Monaco GP 2014: 10 Facts About the Monte Carlo Street Circuit

Oliver HardenFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2014

Monaco GP 2014: 10 Facts About the Monte Carlo Street Circuit

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    The Monaco Grand Prix is the sixth round of the 2014 Formula One season.

    Often referred to as the jewel in the crown, Monte Carlo weekend is like no other, almost acting as a celebration of all that is good about F1.

    The circuit features some of the most iconic corners in the world, each with its own place in history, while the location on the French Riviera sees the glamour of the sport burst into life.

    This year's event carries even more intrigue than usual. The prospect of threading the 2014-spec cars through every turn and dancing between the barriers is almost certain to catch out a number of drivers.

    The sight of drivers wrestling with their cars will be played against the backdrop of a simmering title battle, as only three points separate Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg—two residents of Monte Carloat the top of the drivers' standings.

    As the weekend approaches, here are 10 facts about the Monaco Grand Prix. 

Location

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    The Circuit de Monaco runs through the streets of Monte Carlo and La Condamine, Monaco's second oldest district.

    Monaco is a sovereign city-state on the Cote d'Azur, located only 13 kilometers from the French city of Nice and 16 kilometers from Italy.

    Its position on the Mediterranean coastline gives the circuit some natural elevation changes, with an uphill climb from St. Devote to Massenet (pictured above) before a downhill section between Casino Square and the Nouvelle Chicane.  

History

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    The Monte Carlo circuit was founded by Antony Noghes, who also helped to establish the Monte Carlo Rally, with the final corner of the grand prix track named in his honour.

    The first Monaco Grand Prix took place in 1929 and was won by British driver William Grover-Williams in a Bugatti. The 100-lap race took almost four hours to complete.

    The circuit hosted the second ever Formula One race in 1950, when Juan Manuel Fangio completed a clean sweep of pole position, fastest lap and race victory.

    Monaco was then absent from the calendar until 1955 but has remained on the F1 schedule ever since, with only Monza, the venue of the Italian Grand Prix, hosting more races than Monte Carlo.

    The 2014 race will be the 61st running of the event.

Not Your Usual Podium Ceremony

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    It is clear that the Monaco Grand Prix is different than any other event on the Formula One calendar—and this extends to the post-race podium ceremony.

    The top three drivers do not take to the podium steps after the chequered flag falls but instead to the steps of the royal box of Prince Albert II, who presents the trophy for first place to the winning driver.

    The cars of the podium finishers sit on the starting grid rather than a designated area of the pit lane like at other circuits, and pit crews are permitted to flood onto the track to celebrate with their respective drivers.

    As well as the post-race ceremony, the Monaco weekend also differs from other events with the opening two free practice sessions taking place on Thursday, due to Friday being a bank holiday in Monte Carlo.  

Pole Position Isn't as Important as You Think

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    It is often said that the driver who secures pole position in Monaco has one hand on victory.

    The stats, however, don't back up that theory.

    In the 60 grands prix in Monaco thus far, the driver on pole has gone on to win the race on only 27 occasions.

    However, 2008 was the last time a driver who failed to start from the No. 1 grid slot won in Monaco, with Lewis Hamilton triumphing only 24 hours after he qualified third behind the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen.

    The lowest position that any Monaco Grand Prix victor has started from was 14th, which was where Olivier Panis began the 1996 race.

A Home from Home for Drivers

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    Monaco's status as a tax haven means several drivers choose to live there.

    Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez are just some of those who reside in Monte Carlo, while 2013 race winner Nico Rosberg grew up and continues to live in the city.

    Ayrton Senna, the three-time world champion, famously fled to his Monaco apartment after crashing out of the lead of the 1988 event.

    Living in Monaco also presents business opportunities for drivers. David Coulthard, the former McLaren and Red Bull driver, co-owned the Columbus Hotel before selling it for £30 million in 2010.  

Past Winners

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    Ayrton Senna is the most successful driver in the history of the Monaco Grand Prix, having won the race on six occasions.

    Prior to his arrival, two-time world champion Graham Hill had held the unofficial title of "Mr. Monaco" after winning the race five times, the same amount as managed by seven-time title winner Michael Schumacher, between 1963 and 1969.

    Of the current drivers, Fernando Alonso is the most successful in Monte Carlo with two victories under his belt.

    Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg all have one win apiece.

The Land of Opportunity

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    As the most difficult circuit on the calendar to master, you would expect the most decorated, talented and experienced drivers to rise to the top at Monaco. 

    But that is not always the case.

    Five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio, Maurice Trintignant, three-time title winner Sir Jack Brabham, 1967 champion Denny Hulme, Patrick Depailler and Riccardo Patrese all achieved their debut wins in Monte Carlo.

    Meanwhile, Jean-Pierre Beltoise of BRM (1972), Olivier Panis of Ligier (1996) and Jarno Trulli of Renault (2004) recorded the only victories of their respective careers around the iconic streets.

    Monaco's reputation as a land of opportunity could be a good sign for Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, who is arguably the best-placed race winner in waiting ahead of the 2014 event.

Playground for Rich and Famous

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    Monaco's exoticism attracts more famous faces than any other grand prix.

    Tamara Ecclestone (daughter of Bernie), Ron Howard, Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Lucas and David Hasselhoff were among those to appear at the 2013 event.

    The 2014 Cannes Film Festival comes to a close on race day, so expect to see a number of silver-screen stars appear on the grid.

    Over the grand prix weekend, the Monaco seafront becomes crammed with yachts, with cars whizzing past them in the second half of the lap.

    These boats, however, bring their own hazards, as Kimi Raikkonen discovered some years ago.  

Hard Work Behind the Scenes

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    The Monaco Grand Prix's glamorous exterior makes it all too easy to forget about the effort that occurs behind the scenes to ensure the event runs as smoothly as it looks.

    The general commissioner of race organisers at the Automobile Club de Monaco, Michel Ferry, has explained the logistics behind the grand prix, telling the official F1 website:

    We have around 21 kilometres of safety rails, around one kilometre of Tecpro barriers, around 20,000 square metres of wire netting, one and a half tonnes of grandstand material, 3,000 protection tyres, 800 fire extinguishers—one for every 15 metres of track—and nine cranes. To build it all we have around 250 people working, paid for by the companies we hire. And then during the race itself we have more than 2,000 people—mostly volunteers like the marshals and stewards, but also people like police and doctors who are paid. 

    Ferry added that the circuit takes six weeks to create and three to take down, with the dismantling part of the job beginning within hours of the chequered flag.

The Slowest Corner in F1

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    The Grand Hotel Hairpin, previously known as the Loews Hairpin or the Station Hairpin, sees cars travel at just 30 mph.

    Drivers find themselves having to apply full lock on to navigate the tight, left-handed bend.

    Despite its low speed, the hairpin is one of the few corners on the circuit where overtaking is possible, as Adrian Sutil proved last year (pictured above).