While the 78th edition of the Monaco Grand Prix was set to take place between 21st and 24th May, the legendary Monaco track will remain empty this year. Instead, Monaco Tribune decided to look back on the drivers who have made the most significant impression on the most demanding F1 GP in the world. From Ayrton Senna to Lewis Hamilton, Alain Prost to Schumacher, many of the world’s top drivers have made their mark on the Rock.
How could he go unmentioned? His list of accomplishments truly speaks for itself. Six times winner on the Rock (1987, 1989-1993), Ayrton Senna was the master of the Monaco GP circuit, reputed to be the most demanding in the world. It was here in the Principality that the Brazilian driver came into the limelight through not only his first F1 win but also during his first-ever F1 season. Senna gained his first Grand Prix pole position driving at the wheel of a Toleman-Hart and catching up to a certain Alain Prost, winner of the GP that year. Despite being called off by the rain, this GP would mark the beginning of a rivalry that became one of the most well-known in motorsports. In 1994, the man considered one of the greatest F1 drivers in history sadly died in an accident at the San Marino Grand Prix. His name lives on, forever engraved in the Monaco GP record of achievements.
On May 18, 1985, exactly 35 years ago, Ayrton Senna secured his third pole in Formula One, this time at the legendary Monaco track. Take a look back at the Brazilian's first pole position in the Principality. https://t.co/4Acw2zcG8b #SennaSempre
— Ayrton Senna (@ayrtonsenna) May 18, 2020
“The Professor”, nicknamed as such for his intellectual approach to racing, has undoubtedly left his mark on the Principality. During a rivalry which spanned close to a decade, Prost and Senna took podium positions every year in Monaco, giving the crowds unforgettable battles on the track. A four-time winner (1984-6, 1988), the French driver loved whizzing around the Rock’s steep and winding streets, a GP which he considered “truly magic” and “apart” from the rest of the F1 season.
I will always remember this day! 24 years ago I can’t believe. pic.twitter.com/r4kpPNPAsD
— Alain Prost (@Prost_official) May 1, 2018
This great name in racing stems from a different era altogether. It was a different F1, one which was significantly more demanding and dangerous. At the wheel of a BRM, and then Lotus, the British driver was on a first-name basis with the F1’s bends, winning no less than five titles in Monaco (1963-5, 1968-9). Hill was the longest-serving winner on the Rock, but has since been joined by Michael Schumacher and then overtaken by Senna. The London-born driver is symbolic of F1 during the 1960s, the only person in history to have won the Triple Crown at the most prestigious motorsports events of the year: Le Mans 24 Hours, the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix.
On this day, Graham Hill won the #MonacoGP for a fifth time with victory in 1969.
— Planet F1 (@Planet_F1) May 18, 2020
A part of this legend’s heart will always lie in the Principality, having one the Monaco GP five times (1994-5, 1997, 1999, 2001). Sadly these successes were once tarnished by an unsportsmanlike show in 2006, where he was found to have intentionally ruined a lap at the La Rascasse bend to prevent his main rival Fernando Alonso from completing his lap and thus initially beating him on a technicality. After more than seven hours of deliberation, the race stewards found Schumacher guilty of “deliberate stopping his car on the track when he had the best time.” It was a mistake which left a cloud hanging over the GP that year, but today it is his five victories which above all stay etched in our memory.
A brilliant final sector from Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F310) as he took Pole Position with a lap of 1min 20.356secs, half a second faster than Damon Hill (Williams-Renault). Monaco GP Qualifying, Monte Carlo, 18th May 1996. #F1 pic.twitter.com/DqteUa4ZM7
— F1 in the 1990s 🚦🏎🏁🏆🍾 (@1990sF1) May 18, 2020
In more recent F1 history, Hamilton stands alongside Rosberg as the undisputed master of this circuit. Driving under the auspices of McLaren, with which he won his six world champion titles, or with the undefeated Mercedes, with which he has dominated F1 for almost a decade, he has won three Monaco GP titles (2008, 2016, 2019). The reigning champion did have to wait eight years between his first win in the Principality and his second, which coincided with his first season at Mercedes. If he decides to continue his career, he could add a few Monaco podiums to his already impressive record as holding the most F1 pole positions. Perhaps he could join Senna with his six victories at the top of the rankings of Monaco’s best drivers?
Who else can't wait for the season to start again? 🙏🏾 https://t.co/JbBqAoOQea
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) April 6, 2020
If Lewis Hamilton hasn’t won more titles at Monaco, it’s because Nico Rosberg has already made the Principality’s track his own for the past three years. Winning 2013-5, the driver feels at home on the Principality’s urban circuit, never hiding the fact that “the Monaco GP has a great place in my heart. I know all the bends by heart, ever since I went to school here.” He is considered a local hero, the German national even having driven HSH Prince Albert II around the 3.3km track in 2016, in a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing.
— Automobile Club MC (@ACM_Media) May 11, 2019
Words cannot describe the French driver’s performance in 1996. Memorable, unforgettable, perhaps inexplicable. Starting in 14th position, at the wheel of his Ligier, the driver made the most natural comeback of all time in Monaco. In a race which saw the fewest finishes in history, the wet track causing all but three to drop out, Panis now sits amongst the closed circle of drivers who have defeated the Principality’s winding circuit.
👏 Bravo à tous ceux qui ont trouvé Olivier Panis ! Le Lyonnais (passé par Ligier, Prost, BAR et Toyota) reste le dernier Français à s'être imposé en F1 (Monaco, 1996) 🏆
— Turn One 🏁 (@Turn_OneF1) May 5, 2020