Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Magic of Monaco

It's arguably the biggest weekend in the F1 year.

It may be the slowest race of the year with the slowest corner of any race track in F1, but the Monaco Grand Priz oozes the class and most importantly for me, the history that puts a win around its famous corners as one of the most prized possessions for any Grand Prix driver.

The Famous 37mph Loews Hairpin
The first Grand Prix around the tight street circuit in Monte Carlo was held back in 1929 and was won by Briton William Grover-Williams in a Bugatti. The race was not held between 1938-1947 and though it was also not held in 1949, it did play a part of the first ever F1 World Championship in 1950. Having not been held in 1951 and 1953-1954, it has been held without fail for the past 56 years since 1955.

The roll-call of winners is a show-case of Formula One's greatest drivers of all-time.

Juan Manuel Fangio - 1950, 1957
Stirling Moss - 1956, 1960,1961
Jack Brabham - 1959
Graham Hill - 1963, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1969
Jackie Stewart - 1966, 1971, 1973
Niki Lauda - 1975, 1976
Gilles Villeneuve - 1981

But the sheer dominance of 3 giants of F1 became evident on the streets of Monaco throughout the 1980s and 1990s. 15 of the 18 Monaco Grand Prix's between 1984-2001 were won by either Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna or Michael Schumacher.

Alain Prost - 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988
Ayrton Senna - 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993
Michael Schumacher - 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001

A Decade of Change
The past decade however has seen something of a change. The growing depth and strength of talent in F1 has led to a greater number of winners including David Coulthard, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jarno Trulli, Kimi  Räikkönen, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Mark Webber. In total, there have incredibly been 9 different winners in the past 10 years.

The Most Famous Track in Formula One
There are some notable world-class exceptions to the winning Monaco rule. Whilst Senna, Schumacher, Graham Hill and Prost set the bench mark with 4 or more wins each, the likes of Jim Clark, Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill never won at Monaco.

Add to that list the name of a certain reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel.

But then, he's got an opportunity to put that right tomorrow from pole position and if he finishes on top of the podium, he'll be joining a long and proud list of Formula One greats to have mastered what is probably the toughest Grand Prix of all.

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