Going to the Monaco Grand Prix at Monte-Carlo

Photos and thoughts from Monaco 2017

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    George O’Donnell

    Hi everyone. I went to the Monaco Grand Prix this year (2017) and I found the advice on here really useful. I’d like to share my experiences of the event along with some photos. If anyone has any questions about going to Monaco in the future I’d be happy to help!

    I link to my album of photos is below:

      Travel and accommodation

    I’m living in Italy for the year so I thought it would be convenient to stay near to Monaco but in Italy and take the train to the circuit every day. This worked for me to arrive at work at 9.30am on Monday morning, but didn’t work so well for getting to the track. I stayed in San Remo which took about 1 hour on the train from Monaco, no thanks to the 20 minute stop over in Ventimiglia (Ventmille). I know most fans stay in Nice. There were far more trains going from west from Monaco to Nice than there were going east towards Italy (and later trains). I think it would have been better to stay in France.

      Casino Square

    I bought a ticket for Thursday at Casino Square. All grandstand tickets on a Thursday don’t have a reserved seat, so the key is to get to the stand early and get a good seat. You get close to the cars and there is a big screen to follow the action, but you don’t see the cars for too long. It was quite exciting though to be there. There were a few kisses against the barriers until Lance Stroll gave them a good whack and destroyed the front of his car. The action for the day was practice sessions and the qualifying session for Formula 2.

      San Devote (Turn 1)

    Friday is a free day. I think you can go into any grandstand. I chose Turn 1 which is very small so I got there early. The best place to go is the top row because if you stand up you can see the cars exiting the tunnel chicane and going down the following straight. If you aren’t in the top row then it isn’t particularly good as you can’t see the cars for long and there’s no big screen. The main thing I took away was how much commitment is needed on entry and exit of the corner. The action included a Porsche qualifying session with a number of incidents into the barriers which was exciting. With the lack of big screen it was hard to follow the Formula 2 race. Friday is just half a day of action and the track was opened up to walk around in the afternoon.

    There was a really fun and relaxed atmosphere that I’ve not experienced elsewhere. Ticket holders for a grandstand seat on Saturday or Sunday were treated to a pitlane walk which was very interesting. Of note, Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Ocon stayed out a long time to sign autographs and talk with the fans. The Force India drivers were signing cards which their PR person was handing out. One person didn’t have a card when Esteban came around to sign, so Esteban called to his PR person to come back and give the fan a card. He seemed very down to earth and I was very impressed – I know it’s often disappointing and underwhelming to meet your heros but this clearly made the person’s day.


    For Saturday I had a reserved seat in K3, between Tabac and Piscine. During FP3 there were barely any people in the very front seats. Normally these wouldn’t be good seats, but they were great for being really close to the cars, hearing the noises of the different engines and taking some photos. I moved to my seat for qualifying and sat next to a South African guy who was interesting to talk to. I was near the top of the grandstand and got a good view of the cars but also the big screen on the hill. It made me realise how small and slow Monaco is as a track, and how unsuitable it is for modern Formula 1 cars!


    For Sunday I paid €500 for a seat towards the top of the grandstand on the exit of the swimming pool. There were two tiers of prices, cheap seats close to the track and more expensive higher up. I thought ‘you only live once’ so why not pay, but afterwards I wasn’t so sure. I spent most of my time in the grandstand standing up on the far right of the stand looking down on the pitlane, because it seemed that people were very slow to get to their seats on race day. I’m the sort of person to get their early and see all the action that I’ve paid for, not just the main event. I think the seats lower down were just as good (or bad) as my seat, and if I’d paid for a cheaper seat I’d still have been standing up at the top of the grandstand for most of the day.

    The stand is at the top of the pitlane, so we were outside Haas and Renault, with Sauber at the far end. I was hoping to see celebrities but they were mostly down with the top teams at the other end of pitlane. I did see George Lucas. We got to see pitstop practice and the cars take to the grid.

    The race wasn’t so interesting but there was a big screen to follow the action. We could see some pitstops but the clearest view from the seats to pitlane was Ferrari and Mercedes who were far away, since there is a bridge across pitlane which blocked Toro Rosso and McLaren from our sight. Of note, Marcus Ericsson nearly crashed within the first 10 laps (I don’t think this was caught on TV) but otherwise we didn’t see so much.

      Outside of the track

    Many things were expensive. I brought my own food so I was fine! However unlike permanent tracks, where the track has a monopoly on who sells food and what prices, the bars and shops outside of the track are independent so there was healthy competition and the prices here weren’t all too bad.

    I enjoyed walking around and soaking the atmosphere. It was unlike any race I’d ever been to and I loved it. You saw team personnel walking around the city and now I really understand how the city and the race mesh together to form the circuit and the event.

      Final thoughts and what I would do differently next time.

    I don’t think it matters too much where you sit, because most seats offer a few of the cars for just a few seconds. However a big screen view is a must. I’d investigate balcony views next time. People were offering €200 for a view which seemed more reasonable that a grandstand seat price.

    Monaco is one of the oldest motor races in the world and to just be there and soak up the atmosphere is something I’d recommend to all Formula 1 fans to do once in their lifetime. To walk around and think Fangio, Ascari, Clark, Surtees, Lauda, Fittipaldi, Prost, Senna, Schumacher,… raced on those streets, that’s something you have to be on the ground to feel.

    There isn’t usually much overtaking and now I fully appreciate why! The circuit is so narrow and the cars are usually switching from one side to the other to apex the next corner. You realise how fast the cars are travelling, but also how ‘slow’ (relatively) they are in the tight confines between the barriers.


    Belting picture of Stroll!

    MonacoGP_17_0383 (1)


    Very Nice photos George! What zoom did you have?

    I’ll attend my first Monaco race next year. I’ve been attending the Montreal GP since 1995. I will be in grandstand L and K1 on Thursday, B on Saturday and A1 on Friday. Looking forward to take great pics! :)

    George O’Donnell

    That’s super Patrick! You’ll have an amazing time for sure!

    I have a 55mm-300m lens which I used for most of the car shots, and then I have a 18mm-55mm lens for the close up people shots.

    I definitely recommend to get to grandstand L early so that you can grab a seat adjacent to pit lane and get some shots there and in the garages.

    You should be able to get shots of the cars going through Massenet wherever you are sitting in Grandstand B, but if you can get there early then get to the front to get shots in Casino.

    I was in K3, I guess K1 is closer to the apex of Tabac. It might be harder to get photos from there. If it’s anything like K3, there’s opportunity to get photos close to the track from the bottom of the track. However if you can get to the very back row of seats, you can see over turn 1. You’d have to be there very early but it would be a good call.

    I also went into A1 on Friday. Get there early to reach the top row of seats and never move away! You should be able to see back to Tabac.

    Enjoy your time and I’d like to see your photos once ready!


    Thanks George for the great tips. I’m looking forward to this trip as all my Canadian GP pics start to look very similar. LOL!

    My 2017 Canadian GP photos


    Ooops.. Those where from 2018.. these are from 2017.

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