The Monaco Grand Prix is the jewel of the crown of the Formula One schedule, an anachronistic throwback in the modern safety-conscious era which is allowed to continue thanks to the glitz and glamour of both the surroundings and the beautiful people who make it an annual fixture on their social calendars.
It hosts very few events, the Monaco Grand Prix, the Historic Grand Prix, Formula E Prix and occasionally a WRC or Eco Rally stage. No testing is possible.
Monaco has a unique format, with the track open to general traffic at the end of each day's running. This affects the usual pattern of track evolution, with much of the rubber laid down disappearing, while normal road traffic also drags dirt and debris onto the surface.
Wheelspin is a constant risk at the exit to all the slow corners that characterise Monaco.
With mechanical grip being a more significant influence than aerodynamic grip, getting the tyres into the ideal operating window and keeping them there is essential. A consistent and smooth driving style, with a proper tyre warm-up, is vital to achieve this. A quick tyre warm-up is essential, to allow the compounds to deliver maximum adhesion as quickly as possible. A slippery surface, with the usual street furniture found on a temporary circuit – such as painted lines, manhole covers and bumps – only adds to the challenge.
Monaco is particularly heavy on brakes. This transmits heat to the tyres, which adds to the stress placed on the tyre structure. Entering Sainte Devote, for example, a Formula One car scrubs off 160kph in just 100 metres. The tyres also have extremely big demands placed on them in the swimming pool complex, where they hit the kerbs at more than 200kph and experience lateral forces of 3.65g in F1.
The driver makes over 130 significant steering inputs during every lap at the Monaco Grand Prix, changing gear on average every 50 metres depending on ratios. All of these actions work the tyres extremely hard.
The Grand Hotel (Loews) hairpin is the slowest corner of the season, taken at just 47kph. Due to the low speed there is no aerodynamic downforce at work, so the full steering lock means that the front-right tyre is doing all the work when it comes to changing direction.
Monaco is rarely won from beyond the front row of the grid, putting the emphasis on qualifying. However, even the quickest cars can be caught out by traffic on the tight confines of the track, meaning that finding a clear window to run in during the session is as
Sector one:The run to the first corner from pole position is vey short only 140 metres. Drivers then brake down to just 105kph (in F1) for the Sainte Devote first corner before quickly getting back on the power for the short climb up through Beau Rivage to Casino Square. A responsive engine is key here and engine maps will be designed to work with short gear ratios to hit the rev limit at the top of the hill.
Sector two: It’s particularly bumpy through this section and the cars run off line going down from Casino into the Mirabeau to avoid a particularly large bump. It’s not just that the balance is thrown out over a bump – running directly over the middle makes the car temporarily ‘take off’. Even if it’s just for a nano second, with no load running through the wheels the engine suddenly hits the rev limiter, which puts the internal parts under huge stress.
From the Mirabeau the cars plunge down to the hairpin, which sees the engine running at the lowest speed and revs it reaches on track at any point in the year; just 44kph in F1 through the tight hairpin and around 4,000rpm. The torque and responsiveness of the engine here are crucial as large chunks of time can be won or lost by the entry and exit speeds. The driver needs to know that when he puts his foot on the gas that the engine will respond to his command.
The cars then take a right hand turn into the fastest section of the track – the tunnel section, where the cars will be at top speed and maximum rev limit for around eight or nine seconds. Again, a responsive engine that has correct maps through the lower revs is crucial to getting up to speed - there’s only 670m from the exit of Portier to the chicane after the tunnel. F1 cars will be heading at around 290kph at their quickest through this section.
While the tunnel section provides a welcome breath of air for the engine as it reaches the top speed, it’s not clean air – the enclosed nature of the tunnel means the air going into the engine through the airbox is as hot as the ambient temperatures seen in Malaysia or Abu Dhabi.
Sector three: The final section between Tabac and the finish line contains the most amount of corners and therefore demands engine responsiveness. The drivers need to know that the engine will deliver the power when they need it so they can be millimetre perfect through the swimming pool and Rascasse corners back onto the main straight.
Circuit Length: 3.34km
Race Distance: 260.52km (78 laps)
Pitlane: 316m (21s loss)
Maximum speed: 293kph
Minimum speed: 47kph
Average corner speed: 102kph (63mph)
Downforce Level: High
Aero efficiency ratio: Very Low
Full throttle: 43%
Longest section full throttle: 7.5s
Engine severity: Low
Power loss: -5%
Fuel effect: 0.3 s/10kg
Fuel consumption: 2.8 kg/Lap
Braking events: 12
Brake Wear: Medium
Gear changes per lap: 55
Gearbox severity: Very High
Tyre Compounds: Soft/Super soft
We've teamed with Chassis Sim to provide a reference trace file for Monte Carlo, using F3-type data (or the closest representative car type).
A data outing is available to download for each of the major circuit variations. Fine tune your own setup before you even set off for the circuit!
You'll need Chassis Sim's programme or similar data analysis software to open these files.
Address: Circuit de Monaco, Automobile-Club de Monaco, 23 Blvd Albert 1er, 98000, Monaco
PH: +377 93 15 26 00
Circuit type: Temporary street course
Monaco is a street circuit so has all of the things you would expect in any major town.
The Euro is the currency in Monaco despite it not being part of France or the EU.
Food and drink in Monaco is generally quite expensive, but of a good standard.
The last train from Monaco to Nice can leave earlier than you may think so be sure to check train times. Taxis are very expensive indeed.
There is a regular helicopter transfer from Nice Airport to Monaco. The train is cheaper.
The paddocks at Monaco are split, the main technical working paddock for F1 teams is in the pitlane inside the circuit (notably the pit wall does not overlook the start line and 'prat perches' are not used). The main paddock for hospitality units etc is on the dockside adjacent to the circuit at Rascasse. The support race pits are a substantial distance away in a semi underground multi level car park.
Parking at Monaco is very difficult indeed, even with the correct pass.
It is possible to get a direct train from Monaco to Moscow. We have not tried this.
Hotels in Monaco are fearsomely expensive, however some private apartments can be rented.
There are a large number of hotels in nearby Nice which are very affordable and range from a very poor standard to a very high standard. The hotels around the airport terminal are generally recommended and provide convienient access to main roads and a small railway station with frequent services to Monaco. This can be very important during the Grand Prix weekend as often the crowds fill the train at Nice station, leaving those attempting to board at later stations unable to get on. Those boarding at the airport always get seats.
The circuit is located on the harbour front in Monaco and transport links to and from the principality are good - but plan ahead and book early to avoid delays and disappointment. The nearest airport is at Nice and you can transfer by helicopter to Monaco - the journey takes approximately seven minutes. For those arriving by more conventional means, the circuit does not have an official car park so you will need to use one of the city's public car parks, which will become very busy on race weekend. Arrive early to find a parking space or use alternative transport to reach the circuit.
Trains run regularly between Nice and Monte Carlo Station, taking about 30 minutes and are generally the best option for those staying outside of Monaco. From the station, the harbour area of the circuit is only a few minutes walk. Please be aware that the trains can be very busy on the Sunday and you may have to queue during peak times. Special arrangements are in place at the stations on race weekends with restricted entry and exits at certain times, so please visit the ACM website for further details.
Taxis can take you close to the circuit but traffic can be busy in town on race weekend. From Nice, the journey time is about 40 minutes. Expect the fare to be premium rate!
If you are staying in Monaco, it is generally easier to walk to the circuit on race weekends.
Above all else, plan early: don't expect to turn up in Monaco on race weekend and find a grandstand seat or a hotel room available to buy - unless you are seriously wealthy!