6 of the most memorable Monaco Grand Prix races in history

Ross Gibson

The Monaco Grand Prix is a staple of the Formula 1 calendar, and holds a special place in the hearts of fans of the sport. With Lewis Hamilton topping the Driver Standings and Valtteri Bottas holding second place going into this year’s race, it seems that Mercedes are unstoppable once again this season.

Still, the Monaco circuit has been known to throw up its fair share of surprises – there’s still plenty at stake this season.

In the lead up to this season’s GP, we take a look back at some of the most famous, or infamous, races to have graced the circuit in Monte Carlo.

1969 – ‘Mr Monaco’

This might not have been Graham Hill’s most impressive victory in Monaco, but it was the one that earned him the title of ‘Mr Monaco’. This would be Hill’s fifth victory on the Monaco circuit, as well as his final World Championship Race victory – a crash at the US Grand Prix four months later would break both his legs, and bring about the end of his success as an F1 driver. Hill’s five victories at Monaco helped to establish the legacy of the race as one of the greats, and only two other drivers would go on to achieve the same success as he did in Monte Carlo – Ayrton Senna (6 wins) and Michael Schumacher (5 wins).

1982 – Five leaders in the final three laps

The 1982 Monaco Grand Prix was one of the most bizarre, with 5 different leaders emerging in the final three laps of the race. Alain Prost, who had held pole position since lap 15, crashed out at the ‘Dog Leg’ in lap 74, prompting Riccardo Patrese to take the lead. This didn’t last long however, as Patrese spun out in lap 75, handing the lead to Pironi, who then ran out of fuel on the final lap. As he tried to pass Pironi, Andrea de Cesaris then also ran out of fuel, giving the lead to Williams’ Derek Daly. Daly’s gearbox seized up before he could even start his final lap, allowing Patrese to claim his first Formula 1 victory after managing to restart his car.

1984 – Prost wins in the rain

A major chapter in the Senna-Prost years, the 1984 Monaco GP divided F1 fans around the world, and remains one of the most contentious results in F1 history to this day. It was during this race that Ayrton Senna announced his presence as one of the future stars in Formula 1, as the Brazilian managed to climb up the grid from 13th place to second in the largely uncompetitive Toleman-Hart. As the rain continued to pour down in Monte Carlo with Prost in pole position, he began to signal to the stewards that the race to be stopped – all the while Senna was closing the distance between the two cars. The Red Flag was then waved at the end of lap 32, and even though Senna was the first to cross the finish line it was Prost who claimed the race victory based in his position in lap 31 – a decision that continues to divide fans of both the Frenchman and the Brazilian. 

1988 – Senna crashes out

The image of Senna walking back to his Monaco apartment after crashing out of the 1988 Grand Prix is one that remains in the minds of many fans of the sport, in yet another bizarre race on this renowned circuit. Senna and Prost’s relationship as McLaren-Honda teammates during the 1988 season was contentious at best, and the Monaco GP did nothing to ease the tension in Ron Dennis’ camp. Holding a 50-second lead by the time Prost managed to pass Berger in the Ferrari, Senna was radioed by Dennis to slow down and ensure a 1-2 victory for the team with only 11 laps to go. It was then on lap 67 that Senna spun out after losing concentration, hitting the barrier and damaging the front suspension of his McLaren. Prost went on to claim his fourth and final win in Monte Carlo, in a race that was, essentially, Senna’s to lose.

1992 – Mansell vs Senna

Graham Hill may be ‘Mr Monaco’, but Ayrton Senna created no shortage of commotion on the circuit during his career. Senna’s fifth and penultimate win on the circuit was a masterclass in defensive driving. Britain’s Nigel Mansell, who at the time was leading the Drivers’ Championship, held onto pole position for 71 laps of the race, before he made a pit-stop thanks to a suspected puncture. After coming out of the pits behind Senna, the Brazilian managed to hold him off for the final three laps of the racing, snatching victory in the McLaren-Honda by a mere 0.2 seconds. The skills shown by both drivers and the air of tension created in these final laps marked this race down in F1 history as a favourite of both fans and critics alike.

2006 – Schumacher ‘parks the bus’

Michael Schumacher made one of his most infamous manoeuvres during qualifying for the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix. The 2006 season was marked by a fierce rivalry between Fernando Alonso in the Renault and Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari. Alonso went into the Monaco GP at the top of the Drivers Championship, while Schumacher was aiming for his sixth victory on the circuit, which would have brought him level with Ayrton Senna for the most wins on the track. Afraid that Alonso would record a faster time in the final session of qualifying, Schumacher parked his Ferrari on the Rascasse corner, threatening Alonso’s lap time. Although the German claimed that he was forced to stop due to a technical error, he was penalised and sent to the back of the grid for the race – which Alonso won by an almost 15-second margin.