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Formula 1 Preview: Monaco Grand Prix

Written by Marcus Woodhouse, Edited by Sharifah Zaqreeztrina

Credit: Sebastien Bozon/AFP via Getty Images

It’s time for Formula 1 to unveil its crown jewel, its shining treasure steeped in history and tradition, the fabled Monaco Grand Prix.

Many a driver has come to the narrow streets of Monte Carlo and come up short, be it from the unforgiving walls, a desperate lunge down the inside, or even an ill-fated adventure into the dazzling Port Hercules harbour (as Alberto Ascari and Paul Hawkins experienced in 1955 and 1965 respectively). Who will thrive under this extreme pressure and who will fall at one of many hurdles along the way?

Circuit Guide

Credit: Formula 1

The Circuit de Monaco is undoubtedly the toughest, most punishing track on the grid and has been since its inclusion in the inaugural Formula 1 season of 1950. The walls are inescapable, aside from a race-ruining trip down one of very few run-off areas, so it is necessary to maintain complete concentration without lapses.

As the lights blink out, the drivers will charge down the short run to Sainte Devote, an easy spot to out-brake yourself in intermediate conditions and end your race almost immediately. Sharp elevation changes will unsettle the cars as they hurtle through Beau Rivage and Massenet at breakneck speeds, before slowing the car down just enough to make it round Casino.

Then follows one of the most iconic pieces of track in F1 history in Mirabeau and the Grand Hotel Hairpin (pictured on page 1). For the bravest of the brave, this seemingly never-ending corner represents one of the better overtaking opportunities of the circuit. Brakes are feathered as the drivers try to ease their cars around the 180° turn without bumping their protruding front wings into the rear wings of the cars in front.

Portier is up next, before the thunderous noise of 20 F1 cars rumbling through the tunnel on the approach to the Nouvelle Chicane, another key place to pass. Such opportunists have to proceed with caution, as the number of drivers who overestimate the width of the road at their disposal and end up clipping a wall rises every year.

Despite appearances it is very much foot to the floor on the exit of Tabac, through Piscine, until you have to slam on the brakes again and bounce over the curbs, making sure to not propel yourself into the wall.

Another overtaking opportunity arises at La Rascasse, as the width of the corner entertains the possibility of a daredevil divebomb down the inside. Finally, DRS (Drag Reduction System) makes an appearance along the not-so-straight start-finish stretch, providing one last moment to pass the car in front if you go late on the brakes into Sainte Devote.

Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

There have been calls in recent times to strip the track of its spot on the F1 calendar, with naysayers citing a lack of overtaking leading to dull racing which is difficult to deny. It can even be said that the finishing order is often all but decided on Saturday, as the order of the grid is likely to resemble the order at the chequered flag.

But Monaco represents the esteem and prestige that every young racer dreams of one day achieving. It contains the very essence of Formula 1 that brings the hardcore fans, like you and I, to obsess over this extraordinary sport. 

To drive hell for leather in the confines of the Monegasque streets for 78 laps and emerge not only unscathed but victorious is unquestionably a dream of every driver or prospective driver in Formula 1. 

In this way, the Monaco Grand Prix is one of the few Grands-Prix that rightfully possesses a permanent spot on the F1 calendar, and in my opinion its exclusion from the future of the sport would kill off a large part of why we watch Formula 1.

Weekend Format

Back-to-back regular weekend formats come as a return to normality for many die-hard fans of the sport.

Schedule (in BST)

Practice 1 - Friday, 12:30 pm

Practice 2 - Friday, 16:00 pm

Practice 3 - Saturday, 11:30 am

Qualifying - Saturday, 15:00 pm

Race - Sunday, 14:00 pm

Weather Forecast

Temperatures of around 22°C (72°F) and consistent winds over the weekend shouldn’t throw off the strategists at all. The spanner in the works come from afternoon showers forecasted on Saturday, in arguably the most important qualifying session of the year as points are often secured by starting positions here.

Credit: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Major Talking Points

  • Will we see a three-team fight at the front? - With all three of Christian Horner, Andrea Stella, and Fred Vasseur affirming the capability of their cars to fight for victories now, will we really have a six-car battle on our hands or is the competition for race wins being exaggerated?

  • What can Carlos Sainz do to secure a seat for next year? - The industrious Spaniard has had a commendable start to the season, with a race victory and numerous podiums under his belt, so if there is anything more he could possibly do to convince his suitors to give him a drive for 2025 then surely it would include achieving an impressive result at Monaco?

  • Can Sergio Perez recapture the highs of this time two years ago? - All in all it was a miserable weekend for the Mexican at Imola, getting knocked out in Q2 and only making up three places on Sunday, but he remains one of the few drivers to taste success around Monte Carlo after his 2022 triumph. Can the Monaco Grand Prix provide the stimulus for an upturn in fortunes this season?

Last Race Recap

For the most part, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was uneventful as Max Verstappen seemed to be cruising to victory ahead of a cohort of drivers that simply didn’t have the pace in their cars to match him. 

Cue an abrupt, dramatic drop-off in pace for the leading Red Bull as the hard tyres proved difficult to manage, and suddenly Lando Norris had a sniff of two wins in a row. The gap between them was dropping like a stone but ultimately Norris’ tyres couldn’t hold out either and the Dutchman held on until the chequered flag to take a nervy but fully deserved victory.

Charles Leclerc looked to be destined for P2 at one point, but couldn’t keep up with Norris in the final stages, so he had to settle for third ahead of Oscar Piastri. Sainz had a frustrating race as he lost a position to the McLaren driver, while Lewis Hamilton was the quickest of the two Mercedes cars in a fairly lonesome race.

Perez only managed P8, while Lance Stroll flew the flag for Aston Martin to take home a couple of points in the midst of a nightmare weekend for his teammate Fernando Alonso, who finished last of the drivers to complete the entire race distance.

Yuki Tsunoda again caught the eye to achieve yet another points finish this season. Both Haas cars were up and around the points this time, just falling frustratingly short in P11 and P12. Daniel Ricciardo had a race to forget as he finished four places behind his impressive P9 on the grid. 

Alpine, Kick Sauber, and Williams all finished without a point from the weekend, with Alex Albon the only retiree on lap 51 with an earlier wheel nut issue taking him out of contention.

Drivers to Watch

Credit: Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images

Sergio Perez - Time to Shine

It’s been a frustrating campaign thus far for the Red Bull driver despite his third position in the Driver Standings, a feat which would appear impressive to the untrained eye. However, the performances of his teammate Verstappen have left him in the dust on many occasions, and Perez is yet to taste victory this season even after the early retirement of the Dutchman in Australia. 

Therefore, this weekend in Monaco gives him the perfect opportunity to replicate two years ago and show the world his skills, with an eye on holding on to that Red Bull seat for even longer if possible.

Daniel Ricciardo - He Runs These Streets

The experienced Australian driver has shown real glimpses of what we know he can achieve in recent races. A P4 in the sprint in Miami reminded his critics of his immense capability, which includes winning races around the streets of Monaco. 

It’s been a tough few years for Ricciardo, but with a lot of pressure on him to outshine his impressive teammate Tsunoda, there is a chance that we will see a special performance from him this weekend.

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