Monaco Grand Prix 2015: Nine things you didn't know about the Monte Carlo street race

From a Second World War secret agent winning the first ever race to David Coulthard's Superman cape, here's some things that make Monaco special

Jack O'Sullivan
Wednesday 20 May 2015 16:16
A shot from the Lowe's hairpin during the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix
A shot from the Lowe's hairpin during the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix

The sixth grand prix of the 2015 Formula 1 season sees the streets of Monaco transformed into a race circuit that is steeped in motorsport history.

Here, we look at nine interesting facts that you may or may not have known about the Monaco Grand Prix.

1. In four of this season’s five races thus far, the winner has been whoever qualified on pole position – and history says that is unlikely to change in Monaco. Ten of the last eleven GP’s in the principality have been won by the driver who started the race on pole position, with Mercedes man Nico Rosberg winning the last two races from start to finish. The lowest starter to win the race was Olivier Panis in 1996, who climbed from 14th place to take the chequered flag.

2. The Monaco GP has the shortest lap distance of all races in the calendar – just over two miles in total. It is a well-worn route however, with the 78 laps required to complete the race being the most of any circuit.

Olivier Panis won in 1996 when just four cars finished

3. One of the most memorable races in modern history took place at Monaco in 1996, when the 22 drivers who had qualified were decimated down to a finishing number of just four. By virtue of being the final two racers to retire, Finns Mika Salo and Mika Häkkinen still picked up championship points, while David Coulthard – who finished second – wore one of Michael Schumacher’s helmets, having borrowed it before the race because he was having visibility problems with his own.

4. Ayrton Senna holds the record for the most wins at Monaco, dominating the track with six wins in seven years between 1987 and 1993. Britain's Graham Hill recorded five wins in the 1960’s, with current interests Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button having recorded one win apiece – in 2008 and 2009 respectively.

Ayrton Senna holds a record six wins around the streets on Monaco

5. Along with the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Monaco Grand Prix forms a Triple Crown of the three most famous motor races in the world. Only one driver has ever won all three events – Graham Hill added to his five Monaco wins with first place finishes in America in 1966 and France in 1972.

Graham Hill has five Monaco victories to his name and also won the Triple Crown

6. The first ever Monaco Grand Prix was held in 1929 and won by William Grover-Williams, a special agent who worked for the Special Operations Executive – a British World War II organisation – inside France. Grover-Williams picked up a first prize of 100,000 French francs – equivalent to around £11,000. Arrested by the intelligence agency of the Nazi Party, he was executed at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1945.

7. On average, a driver changes gear 62 times per lap at Monaco, meaning that a driver will undertake close to 5,000 gear changes throughout the course of the race. The longest period at full throttle takes place through the tunnel, lasting around 7.5 seconds.

David Coulthard celebrates his third place in 2008 with a Superman cape

8. In 2006, David Coulthard finished in third place, giving Red Bull their first ever podium finish. A jubilant Coulthard asked Prince Albert if he could wear a Superman cape to celebrate the achievement. He agreed, meaning the Scot became the first - and surely last - driver in F1 history to don such attire on the podium in Monte Carlo.

The Casino and Hotel de Paris on the Monaco Grand Prix track


Hotels in Monaco around the race weekend are often fully booked up to a year in advance, however limited rooms remain available – at a significant price. If you’re wanting to stay from the Thursday until the Sunday to catch all of the action then your three-night accommodation and race tickets will set you back up to a cool £13,000.

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