You are here

10 memorable Monaco moments

  1. 1931 - Chiron wins home race

    The Monaco Grand Prix didn’t actually become part of the World Drivers’ Championship until 1950, but the race still boasted more than twenty years of history before then.

    In 1931, Louis Chiron became the only native of Monaco ever to win the grand prix, finishing several minutes ahead of Luigi Fagioli’s second placed Maserati.

    24 years later - at the age of 55 - Chiron landed another record, becoming the oldest driver to complete the Monte Carlo race, finishing five laps down in sixth. Pioneer.

  2. 1955 - Ascari hits the drink

    As Chiron closed in on his age record, Alberto Ascari did something only two drivers have ever accomplished, sinking his Lancia in the harbour after missing Monaco’s famous chicane. The Italian escaped with a broken nose.

    The other man to set sail mid-race was Lotus driver Paul Hawkins, who replicated the accident ten years later after striking a wooden barrier and spinning out into the water. Pastor Maldonado’s got nothing on those skills.

    Sadly Ascari perished just four days after his accident, suffering fatal injuries in a crash at Monza. The part of the track where he was killed - Variante Ascari - is named in his honour.

  3. 1956 - Stirling Moss becomes first British winner

    Starting from the middle of the front row, Stirling Moss guided his Maserati through 100 laps of the Monaco circuit to triumph over F1 legend Juan Manuel Fangio.

    Moss led the race from start to finish, and drove impeccably in the final laps to hold off a challenge from the then three-time world champion.

    Fangio was 21 seconds behind the race leader with just three laps remaining, but an astonishing late push saw him take 15 seconds out of Sir Stirling’s lead before the chequered flag.

    The footage of the race is well worth a look.

  4. 1963-1969 - Graham Hill dominates

    Over seven years in the Sixties, British driver Graham Hill became the first man to truly dominate in Monte Carlo with five wins and two podium finishes.

    The run included a terrific win in 1965 when Hill took the chequered flag despite dropping four places from the lead after driving down an escape road to avoid a back marker.

    Hill was soon nicknamed ‘Mr Monaco’, with a win tally equalled only by Michael Schumacher and surpassed by Ayrton Senna alone.

    A world champion on two occasions, Hill remains the only driver to complete motorsport’s ‘Triple Crown’ of victories at the Monaco GP, Le Mans 24 Hours and the Indianapolis 500.

  5. 1981 - Water in the tunnel

    Not technically an incident from the grand prix itself, but still pretty dramatic.

    Before the 1981 race was due to start, a fire broke out in the Loews hotel, which sits above the city’s famous tunnel. Firemen quickly brought the blaze under control, but somehow water from their hoses leaked through the building and onto the track, creating a dangerous hazard on the circuit.

    The race was delayed by an hour to let the tarmac dry out, and Gilles Villeneuve eventually claimed his first and only win in the principality after lapping every finisher except the two on the podium.

  6. 1982 - The race nobody wanted to win

    Perhaps the most eventful grand prix in Monaco’s history.

    Renault driver and pole sitter Rene Arnoux led the race for 15 laps, before retiring and handing the lead to teammate Alain Prost. The Frenchman then stayed at the front until four laps from the finish, when he retired after losing a wheel to a barrier near the water.

    Brabham’s Riccardo Patrese assumed the lead next, but the Italian span on the penultimate lap to hand almost certain victory to Ferrari’s Didier Pironi.

    It wasn’t to be though, as Pironi was followed by Alfa Romeo’s Andrea de Cesaris in running out of fuel on the final lap, giving Patrese enough time to restart his car and coast through to the chequered flag. Madness.

  7. 1984-1993 - The Senna v Prost Era

    For a whole decade, the Monaco GP was dominated by two of the greatest drivers the sport has ever known, as Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna exchanged race victories for ten straight years.

    The Frenchman claimed three in a row between 1984 and 1986 for an eventual tally of four wins, while the Brazilian legend added five consecutive victories to his first win in 1987.

    The most memorable battle between the two drivers came in 1988 when the rivals were teammates at McLaren: driving the same car, Senna outqualified Prost by a scarcely believable 1.4 seconds.

    Despite crashing out of the race lead the next day, Senna’s performance remains one of the most electric ever witnessed.

  8. 1996 - Twenty two starters, four finishers

    That’s eighteen drivers who didn’t make it to the end.

    Between the warm-up session and the beginning of the race itself, sudden heavy rain washed out the track and made conditions incredibly difficult to drive in.

    Seven cars crashed out in the first three laps alone, while only four of the eventual retirees left the race purely for mechanical reasons. It just goes to show how difficult it is to thread the needle around Monte Carlo for the duration of the grand prix.

    Olivier Panis won the race but spare a thought for Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who was the only driver to finish who didn’t get on the podium.

  9. 2006 & 2014 - Germans parking the bus

    Two controversial moments in Monaco’s history.

    In qualifying in 2006, Michael Schumacher parked his car in the middle of Rascasse, causing yellow flags to be waved so no one could steal his pole position. The officials weren’t impressed, and forced the German to start from the back of the grid. He eventually finished fifth.

    Fast-forward eight years and fellow countryman Nico Rosberg had a similar incident on the other side of the track, running into an escape area with teammate Lewis Hamilton on a hot lap behind him in the last part of qualifying. The stewards concluded that Rosberg’s mistake was genuine, and he went on to take victory from pole.

    Lewis was less than impressed.

  10. 2014 - Brilliant Bianchi

    This weekend marks a year since Jules Bianchi claimed a superb ninth place in Monaco and secured Marussia’s best ever result in Formula One.

    Today, the 25-year-old driver remains in a “stagnant” condition in a French hospital after his collision with a crane in the Japanese grand prix last October. It’s a bleak reminder of the dangers of motorsport.

    Do spare a minute to review Bianchi’s late overtake on Kamui Kobayashi 12 months ago, which he pulled off - albeit with a bit of contact - in an area of the track where such a manoeuvre has long been considered impossible. Forza Jules.

What do you think?

This service is provided by Disqus and is subject to their privacy policy and terms of use. Please read Top Gear’s code of conduct (link below) before posting.

Promoted content