The Limitations, and Thrills, of the Monaco Grand Prix

Ask a Grand Prix driver whether Monaco is worthy of its place on the Formula 1 calendar, and the answer will usually be yes.

That’s even though the Grand Prix can often be less than thrilling. The track is so narrow and the cars so big that drivers rarely can pass, or overtake, each other. In the Formula E race there in April, drivers were able to overtake almost 200 times in their smaller cars. In last year’s Grand Prix there were 22 overtakes, which can make the race processional.

Compared with 30 years ago, cars are about three feet longer and 600 pounds heavier, making them difficult to maneuver around the narrow streets of Monaco. Still, the race has a mystique.

“For me, Monaco is the most iconic race of the season,” Charles Leclerc of Ferrari said. “Obviously, I’m Monégasque, so I’m biased, but it’s the race that made me dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver.

“The qualifying effort on Saturday is incredible. None of the racetracks come close to what we feel on that qualifying lap, and how precise you need to be, how brave you need to be. It’s something I really enjoy as a driver.”

The Monaco Grand Prix is over 78 laps, with almost 1,500 corners.Credit…Andrej Isakovic/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
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