The Monaco Grand Prix has now been part of the Formula One calendar since the inaugural season in 1950. It has hosted more races than any other venue, though Monza will equal it this year, and is considered the jewel in the F1 crown, due to the glitz, glamour and its unique history.
The circuit is a true test of a driver’s ability, with its narrow, twisty track that leaves no room for error as the drivers tour the iconic sections of the Monaco track. Steeped in history, there are many tales and epic stories to tell about the Monte-Carlo circuit, but here are five interesting facts about the race to get your juices flowing:
- The Untouchables
Ayrton Senna has won the Monaco Grand Prix more times than any other driver, on no less than six occasions, with five of them consecutively between 1989 and 1993. Many people believe that if the Brazilian had not crashed out of the 1988 race when 54 seconds in the lead, he would have registered seven victories in a row on the streets of Monte-Carlo.
Graham Hill, was also a past master on the streets of Monte-Carlo picking up the name tag ‘Mr Monaco’ for his efforts. The Brit recorded five victories throughout the 1960’s, a record that was not beaten until Senna came along in 1987. Michael Schumacher equaled Hills efforts, having also found a passion for the Monaco streets, and the German also holds the record for the most laps led in the Principality – a total of 435.
Between them Senna and longtime rival Alain Prost, who bagged four wins in the principality, won every race contested at the Monaco Grand Prix between 1984 and 1993 – these drivers really were the untouchables!
- Three is the magic number
The lowest ever number of drivers left running in a F1 race was recorded at the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix, when Olivier Panis took victory from David Coulthard and Jonny Herbert. They were the only three drivers to take the chequered flag after a number of errors and technical failures saw the field depleted, with half the runners out before the midway point of the race. That race also boasts the lowest winning start position, with Panis taking victory from fourteenth on the grid.
- Barrichello steps aside
Rubens Barrichello has recorded the most podiums in Monaco without achieving a win, with five visits to the steps in either second or third place. The closest the Brazilian came to claiming a victory was in 2009 whilst driving for the Brawn GP team, when he finished second to team-mate Jenson Button, seven seconds down. His own favorite effort was probably in 1997 when he bagged second place, in a stunning race for the Stewart GP team.
- Pole has it
The driver on pole has won 10 of the last 15 races in Monaco, making the Saturday qualifying session crucial in order to make the best of Sunday’s race, it also confirms the fact that overtaking is extremely difficult on Monaco’s street, though not impossible.
Double world champion Jim Clark holds the record for most Monaco pole positions without winning the race – with four front row starts.
- McLaren make Monaco their own
The McLaren F1 team is by far the most successful team in Monaco, having taken 15 victories there, helped by the supremacy of drivers Senna and Prost, who scored nine wins between them for the Woking based squad, throughout the eighties and nineties. Monaco is also the venue of McLaren’s first ever Grand Prix, when founder Bruce McLaren took to the wheel of his namesake team in 1966, so the squad has a unique bond and heritage with the principality.
The next to rival McLaren’s record at the Monaco track is Scuderia Ferrari with nine victories, but the red team have not won a race there since Michael Schumacher took the honours in 2001 – could 2016 be the year of the prancing horse?
Going into the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg is still comfortably leading the title chase, and despite the first lap incident of the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team-mates that saw them take each other out at the start of the race, the German still has the upper hand, especially as he has won the last three races in a row on the streets of Monte-Carlo, which is also his home event.
Ferrari were somewhat off the pace at the last race in Barcelona, but following the in-season test session that took place after the Spanish Grand Prix, the Maranello based squad are confident they have found and resolved their weaknesses.
The Red Bull Racing squad have also been coming on strong in the last couple of races, and having taken victory at the Spanish Grand Prix last time out, they will be looking to make in two wins in a row at a track that should suit the RB12 down to the ground. With an updated engine also available for Daniel Ricciardo in Monaco – will the Milton Keynes based squad be able to conquer the might of Mercedes in Monte-Carlo?