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History of Monaco Circuit

Monaco is arguably F1’s most famous track. Monaco tight and twisty layout presents a unique challenge for F1 drivers. Here we look at the Monaco Circuit history, info and facts.

Last updated: 29.05.2022
Monaco Circuit

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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 every year without interruption 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 in 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 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 fourteen 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, Sebastian Vettel has triumphed twice and Daniel Ricciardo & Max Verstappen have won here once each.





Monaco Grand Prix: Did you know?


  • Jim Clark took pole 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 checkered 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. Leclerc is yet to see the checkered flag on any of his appearances at the track. 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.


  • Monaco is the only race on the current F1 calendar that does not have to pay a yearly sanctioning fee to the owners of Formula 1.


  • 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 Lowes hairpin is the slowest corner on the F1 calendar, taken at just 48km/h.


  • 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.


  • 82 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.



Monaco’s Memorable Moments


  • 1984: 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.


  • 1992: Mansell chases down Senna: 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.


  • 1996: A race of attrition: 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: 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.


  • 2009: Button sprints home: 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 checkered 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.

Also Read | All you need to know about Monaco Grand Prix 2022

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