The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the Monaco GP

monacoPicture this; 3,340 km of racing track, 19 hairpin turns on the same track, and elevation shifts. What do you get when you place Formula One machines on this circuit? Of course you expect drama at both the slowest and quickest hairpins in the calendar, collisions and much more.

It is no wonder one of the greatest racing icons, Nelson Piquet, likened the Monte Carlo streets to riding a bike in your bedroom. If you are a Formula 1 enthusiast, you appreciate the importance of any driver winning on these streets.

As one of the most popular tracks with fans, drivers push themselves to the limit to earn points and also dazzle the crowd. In the process, great moments are inadvertently created. Take a look at some of these moments:

The Good

Good things always happen at the Monaco Grand Prix. Here are some great moments:

  • graham_hillThe king of Monaco is crowned, 1963-69: Graham Hill is a legend in all ways especially in his exploits at Monaco GP. He won five times in seven years. Talk of domination!
  • Arrival of Ayrton Senna, 1984: He might not have won the race, but the amazing Senna pushed Alain Prost to the limit when Prost complained of the wet conditions just when Senna was crossing the line. The race was stopped and Prost won.
  • Senna vs. Prost, 1984-93: The domination of these two drivers on this track is incredible. They shared ten wins on the Monte Carlo streets with Senna taking six of these. Racing has never enjoyed such moments to date. Probably Rosberg and Hamilton will revive such healthy competition.
  • Enter Michael Schumacher: Driving for Benetton in 1994, the German showed the stuff he was made of by winning the 1st of his five wins on the streets to become the next king of Monte Carlo streets.
  • Inspired overtaking: Hulkensberg and Bianchi take the title of the kings of overtaking on these tough streets of this principality. Pundits always argue you can’t overtake here, but these stars showed anything can be done with apt skills.
  • Hamilton wins it wet, 2008: Rookie or not, the Brit showed the world the stuff he was made of by sticking to dry tires and winning it.

The Bad and the Ugly

With the good come the bad and the ugly. This circuit has witnessed its fair share of controversies. Take a look:

  • The ‘parking’ incident: In 2006, Schumacher was still a hot item, but he put a blot on his escutcheon when he deliberately blocked Alonso from qualifying at the Rascasse hairpin. He was penalized by starting from the back of the grid. Nasty, isn’t it?
  • Where are the cars? This was the question officials were asking in 1996 as most cars retired and only three drivers Coulthard, Oliver Panis and Hrebert finished the race due to wet weather.
  • Anyone who wants to win? Another crazy event happened in 1982 when everyone seemed incapable of winning. During the final laps, the lead changed six times and eventually Ricardo Patresse took victory.
  • The 1955 crazy somersault into the harbour by Alberto Ascari


Of course there are many other great moments since inclusion of the track on the FIA calendar. Consider Senna’s 1988 clouting of the barriers to retire and lose the ocean spray chaos of 1950 and myriad crashes, and you will appreciate why Monaco reigns supreme as the quintessential Grand Prix.

Italian GP, Monza: Proving the Adage, Old is Gold

Monza-Grand-PrixIn F1 today, the trend is towards new fancy circuits trying to woo fans with glamour and prestige, but classic Monza has defied all this to remain the top circuit. The course is not a rundown old track because it has incorporated the latest designs while still retaining that classic touch that defines true racing.

The Dominance of Italian GP

So, what makes Italy GP rule and will it always remain a force to reckon with amongst other new circuits? Here are some ideas:

  • Rich heritage: The original autodrome dates back to the 1920s and is also one of the first in the world. Its rich history of wins by Fangio, Giuseppe, among other icons during its early years, makes Monza an integral part of motor GP. Schumacher made his retirement announcement here, while Vettel registered his first iconic win on this track too.
  • The culture bug: There is no denying that fast cars and Italians are almost synonymous. From Alfa Romeo to Lancia to Ferraris, there is always something about Italian engineers that motivates them to make cars destined for racing glory. As such, Italian GP can be considered the home of Formula One just as Athens is considered the home of the Olympics.
  • Fast boys: From Antonio Asacari to his son Alberto Ascari, there is no dearth of champions in Italy. This seems to be a confirmation that this is indeed the natural home of racing. Other icons from Italy include Fisichella, Giuseppe Farina, Riccardo Patrese and Andrea Cesaris, among others, who have featured prominently in F1 to grant Italian GP the respect it deserves.
  • The Tifosi exhilarating passion: When you think of F1, which colour comes to mind? Put it another way, which car comes to mind? Of course the Ferrari. While McLaren might claim it rules in terms of the records, the passion shown by Ferrari Tifosi fans makes Monza an incredible place to be.
  • The thrill in the danger: With speed comes danger and the fact that this is the fastest track makes it vulnerable to more risks. In the early years, over 20 drivers lost their lives here. In fact, the 1961 tragedy where Clark tangled with Von Trips led to the death of Trips and 15 spectators. Schumacher completed the race at an average speed of 153.842 mph, which highlights how thrilling it can get.

Indeed you have to sit and watch the action to appreciate why the super speeds at high gears are so risky. The cars simply fly and you will find yourself holding your breath even for a full lap. The action is so fast paced that if you are not keen it might be hard to follow your driver at Monza.

The best thing with the modern track is of course enhanced safety including the slowing down of the 2nd Lesmo curve. With 63 races run at Monza to date, and Ferrari still holding the record with 18 wins on this circuit, you can bet there will be more to expect with each coming year.