Monaco Formula One Grand Prix
- Monte Carlo
- tickets: €50-€300
Lonely Planet review for Monaco Formula One Grand Prix
The scent of singed tyres fills the air at May's Monaco Formula One Grand Prix . If there's one trophy a Formula One driver would like to have on the mantelpiece, it would have to be from the most glamorous race of the season, the Monaco Grand Prix. This race has everything.
Its spectators are the most sensational: the merely wealthy survey the spectacle from Hôtel Hermitage, the really rich watch from their luxury yachts moored in the harbour, while the Grimaldis see the start and finish from the royal box at the port.
Then there's the setting: the cars scream around the very centre of the city, racing uphill from the start/finish line to place du Casino, then downhill around a tight hairpin and two sharp rights to hurtle through a tunnel and run along the harbourside to a chicane and more tight corners before the start/finish. To top it all off there's the race's history: it was first run in 1929, and the winners' list features a roll-call of racing greats right down to Michael Schumacher's five victories between 1994 and 2001.
But despite its reputation, the Monaco Grand Prix is not really one of the great races. The track is too tight and winding for modern Grand Prix cars, and overtaking is virtually impossible. The Brazilian triple world champion Nelson Piquet famously described racing at Monaco as like 'riding a bicycle around your living room'. Piquet clearly rides a much faster bicycle than most of us; Monaco may be the slowest race on the calendar, but the lap record is still over 160km/h and at the fastest point on the circuit cars reach 280km/h. Even the corner in the gloom of the tunnel is taken at 250km/h (over 150mph).
The 78-lap race happens on a Sunday afternoon in late May, the conclusion of several days of practice, qualifying and supporting races. Tickets are available from Automobile Club de Monaco and the official T-shirt, loo seats et al from L@Boutique and Boutique Formule 1.