F1 Fanatic guest writer Journeyer returns with the first in a two-part look at the history of the Monaco Grand Prix.
And so we reach Monaco, Formula 1’s most famous and glamorous race – and with good reason. Barring World War II, Grands Prix has been held here for the last 80 years or so.
We won’t be able to cover all the dramatic moments that took place at this great street circuit, but in two articles today and tomorrow we will cover some of the most memorable.
1929: The first Grand Prix was held here that year, with Williams winning (a person, not the team). It was one of the first rounds included in the pre-War European Championship (a precursor to the current World Championship). The first ever qualifying session was also seen here in Monaco (in 1933, to replace the practice of drawing lots for grid slots)
But after World War II broke out the European Championship was suspended and never returned.
1955: The Monaco GP became part of the first F1 World Championship in 1950, but decided to drop out after the championship switched to F2 rules. Although they dabbled in sports cars in 1952, it finally returned to the F1 fold in 1955. In a year which saw Mercedes dominate, Ferrari pulled off an upset win courtesy of Frenchman Maurice Trintignant.
But this year is most memorable for Lancia driver Alberto Ascari’s plunge into the harbor. He swam away, but would never race in a GP again after dying in a test accident at Monza just four days later.
1961: This time, it was Ferrari dominating the season. But again, Monaco would see an upset win, courtesy of Stirling Moss driving a Lotus. He had to fight hard for it, though, as the Ferraris pushed him all the way to the flag. As for the video, it’s a rare piece of commentary from Murray Walker.
1966: While the actual 1966 race wasn’t all that memorable, the weekend as a whole was more memorable for another reason. It was the first race filmed by John Frankenheimer for the film “Grand Prix”. Check out his onboard lap of Monaco – quite a treat!
1967: This year would prove to be tragic. Lorenzo Bandini (Ferrari) was chasing race leader Denny Hulme (Brabham). But Bandini, like Alberto Ascari 12 years back, would crash out at the harbor. But unlike Ascari, Bandini simply shunted into the straw bales at the Chicane. Unfortunately, a fire in the car was made worse when it spread to the straw bales. Bandini died from the burns he sustained. Because of this incident, straw bales are banned, leaving Armco and tires as the only acceptable safety barriers.
WARNING: Some people may find this video disturbing. Discretion is advised.
1970: This was supposed to be Jack Brabham’s last GP win, and what a place it would have been to do it there. But he fell one corner short, making a mistake at the Gasworks. And champion-in-waiting Jochen Rindt took advantage to win in the Lotus – although he had to run 1 more lap, because the man holding the checkered flag was expecting Brabham, and didn’t wave it when Rindt crossed first!
1972: This was one of those Monaco GPs plagued by rain. Amid the confusion, it was BRM’s Jean-Pierre Beltoise who would escape the madness to take his one and only F1 win.
This would be the last GP of the old Harbor layout. By 1973, the Piscine (Swimming Pool) and Rascasse corners would be added to the circuit (thanks to some reclaimed land), while the back straight would be converted into the pitlane.
We’ll cover the memorable moments from that new layout tomorrow.
This was a guest article by Journeyer. If you’re interested in writing for F1 Fanatic look at the information for guest writers here.