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Three excellent reasons to watch the Monaco Grand Prix

Verstappen, Norris or Leclerc: who’s gonna grab that vital pole in Monaco?

Published: 23 May 2024

Ah yes, the Monaco Grand Prix… I'm overdue an afternoon nap.

Aren't we all? And off the back of several dull races, it’s hard to see there being much to keep us awake on a track where overtaking is all but impossible.

And yet… F1 arrives in Europe’s most popular millionaire tax haven with signs that Max Verstappen and Red Bull aren’t having it all their own way any more. The Dutchman just barely beat Lando Norris to the chequered flag in Imola last weekend, and having lost out to the British driver in Miami, we’re back at the point where one mistake might cost the three-time champ victory. Maybe.

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So even though the grid is likely to finish much like it started come Sunday afternoon, there’s still plenty of intrigue around this one. Qualifying in Monaco last season was an all-time classic, with several cars flirting with pole position: we can understand you not getting excited for the race, but quali? With the world’s best drivers going Full Send with zero margin for error? Come on. And wait until you read about the forecast below…

Plus, with Ferrari and McLaren hot on Red Bull’s tail, any one of six drivers could realistically land pole position. Maybe more if Merc and Aston pull their socks up. Would you really want to miss a maiden Oscar Piastri win? Of course not.

Finally… it’s Monaco. Say what you like about the inevitable procession, but the track has bags more character than your average street circuit and given the history, winning here is special.

Set the scene for me.

Max Verstappen and Red Bull are comfortably leading both championships, but evidence from the last couple of races suggests they can’t just turn up and win by 30 seconds any more. A recent McLaren aero upgrade has propelled the Woking team right into the mix, even if the Red Bull still has the outright fastest car. Ferrari is also there or thereabouts.

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Off track, there continues to be chatter about where Adrian Newey will go having confirmed that he will indeed join another F1 team, and the rumour mill is working overtime to generate theories about where various drivers will end up in 2025.

Meanwhile McLaren is running a special Ayrton Senna tribute livery for this weekend’s race: we suggest you check it out, it looks the bees knees.

What time does the Monaco Grand Prix start?

If watching from the UK, the Monaco Grand Prix begins at 2pm on Sunday 26 May, precisely 23 hours after the start of qualifying at 3pm on Saturday 27 May. Let’s be honest, that’s the session you really want to watch: Monaco is a short track and (relatively) low speed, which means the gaps between the cars will be properly tight. Both physically and in terms of lap time.

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If you want to watch the practice sessions, there are two on Friday - at 12.30 and 4pm - and a third on Saturday at 11.30am. Gone are the days where F1 used to practise on Thursday, take Friday off for a series of yacht parties, and resume the following morning.

Is it going to rain?

It might well do, yeah. The current forecast suggests there will be rain in the air on Saturday, which means qualifying could be absolute chaos. And if it is, then a shock result really could be on the cards come race day. Don’t miss it.

Sunday looks dry at the moment, but the forecast can change very quickly…

Gimme some history in 100 words or fewer.

The Monaco Grand Prix is as old as F1. Technically older, actually. But it’s featured in every single F1 season since the sport began in 1950, save for 2020 when Covid ruined literally everything. The track has barely changed over the last few decades (TG walked around it a while back - give it a read here), and it’s the only circuit on the calendar to feature a tunnel (until Madrid comes along - shh). Only the greats tend to win in Monaco: Ayrton Senna leads the way with six victories, followed by Graham Hill and Michael Schumacher with five apiece.

The top three will be…

This might be the hardest podium of the season so far to call. So let’s not bother. Alex Albon, Oscar Piastri, Yuki Tsunoda and Nico Hulkenberg will put in mega laps in quali to lock out the front two rows. Then they’ll all crash at the first corner and Verstappen will sweep to victory as per, Norris and Russell close behind him. Leclerc’s home race curse will continue, and he’ll be back in his apartment cursing yet another strategic calamity long before the crane has retrieved Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin from the sea.

Shock of the weekend?

You will still be awake at the first round of pit stops.

Where can I watch the Monaco Grand Prix?

Usual places: if you’re watching from the UK, it’s Sky Sports or Now TV for you, or Channel 4’s highlights show which - let’s face it - is likely to be light on highlights: the quali show airs at 6.50pm on Saturday, and the race recap on Sunday at 6.30pm.

Tuning in on the radio? BBC Radio 5 Live is what you need, with live commentary of quali and the race. Spare a thought for the commentators, who will have to spend almost two hours describing not very much at all.

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