Not only is the Monaco Grand Prix considered one of the most glamorous and prestigious of them all, it is also one of the most demanding tracks on the calendar, providing drivers with tight corners, elevation changes and the vision-imparing tunnel exit.
Given the fact that competitors must, at least reduce to the lowest speeds on the calendar, it is the only Grand Prix that falls below the FIA’s mandated 305 kilometre minimum race distance.
Since it’s inception in 1929, two drivers have met their fate in the harbour of Port Hercules, had it not been an existing fixture on the calendar, it surely would not be there today, due to the FIA’s strict regulations on Driver safety.
All of this however adds to its draw as one of the most prestigious events of the season. The uniqueness and excitement of the weekend, as it pushes the competitors to their absolute limit, in probably the most picturesque location the calendar has to offer.
Despite its notoriety, there have been some alterations over the years, but this year’s organisers, the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM) announced they have made several changes in an effort to improve safety around the streets of the Principality.
The most notable change is to the chicane after the tunnel exit. The surface there has undergone a laser study, which revealed a discrepancy of at least 20cm in the height of the track within the braking area. This is where Sergio Perez crashed last year suffering a concussion during qualifying. The wall in which he hit has also been pushed back 14.6 metres.
Meanwhile, some trees have been removed from the area surrounding the Pit Exit, allowing it to be widened and straightened; this should allow drivers to be able to rejoin the track at a higher speed than possible before.
Other changes include the tyre barriers at Sainte Devote and the Swimming Pool Complex (La Piscine) sections being replaced with TecPro Barriers and the addition of high-grip surfaces in the sections previously mentioned.
A contact at the ACM said that “The various measures demonstrate a continued will to mordernise the Circuit”.
So, who will come out on top of the pack in Qualifying; who will dominate the race? There are many questions that need to be answered in the coming days, but all will be revealed come the afternoon of the 27th May. Like you all, I am relishing the prospect, especially as I will be watching it first-hand!
With thanks to my contacts at the Automobile Club de Monaco for their input.