For any hard-core follower of Formula 1, to attend the Monaco round of the series is an absolute must. Raced on the super tight, twisting, and visually impressive streets of the principality, Monaco brings the dollars, the celebs, and the desire to be on pole position for the prize that is a win at Monaco.
The whole of Monaco covers 0.78 square miles, or close to the size of Central Park in New York, yet must be the richest country on earth every year when F1 comes to town. Every hotel room is booked out well in advance, and the harbor is home to millions of dollars worth of super yachts. Then there is the spectacle of the race itself, with nearly every section visible from some sort of vantage point, be it from a hotel window, a yacht, or streetside.There have been many multiple winners at this fabled race event. The late and great Ayrton Senna is the current record holder, with six wins and including five in a row from 1989 to 1993. Michael Schumacher is the second in line, with five wins during his amazing career, with the first in 1994, and the last in 2001. Alain Prost made the Monaco F1 his own in the middle of the 1980s, winning four times from 1984 to 1988.
For the 2019 race, there is one driver that hopes that history repeats in the best possible way. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who has had a lean run this year, has won at Monaco for the past two years. Should he or current series leader Lewis Hamilton win, each will have won three times here and would join Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Jackie Stewart in the three time winner club at Monaco.
The track itself, being so tight, potentially favors the front two, perhaps four drivers, as overtaking is limited, with the 2003 race seeing no overtaking at all during the race. And with the road barriers so close it takes very little for a car to tag one and cause any kind of carnage. It’s also not a high speed track, with driver skill, engineer’s skill, and downforce working together to set a car up right and keeping the car firmly planted.
Tire choice is perhaps even more critical here. Nearly all of the teams have nominated just one hard tire with most opting for the yellow banded mediums. With grip a bigger necessity at Monaco than perhaps any other race, tires need to be able to hang on through the narrow corners. Monaco is also a high lap and short distance count race. There are 78 laps of the circuit, with each lap just 3,337 kilometres in length, making the full race distance just 260.2 kilometres. The current quickest lap time of 1:14.260 was set last year by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
It is also a home race, literally, for Ferrari drive Charles Leclerc. Born in Monaco in October of 1997, the winner of GP3 and Formula 2 titles made the leap into Formula 1 at the beginning of 2018, taking over the seat from Kimi Raikkonen. He’s stood on the podium just once so far, and in 2019 has scored 57 points, placing him in a healthy 5th for the season.
Monaco for 2019 has a slightly different schedule. Free Practice 1 and 2 are on May 23, whilst FP3 is May 25, as is qualifying. The race is at 15:10local time on May 26.