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Monaco GP: what time is the race? And how long can I nap for?

All you need to know about F1’s ultra-prestigious snooze-fest, aka the Monaco Grand Prix

Published: 25 May 2023

Scratch that, we’re doing the Monaco GP a disservice: the race is after all steeped in F1 history, and qualifying - where the cars are on the ragged edge with literally no margin for error - is genuinely thrilling.

It’s just a pity that the race is so often a procession. The largeness of modern F1 cars makes the Monte Carlo circuit a tight squeeze with very little overtaking possible: even last year’s wet race only created two genuine on-track moves.

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Still, one strategy error can completely shake up the complexion of the race, so here’s hoping everyone pulls a Ferrari to really spice things up…

Anyway, the status of the championship is thus: Red Bull has won every grand prix so far, with Max Verstappen claiming three wins and Sergio Perez two. The gap to their rivals is immense, although Haas's team boss told TG a few weeks ago that he doesn’t think the championship is over. Ever the optimist.

The Monaco GP will be the sixth race of the season: it should’ve been the seventh, of course, but last weekend’s Imola GP was called off because of local flooding.

So what can we expect from Monaco, other than a two bull shootout? Well, Mercedes is bringing an updated aero package and new suspension that it hopes will set it on the path to competitiveness again.

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Meanwhile Alpine is under pressure after being described ahead of the last race in Miami as “amateurish”... by its own boss. You get the impression jobs will be lost if results don’t improve soon.

And Ferrari is also in a spot of bother, with its car once again looking quick over one lap but not so much over the several dozen needed to, y’know, win a race. How much longer will Charles Leclerc put up with the Italian team?

Oh, and McLaren has brought a snazzy new livery to Monaco to mark its Triple Crown achievements. Should stand out in the midfield…

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What time is the Monaco GP? And what time is qualifying?

The grand prix starts at 2pm UK time on Sunday 28 May, while qualifying takes place on Saturday from 3pm onwards.

If you’re the kind of person who’s into all the practice sessions as well, FP1 begins at 12.30pm on Friday 26 May followed by FP2 at 4pm. The final shakedown that is FP3 starts at 11.30am on Saturday, a few hours before qualifying.

What’s the weather going to be like?

According to the latest weather forecast, mixed. Saturday should be dry and sunny with temperatures peaking at 26 degrees Celsius, but Sunday could be slightly cooler and there’a a threat of showers in the afternoon. So the track could get slippery… good news for our entertainment.

Where is the Monaco GP taking place?

Er, Monaco? D’uh. The Principality of Monaco - as it’s officially known - sits on the French Riviera, half way between Nice and the border with Italy. It covers less than a single square mile of land, and is home to several F1 drivers thanks to its proximity to an airport, warm climate and, um, casual approach to income tax.

How many laps is the Monaco GP?

The Monaco GP is interesting from a stats point of view because it’s such an outlier compared to the rest of the tracks on the F1 calendar: at 3.337km (2.074mi) it’s the shortest circuit F1 visits, and therefore the most laps at 78.

This actually means the race distance is a full 40km shorter than is run at all other F1 races: if it was any further, the race would take too long because the average speed is that much slower.

How can I watch the Monaco GP?

Television, laptop, projector screen… oh you mean which channel is it on? Ah, well UK viewers have two options: take out a subscription to Sky Sports for its dedicated F1 channel, or get Now TV in order to access Sky Sports that way. There is a third option, but that involves breaking all sorts of rules and we’d much rather you stay on the correct side of the law.

Channel 4 will air free-to-view highlights of qualifying and the race, beginning at 7.30pm and 6.30pm respectively. We recommend cutting yourself off from civilisation for the weekend in order to watch the action without spoilers. Also means you can rely on TV editors to cut out the boring bits, of which there are usually very many in Monaco.

What’s the Top Gear view on the Monaco GP?

If you ever get the chance to walk around the Monaco track when it’s not been converted into a miniature race circuit, you absolutely should: you’ll scarcely believe that F1 drivers can go so fast (the top speed reached in 2022 was 178mph) around such a small, quaint town. Don’t forget this is where Ayrton Senna delivered one of the most mesmerising quali laps of all time in 1988, a spectacle we’re reminded of every year as F1’s finest thread the needle mere millimetres away from the metal barriers.

We’d keep it on the calendar forever for that alone, but the race itself? Defending is so easy here that the race leader can usually afford to lap several seconds off the pace to ensure a one-stop strategy and an easy victory, with the grid often finishing in an almost unchanged order. Would it be so hard for Monaco to build a new section out into the harbour where the DRS might do its thing? The area’s not exactly short of cash…

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