Instigated in 1929, the Monaco GP has always run through the streets of Monte Carlo, the capital, and most of the territory, of the pocket Principality of Monaco. It has always been a slow circuit, but one which is unusually demanding on both car and driver. The presence of kerbs and walls require the utmost precision and there is very little room for even small mistakes.
One of the men behind the race originally was Louis Chiron, a noted driver with dual French and Monegasque nationality. Chiron last drove at Monaco in 1955, when he was placed sixth and, at 55 years and 276 days, was the oldest driver to start a WC Grand Prix. Chiron continued as Clerk of the Course up to his death in 1979. The narrowness of the track, however, means that overtaking has become exceptionally difficult.
The cynical take the view that Monaco continues as a race only because it offers unrivalled glamour and is an invaluable tool when it comes to massaging sponsorship deals. (Photographs from the 1950s show spectators looking decidedly unglamorous wearing headgear made from folded newspapers and knotted handkerchiefs!).
The romantics see Monaco as an overhang from the days when many of the most important races took part round the streets of a town which were given over to racing one weekend every year. Viewed in this way, the race has special historical significance.
There have been numerous changes to the circuit over the years, but it has retained its essence and frequently provides one of the most absorbing races in the calendar.
Two drivers have managed to finish up in the Monte Carlo harbour: Alberto Ascari in 1955 and Paul Hawkins in 1965 - in neither case was the driver badly hurt. There was a third excursion in the harbour, in the movie, Grand Prix, when Pete Aron (James Garner) dunked his Jordan-BRM.
Fast Facts - Provided by the FIA
2017 marked the 64th running of the Monaco Grand Prix as a round of the F1 World Championship. It appeared on the original calendar in 1950 and has been a permanent fixture from 1955 to the present day. Aytron Senna is the most successful driver with six victories (1987, 1989-1993) and McLaren are the most successful team with 15 (1984-86, 1988-1993, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2008).
The 2017 field contains four previous Monaco Grand Prix victors. Kimi Räikkönen won the race in 2005, Lewis Hamilton in 2008 and 2016, Jenson Button in 2009 and Sebastian Vettel in 2011.
Button's sabbatical between the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and FP1 in Monaco on Thursday will be exactly 180 days.
The 2003 Monaco race is one of four grands prix in which no overtaking moves have been recorded. The others are the 2005 United States Grand Prix, the 2009 European Grand Prix in Valencia, and this year's Russian Grand Prix.
At the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago, winner Hamilton lapped everybody up to Daniel Ricciardo in P3. The last time only the podium finishers remained unlapped was the 2008 British Grand Prix, also won by Hamilton. The most recent case of this in Monaco was 2007: Fernando Alonso claimed his second Monaco victory, lapping everyone except second-placed Hamilton and Felipe Massa.
Given the shortness of the lap and the potential for an attritional race, the potential for Monaco to provide a similar outcome is high: 18 times the leader has lapped everyone except the drivers on the podium with him, while in 10 further races he has lapped everyone except the second-placed car. Three times the winner in Monaco has lapped the entire field: (Juan Manuel Fangio 1950, Graham Hill 1964 and Denny Hulme 1967) - though this hasn't happened since the Monaco Grand Prix was shorted from its original 100 laps.
In 1996 the three drivers on the podium - Olivier Panis, David Coulthard and Johnny Herbert were the only finishers. That race holds the F1 record for the highest percentage of retirements, with 18 of the 21 cars recording a DNF.
1996 does not, however, have the all-time lowest number of classified finishers. That record is held by the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix, in which only four cars were classified. Jackie Stewart won by 40 seconds from Lorenzo Bandini. Graham Hill was a lap down in third and Bob Bondurant five laps down in fourth. Richie Ginther stopped with 80 of the 100 laps completed but Guy Ligier and Jo Bonnier were still running at the flag: 25 and 27 laps down respectively.
Nine drivers have taken their maiden F1 victory on the streets of Monaco: Fangio (1950), Maurice Trintignant (1955), Jack Brabham (1959), Hulme (1967), Jean-Pierre Beltoise (1972), Patrick Depailler (1978), Riccardo Patrese (1982), Panis (1996) and Jarno Trulli (2004). For
Beltoise, Panis and Trulli it would be a singular F1 win. Trintignant only won at Monaco, taking a second victory in 1958.