Few places are as synonymous with Formula 1 as Monaco. Who’ll master the streets of the principality this year? Here’s what to watch out for and who to back in the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix!
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The 2023 Monaco Grand Prix was scheduled to be the seventh round of the season until last Wednesday, when the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was cancelled just days before the race weekend was expected to begin due to heavy flooding in the region surrounding the Imola circuit.
Monte Carlo’s world famous street race has been running since 1929, with the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix set to be the 80th edition. A mainstay on the F1 calendar since 1955 – with the exception of the coronavirus-struck 2020 season – this is an iconic track which throws everything at the drivers.
The so-called ‘Jewel In The Crown’ is an event which is high on the bucket list for most drivers to win – and for most fans to visit!
The polesitter doesn’t always win in Monaco.
Let’s get this one out of the way early. Yes, due to the tight nature of the circuit the Monaco Grand Prix can be processional. However, that doesn’t mean that the polesitter is guaranteed an easy ride to victory. In fact, from the previous seven races in Monaco, the polesitter has won only twice.
Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Charles Leclerc have all lost races as a result of strategy decisions in recent years, while Leclerc was unable to even start the race in 2021 due to gearbox troubles. Daniel Ricciardo suffered similar heartbreak in 2016, when a slow pit stop ended his chances of victory.
Since 2015, Hamilton’s 2019 Monaco Grand Prix win is the only trouble-free run to victory in the principality. Ricciardo enjoyed redemption in 2018 after his 2016 misdemeanours, but even that victory only came after stressful mechanical issues throughout the race.
Since 1986, only one win in Monaco has come from further back than third on the grid. That win being Olivier Panis’ unlikely victory from 14th on the grid in the rain-hit 1996 Monaco Grand Prix. Pole might not be strictly important in Monaco, but a front row start is key to winning here.
Five out of five for Red Bull.
The last competitive action at the Miami Grand Prix seems a long time ago now but, if you need a reminder, Red Bull scored their fourth 1-2 finish of the season. Having won all five races up to now, the team are on the brink of making 2023 only the fourth season in which a team has won all of the first six races of the year.
Max Verstappen heads to Monaco leading the Drivers’ Championship by 14 points from team-mate Sergio Perez. The two Red Bull drivers are Monaco’s most recent winners. Verstappen won when he became the de facto polesitter in 2021, while Perez went from third to first in last year’s wet Monaco Grand Prix.
Perez has proven to be King Of The Streets so far in 2023, winning at Jeddah Corniche Circuit and Baku City Circuit. The Mexican’s street track prowess could prove to be unbeatable once again at
the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix.
Alonso’s time to shine?
Given its unusual relatively slow speed layout, it’s no surprise that the Monaco Grand Prix can be an outlier from the expected competitive order. Who has the best chance of pulling off something unexpected this weekend? Step forward, Fernando Alonso.
It has now been over a decade since Alonso’s last Formula 1 win at the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix. After taking four podiums in the first five races of 2023, Alonso is feeling optimistic about his chances of victory in Monaco. He’s named Monaco, thanks to its low corner speeds, as the first of a number of tracks at which the Aston Martin team could excel this season.
Alonso has previous winning form in Monaco, having taken back-to-back wins at the event in 2006 with Renault and in 2007 with McLaren. He’s the only driver in F1 history to have won the Monaco Grand Prix in consecutive seasons with different teams.
The 2023 Monaco Grand Prix seems to be Alonso’s best chance yet of ending a ten-year win
Will Leclerc end his run of bad luck at home?
It’s a home race weekend for Charles Leclerc, who grew up watching the race trackside from a friend’s balcony. The Monaco Grand Prix hasn’t been particularly kind to Leclerc so far in his career, though he has shone on the last two Saturdays at the track. Red flag periods in the dying moments of Q3 – one of his own making in 2021 – have aided him to the last two pole positions in Monaco.
Sundays have been a different story though. Last year marked the first time he reached the chequered flag in the principality. Having started as the polesitter, coming home fourth as the result of strategic errors on behalf of his Ferrari team was bitterly disappointing.
Leclerc clearly has the speed in Monaco and the Ferrari have previous good form on a street track in 2023, with Leclerc having secured pole position for both the Grand Prix and the Sprint at last month’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
A clean weekend for Leclerc at his home race could present him with his first home podium finish, if not better.
Hamilton to equal Monaco podium record?
Much has been made of Mercedes’ upgrade package which was due to be debuted at Imola and will now make its first appearance at the Monaco Grand Prix. Could this give the team the speed it needs to be back fighting at the front?
It seems unlikely we’ll get a clear picture this weekend, given that Monaco is an outlier track and that the track has never been Mercedes’ strongest venue anyway. Their 1-3 finish here in 2019 is the only time since 2015 that both of their drivers stood on the podium, with just a single top five finish in the last two Monaco races for the Brackley team.
Lewis Hamilton has won the Monaco Grand Prix on more occasions than any other current driver, having previously taken three victories on the principality’s streets. A top three finish for the seven-time World Champion this year would see him equal Ayrton Senna as the driver to have finished on the podium the most times in Monaco’s illustrious history.