Monaco is almost synonymous with the Formula One, and the Monaco Grand Prix is considered so prestigious that winning at Monte Carlo, as it is fondly called, is worth two wins at any other Grand Prix. Established in 1929, it is the stand-out race of the Formula One that is part of the famous Triple Crown of Motorsport, which includes the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Although it’s referred to the “Monte Carlo,” the Circuit de Monaco lies on the city streets of Monte Carlo and La Condamine, including the harbour, and is currently the only race in the Formula 1 Championship to be held on a street circuit at the very heart of town. It is also one of the very few remaining circuits to be the same location of the original first race in 1929.
Quite exciting, the circuit is also touted to fail the new safety requirements of the Formula 1 championship series, and is lucky to have been already a circuit regular when the new regulations for new circuits were established. Two drivers have already crashed into the harbour. The circuit is known for its exhilarating tunnel section, and two important corners – a very fast corner in the tunnel, and the slowest curve in the series, also known as the Grand Hotel hairpin. The very narrow course, which frustrates many drivers wishing to overtake their opponents, has limited qualifiers to this race, accepting only 18 participants when other Grands Prix would have 23 or 24, adding even more prestige to the competition.
The street circuit is set up beginning six weeks before the annual race, usually held in May, and disbanded for three weeks after the winners take home their trophies. Over the many years of the Monaco Grand Prix, there are several drivers who emerge triumphant more than once. Graham Hill is the first and for the longest time the only one to complete the Triple Crown, winning Monaco Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He is actually called “Mr. Monaco,” for winning the Monaco Grand Prix a total of 5 times. Michael Schumacher matches his 5-time win, but neither holds the record for most wins at the Monaco Grand Prix, an honor owned by Ayrton Senna, for six wins. Other multiple winners include Alain Prost, Stirling Moss, Jackie Stewart and Fernando Alonso. Alonso’s second win was at the 2007 Monaco Grand Prix.
You can reach Monaco from the Nice International Airport in France, and take a 40-minute train into Monaco, where everything is easier to get to on foot, as driving – and parking – near the circuit is next to impossible on the Monaco Grand Prix weekend. Do try to get to the circuit as early as you can as practice in Monaco starts earlier than in any other Grand Prix. Many tourists stay in Paris instead of Monaco because hotels are staggeringly expensive, and the rates escalate as you get closer to the venue.
However, if you can afford it, or you think you’re worth the splurge, do go and enjoy the luxuries Monaco has to offer. You may even bump into one of the many celebrities who regularly attend the Monaco Grand Prix en route to the swimming pool. Or stay by the coast, and enjoy the beach when you’re not at the race. If this is the case, you should make your reservations early. Hotels in Monaco are often booked even months in advance.
As if to mirror the personality of the city itself, there are no general admission tickets for the Monaco Grand Prix. This is of course because of the tightness of the track, but it also means that most of the only available grandstand seats will give a very good view of the action. Monaco Grand Prix tickets are priced according to the view around the track, so rest assured that if you paid a pretty penny, you’re in for a very good time.