The Big Preview: Monaco Grand Prix on the streets of Monte Carlo

View of Monte Carlo on grand prix day
View of Monte Carlo on grand prix day

Round six of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship will see the teams do battle around the tight and twisting streets of Monaco for a race that cranks up G-forces of a different kind – meaning there will be plenty of glitz and glamour on show as well as no small amount of grit and determination on the part of the drivers at a track that provides them with one of the season’s toughest tests.

The track may have the slowest average speed of any circuit on the calendar but the proximity of the barriers and the lack of run-off areas means it requires absolute focus and total commitment, especially as early in the weekend the surface is usually very slippery.

The winding nature of the track means the teams will bring their highest downforce aero configurations and tyre manufacturer Pirelli will supply its soft and supersoft tyres in order to maximise mechanical grip.

Mark Webber won the 2012 Monaco GP
Mark Webber won the 2012 Monaco GP

Beyond the need for downforce and good traction, the Monaco Grand Prix is all about driver skill and this, coupled with the race’s history, makes it the one every racer wants to win. In recent years that honour has gone to those wearing the colours of Red Bull Racing, with Mark Webber winning in 2010 and last year and Sebastian Vettel victorious in 2011.

Whether that run will continue is anyone’s guess. Pole position is of major importance in Monaco, with all but two of the last 10 races being won from the front of the grid. On that score, Mercedes look to be the form team, with Nico Rosberg on pole at the last two races and Lewis Hamilton in P1 at the start in China.

However, Fernando Alonso, energised by his recent home win at the Spanish Grand Prix, will undoubtedly fancy his chances of a third Monaco victory, while this season’s Mr Consistency, Kimi Raikkonen, will no doubt be in the mix again come Sunday. In truth, on a circuit where the influence of car superiority is significantly reduced, any one of a host of drivers could win F1’s most glittering prize.

Ayrton Senna
Ayrton Senna won Monaco on six occasions – more than anyone else

Monaco Circuit data

  • Length of lap: 3.340km
  • Lap record: 1:14.439 (M Schumacher, 2004)
  • Start line/finish line offset: 0.000km
  • Total number of race laps: 78
  • Total race distance: 260.520km
  • Pitlane speed limits: 60km/h in practice, qualifying and the race

Changes to the circuit since 2012

  • The track has been resurfaced on the pit straight and between turns 1 and 3.
  • A number of improvements have been made to the left-side debris fencing on the approach to turn 3 and on the left between turns 8 and 10.
  • A new 50cm wide kerb has been installed at the apex of turn 5.
  • The kerb at the exit of turn 19 has been widened by 20cm.

DRS Zone

  • There will be a single DRS zone in Monaco. The detection point will be 44m after turn 16 and the activation point will be 18m after turn 19.
Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31 crashes at the start of the race. Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Race Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Sunday 27 May 2012.
Turn 1 mayhem during the 2012 race

Monaco Grand Prix Fast Facts

  • This will be the 71st Monaco Grand Prix, the race stretching all the way back to 1929. It is the 60th Formula One race here, with the principality making its debut on the first Formula One calendar in 1950. It then took a break until 1955 but has featured on the calendar every year since.
  • Olivier Panis won the 1996 race from 14th on the grid, the lowest position from which victory has been scored here since Formula One began. In a race characterised by wet weather, crashes and mechanical failures, just four of the 21 who started the race were still racing when the chequered flag came out on lap 75 – Panis, David Coulthard, Johnny Herbert. Fourth-placed Heinz Harald-Frentzen was in the pits when the flag fell.
  • That 1996 win was Panis’ first and last in Formula One. Eight other drivers have recorded maiden F1 wins here: Juan Manuel Fangio (1950), Maurice Trintignant (1955), Jack Brabham (1959), Denny Hulme (1967), Jean-Pierre Beltoise (1972), Patrick Depailler (1978), Riccardo Patrese (1982), and Jarno Trulli (2004). Only Beltoise, Panis and Trulli never won again.
  • A high grid position is a major advantage here. Since 1950 the race has only been won 10 times from a starting position worse than third place. From third on the grid the race has also been won 10 times since 1950. However, only three of those have come since the turn of the century – Coulthard in 2000, Juan Pablo Montoya in ’03, and Lewis Hamilton in ’08.
  • The driver starting second has won 13 times since 1950, but only two of those have come since 2000 – Michael Schumacher in 2001 and Coulthard in 2002.
  • The race has been won from the front of the grid 26 times since 1950. Since 2000, eight winners have started in P1.
  • McLaren have the most victories at the Monaco race (15). The second most successful team at the track is Ferrari with eight, while Lotus have clinched seven, including their maiden victory in 1960.
  • Of the current drivers only Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber have multiple wins here. Both have two victories (Alonso in ’06 and ’07 and Webber in ’10 and ’12). If Alonso wins for Ferrari this year he will be the first driver in F1 history to win here with three different teams. His first victory was with Renault and his second came with McLaren.
  • Of the 2013 rookies only Williams’ Valtteri Bottas has never raced here in single seaters. Marussia’s Jules Bianchi debuted here in Formula Renault 3.5 in 2009 and raced here in GP2 in 2010-’11. Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde raced here in F3 Euro Series in 2005. He also raced here in Formula Renault 3.5 (2007-’08) and in GP2 (’09-’12). Marussia’s Max Chilton made his Monaco debut in Formula Renault 3.5 in 2009 and raced in GP2 in 2010-’12. Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez first raced here in GP2 in 2011 and again last year.
Monaco grand prix weekend rocks
Monaco grand prix weekend rocks

Monaco Grand Prix Race Stewards Biographies

  • Swede Lars Österlind is a highly experienced FIA steward, who has officiated at more than 100 grands prix and a similar number of World Rally Championship rounds. A social sciences graduate and lifelong motor sport enthusiast, Österlind was President of the Swedish Rally Commission from 1978-1982, then President of the Swedish Automobile Sport Federation from 1982-1996. He became honorary president in 1996 and has been a member of the FIA World Council since 1984. Outside motor sport Österlind has specialised in management, working as a management consultant and pursuing his own business interests. He is also experienced in local government at city council level.
  • José Abed, an FIA Vice President since 2006, began competing in motor sport in 1961. In 1985, as a motor sport official, Abed founded the Mexican Organisation of International Motor Sport (OMDAI) which represents Mexico in the FIA. He sat as its Vice- President from 1985 to 1999, becoming President in 2003. In 1986, Abed began promoting truck racing events in Mexico and from 1986 to 1992, he was President of Mexican Grand Prix organising committee. In 1990 and 1991, he was President of the organising committee for the International Championship of Prototype Cars and from 1990 to 1995, Abed was designated Steward for various international Grand Prix events. Since 1990, Abed has been involved in manufacturing prototype chassis, electric cars, rally cars and kart chassis.
  • Denmark’s Tom Kristensen is the most successful driver in the history of the Le Mans 24-Hour race. He has won the classic endurance event eight times, racing for Porsche, Audi and Bentley. Kristensen, 45, has a broad racing CV, having competed in single-seaters, touring cars and a range of sportscars. He has also tested in F1. A popular and respected figure, he is this year again contesting the FIA World Endurance Championship, driving for Audi Sport Team Joest. Along with team mates Loïc Duval and Allan McNish he recently finished second in the opening round of this year’s championship at Spa-Francorchamps and will next month attempt to win a ninth Le Mans crown.