From the stands: David Entrican watches the Monaco Grand Prix at Monte-Carlo

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Want the closest possible view of F1 cars in action? Head to Monaco

Ever thought of going to F1’s most glamorous race as a spectator? David Entrican was at this year’s race and wrote to tell us about his experiences.

Read on to find out what it’s like to spent the Grand Prix weekend in Monaco and have a look at some of David’s terrific pictures from the track.

We were lucky enough to have the use of a friend’s apartment in Antibes, which is between Nice and Cannes on the Cote d’Azur. Combining the Grand Prix with a 2 week holiday meant we could fly to Nice quite cheaply (the flights around the Grand Prix weekend itself are much more expensive) and get the train from Antibes to Monaco each day which took about 50 minutes.

There were generally lots of trains in service and you didn’t have to wait long – though they were often pretty full. We used the ticket machines in the station to buy our train tickets which cost ??13 (11.17) each return from Antibes to Monaco.

There was a printed sheet available from the stations for the F1 weekend showing train times, but these strangely didn’t show all the trains – for example on the Sunday of the race the first train from Antibes to Monaco looked to be 9am – but finding the standard timetables in the station we realised there were trains going every half hour or so from 5am!

On Wednesday we decided to go to Monaco to soak up the atmosphere and check out the situation for Rocher – the cheapest section and where we were going to watch the race from. Already there were fans chaining garden chairs to fences and trees on the hill to reserve the best spots!

We could walk along parts of the track despite the traffic, hang out near the F1 paddock and see some of the drivers and watch the pits as teams set up their cars. It was much easier to get close to the paddock and drivers than our previous experiences at Silverstone.

For Thursday we had bought tickets for Grandstand V which is opposite the pit entrance. You can watch the two 90 minute F1 practice sessions for free on the hillside (Rocher), but we wanted to get as close as possible to the cars and grandstand V was only six feet away!

It’s much closer than fans can usually get anywhere in the F1 calendar. It was well worth it and we got some great photos as the drivers sped past – even having to use a wide angle camera lens as the cars were so close! It wasn’t the fastest part of the track but a great place to watch from and very loud.

On Saturday we splashed out on seats near the front of Casino Square grandstand. The cars looked very impressive through the corner and we could see them power down towards Mirabeau.

We saw Fernando Alonso smash his Ferrari into the barriers during free practice three as he came into our view at the top of the hill. Then cranes efficiently lifted the wrecked Ferrari out of the way.

Qualifying was good from here, though we’d strongly recommend getting a Kangaroo TV (??60 for the weekend)* which gives sector and lap times as well as video and – most importantly for us – Radio 5 Live UK commentary. The track commentary was in 3 languages and not very comprehensive if you only understand English! We shared one Kangaroo TV between 2 using a cheap headphone splitter and also wore ear defenders over our headphones so we could hear exactly what was happening even when the cars screamed past!

Some grandstands looked a bit empty at times, but others were rammed full. Casino Square was totally full on Saturday, but the grandstand next to the chicane out of the tunnel looked empty, at least on Thursday. The grandstands near the pits T and S still had lots of seats empty until 20 minutes before the race. Then they filled up a lot more, although there were still some places free.

On Sunday we had tickets for the hillside (Rocher), so had an early start to bag ourselves a decent spot and arrived at Monaco station at about 7:50am. Armed with folding chairs and a garden trowel, we climbed ad scrambled quite high up the hill where we had a panoramic view of Monaco and a bird’s eye view of the track. The trowel was a great tool to level our chairs on the steep hill and many others were doing the same! The hill quickly filled up and soon it was very difficult to move around, including getting back down to the toilets situated half way up the hill – beware!

The view was awesome and although the cars were quite small – like watching a live Scalextric track – we could see all the pits stops, the chicane after the tunnel over the harbour (binoculars needed) the cars through the swimming pool corners and down into Rascasse, then out of the last corner and accelerating up towards the start finish. As we’d been close to the action for the rest of the weekend, we enjoyed the extensive view from here for the race and the cars were still seriously loud from up here. Again, Kangaroo TV gave us video, stats and best of all, UK 5 live commentary.

After the racing, it was back to our apartment for a week in the sun, before another cheap flight to the UK. A great holiday all round.

*Kangaroo TV’s website said they were not going to Monaco. We signed up saying we’d like them to come and around 2 weeks before the race they e-mailed us with details of how to rent them through a Monaco ticket agent. This worked smoothly although we only had an hour after the race to get across Monaco to the office and give them back, so we couldn’t hang around! No problems though and well recommended – a friend of our was at the Spanish GP 2009 and resorted to texting friends in the UK to find out what was happening in the pits stops.

David’s pictures from Monaco

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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44 comments on “From the stands: David Entrican watches the Monaco Grand Prix at Monte-Carlo”

  1. Photo resolution sucks. No bigger ones?

    1. hey Neil! How much do you pay for read this article?… mmm NOTHING! so slow down your requests please

      Great article David ;)

      1. I looked at the photos expecting tiny, they aren’t exactly bad thought are they? Maybe people on this site are getting soft because Keith treats them with such niceties as gigantic photos!!

    2. mate this isn’t an f1 photo website. great article btw.

    3. Great article, who would not love to be there. Great you got Kangaroo TV to be available.
      The pictures are great (sure not poster format, but great pics).

      Nice job David.

  2. photos look great and you planned out the weekend very well

  3. Great report. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Great tips and I love the close-up pictures.
    That’s the sort of friends you need, and maybe there’s a market for an official F1 Fanatic trowel.

    1. i must admit i think keith needs to release some F1fanatic merchandise! could be a decent business.

  5. great article david, was thinking myself about foing one year, who cares about money, it monaco :D.

  6. HounslowBusGarage
    19th May 2010, 21:35

    Very nice pics and great article too. Apart from the seats etc, did you find the catering and drinks expensive?

    1. Dave Entrican
      20th May 2010, 16:15

      We took our own food and drinks, so I don’t know. Had a coffee at Casino Sq between FP and Qual, cost €1.50 – way cheaper than coffee I had on a previous year (not Grand Prix weekend) in Monaco at casino square cafe which was about €5!

  7. Great pictures. I went to Monaco in 2000 and that last shot is where we stood, you aren’t close to the cars but you can see almost the whole track which is awesome :)

  8. Great article! Thanks for the details. Can’t wait to go myself!

  9. Great report, made me feel I was there. ( I liked the trowel bit – very creative) watched it on TV in the states but wish I had been on that hillside.

  10. A trowel would be unbelievably useful! The amount of folk I saw having to resort to stones to dig a hole at Spa was rather amusing. Quite caveman-like! :-D

  11. Very jealous! I have to go to Monaco to see a grand prix. It’s on definitely on the to do before I die list! Shall keep all this information in mind, thanks to the author sharing his experiences and views of his race.

  12. Ned Flanders
    19th May 2010, 23:38

    Nice article. Interesting that Monaco is affordable if you plan it carefully… perhaps I’ll be able to afford to go one day?…

    Oh and great pictures too. I especially like that Mercedes one… the Mercedes livery looks amazing side on, silver and turquoise works better together than I could ever have imagined!

  13. theRoswellite
    19th May 2010, 23:55

    Nothing like going oneself. Always difficult to follow the race as it progresses, but there is no substitute for the atmosphere and seeing it all live. Watching on TV is easy and one gets “the best seat in the house” in a manner of speaking, but most of the races seem to fade with time while the live ones never do.

    I’ve had my own little haphazard photo business for years, and have always spent time at races trying to figure out how to get into prime photo locations. The best was at Long Beach one year, I was staying on the grounds in a motor home, so on race day I got up around 5am and walked down to the pits before even security arrived, I remember saying good morning to Teddy Mayer (the small triumphs of a life long fan) and hunkering down behind the pit wall…some of the best photos I was ever able to get…made it for a few hours by judiciously turning my back on the roving pit-patrol, then feigning ignorance as they tossed me… the 70’s I think.

    Much more professional now, I’m sure I couldn’t wrangle my way into an off limits porta-potty.

    Great memories, and great article David.

  14. Scott Joslin
    20th May 2010, 1:27

    Awesome, thanks for sharing this with us! I really must sort it out and get over to Monaco for the race.

    I really loved the way you moved around the track on different days and I just wondered what the total cost for the 3 days of different tickets cost.

    1. Dave Entrican
      20th May 2010, 16:19

      Thursday €70 grandstand V (alternative: Rocher section free)
      Saturday €220 Casino Sq grandstand (alternative: Rocher about €40 -50)
      Sunday €70 Rocher section.

      Didn’t think this was too bad as grandstand tickets for Spa 2009 were selling for something like €450!

    2. In Monaco you have to buy tickets for every day seperately. So you can pick a different grandstand for each day. I did the same when I went.

      It’s a shame not more tracks allow this. Or even better like in Imola and Monza where they allow you to swap between a few grandstands during a day. I watched every session from a different grandstand :)

      BTW those 450 euro tickets at Spa are for the whole weekend, so it’s not really fair to compare that to a single day at Monaco.

      Tickets for the same (or similarly priced) Monaco grandstand for a whole weekend would be more like 750 euro.

  15. Great job David, seems like you had a wonderful time.

  16. Great article and photos.

    One thing I noticed in the close up of Hamilton was a small opening in the panel above the radiator on the drivers right. The only other time I’ve seen that this year was in China, and it was on the drivers left.

    Anyone have any info on it’s purpose?

  17. great article and pics.

  18. I went to Melbourne this year and you can get quite close to the cars there aswell (about 1.5m in places). I also had a Kangaroo TV underneath ear protectors, in my opionion thats the only way to go. By doing this you make sure that you don’t miss a thing.

    1. It is mandatory to have a Kangaroo Tv, can’t we sit in front of a giant screen so that we don’t miss a thing?

    2. Yes, if you stand on the outside of the entry to Turn 5 you can get extremely close – and it is a great viewing spot!

  19. I challenge the statement “of closest possible views”. I think turn 5 and the very mild straight at Albert Park comes close to it, if not wins. I was on turn 5 for the race and I was all of 5 metres away from them.

    1. That’s an interesting question, actually, where else on the F1 calendar can you get really, really close to the cars?

      Are there any close-quarter viewing opportunities at Singapore? Or Valencia?

      You can actually get pretty close to the cars on the entry to Maggotts at Silverstone. That’s a terrific place to watch.

      1. I was pretty close to the cars on a grandstand in Monza. Think it was after Variante Ascari. The stand is on the inside of the corner so there wasn’t a huge fence blocking the view (or picture taking) either.

        The cars are basically a track width away. Further than what you guys are mentioning but still.

        The closest I ever got was on Zandvoort. Back in the days they only had single fence along the straight and you could really feel the wind and smell the cars come blazing past at top speeds.

      2. I was able to bluff my way onto the pit apron during a practice session at the USGP in Watkins Glen back in 1972, and got some GREAT pics. I even managed to have a (VERY short) chat with Denny Hulme, right after climbing out of his Yardley McLaren. I recall that he wasn’t very happy with the intrusion. Go figure! The organizers do a much better job of keeping the riffraff at bay these days!

    2. Dave Entrican
      20th May 2010, 16:05

      Cool. Though we were 6 feet from the cars not 6 metres :-)

  20. Thanks David. Great report.
    I remember I was there on 200…something. I had no ticket and the ones I found on saturday were too expensive (1000 euros for a Casino Grandstand). I had a little hope to find a hole somewhere, but I couldn’t imagine the control on a city track was that strict, so I found a place on the hill and looked at it from there.
    I was able to see little cars grindind at Beau Rivage, coming out from tunnel up to tabac corner. They looked small, but the noise was great, and they was so fast!!! Great experience, it was my first time at a GP.
    Great memories.

  21. Thanks for Sharing Dave…. great backstory…. and i’ll take your tips to good use if i ever go there… which i hope i will someday.

    very nice photos as well

  22. Thanks Dave. Good info for potential race-goers.

  23. I was there and took some great photos.

    The race was brilliant and the party on the streets of Monte Carlo was the best

  24. Hey Dave, Thanks for the great article…and the tip about Kangaroo TV!

  25. Great writeup!
    But I have to promote my “home” grand-prix: Canada!
    First year I attended, I was in stand 24 which is on the outside of the hairpin, in the 2nd or 3rd row. We were so close, we got rubber marbles from the tires our beer glasses.
    In 2001, it was Jean Alesi’s last race and my seat was only a few feet away from the lucky person who caught one of the best souvenirs ever, Alesi’s helmet!
    I so glad it’s back this year!

    1. Same here Mtl Racer!!!

  26. Thx for this information. It’s much appreciated! Best regards.

  27. Great account Dave
    We had a similar experience, my first Monaco GP was – Fabulous. We were graciously given an apartment in Monaco overlooking the casino gardens (no track view) as amazing place to stay for 6 nights. As you stated, there was greater access early in the week. We had Grandstand ‘T’ (top row-lower section). Three days were 490 euros. Took sandwichs, beers and ice in backpackto keep cost down (6 beers – 3.4 euros !) I was very happy with our seats as big screen was directly in front and we had great views of the pits. It must have been an adventure up in Rocher, as it looked packed in amounst the trees but excellent veiw of the track. Post race, we spent a day in Nice and one in Cannes (beautiful). Trains were efficient and inexpensive. Wouldn’t change a thing if we get to go again. Off to Montreal in a few weeks – nice to have it back on the calender. Can’t beat it for the social aspects of the race.

    (from Ontario, CANADA)

  28. Just to support my friend Brad’s comments as we were with them for most of the weekend; flying into Nice from Bristol, UK.
    We had a great time enjoying the ambience during and after watching the cars. The night life was good and the trains back into Nice good value and frequent. In the end no ash problems so back home on time. Already looking forward to meeting up again for a GP in 2011.

    Chris. Forest of Dean. England.

  29. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Fridays GP2 race from the stands at the corner that leads into the swimming pool area and it was great…

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