Monaco Grand Prix: How Each Corner of the Famous Circuit De Monaco Got Its Name

Matthew WalthertFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2014

Monaco Grand Prix: How Each Corner of the Famous Circuit De Monaco Got Its Name

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    The Monaco harbour.
    The Monaco harbour.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    The Monaco Grand Prix is the most famous race on the Formula One calendar...probably the most famous motor race in the world.

    The names of the Circuit de Monaco's corners—Casino Square, Tabac, La Rascasse—evoke a sense of nostalgia and excitement in every racing fan.

    But how did all those corners get their names? Casino Square is pretty obvious, but what about Portier, Sainte Devote and Antony Noghes?

    Let's find out...

Turn 1: Sainte Devote

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    Chapel of Sainte Devote.
    Chapel of Sainte Devote.Associated Press

    Behind the Circuit de Monaco's first turn, a tight right-hander, is a small chapel. It was built in honour of Saint Devota, an early-fourth-century martyr and the patron saint of Monaco.

    The chapel is usually obscured by crash barriers and corporate signage on race weekends, so you will probably never catch a glimpse of it on TV.

    By tradition, when a Monegasque prince is married, the bride leaves her bouquet in the church, as Princess Charlene did, per the BBC, following her 2011 wedding to Prince Albert II.

Turn 2: Beau Rivage

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    Climbing the hill.
    Climbing the hill.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    This is not so much a turn as a slight bend in the road as the cars accelerate and climb the hill away from Sainte Devote.

    Beau Rivage means "beautiful seashore" in English, of which the Cote d'Azur has plenty.

Turn 3: Massenet

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    The exit of Massenet is in the middle of the photo, between the casino and the hotel.
    The exit of Massenet is in the middle of the photo, between the casino and the hotel.Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    Jules Massenet was a famous French opera composer. The long, left-hand corner which bears his name skirts the Monaco opera house, which has a bust of Massenet in front of it.

Turn 4: Casino Square

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    Casino Square
    Casino SquareMark Thompson/Getty Images

    The Monte Carlo Casino is the most famous building in Monaco. The area in front of the casino is filled with gardens, and the grand prix cars blast by just metres from the entrance.

    Interestingly, citizens of Monaco are not allowed to gamble at the casino—a holdover law from the 19th century.

Turn 5: Mirabeau Haute and Turn 7: Mirabeau Bas

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    Mirabeau Bas
    Mirabeau BasClive Mason/Getty Images

    The high (haute) and low (bas) Mirabeau corners sandwich the famous hairpin and are named for the old Hotel Mirabeau, nearby.

Turn 6: Grand Hotel Hairpin

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    The hairpin
    The hairpinMark Thompson/Getty Images

    The hairpin is one of the most easily recognisable corners in F1. The name keeps changing, based on who owns the hotel overlooking it—the corner was previously known as the Loews, Fairmont and Station Hairpin—and is taken by modern grand prix cars at approximately 65 kph, according to the FIA's circuit map.

Turn 8: Portier

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    Portier in 1988, where Ayrton Senna's race ended.
    Portier in 1988, where Ayrton Senna's race ended.Getty Images/Getty Images

    One of Monaco's neighbourhoods adjacent to the sea, and near this corner, is known as Le Portier. A "portier" or porter, in English, was the lowest order of Roman Catholic seminarians.

    Ayrton Senna famously crashed at this corner while leading the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix, handing the victory to his teammate and rival, Alain Prost.

Turn 9: The Tunnel

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    Through the tunnel.
    Through the tunnel.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    The tunnel is not a corner in the usual sense. It is more like a sweeping straightaway, complicated by the different lighting and aerodynamic conditions when compared to the rest of the circuit.

    The exit of the tunnel, as the cars brake for the next turn, is one of the only overtaking opportunities on the circuit.

Turns 10 and 11: Nouvelle Chicane

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    The Nouvelle Chicane
    The Nouvelle ChicaneMark Thompson/Getty Images

    There has always been a chicane at this location on the circuit. Originally, it was called the Chicane du Port—pretty self-explanatory.

    In 1986, the chicane was reprofiled and renamed the Nouvelle ("new") Chicane.

Turn 12: Tabac

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    Tabac (next to the harbour). Sainte Devote is on the far left.
    Tabac (next to the harbour). Sainte Devote is on the far left.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    A small tobacco shop on the outside of this left-hand bend gave this corner its name. As you can see in the photo above, the big yachts are packed very close to the circuit in this area.

Turns 13 to 16: Swimming Pool Complex

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    Swimming Pool complex
    Swimming Pool complexMark Thompson/Getty Images

    Until 1973, there was a straight run from Tabac to the final corner. That year, the Rainier III Nautical Stadium was constructed, necessitating a change in the design of the circuit.

    Now, there are essentially two chicanes which take the cars around the swimming pool. The first of these is also known as the Virage Louis Chiron, named after one of Monaco's three F1 drivers. Chiron finished third at the first F1 world championship Monaco Grand Prix in 1950.

Turn 17: La Rascasse

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    La Rascasse
    La RascasseAssociated Press

    rascasse is a type of scorpionfish found in the Mediterranean Sea. According to The Telegraph, there was an old fisherman's bar in Monaco called La Rascasse, which gave its name to the corner, and now a newer restaurant with the same name stands on the inside of the Rascasse corner.

Turn 18: Virage Antony Noghes

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    Alonso and Schumacher in 2010.
    Alonso and Schumacher in 2010.David Vincent/Associated Press

    The final corner of the circuit used to be another hairpin, called Gazometre, until the 1970s. When the corner was redesigned, it was named in honour of Antony Noghes, the founder of the Monaco Grand Prix.

    In 2010, Michael Schumacher passed Fernando Alonso in this corner on the last lap. The race was still under a safety car, although it had pulled into the pits, and Schumacher was given a 20-second penalty for his manoeuvre.

    From Antony Noghes, the cars roar back down the pit straight toward Sainte Devote, ending a lap of the Circuit de Monaco.

     

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