When it comes to a Formula 1 track with rich history or legacy, the Monaco Grand Prix is amongst the first one to come to mind along with the likes of Silverstone and Nürburgring. Besides being a host to one of the most technical races of the calendar, it is also home to numerous F1 drivers, veteran and rookies.
So, in today’s article, we give you a little history lesson about Monaco GP, and the secret reason behind the driver’s staying there.
The History of Monaco GP
The Monaco Grand Prix predates the current World Championship. Its first Grand Prix was the birthchild of Automobile Club of Monaco (ACM) and Antony Noghès. It was held under the patronage of Prince Louis II who was the president of ACM and was an invite-only event. In early days it was an enthusiast’s car rally and was only possible if it was held in the streets of Monte Carlo. The first one was won by a works Bugatti Type 35B of William Grover-Williams. The race gained an amazing reputation along with Belgium, Italian, French and Spanish Grand Prix. Sadly, World War II came in 1938 and the races ended.
In 1945, races started again and the Grand Prix premiere racing category began in 1946. The 1948 Monaco Grand Prix was won by Nino Farina, while the one in 1949 was skipped due to the Death of Prince Louis II. In 1950, the race was included in the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship.
The race of 1950 saw the future 5-time world champion Juan Manuel Fangio get his first win. No races occurred in the year 1951. In 1952, the race was run with less powerful Formula 2 regulation. In 1953 and 1954, once again no races were held.
The Monaco Grand Prix returned as a part of Formula One World Championship in 1955. This began the streak of consecutive 64 years in which the race was held. In the 1960s, British driver Graham Hill won the Monaco Grand Prix an amazing five-time, which gave him the name of "Mr. Monaco" or "King of Monaco".
The event of 1969 saw the introduction of Armco Barriers at specific points due to safety concerns thanks to the efforts of Jackie Stewart. As it was a street circuit, the chances of a driver crashing into whatever was next to the track were pretty high. For example, Alberto Ascari crashed into harbour water.
By 1972, nearly the whole circuit was Armco lined and for the first time in history the circuit was altered as the position of pits was changed. It was yet again altered in 1973 and 1976.
1984 to 1993, the race saw wins by only two legendary drivers, the French Alain Prost and Brazilian Ayrton Senna. Prost won his first Monaco GP in 1984, while Senna went on to become the driver with the most Monaco GP wins i.e., 6 wins, which included five consecutive wins between the years 1989 and 1993, breaking Graham Hill's previous record.
The race of 1994 was an emotional one, as it came just two weeks after the tragic death of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger at Imola. It was won by German Michael Schumacher.
Michael Schumacher went on to win the race 5 times, matching Graham Hill's record. He was criticized for his 2006 race where he stopped the car in the middle of the Rascasse corner while holding the provisional pole, thus blocking the opponents. While he claimed it was a car failure, FIA was not convinced which resulted in him starting at the back of the grid.
A 10-year deal was struck in 2010, which meant the race would remain at least till 2020 in the calendar.
Unfortunately, the 2020 Monaco GP was cancelled due to the Covid- 19 pandemic. It is scheduled to return on May 23, 2021.
The race includes the street of Monte Carlo and La Condamine, and of course the famous harbour. It is one of the most demanding race of the calendar. This 3.337 km circuit covers many elevation changes, tight corners and overall is a narrow track.
The Narrowness of the tracks reduces overtaking opportunity drastically. Another challenging feature of the track is the famous Tunnel. It provides a challenge, especially in rainy conditions. Drivers have to adjust their vision as they go from daylight to dark and then to daylight again at astonishing speeds.
Regardless to say, crashes are frequent in such a narrow circuit, and two drivers have even ended up in the harbor, famously Alberto Ascari in 1955.
For viewing the Grand Prix, numerous temporary grandstands are built around the circuit, mostly around the harbor area. Many affluent spectators arrive on their yachts and boats through the harbor. Balconies of residential buildings and hotels also become a viewing area.
The Secret behind Monaco being home to drivers
The number of drivers that live in the small country of Monaco is incredible. The list includes the like of David Coulthard, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen, Brendon Hartley, Jenson Button and it goes on.
So, what exactly is the reason behind this?
The primary reason is the taxation, or rather the lack of it. For every 6 months and a day one lives in Monaco, they aren’t obliged to pay tax.
But that isn’t all. There is more to the principality of Monaco than just monetary savings. It has a racing history, which also lures the drivers in. The Circuit de Monaco holds the historic essence of the likes of Alain Prost, Graham Hill and Ayrton Senna.
The other notable thing about Monaco is that it is almost in the center of Europe. So, after the European races, drivers don't have to travel too much to go to their home.
And last but not the least; everybody has a taste for finer things in life, which Monaco offers. And if you have money like modern-day F1 drivers, why not live the lavish life?