Learn about the history of the Monaco Grand Prix, which was first staged in 1929 and is one of the most prestigious races on the Formula 1 calendar.
- The 2024 Monaco Grand Prix is scheduled for May 23-26
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Monaco is arguably F1’s most famous track. It was on the calendar for the first year of the modern Formula 1 World Championship in 1950 and has been held in every year except one since 1955. The circuit has been revised several times over the years, but still retains the basic layout it has had since 1929. The last major change occurred in 2004 when a permanent pit complex was built in the swimming pool section of the circuit, replacing the cramped temporary facility previously used.
Monaco’s tight and twisty layout presents a unique challenge for F1 drivers. Nelson Piquet famously compared driving at Monaco to ‘riding a bicycle around your living room’. Overtaking at F1’s shortest track is virtually impossible. There is no room for error given the tight confines of the circuit and there is little downtime each lap – over the course of the 78 lap race, a driver will make almost 5000 gear changes.
The 2020 Monaco Grand Prix was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was the first time since 1954 that the race was not held. The event returned to the calendar in 2021, with grandstands hosting up to 40% of their usual capacity. A maximum of 7,500 fans were allowed to attend each day. The event returned to full capacity in 2022.
The future of the Monaco Grand Prix was in considerable doubt after the 2022 event. Race organisers had not signed a new contract with Formula 1 since signing a 10-year deal in 2011. Negotiations around securing a new deal are believed to have revolved around organisers paying a higher race hosting fee and Formula 1 having more control over trackside advertising and TV direction. A new deal was finally signed in September 2022, keeping the Monaco Grand Prix on the calendar until at least 2025.
Masters of Monaco
- Ayrton Senna famously burst onto the F1 scene with a storming performance in the rain-soaked 1984 race and holds the record for most wins at Monaco with six, including five consecutive victories between 1989-1993.
- Graham Hill took five of his 14 F1 wins on the streets of Monaco between 1963-1969.
- Michael Schumacher also took five victories in the principality between 1994-2001.
- Alain Prost won four times in the 1980s, while Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart each won three times at Monaco.
- Of the current crop of drivers, Lewis Hamilton has had three wins in Monaco, while Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen have each won twice and Sergio Perez took his first Monaco win in 2022.
Monaco Grand Prix: Did You Know?
- Jim Clark took pole position at Monaco four times, yet never claimed victory at the track.
- Monaco holds the all-time record in the modern F1 era for the least number of cars to finish a race. Only four cars saw the chequered flag at Monaco in both 1966 and 1996. Olivier Panis in a Ligier was the unlikely and popular winner of 1996’s race of attrition.
- The oldest person to ever start a Formula 1 race was Louis Chiron, a local, who competed in the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix. He was 55 years old and went on to finish sixth in his Lancia, five laps down on the winner Maurice Trintignant.
- In 2018, Charles Leclerc became the first Monegasque driver to compete in their home race since Olivier Beretta in 1994. After three failed attempts, Leclerc finally reached the chequered flag on home soil for the first time in 2022. Read more about Monaco’s Home Race Heroes
- Before taking over the commercial running of F1 in the 1980s, Bernie Ecclestone was a driver, but not a particularly successful one. He failed to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix in 1958.
Read More: Monaco’s Home Race Heroes
- Traditionally, Monaco paid a substantially lower yearly sanctioning fee to the owners of Formula 1 than other circuits. It is believed to be around half of what other venues pay. It’s thought that might have changed as a result of the latest contract, signed in 2022.
- For the ten seasons between 1984-1993, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna were the only drivers to win the Monaco Grand Prix.
- Due to a combination of its low speed laps, high concentration requirements and the regular intervention of a Safety Car, Monaco is the only current race which doesn’t run to the 305km distance which every other Grand Prix on the calendar must comply to.
- The hairpin is the slowest corner on the F1 calendar, taken at just 48km/h. The corner has had a number of names through the years. Originally the Station hairpin and then the Lowes hairpin, it’s now named after the hotel which sits on the outside of the track: the Fairmont.
- McLaren have led more laps of the Monaco Grand Prix than any other team, completing 916 laps in the lead. Michael Schumacher is the driver to have led more laps here than any other driver, having led 435 laps over the course of his career.
- 83 different drivers have stood on the Monaco Grand Prix podium over the past seventy years. Ayrton Senna took the most top three finishes – eight in total – while Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have each finished in the top three at Monaco seven times.
Memorable Moments at the Monaco Grand Prix
1984 Monaco Grand Prix: Senna almost wins
The 1984 Monaco Grand Prix took place under the trickiest of conditions. Heavy rain caught drivers out throughout the afternoon, beginning with a pile-up at the very first turn, resulting in Patrick Tambay breaking his leg. Polesitter Alain Prost suffered a misfiring engine and was passed nine laps into the race by Nigel Mansell, who became the leader of a Grand Prix for the first time in his career.
Mansell eventually crashed out as a result of the conditions, handing the lead back to Prost. Behind him, Ayrton Senna, driving a Toleman, was putting on quite a display and closing in quickly on the leader. Prost waved to the stewards to stop the race due to the conditions, and the red flag was controversially shown just a few laps later. The race goes down as one of Senna’s greatest drives, and the event which most clearly set the Brazilian up as a star of the future.
Nigel Mansell qualified on pole at Monaco for the second time in 1992, and led from the start as Ayrton Senna passed Mansell’s team-mate at the first turn to take second. With no pit stops in the race, Mansell controlled the Grand Prix and held a thirty second advantage over Senna for the first 70 laps.
Then, on Lap 71, Mansell felt a puncture and returned to the pits for fresh tires. Senna swept by into the lead as the Williams emerged from the pits 7 seconds behind the McLaren. Mansell soon ate into Senna’s advantage, cutting the gap lap after lap and being on the McLaren’s tail with 3 laps to go. Mansell could find no way past though, and with the Brazilian making no errors, he took a fourth consecutive victory in the Principality.
The 1996 Monaco Grand Prix was held in wet conditions and the weather led to a dramatic race. Michael Schumacher had the first major drama of the afternoon, as he crashed out on the first lap. Plenty more joined him in retirement through various mechanical issues and crashes, including Gerhard Berger, Damon Hill, Jean Alesi, Jacques Villeneuve and Mika Hakkinen. Meanwhile, Olivier Panis kept his cool throughout the race to take the final win for the Ligier team in F1, as well as his only race win in the sport.
2006 Monaco Grand Prix: Schumacher parks it
Michael Schumacher stole the show in qualifying for the 2006 Monaco race. Never one to shy away from controversy, the German ace found himself in bother once again as, in the final part of qualifying, he parked his Ferrari at the last corner of the track, bringing out the yellow flags and preventing anyone, including his main rival Fernando Alonso, from setting a faster time. Schumacher’s excuses failed to appease the stewards and he was sent to the back of the grid for deliberately stopping his car.
Jenson Button was in control throughout the 2009 Monaco Grand Prix, starting from pole and staying comfortably ahead of his team-mate throughout the afternoon. The only mistake he made all weekend came after the chequered flag, when, instead of pulling up onto the main straight of the track as is customary for the podium finishers at Monaco, he pulled his Brawn GP car into the pits. Memorable scenes followed as Button leapt from his car and ran the length of the straight to join the podium celebrations.
Daniel Ricciardo had a great affinity with the Monaco Grand Prix during his Formula 1 career. The Australian took the maiden pole position of his career at the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix but was cruelly denied victory following a botched pit stop by Red Bull.
Two years later, Ricciardo took pole once more and was determined to convert his Saturday speed into Sunday success. History looked set to repeat itself as, before the halfway point, Ricciardo reported a loss of power. Despite suffering an MGU-K failure and having only six functioning gears, Ricciardo was able to hold off his competitors and nurse his wounded car to victory.
The 2018 Monaco Grand Prix remained Ricciardo’s final win with Red Bull. He would not win a race again until the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, when racing with McLaren.
Monaco Grand Prix Facts
|Circuit de Monaco
|Race first held
|3.337km (19 turns)
|78 laps (260.286 km)
|1:12.909, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 2021
|1st Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:48:51.980
|2nd Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) +27.921s
|3rd Esteban Ocon (Alpine) +36.990s