Senna celebration leads vintage racing action at 2024 Historic Monaco Grand Prix

Historic Racing News

F1 drivers joined the Monte Carlo crowds to see historic racing's most glamorous event, and the on-track action didn't disappoint. Andrew Marriott reports from a vintage weekend at the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique, where British drivers took the lion's share of victories

Andy Middlehurst leads at the start of Race B in 2024 Historic Monaco GP


God Save the King rang out over the streets of Monte Carlo no fewer than five times at the weekend as British drivers – and cars – dominated the 14th running of historic motor racing’s blue riband event, the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique. Patriotic British expats draped Union Flags off their balconies and were able to look down on Britain’s most recent grand prix winner Lando Norris as he and several other current F1 drivers watched the action provided by Formula 1 cars that wrote the headlines before they were born.

British success here is nothing new, of course, at this biennial event but nevertheless the domination was stunning and underlines the strength of the whole historic scene in Britain.

As in 2022, cars in eight classes practised on the Friday, qualified on the Saturday and then raced on Sunday starting somewhat early at 8am. The categories are based on the cars that have raced in the Principality. There is a race for pre-war Grands Prix cars, one for post-war front-engined machines and one for the 1.5-litre period between 1961 and 1965. There are four separate races for the 3-litre period up to 1985 and the eighth race recognises the year – 1952 – when Monaco ditched Formula 1 which was in a parlous state at the time and ran the Grand Prix for sports cars instead.

Thierry Boutsen and Bruno Senna in Ayrton Senna Lotus and McLaren at the 2024 Historic Monaco GP

Senna tribute included Thierry Boutsen in the Brazilian’s 1985 Lotus 97T and Bruno Senna in his uncle’s McLaren MP4/5B from the 1990 title-winning season


In addition, on Saturday, there was an excellent display of significant Ayrton Senna race vehicles including a kart, FF2000, F3, Toleman, the JPS in which he won his first Grand Prix and the McLaren he used for his second world title.

Many of the eight categories have grids of over 30 cars and prospective competitors have been known to wait several years before they receive an invitation. Not only, of course, does the world’s most famous street circuit provide a magnet for celebrities but for cars we rarely see racing elsewhere. There are plenty of races in the Masters series for the 3-litre machinery but usually their grids of made up only of DFV powered machinery – at Monaco, the Matras, BRMs, Ferraris and Alfas appear, as well as plenty of other mouth-watering motors you only normally see in museums.

Race A2: Front-engined GP cars built before 1961

Claudia Hurtgen in Ferrari 246 corsses the line to win at Historic Monaco GP

Hürtgen crosses the line to win


Marino Franchitti in Maserati 250F at Historic Monaco GP

Marino Franchitti came in second


The racing kicked off at the early hour of 8am with the A2 category for post-war front-engined cars – which meant primarily Maserati 250Fs — including the Tec Mec evolution — but also shoe magnate Alex Birkenstock’s fabulous Ferrari Dino 246 from 1958.

Birkenstock’s car was driven by veteran German racer Claudia Hurtgen, as it had been in 2022. On the face of it, this was an unusual decision as Hurtgen ended her Formula 3 career here in 1993 after a violent accident. But she had previously returned to win the sports car race and, indeed, she took the win in the Dino two years ago.

Max Smith-Hilliard’s Lotus 16, a possible challenger, suffered from the usual Lotus 16 problem of a jammed gearbox and the fast and rare Scarab driven by Scotsman Mark Shaw hit problems too. This allowed Hurtgen to win again unchallenged – this time heading home Marino Franchitti driving father-in-law Nick Mason’s Maserati 250F. Close behind there was a spirited battle for third between two previous winners of this category, Spaniard Guillermo Fierro-Eleta in his 250F and Tony Wood in the Tec Mec with Wood taking the final podium spot. It would have been nice to have seen a Vanwall in this encounter.


Race A1: Pre-war cars

Paddins Dowling in ERA leads at the start of 2024 Historic Monaco GP prewar race

Dowling leads in ex-Prince Bira ERA


The clock was rolled back for the next race for the Pre-War machinery. Sadly even Monte Carlo never attracted the Mercedes or Auto Unions to take to the track in anger so this race is usually the domain of ERA and and Alfa Romeo, although there was a Talbot Lago win in the 12th Historique event, held in 2021 after being postponed by a year due to Covid.

But this year it was back to the ERA – indeed the most famous of all, Prince Bira’s “Remus”, which has been raced almost ever year since 1936. California-based Irishman Paddins Dowling repeated his 2018 win, while the other of the David Morris-prepared ERA machines, in the hands of Canadian Brad Baker, was second 14sec behind. Mid-race he was passed by the familiar sight of Michael Birch in his ex-factory Maserati 4CM but using the superior ERA power he regained the spot.


Race B: Rear-engined 1500cc cars — F1 cars from ’61 to ’65 and F2 from ’56 to ’60

Andy Middlehurst in Lotus 25 leads Joseph Colasacco in Ferrari 512 at 2024 Historic Monaco GP

Middlehurst had the legs on Calasacco


So to Class B for those elegant if underpowered 1.5-litre rear-engined grand prix cars which we rarely see race. A quick look at the excellent programme indicated that this could be an epic Lotus versus Ferrari battle. Clive Chapman’s Classic Team Lotus have long trusted their ex-Jim Clark Lotus 25 to touring car ace Andy Middlehurst while American collector Lawrence Auriana has top SCCA racer Joe Colasacco as his hot shoe in the 1964 Ferrari 512.

Middlehurst won this class in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 but last time it was in the Ferrari resplendent with its blue wheels and spaghetti exhaust. Fresh from a win the previous weekend at the Donington Historic in his Nissan Skyline (what a contrast), he got the jump at the start. Colasacco harried him throughout the ten-lap encounter but never looked like finding a way past. So it was win number five for the man from St Helens and the ground-breaking Climax V8 monocoque. But the gap was a scant 0.7sec. Mark Shaw, who won the race in CTL’s earlier Lotus 21 back in 2021 was third ahead of Lukas Halusa’s neat Brabham BT7.


Race D: 3-litre F1 cars from ’66 to ’72

Katsuaki Kubota in Lotus 72 during 2024 Historic Monaco GP

Katsuaki Kubota qualified second, and was in prime position when Lyons' Surtees faltered


Katsuki Kubota celebrates winning in 2024 Historic Monaco GP

An emotional win for Kubota


Race number four was for the earlier 3-litre cars that competed between 1966 and 1972. In the past this race has been the domain of Stuart Hall with Rofgo Racing’s Yardley McLaren M23 but this year the owner, German commodity trader and collector of all racing things Gulf, Roald Goethe, elected to drive the ex-Denny Hulme machine. This meant that Hall’s Monaco arch-rival and fellow Essex resident Michael Lyons had a decent chance of scoring his eighth win here. He tops the leader board; three wins having come in 2021 alone.

On pole by a second and a half over Japan’s Katsuaki Kubota in the ex-Ronnie Peterson Lotus 72, Lyons was soon motoring into the distance in the family’s trusty Surtees TS9 – previously raced by his mother. But suddenly the car was slewed sideways and stationary at the Rascasse hairpin. The steering rack had seized, possible the result of a broken tooth in the rack.

So it was Kubota who inherited the lead despite a challenge from the yellow March 721G of Matt Wrigley while the French composite magnate “Mister John of B” took third spot in in the shrill Matra MS120C – one of his impressive collection of Matras and Ligiers. For Kubota it was an emotional win, a first for a Japanese driver, coming a month after his father’s death.

In a race that only featured a dozen cars, the man in the news, Adrian Newey, took the oldest car in the race, his Gold Leaf-liveried ex-Graham Hill Lotus 49 to an excellent fourth. He was wearing a Red Bull race suit but was also seen in deep conversation with McLaren boss Zak Brown – who was racing his Williams FW07.

Adrian Newey in Lotus 49B at 2024 Historic Monaco GP

Adrian Newey was competitive in his Lotus 49


Out of luck, however, was Monaco first-timer, former top Mexican Indycar racer and later championship-winning Acura sports car team winner Adrian Fernandez. A year or so ago he had demonstrated an ex-Pedro Rodriguez BRM P153. He liked it so much he bought it. He hoped to fulfil a dream to race at Monaco and qualified sixth but in the process a shaft in the differential snapped and he was a DNS.

This was a big disappointment for another famous Mexican, former McLaren team co-ordinator Jo Ramirez. Jo, who came to Europe originally to mechanic for the Rodriguez brothers, sported a driver armband – the one Riccardo had competed in the 1962 Monaco GP.


Race E: 3-litre F1 cars from ’73 to ’76


Stuart Hall in McLaren M23 at Historic Monaco GP

Hall claimed a second consecutive victory in McLaren M23


Jean-Denis Deletraz in Shadow DN3 at 2024 Historic Monaco GP

Jean-Denis Deletraz alongside the harbour in Shadow DN3


The final race of the morning moved us up to the next group of 3-litre Formula 1 cars – 1973 to 1976. Now the Essex rivals Stuart Hall and Michael Lyons would get the chance to go head-to-head as they have done in this category over recent years. Hall in the Rofgo McLaren M23 had won in ‘22 but the previous year Lyons had just edged him out in the family ex-Hunt M26. But they also had to contend with the well-funded German Chrome Lotus squad fielding a Lotus 76 for three-time Le Mans winner Marco Werner and a Lotus 77 driven by British hot shoe for hire Nick Padmore.

Former WEC GTE-Am Champion Hall was on the pole and showed his class yet again, leading from start to finish. Behind there was a mighty scrap between the two black and gold cars and the M26. But just five laps into the 18 lap race, Werner came into the pits with a broken gearbox. Try as he might Padmore couldn’t challenge Hall and finished 3.5 sec adrift but ahead of Lyons – so an English one-two-three. Lukas Halusa brought his McLaren – the last M23 to be built – fourth and Matt Wrigley had a good run to fifth in the Penske PC3.


Race C: Front-engined sports cars from ’52 to ’57

Fred Wakeman leads sports car race in 2024 Historic Monaco GP

Fred Wakeman led for most of the race...


Lotus Mk10 of Max Smith-Hilliard in 2024 Historic Monaco GP

...but Max Smith-Hilliard crossed the line first


The afternoon started off with the sports car race — cars from 1952 to 1957 and in the past, this has tended to be the domain of the Jaguar-powered C-type and Cooper T38. American Fred Wakeman with the Blakeney Motorsport Cooper was looking to repeat his 2022 win but Richard Wilson also had his sublime and recent Goodwood-winning Maserati 250S on the front row. On row two Max Smith-Hilliard was hoping for better luck with the twin-finned Lotus 10. Previous winner of this category Guillermo Fierro-Eleta was fourth with his Maserati 300s while Claudia Hürtgen had a similar car in the 21 car line-up.

The incident packed race saw Wakeman lead the opening lap to be passed by Wilson with Tony Wood a hard charging third in his Lister-Bristol. Wakeman resumed the lead and with three laps to go there was contact exiting the Casino Square with a Wilson and Smith-Hilliard clash. Now sporting dented front bodywork Smith-Hilliard’s Lotus 10 was pressuring leader Wakeman who, with a lap to go, spun. By the time he had got it straightened it out the man in the Graham Hill helmet had taken a surprise victory in the Lotus. Claudia Hürtgen was second and Niklas Halusa, in an early Jaguar D-type third. The unfortunate Wakeman recovered to ninth.


Race F: 3-litre F1 cars from ’77 to ’80 

Stephen Shanley in Tyrrell 010 at 2024 Historic Monaco GP

Stephen Shanley qualified Tyrrell 010 third


Michael Lyons in Hesketh 308E at 2024 Historic Monaco GP

Michael Lyons stayed out of trouble to win in Hesketh 308E


Back to single-seaters for the penultimate race and another chance for Michael Lyons to add to his tally in what was scheduled to be a 45 min battle for the 1977 – 1980 3-litre cars. Lyons was on the pole in the Hesketh 308E, which has been a previous winner here, and there were several great storylines to the race.

Qualifying third in a Tyrrell 010 run by the former AGS Formula 1 team was Stephen Shanley. Who? It turns out that the Home Counties builder is a “can do” adventurer. He’s rowed the Atlantic single-handed, he’s climbed the Matterhorn three-times and, yes, he’s done a modicum of club racing in an Elan and the like. So the next challenge, to race a Formula 1 car at Monaco! Thus followed a deal with AGS, some time in their simulator and then practice in the Tyrrell at the little Le Luc track in France.

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Then he only goes and qualifies third, ahead of the likes of Masters G1 Champion Mike Cantillon! Also in this race, two well-known team owners, McLaren’s Zak Brown and top US IMSA team boss, Acura Weathertech’s Wayne Taylor from South Africa, who has won at Daytona and Sebring as a driver. Brown was in the Williams FW07 from his United Autosport historic fleet; Taylor had a Wolf raced by fellow South Africans Jody Scheckter and Desire Wilson. Sadly it didn’t end well for either of them.

Indeed, Taylor from the back of the grid, launched himself into the air by hitting a slower starter bringing out what was the first of three red flags. By then, Brown was stranded in the pits with a mechanical failure. Meanwhile at the front it was Lyons in the lead from Miles Griffiths in one of five Fittipaldis entered – this one an F5A raced by Emerson and watched over by Emmo’s old engineer Dave Luff. The Shanley fairy tale ended when his inexperience showed and he spun on the opening lap.

It took the organisers a while to get them back in the right order, only for there to be another red flag, another re-start and another red flag. Finally, this left a brief 5-lapper with Lyons heading to his eighth Monaco chequered flag but kept honest all the way by Griffiths. Former French F3 Champion Jonathan Cochet was third in the Fittipaldi F6 ahead of Williams FW07s of Mark Hazell and Cantillon with Shanley finishing 11th. I am hoping we see him again but he’ll probably be swimming the Channel next!


Race G: 3-litre F1 cars from ’81 to ’85


Lotus 87B of Marco Werner alongside Lotus 88B of Nicholas Padmore at 2024 Historic Monaco GP

Lotus 87B of Werner (left) and 88B of Padmore (right)


So to the final and fastest race of the day, disappointingly shortened to 30 minutes after the earlier delays. This would very much be Stuart Hall versus three later JPS Lotus machines owned by Germany’s Chrome Cars but run by Britec Motorsport from Unna in Germany. There was an 88B for Pedmore, an 87 for Werner but also Michael Lyons added to the squad to drive the later 92.

Hall was in a so-called March 821, a car actually designed by Adrian Reynard for the under-funded RAM Team and raced by Brazilian Raul Boesel in period. Fortunately, this one had the updated push-rod front suspension. It was discovered by Hall and the Rofgo team in the States, completely re-built and then raced to a debut victory by Hall last November at the Dubai Historic. For Hall and the team it was their first ground effect car.

Fortunately, this race was much cleaner and Hall, in this Rothmans-liveried car, powered into the the lead chased by the Chrome trio although Padmore retired before half distance. Werner came home second eight seconds behind, Lyons third another eight seconds back.

Podium after Race G in 2024 Historic Monaco GP

Stuart Hall on the top step of the podium, finished ahead of Marco Werner (left) and Michael Lyons (right)


There was a fine drive too from Marino Franchitti, also new to a ground effect F1 car. Big brother Dario had recently purchased a Tyrrell 012, had it prepped by Andy Wolff and the Indy 500 winner was revved up to race at Monaco for the first time. Sadly consultancy duties at Indianapolis intervened, so Marino got the drive and took it home to fourth spot.

Meanwhile Hall stood on the top step of the podium for a second time this weekend – it might have been three if he’d driven the M19 – and the British national anthem was played out for a fifth time. Again, the Monaco’s Historic meeting had proved a great success — such a shame it is only every two years.


Musings from the Monaco Historique

Claudia Hurtgen is handed the winners trophy after victory in the 2024 Historic Monaco GP

Claudia Hurtgen receives caricature trophy


  • Each race was named after a driver who won in the period of that particular race. As well as the traditional silver trophies, there were large caricature style models of the appropriate driver complete with appropriate crash helmet.
  • Several Formula 1 drivers were in and around the track including Lando Norris – no interviews said the McLaren minders – his team-mate Oscar Piastri joined him, as did locally-born Charles Leclerc, Fernando Alonso as well as actor/racer Patrick Dempsey and Jacky Ickx. As ever Prince Albert of Monaco was a keen observer and obviously enjoying the event.
Fernando Alonso watches 2024 Historic Monaco GP

Fernando Alonso watches on


  • An interesting addition to the front-engined grand prix grid was the one-off Ferguson P99 four wheel drive car, as raced to victory in the 1961 Oulton Park Gold Cup by Stirling Moss. The car was recently acquired by German racer Thomas Schlereth. Tommy hired Stuart Hall as his driver coach and Stuart also tried the car. Schlereth acquitted himself well and finished seventh.
  • Jeffrey O’Neill, who runs the Velocity Festival at Sonoma Raceway in California finally fulfilled a dream to race at Monaco – he reckoned it had taken him seven years to get accepted with his Maserati 250F.
  • Bruno Senna was much in evidence and part of the Senna 30-year celebrations. Bruno owns one of the 500 Senna McLarens and did a number of laps of the track with passengers that included Prince Albert.