1979 Monaco Grand Prix

Monte Carlo, May 27th

This year’s race round the streets of Monte Carlo was the thirty-ninth Grand Prix to be held in the Principality, but more important, it was also the fiftieth anniversary of the first Monaco Grand Prix, the missing eleven races being accounted for by the war years and bouts of financial depression. With the size and speed of today’s Formula One cars it was deemed prudent to limit the number of starters to 20. This number coincides neatly with the accepted membership of the Formula One Constructors Association, but to invite them all, to the exclusion of everyone else would have been too simple, and very unpopular. The organisers studied the rule book and dug about in the small print and found their solution. They were permitted to allow 24 cars to practise, the fastest 20 taking the grid positions, and of the extra four cars they were allowed to nominate two entries themselves, while a pre-practice qualifying session was permitted in which the two fastest cars could make up the official total of 24. So Bernie Ecclestone turned up with this twenty boys, the organisers invited Rene Arnoux, to keep Renault and the French populace happy, and Riccardo Patrese to attract as many Italians over the border as possible. This left Stuck (ATS), Merzario (Merzario), Mass (Arrows), Rebaque (Lotus), Giacomelli (Alfa Romeo) and Brancatelli (Kauhsen) out in the cold. Alfa Romeo and Kauhsen had no intention of taking part and the Rebaque team withdrew under protest, Mr. Ecclestone having guaranteed them an entry at the end of last season! Arturo Merzario damaged his right hand while flapping his arms about in his garage, so he nominated Brancatelli to take his place and early on Thursday morning the black and yellow Merzario car was joined by Stuck (ATS) and Mass (Arrows) for a desultory hour’s running to decide who was to drop out. Needless to say it was Brancatelli, the two Germans joining “Bernie’s Boys” and the invited pair to start the serious business of the Monaco Grand Prix.

Due to jollifications, parties, Renault 5 practice and Formula Three practice all taking place on Friday, the Formula One practice was held on Thursday and Saturday, starting with a test-session between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. and timed practice from 12.30-14.00 hours on Thursday. This test hour was vital, because there is no possibility of pre-practice testing or tyre-testing sessions through the streets of the Principality and lots of things like gear ratios and tyres had to be “guesstimated” beforehand. The two Ferraris of Scheckter (040) and Velleneuve (039) were using forward mounted rear aerofoils, both the Renaults were using twin turbo-chargers on their V6 engines, Lotus were still running their one Type 80 (Andretti) with three Type 79 cars to back it up, one (79/2) for Reutemann and a spare for each driver. Ligier had a brand new JS11 being held as the team spare, the 1979 Ensign re-appeared for Daly, but Fittipaldi was still using his old F5A/1. Brabhams had their usual three cars for Lauda and Piquet, with the prototype BT48/01 in a box as spares. Frank Williams’ team had a third FW07 model nearly completed and Hunt was concentrating on the Wolf WR7, with the newer car WR8 as stand-by. McLaren were having another stab at being competitive with a C-version of the M28 for Watson and Tambay had the B-version.

Race Results


Circuit - Monte Carlo




Monte Carlo


Temporary street circuit


2.058 (Miles)


Michele Alboreto (Ferrari 156/85), 1m22.637, 89.655 mph, F1, 1985