Monaco Grand Prix: Circuit de Monaco

Circuit de Monaco Track
Circuit de Monaco (mila103 /

There are few more iconic sporting venues in the world than the Monaco racetrack. In fact, in poll run in 2009, it was voted in the top 7 of the greatest sporting wonders of the world, such is the track and the Grand Prix’s importance. 

The 3.37km track is a street circuit and is one of the tightest, most narrow tracks that the drivers face all year. It’s literally based in the middle of Monaco, although most it runs through Monte Carlo, which is why many people refer to it as the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. 


Swap Start/End

Circuit Info

Location Length Corners Capacity Year Opened
Monte Carlo 3.337km 19 37,000 1929

Circuit Layout

F1 Monaco Track Map

As stated, the track runs throughout the streets of Monaco. What’s probably most iconic about the race is that it runs along the harbour, where millions, if not billions of pounds worth of yachts and super-yachts are all playing host to the rich and famous of high society. 

The concept of racing throughout the streets was first brought about by that of Antony Noghes, who was the president of the Monegasque Motor Club at the time. It helped that he was also close friend of the ruling family, Grimaldi, at the time and it was decided between them that this would be a good idea. A good idea it most definitely was! 

The track takes around 6 weeks to construct and then another 3 weeks to deconstruct. What you will find is that the track is constantly changing each year, mainly in order to improve safety. The original circuit that was designed in 1929 was set out at 3.145km in length, but now the track runs to almost 3.4km. 

But, whilst these little changes do take place, the main features to the track have remained intact for the almost 100 years that racing has been on show here. One thing that few people know is that the Monaco circuit contains the slowest corner in the grand prix calendar, in that of the Fairmont Hairpin, where cars need to tiptoe around at just 30mph. This leads up to one of the fastest and most iconic parts where the cars head under the Fairmont hotel at speeds of over 160mph.

The tunnel is tough section for drivers to navigate through. The main reason being the change in light as they plunge into artificial lighting with darkness in the tunnel, before often re-joining the track in bright sunshine. The braking zone is just around the area where driver’s eyesight will start to readjust, making the next two corners extremely tricky and often seeing cars use a run off area to navigate through that section. 

The downside to the narrow track is that overtaking is almost impossible as there is just no room. One driver, Nelson Piquet, brilliantly described like riding a bicycle around in your living room, such is the compact nature of the track.

This means that strategy plays a huge role in the Grand Prix and often places are exchanged when pitting and even as early as the qualifying sessions. Gearboxes and breaks take an absolute battering around the circuit as well, so drivers are constantly warned by pit mechanics to monitor them. It’s rare to not see one or the other throughout a race, often calling for a safety car given that there are very few run off areas for the cars to head down. 

Interestingly, it’s often considered that if the Monaco Grand Prix wasn’t already a stable on the F1 calendar, it wouldn’t be deemed safe enough to enter now. Given the history of the track and everything that comes with the race, it’s almost inconceivable to think that an F1 season would be without the Monaco Grand Prix. 

Recent Winners

YearDriverCarFastest Lap
2017 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1.15.238
2016 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.17.939
2015 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1.18.599
2014 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1.19.425
2013 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1.18.327

Other Races at Circuit de Monaco

1996 Monaco Grand Prix
1996 Monaco Grand Prix (Steve Gregory /

As the course has to be erected each year, taking weeks and thousands of man hours to do, the number of other races that the track sees are very limited. Throughout the race weekend you will see the inclusion of the Formula two, Formula 300 and the GP2 Series all running at the same time.

Aside from that, there are two more events, which come in the form of the Formula E Monaco Grand Prix and the Historic Grand Prix of Monaco. The two alternate each year, with the E-series taking the odd years and the Historic GP taking the even years. The track has also seen the World Rally Championship use the circuit in 2008 as a single lap special stage, which was quite the spectacle. 


Monte Carlo During the 2016 F1
Monte Carlo During the 2016 F1 (Mike Norton /

The first race that was run on the iconic streets was held in 1929 and won by that of William Grover-Williams in a Bugatti Type 35B, no less. The race was set up as an invitational event and with it saw the likes of Mercedes and SSK all compete. The first Grand Prix’s at the track were held pre-war, but again, many were invitational events. But, they did bring in qualifying for the race and were running alongside the likes of the French, Belgium, Italian and Spanish Grand Prix’s.

The Monaco Grand Prix has been part of the Formula One World Championship officially since 1955. As the sport continued to progress, the prestige that came with winning the Monaco Grand Prix continued to rise. The offer of hospitality from the Royal Family of Monaco was a huge draw back in those days. 


The race has seen some huge crashes over the years, but non bigger than the one suffered by Austrian, Karl Wendlinger. The accident occurred in the tunnel section of the track and he was later taken to hospital where he was in an induced coma. He missed the rest of the season, but later recovered. The crash happened just two weeks after the infamous crashes that took the lives of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenburger at Imola.   

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher is often described as the greatest driver of all-time around the streets of Monaco, winning 5 times, matched on by that of Graham Hill. But, he was never too far away from controversy on the track, where he parked his car in the middle of the road in qualifying whilst sitting in pols position, meaning that cars behind on flying laps were forced to slow down, essentially handing him pole. Schumacher claims that the car had broken down due to mechanical failure, but the FIA disagreed, and he was sent to the back of the grid.