Its the Monaco GP of 2022!
It's here, and Charles Leclerc has some unfinished business. Fresh from the most unpromising of build ups, though through no apparent fault of his own, our Monegasque has crashed a classic Ferrari race car and then seen the current day one cark it from the lead of the last race. It is a reminder of last year’s Monaco race when his car expired after setting pole but before the race could start. So he’s back. And this time - it’s personal.
What else? Well, I’m personally all about Ferrari this week but there’s loads going on. The mighty Red Bull bandwagon rolls on, albeit with odd niggles here and there. Mercedes look like they might have fixed their car’s enduring Zebedee impressions and the Bottas renaissance continues apace.
So anyway, we’re back in Monte Carlo and the most exciting qualifying session of the year (probably) is less than a week away. The circuit makes unique demands of car and driver, tempting all to push that car through its narrow, winding streets that just bit closer to the barrier every time. Who will push it too far? At least we know when it happens, the Monaco marshals are going to be there and they are amazing. All our marshals are heroes, giving up their time for free so the whole thing can happen but the Monaco marshals take things to a crazy level in terms of their focussed, practiced speedy track clearing. I think it was Autosport’s Pablo Elizalde who said they can have the car back to the pits in minutes, fully valeted and with one of those little Christmas tree air fresheners hanging from the halo. More seriously, they have the whole track covered by recovery cranes and it’s stunning work.
I’m aware I’m kind of putting off getting to the race bit. Sigh. Monaco is generally…not enjoyable in the sense that other F1 races are traditionally enjoyable? In fact, it inevitably generates threads about why oh why are we still racing here. To which I’d say a) you make your own fun and b) there’s so much more than the actual racing on the Sunday. No other race will ever be allowed to race cars around such an unforgiving track again, so why not try and make the most of it. And it gives us time to look at the signage and street furniture, which is often mysterious and exotic.
But Monaco isn’t ALWAYS dull. And when action happens here, it REALLY happens. I put this one together a couple of years ago but it is by no means exhaustive! Add your own!
Monaco's greatest hits
- Ascari crashing into the harbour. As a kid I was always vaguely concerned this might one day somehow happen. Didn't know then it wasn't just a theoretical possibility.
- 1982 and the race finish described by James Hunt thus: "Well, we've got this ridiculous situation where we're all sitting by the start-finish line waiting for a winner to come past, and we don't seem to be getting one!" Patrese blinked first and took the race win that seemingly no-one wanted. As a reminder, this was super boring for 98% of the running time…
- The 1992 duel between Senna and Mansell.
- Keke Rosberg winning in 1983 with horrifyingly blistered hands.
- Ayrton Senna and Stefan Bellof having storming debuts in 1984 in the wet.
- Ayrton Senna and his mystical experiences during the 1988 qualifying and more prosaic ones during the race the next day, crashing from the lead.
- Ayrton flying here in 1990.
- Only three (three!) cars finishing the race in 1996.
- Michael Schumacher being found guilty deliberately crashing in his qualifying to bring out yellow flags and therefore stopping Alonso beating his time.
- Fernando Alonso threatening to lie down before the cars at the race start like Arthur Dent protesting a bypass if the above wasn't punished.
- Nico Rosberg later being found not guilty of doing the same thing to Lewis Hamilton in 2014.
- Kimi breaking the heart of Adrian Sutil by crashing him out of a podium place in 2008.
- More positively from Michael, this was the scene of his last pole position winning time in 2012 even if a grid penalty meant he didn't get to keep it. Also this from 1996. A thing of wonder from one of the true greats.
- Hamilton crashing in 2008 and somehow winning
- Hamilton crashing about three times in 2011 and blowing up the world in his answer about why the stewards kept penalising him.
- Many more things I've forgotten. Why not add more in the thread?
Monaco is not usually run at that fast a pace and doesn't need to be because overtaking is so hard. (Expect to hear a lot of people smugly saying how track position is king next weekend. Also about bikes ridden around living rooms.) This means you are going to have lots of time to check out the scenery. Pleasingly, just about every bit of the track is named. You can also follow it on google maps!
I don’t know what the tyres situation is! I will add it later
Ditto the timetable, but be aware that they’ve dropped the Thursday practice day and it’s the standard FRI, SAT, SUN now.
British times below, Local time one hour later: