After the cancellation of last week’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix due to torrential rain and flooding, the 2023 Formula One season is set to resume at one of its most popular and challenging tracks – the streets of Monte Carlo in Monaco.
The 80th edition of the Monaco Grand Prix is scheduled to take place between May 26-28.
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The street race is held in the same regard as other popular races like the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the three together making up motorsport’s so-called ‘Triple Crown’.
What happened last year
The qualifying session at the 2022 edition ended after Red Bull’s Sergio Perez crashed right before the tunnel. With only 30 seconds left on the clock, other drivers, including Perez’s teammate and world champion Max Verstappen could not go for one final flying lap which resulted in Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc securing the pole position at his home race.
The race, originally a 78-lap affair, was affected by heavy rains. After two formation laps behind the safety car, the race was suspended. Eventually, after several delays, only 64 laps were completed in which Ferrari’s poor strategy call cost Leclerc a podium finish. Perez won the race, Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz finished second and Verstappen finished third.
Storyline for this year
Red Bulls has dominated the 2023 season, winning all five races so far and will certainly look to extend its lead on the points table. Perez will look to defend his Monaco crown from last year against Verstappen with just 14 points separating the duo. Ferrari, which has claimed the pole position for the last two years but failed to convert it into race wins, will hope to do better while facing tough competition from Aston Martin and Fernando Alonso, who will be hunting for his first win in 10 years. Mercedes’s major update package is set to roll out this weekend.
About the track
Circuit de Monaco is regarded as one of the slowest tracks to race on with the slightest of errors being enough to end a driver’s race. The 3.34 km long track is packed into the narrow streets and it is almost impossible to overtake on.
Though the average speed trap recording is less than 300 kmph, a driver generally manages to complete a lap in less than 75 seconds. The track is one of the very few to have only one Drag Reduction System (DRS) zone. This makes it even more difficult for cars to gain track position which is very crucial on a street circuit.
There are approximately 19 turns to navigate through with some turns requiring exceptional skills to avoid hitting the barrier. These corners have their own unique names - some with great views of the coastline and others bearing witness to career-altering moments.
Famous moments from the past
Over the years, the Monaco GP has had its fair share of dramatic moments with some drivers dominating the demanding track, adding to its history and popularity.
Mr. Monaco and the King of Monaco
Norman Graham Hill was a British driver, also known as ‘Mr. Monaco,’ for winning the Monaco Grand Prix an astonishing five-times (1963, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1969). The two-time world champion is the only man to accomplish the ‘Triple Crown’ of Motorsport.
However, his record was eventually broken in the early 1990s by Formula One legend, Ayrton Senna of Brazil. The three-time world champion overtook Hill’s record with six Monaco wins to his name, and is known as the ‘King of Monaco’.
Ascari in the harbour (1955)
In 1995, Alberto Ascari found himself in the harbour alongside the track. Two-time world champion Ascari was leading the race but made a mistake at the chicane after the tunnel under the Fairmont hotel. His car flew into the Monegasque waters but the Italian managed to swim himself to safety.
Least number of cars to finish a race
Monaco holds the all-time record for the least number of cars to finish an F1 race. The dry-wet race in 1996 saw 19 drivers either crashing, spinning or retiring. Only three cars took the chequered flag.
Schumacher controversy (2006)
During the qualifying session of the 2006 Monaco GP, seven-time champion Michael Schumacher set the fastest time and then parked his car at the La Rascasse hairpin, resulting in a yellow flag.
This affected Fernando Alonso’s lap who seemed to be getting closer to the German’s time. Later that day, the FIA stewards concluded that Schumacher had purposely stopped his car and was bumped to the back of the grid.
Ricciardo’s pit stop horror (2016)
In 2016, Daniel Ricciardo was leading the race before pulling into the Red Bull pit box for a change of tyres. The Red Bull pit crew did not have the tyres ready and the Australian had to wait for quite a while before he could rejoin the race. Ricciardo finished second behind Lewis Hamilton.
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