:
Circuit de Monaco
First Grand Prix:
1950
Number of Laps:
70
Circuit Length:
3.340 km
Race Distance:
305.270 km
Lap Record:
1:14.439 - M Schumacher (2004)

The Monaco Grand Prix is the one race of the year that every driver dreams of winning. Like the Indy 500 or Le Mans, it stands alone, almost distinct from the sport from which it was born. A combination of precision driving, technical excellence and sheer bravery is required to win in Monte Carlo, facets which highlight the differences between the great and the good in Formula One.

The Armco barrier-lined circuit leaves no margin for error, demanding more concentration that any other Formula One track. Cars run with maximum downforce and brakes are worked hard. Overtaking is next to impossible so qualifying in Monaco is more critical than at any other Grand Prix.

The Portier corner is key to achieving a good lap time around Monaco. It is preceded by the Loews hairpin, the slowest corner in Formula One, and followed by the tunnel, one of the few flat-out sections of the track. Some great names have ended their races in the barriers here, most notably Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher.

To win in Monaco places a driver's name on a list that includes many of history's all-time greats. Both Graham Hill, the man nicknamed 'Mr Monaco', and Schumacher have won it five times, Alain Prost took four victories, whilst Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart each won here three times. But the record of wins in the Principality resides with the Senna, who won in Monte Carlo six times.

The race has been a regular fixture of the world championship since 1955, but in that time the circuit has changed remarkably little. Slight alterations were made for the 2003 event, in particular a new, gentler entry to the Rascasse corner, with even bigger changes in 2004, with a new pit complex and increased spectator capacity.


The lap starts with a short sprint up Boulevard Albert 1er, to the tight St. Devote corner. This is a nearly 90 degree right-hand bend usually taken in first or second gear. This corner has seen many first lap accidents, although these are less common since the removal of the mini roundabout on the apex of the corner before the 2003 event, making the entrance to the corner wider. The cars then head uphill along Avenue d'Ostende, before changing down for the long left-hander at Massenet.

Out of Massenet, the cars drive past the famous casino before quickly reaching the aptly named Casino Square. The cars snake down Avenue des Beaux Arts, the next short straight, avoiding an enormous bump on the left of the track, a reminder of the unique nature of the circuit. This leads to the tight Mirabeau corner, which is followed by a short downhill burst to the even tighter Fairmont Hairpin (formerly known as the Loews Hairpin, and before that as the Station Hairpin). It is a corner which has been used for many overtaking manoeuvres in the past. However it would be almost physically impossible for two modern F1 cars to go round side by side, as the drivers must use full steering lock to get around. It is so tight that many Formula 1 teams must redesign their steering and suspension specifically to negotiate this corner.

After the hairpin, the cars head downhill again to a double right-hander called Portier before heading into the famous tunnel, a unique feature of a Formula One circuit. (Until 2009 only one other circuit, Detroit USA in 1982–88, featured a tunnel, but the F1 series now includes racing at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, which presents a shorter tunnel at the exit of the pit lane.) As well as the change of light making visibility poor,  a car can lose 20–30% of its downforce due to the unique aerodynamic properties of the tunnel.
Out of the tunnel, the cars have to brake hard for a tight left-right chicane. This has been the scene of several large accidents, including that of Karl Wendlinger in 1994, Jenson Button in 2003 and Sergio Pérez in 2011. The chicane is generally the only place on the circuit where overtaking can be attempted. There is a short straight to Tabac, a tight fourth gear corner which is taken at about 195 km/h (120 mph). Accelerating up to 225 km/h (140 mph),  the cars reach Piscine, a fast left-right followed by a slower right-left chicane which takes the cars past the swimming pool that gave its name to the corner.

Following Piscine, there is a short straight followed by heavy braking for a quick left which is immediately followed by the tight 180 degree right-hander called La Rascasse. This is another corner which requires full steering lock; it will be remembered for a long time as the location of one of the most suspicious manoeuvres in recent Formula One history after the 2006 season when Michael Schumacher appeared to deliberately stop his car in qualifying so as to prevent Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber – who were both following and were on flying laps – from out-qualifying him. The Rascasse takes the cars into a short straight that precedes the final corner, Virage Antony Noghes. Named after the organiser of the first Monaco Grand Prix, the corner is a tight right-hander which brings the cars back onto the start-finish straight, and across the line to start a new lap.

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