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Monaco GP Preview

NEWS STORY
26/05/2022

It is no coincidence that over 40 years after John Frankenheimer used Monaco for the opening scenes for his Grand Prix movie, the makers of Iron Man 2 chose the very same location.

Why? Because the Principality is iconic.

While the Monaco Historic Grand Prix featured in Iron Man 2 is totally implausible - if only for the fact that we witness cars overtaking - the race in the 1966 movie is little better, what with F3 cars pretending to be F1 cars and a team boss called Jordan getting quite hysterical over the actions of one of his drivers. But hey, at least there was an American on the grid.

With the addition to the calendar of Miami and Las Vegas there are increasing doubts over the future of the Monaco event, but for the most part these are political as the sport's bosses seek to raise the hosting fee.

While team bosses, such as McLaren's Zak Brown, cast doubt on the race's future, it is worth noting that in every team preview of this weekend's race, whilst noting the difficulties this unique track presents, every single driver is relishing the prospect of getting out there.

In many ways the Monaco circuit is an anomaly and is it hard to believe that we are still racing there. Years ago Nelson Piquet described racing on the streets of the Principality as being like "riding a bike around your living room", the three-time world champion's best result being 2nd in 1983 and again in 1987, two of his championship winning years.

Last year, as in 2003 there were no overtakes during the race, indeed over the last 40 years, the average number of passes per race is 10, with the 1983 event featuring the most... 26.

Cast your mind back to 1992, when race leader Nigel Mansell made a late stop for a suspected puncture and rejoined the race behind Ayton Senna. Despite being clearly quicker and on fresh rubber, in the few remaining laps the Briton was unable to make a successful move on the Brazilian, in one of the most thrilling duels in the history of the sport.

Four years earlier, Senna was leading, almost a minute ahead of second-placed Alain Prost, when he made an unforced error going into the tunnel and crashed. Getting out of his car, instead of heading back to the pits the distraught Brazilian waked back to his apartment, not contacting his team until late that same evening.

Winning Monaco, along with Le Mans and the Indy 500 forms motor sport's so-called Triple Crown, a title that so many, like Fernando Alonso and Mario Andretti, have sought to attain, but only the late Graham Hill has managed.

This weekend the iconic circuit plays host to round seven of a Formula One world championship that is proving every bit as dramatic as the movies previously mentioned.

Heading to almost certain victory last week, Charles Leclerc fell victim to an engine issue. As if that isn't enough to motivate the youngster this weekend there is the fact that he is a Monegasque born and bred.

However, in three F1 outings at his home track his best result is 18th, with Alfa Romeo. In 2019 he retired with accident damage after 16 laps, while last year, having taken pole, he didn't even make it to the grid.

At a time many fear the youngster is cursed in his home event, just two weeks ago he crashed Niki Lauda's 1974 Ferrari 312B3 during a demo run over the Monaco Historic weekend.

While the local driver will be understandably fired-up this weekend, so too will Barcelona winner, Max Verstappen, who won here last year.

Then there's Sergio Perez, who no doubt is still smarting from the team orders saga a week ago.

Though Barcelona witnessed a revival for Mercedes, the German team is playing down its chances, with the W13 known not to be good in low-speed corners... of which there are many this weekend.

While we previously mentioned the implausibility of the movie versions of the Monaco race, over the years the Principality has delivered more than its fair share of shock results, not least Olivier Panis' victory in 1996.

And who will ever forget 1982 when race leader Didier Pironi suffered a misfire and subsequently stalled, handing the lead to Andrea de Cesaris who ran out of fuel. New race leader, Derek Daly then had his gearbox seize thereby handing the lead back to Ricciardo Patrese who had previously spun on oil and stalled but managed to get going again by rolling downhill and bump-starting his car on the very last lap.

"We've got this ridiculous situation where we're all sitting by the start-finish line waiting for a winner to come past, and we don't seem to be getting one!" said commentator, and world champion, James Hunt.

So with that in mind, according to Betway, Leclerc is 2.00 this weekend, while Verstappen is 2.25, Sainz 15.00, Russell, Hamilton and Perez 17.00 and Valtteri Bottas 101.00.

Ferrari is 1.83 for the win, Red Bull 2.10, Mercedes 8.50, Alfa Romeo 101.00 and McLaren 126.00.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Monaco, here.

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