MONACO GRAND PRIX 2017
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The Monaco Grand Prix is probably the most famous, and definitely the most glamorous event on the F1 calendar. Run on the streets of the principality since 1929, the race is considered part of the triple crown of motorsport alongside the Indy 500 and the Le Mans 24 Hours. Graham Hill was known as “Mr Monaco” in recognition of his five wins at the event – he is also the only man to have achieved the triple crown. His record at Monaco was eclipsed by Ayrton Senna who managed to win the race six times, including five back-to-back wins between 1989 and 1993.
The first world championship race in 1950 was won by Juan Manuel Fangio, and although the race did not take place again until 1955, it has been a permanent fixture on the schedule since then. The race nearly did not take place in 1972 as historically the number of cars permitted to compete in an event was decided by the organiser. The organisers of the Monaco race set the number at 16, but in 1972 Bernie Ecclestone was negotiating a deal which would guarantee at least 18 entrants at every event – eventually the organisers relented and the race took place.
For a decade between 1984 and 1993 only two men won the race – Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. Senna was always immensely popular in Monaco, and after he was arrested on the Monday following the 1987 race for riding a motorcycle without wearing a helmet, he was released by the officers after they realised who he was.
Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher has won the race five times, matching Graham Hill’s record. At the 2006 event, however, he attracted widespread criticism when he spun his car, blocking the track at the Rascasse hairpin. Yellow flags were waved and his competitors were not able to beat his time, handing him pole position. Although he claimed it was a genuine accident, the FIA disagreed and demoted him to the back of the grid.
A notoriously dangerous circuit, there have been many serious accidents, but only one fatal. Lorenzo Bandini died as a result of burns suffered in a crash in the 1967 race. The most famous accident, however, must be that of Alberto Ascari, one of only two people to end up in the harbour.
The circuit is tight and twisty, and considered one of the hardest on the calendar for the drivers, but the event is also unique for three reasons. The circuit is the only one to feature a long tunnel, forcing the drivers to adjust their eyes from sun to shade on every lap. It is the only event on the calendar not to feature a podium – the celebrations are held on the steps of the royal box. Finally, Monaco is the only event to hold its practice day on the Thursday before the race, allowing the roads to be opened to the public on the Friday.