From the archive: Monaco GP

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Crown jewel

Regarded by many people as the jewel in Grand Prix racing’s crown, Monaco has always been one of the most challenging races on the World Championship calendar, calling for great skill and precision. Probably more historic, memorable and amusing moments have been spawned by this race through the streets of the Mediterranean Principality than any other race. And, notwithstanding an enormous amount of detailed alteration to the track configuration over the years, Monaco has remained essentially. unchanged for more than half a century.

Statistically, Graham Hill was the master of Monaco. At the wheel of his 1½-hire BRM, the moustachioed Londoner won a hat-trick between 1963 and 1965, and then followed that up with a brace of victories for Lotus in 1968 and 1969. Jackie Stewart won three victories (1966 for BRM and 1971 and 1973 for Tyrrell), while Alain Prost scored a McLaren hat-trick in 1984-86, an engine failure in this year’s race preventing him taking an unprecedented fourth successive triumph.

Of course, those who failed to win often made more in the way of headlines than those who did. Incredibly, Jim Clark, probably the most precise and disciplined driver of all time, never won the race. Stirling Moss was the last man to win with a private entry, taking Rob Walker’s Lotus 18 to an historic win over the Ferrari team in 1961, while Jean-Pierre Beltoise scored BRM’s last GP success with a brilliant drive in the rain eleven years later.

With chicanes added in several places, Monaco has become a less suitable place for F1 cars to show their paces in recent years. But despite the fact that it’s very much follow-my-leader through the sunlit streets these days, the circuit retains an allure and attraction that makes it the race to win on the international calendar. AH

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