Both the circuit and the race were the brain children of Anthony Noghes, cigarette magnate and founder-president of the Automobile Club de Monaco. He proposed a major auto race for Monaco, to attract tourism to the tiny country. But first he needed a circuit. His tale involved driving for "days on end" around the principality, searching for a suitable course. His travels came to the attention of the local gendarmes, until the Palace quietly "hinted" that they start assisting M. Noghes. Even though he drove over almost every road in the country, he always wanted to highlight the harbor and casino. Plan after plan was discarded, until a friend suggested that Noghes pare back the route to the bare minimum, and work from there.
That bare minimum went uphill on the Avenue d'Ostende, then a quick right onto Avenue de Monte-Carlo. The route passed between the Hotel Monte Carlo, and the eponymous casino, continuing onto Place du Casino and following that around the park and past the building. After the famous hump, the road became Avenue des Spelugues, and that led to another right, and the sharp downhill past the train station. The extremely tight 200° left at the station was judged to be just wide enough for the cars, and further down another right led the cars under the tracks and to the seafront. Back to almost sea level, the cars took another right onto Boulevard Louis II. The initial route followed the boulevard all the way back to Rue de Sainte-Devote, where another hairpin put them back on Avenue d'Ostende.
Noghes had a circuit, but it had obvious flaws. It was only just over a mile in length, and had little room for pits and spectators. Plus it was cut off from the harbor. A first modification came from adding a chicane by the north breakwater of the harbor, and running the course along the Route de la Piscine back to Ste. Devote. It was an improvement, but more was needed. Another early idea for the course had taken the cars south along the pedestrian Quai Albert 1er to the area known as Rascasse (from the early fishing village days), then east along the harbor and up the hill near the Palace. Noghes realized that his current circuit could go left at Ste. Devote, continue south on the wide boulevard of Albert 1er, then make a right hairpin at Rascasse and head north on the street Boulevard Albert 1er.
It had all fallen into place. The wide pedestrian boulevard could handle the start/finish and pits, with enough room for grandstands. The track was now almost two miles around, long enough to attract the top Grand Prix cars. The first race was held in 1929.
The circuit takes six weeks to prepare and three weeks to return to normal. It is laid out on the streets of the Monte Carlo neighbourhood of Monaco, hence its common name Monte Carlo.
The circuit is very demanding, being a tight twisty circuit with unforgiving walls very close to the cars. The circuit features the slowest corner in the entire championship (the Grand Hotel hairpin is taken at just 50 kph/31 mph). However, because of the tight nature of the circuit, overtaking is rare, usually limited to pit stops.
The circuit also passes through a tunnel which is very difficult for drivers, as there is a quick change from the natural light outside the tunnel to the artificial light inside back to the natural light outside. All this takes place in just a few seconds.
Following the tunnel is a tight left-right chicane. This has been the scene of many big accidents as drivers need to brake hard in order to slow down, Karl Wendlinger and Jenson Button being the most notable victims in 1994 and 2003.
Deaths at the CircuitEdit
One death has occurred at the circuit during F1 races. This was Lorenzo Bandini in 1967, who flipped his Ferrari at the chicane, which then caught fire in some straw bales. He died three days later from burns.
Grand Prix Winners at Circuit de MonacoEdit
|6||Ayrton Senna||1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993|
|5||Graham Hill||1963, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1969|
|Michael Schumacher||1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001|
|4||Alain Prost||1984, 1985, 1986, 1988|
|3||Stirling Moss||1956, 1960, 1961|
|Jackie Stewart||1966, 1971, 1973|
|Nico Rosberg||2013, 2014, 2015|
|2||Juan Manuel Fangio||1950, 1957|
|Maurice Trintignant||1955, 1958|
|Niki Lauda||1975, 1976|
|Jody Scheckter||1977, 1979|
|David Coulthard||2000, 2002|
|Fernando Alonso||2006, 2007|
|Lewis Hamilton||2008, 2016|
|Mark Webber||2010, 2012|
|Sebastian Vettel||2011, 2017|
Wins by CountryEdit
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