Monaco Grand Prix

Monaco Grand Prix
Circuit de Monaco
Race information
Laps 78
Circuit length 3.340 km (2.075 mi)
Race length 260.520 km (161.887 mi)
Number of times held 68
First held 1929
Most wins (drivers) Ayrton Senna (6)
Most wins (constructors) McLaren (15)
Last race (2010):
Pole position Mark Webber
Red Bull-Renault
1:13.826
Podium 1. Mark Webber
Red Bull-Renault
1h 50m 13.355s
(141.815 km/h)
2. Sebastian Vettel
Red Bull-Renault
+0.448s
3. Robert Kubica
Renault
+1.675s
Fastest lap Sebastian Vettel
Red Bull-Renault
1:15.192

The Monaco Grand Prix (French: Grand Prix de Monaco) is a Formula One race held each year on the Circuit de Monaco. Run since 1929, it is widely considered to be one of the most important and prestigious automobile races in the world, alongside the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans (informally known as the Triple Crown of Motorsport). The circuit has been called "an exceptional location of glamour and prestige."[1]

The race is held on a narrow course laid out in the streets of Monaco, with many elevation changes and tight corners as well as a tunnel, making it one of the most demanding tracks in Formula One. In spite of the relatively low average speeds, it is a dangerous place to race.

The first race in 1929, was organised by Anthony Noghès under the auspices of the "Automobile Club de Monaco", and was won by William Grover-Williams driving a Bugatti. The event was part of the pre-Second World War European Championship and was included in the first Formula One World Championship in 1950. It was designated the European Grand Prix two times, 1955 and 1963, when this title was an honorary designation given each year to one grand prix race in Europe. Graham Hill was known as "Mr Monaco"[2] due to his five Monaco wins in the 1960s. Brazil's Ayrton Senna has won the race more times than any other driver, with six victories, winning five races consecutively between 1989 and 1993.

Origin

Like many European races, the Monaco Grand Prix predates the current World Championship. The principality's first Grand Prix was organised in 1929 by Anthony Noghès, under the auspices of Prince Louis II, through the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM). Alexandre Noghès, Anthony's father, was founding president of the ACM, originally named Sport Vélocipédique Monégasque. The ACM made their first foray into motorsport by holding the Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo in 1911. In 1928 the club applied to the Association Internationale des Automobiles Clubs Reconnus (AIACR), the international governing body of motorsport, to be upgraded from a regional French club to full national status. Their application was refused due to the lack of a major motorsport event held wholly within Monaco's boundaries. The rally could not be considered as it mostly used the roads of other European countries.[3]

In order to attain full national status, Noghès proposed the creation of an automobile Grand Prix in the streets of Monte Carlo. Noghès obtained the official support of Prince Louis II. Noghès also gained support for his plans from Monegasque Louis Chiron, a top-level driver in European Grand Prix racing. Chiron thought that the topography of the location would be well suited to setting up a race track.[3]

The first Grand Prix Automobile de Monaco was an invitation only event, but not all of those invited decided to attend. The leading Maserati and Alfa Romeo drivers decided not to compete but Bugatti was well represented. Mercedes sent their leading driver, Rudolf Caracciola, to drive a Mercedes SSK. Caracciola drove a fighting race, bringing his SSK up to second position at the end of the race, despite starting in fifteenth. The race was won by "Williams" (pseudonym of William Grover-Williams) driving a Bugatti Type 35B painted dark green (what would erroneously become referred to as British racing green).[2] Another driver who competed using a pseudonym was "Georges Philippe", the Baron Philippe de Rothschild. Chiron was unable to compete, having a prior commitment to compete in the Indianapolis 500 on the same day.[3] However, Chiron did compete the following year, when he was beaten by René Dreyfus and his Bugatti and finished second, and took victory in the 1931 race driving a Bugatti. , he remains the only native of Monaco to have won the event.

Pre-war

The race quickly grew in importance. Because of the large number of races which were being termed 'Grands Prix', the AIACR formally recognised the most important race of each of its affiliated national automobile clubs as International Grands Prix, or Grandes Épreuves, and in 1933 Monaco was ranked as such alongside the French, Belgian, Italian, and Spanish Grands Prix.[4] That year's race was the first Grand Prix where grid positions were decided, as they are now, by practice time rather than the established method of balloting. The race saw Achille Varzi and Tazio Nuvolari exchange the lead many times before being settled in Varzi's favour on the final lap when Nuvolari's car caught fire.[5] The race became a round of the new European Championship in 1936 and 1937, and both races were won by Mercedes-Benz before the Second World War ended organised racing in Europe until 1945.

Formula One

Racing in Europe started again on 9 September 1945 at the Bois de Boulogne park in the city of Paris, four months and one day after the end of the war in Europe.[6] In 1946 a new premier racing category, Formula One, was defined by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the successor of the AIACR, based on the pre-war voiturette class. A Monaco Grand Prix was run to this formula in 1948, won by the future world champion Nino Farina in a Maserati 4CLT. Although the 1949 event was cancelled due to the death of Prince Louis II, it was included in the new World Drivers' Championship the following year. The race provided future five-time world champion Juan Manuel Fangio with his first win in a World Championship race, as well as third place for the 51 year old Louis Chiron; his best result in the World Championship era. However, there was no race in 1951, and in 1952, a year in which the world drivers' championship was run for less powerful Formula Two cars, the race was run to sports car rules instead and did not form part of the World Championship.[2] Since 1955 – when Maurice Trintignant won in Monte Carlo for the first time and Chiron again scored points and at 56 became the oldest driver to compete in a Formula One Grand Prix – the Monaco Grand Prix has continuously been part of the Formula One World Championship.[7]

It was not until 1957, when Fangio won again, that the Grand Prix saw a double winner. Between 1954 and 1961 Fangio's former Mercedes colleague, Stirling Moss, went one better, as Trintignant, who won the race again in 1958 driving a Cooper. The 1961 race saw Moss fend off three works Ferrari 156s in a year-old privateer Rob Walker Racing Team Lotus 18, to take his third Monaco victory.[8]

Britain's Graham Hill won the race five times in the 1960s and became known as "King of Monaco"[9] and "Mr. Monaco".[2] In the 1965 race he took pole position and led from the start, but went up an escape road on lap 25 to avoid hitting a slow backmarker. Rejoining in fifth place, Hill set several new lap records on the way to winning.[10] The race was also notable for the debut of Honda in the World Championship, and for Paul Hawkins' Lotus ending up in the harbour.[11] A similar incident was included in the 1966 film Grand Prix.[12]

By the early 1970s, as Brabham team owner Bernie Ecclestone started to marshal the collective bargaining power of the Formula One Constructors Association (FOCA), Monaco was prestigious enough to become an early bone of contention. Historically the number of cars permitted in a race was decided by the race organiser, in this case the ACM, which had always set a low number, around 16. In 1972 Ecclestone was starting to negotiate deals which relied on FOCA guaranteeing at least 18 entrants for every race. A stand off over this issue left the 1972 race in jeopardy until the ACM gave in and agreed that 26 cars could participate – the same number permitted at most other circuits. Two years later, in 1974, the ACM managed to get the numbers back down to 18.[13]

Because of its tight confines and punishing nature, Monaco has often thrown up unexpected results. In the 1982 race René Arnoux led the first 15 laps, before retiring. Alain Prost then led until four laps from the end, when he spun off on the wet track, hit the barriers and lost a wheel, giving Riccardo Patrese the lead. Patrese himself spun with only a lap and a half to go, letting Didier Pironi through to the front, followed by Andrea de Cesaris. On the last lap, Pironi ran out of fuel in the tunnel, but De Cesaris also ran out of fuel before he could overtake. In the meantime Patrese had bump-started his car and went through to score his first Grand Prix win.[14]

In 1983 the ACM became entangled in the disagreements between Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile (FISA) and FOCA. The ACM, with the agreement of Bernie Ecclestone, negotiated an individual television rights deal with ABC in the United States. This broke an agreement enforced by FISA for a single central negotiation of television rights. Jean-Marie Balestre, president of FISA, announced that the Monaco Grand Prix would not form part of the Formula One world championship in 1985. The ACM fought their case in the French courts. They lost the case and the race was eventually reinstated.[13]

For the decade from 1984 to 1993 the race was won by only two drivers – Frenchman Prost and Brazilian Ayrton Senna. Prost, already a winner of the support race for Formula Three cars in 1979, took his first Monaco win at the 1984 race. The race started 45 minutes late after heavy rain. Prost led briefly before Nigel Mansell overtook him on lap 11. Mansell crashed out five laps later, letting Prost back into the lead. On lap 27, Prost led from Ayrton Senna's Toleman and Stefan Bellof's Tyrrell. Senna was catching Prost and Bellof was catching both of them. However on lap 31, the race was controversially stopped with conditions deemed to be undriveable. Later, FISA fined the clerk of the course, Jacky Ickx, $6,000 and suspended his licence for not consulting the stewards before stopping the race.[15] The drivers received only half of the points that would usually be awarded, as the race had been stopped before two thirds of the intended race distance had been completed.

Senna holds the record for the most victories in Monaco, with six, including five consecutive wins between 1989 and 1993, as well as eight podium finishes in ten starts. His 1987 win was the first time a car with an active suspension had won a Grand Prix. His win was very popular with the people of Monaco, and when he was arrested on the Monday following the race, for riding a motorcycle without wearing a helmet, he was released by the officers after they realised who he was.[16] At the 1992 event Nigel Mansell, who had won all five races held to that point in the season, took pole and dominated the race in his Williams FW14B-Renault. However, with seven laps remaining, Mansell suffered a loose wheel nut and was forced into the pits, emerging behind Ayrton Senna's McLaren-Honda. Mansell, on fresh tyres, set a lap record almost two seconds quicker than Senna's and closed from 5.2 to 1.9 seconds in only two laps. The pair duelled around Monaco for the final four laps but Mansell could find no way past, finishing just two tenths of a second behind the Brazilian.[17][18] It was Senna's fifth win at Monaco, equalling Graham Hill's record. After Senna took his sixth win at the 1993 race, breaking Graham Hill's record for most wins at the Monaco Grand Prix, runner-up Damon Hill commented that "If my father was around now, he would be the first to congratulate Ayrton."[19]

The 1996 race saw Michael Schumacher take pole position before crashing out on the first lap. Damon Hill led the first 40 laps before his engine expired in the tunnel. Jean Alesi took the lead but suffered suspension failure 20 laps later. Olivier Panis, who started in 14th place, moved into the lead and stayed there until the end of the race, being pushed all the way by David Coulthard. It was Panis' only win, and the last for his Ligier team. Only four cars finished the race.

Seven-time world champion Schumacher would eventually win the race five times, matching Graham Hill's record. , he also holds the current lap record with a 1:14.439, according to the official Formula One website. In his appearance at the 2006 event, he attracted criticism while provisionally holding pole position with the qualifying session drawing to a close, by stopping his car at the Rascasse hairpin, blocking the track. A result of this was that yellow flags were waved, so that competitors were obliged to slow down, thus meaning they would not be able to beat Schumacher's lap time. Although Schumacher claimed it was a genuine accident, the FIA disagreed and Schumacher was sent to the back of the grid.[20]

Schumacher again was involved in controversy in the 2010 grand prix, after returning from retirement. The race was an incident packed race, with 4 safety cars periods. The last safety car period began on lap 75, and continued to the end of the race. Article 40.13 of the FIA Formula 1 sporting regulations states that "If the race ends while the safety car is deployed it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking". The safety car did enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap, and most cars appeared to cruise to the finishing line, without overtaking, as the rule suggests. However, Fernando Alonso, in 6th place at the time, suffered wheel spin when exiting the Rascasse hairpin, allowing Schumacher to nip up the inside into the final corner, Anthony Noghes. Schumacher therefore finished 6th, and Alonso 7th. Immediately after the race, both Ferrari (Alonso's constructor) and Mercedes (Schumacher's constructor) argued their cases, unusually, in front of the TV cameras before the Stewards (normal procedure is to present cases and evidence to the race stewards and allow them to make a decision, before talking to the media). Ferrari argued that the rule (article 40.13) was absolute, and that Alonso should be awarded the place back with Schumacher receiving a penalty. Stefano Domenicali, the Ferrari team boss, explained that he explicitly told his drivers that they were not to overtake (Alonso wished to try to pass Hamilton for 5th, and Felipe Massa wanted to pass Robert Kubica for 3rd position), and that they would not be overtaken either. Both Ferrari drivers confirmed that they had been told this. In opposition, Ross Brawn, Mercedes' team boss, argued that in fact the race was not finished under safety car conditions, as the safety car was no longer on track and the warning signals – the yellow flags and 'SC' safety car signs – were gone and had turned to the green flag (meaning full racing). He revealed that he had told Schumacher and his other driver, Nico Rosberg, that overtaking was allowed. After a lengthy period discussing the incident, the Stewards decided that Schumacher was in the wrong, and gave him a 20-second penalty, which demoted him out of the points into 12th. Alonso was returned to 6th place. The matter was not over however, as Mercedes GP have signalled their intentions to appeal the decision. In July 2010 Bernie Ecclestone announced that a 10-year deal had been reached with the race organisers, keeping the race on the calendar until at least 2020.[21]