Dating back to 1929 no race or circuit of the Formula 1 Calendar can truly match the excellence, the glamour and the challenge of the Monaco Grand Prix. From Casino Square to the World's most famous Hairpin, past the Hotel de Paris, through the tunnel and past the luxurious yachts, Monte Carlo is a circuit of legendary corners seeped in history.
The circuit is one of the most challenging in the Motorsport world, as large sections of the track are so narrow that overtaking is almost impossible, and the 200,000 people which line the barriers on either side of the city's streets have an opportunity like no other to be close to the action. That figure of 200,000 is quite impressive considering that Monte Carlo has a total population of 3,500.
Experiencing Monaco during the Grand Prix is a once in a lifetime experience, and Monte Carlo comes alive for the entire month of May. Practice and qualifying takes place in the days preceding the main race, when the usually sleepy streets bustle with visitors, racing fans and some of the world's megastars.
Monaco is perhaps the only place in the world where you can find yourself having a drink on the actual F1 race circuit just hours before the race itself. Don your best threads and head to one of the many bars around the port neighbourhood, stopping en route to star spot at the mega-yachts which are moored in the glamorous marina. After dark, you might even find yourself at one of the pop-up bars or clubs which appear in Monte Carlo for Grand Prix season. Or hit the boutiques in the Avenue des Beaux Arts for designer brands and eye-watering price tags.
The atmosphere on race day is electric, when the usually sleepy streets are transformed to the most famous race track in the world. Motorsport fans will want to watch the race trackside, although you'll notice every balcony, roof terrace and elevated spot in the whole city is crammed full of people watching the drivers fly past.
The Monaco GP is big business. The extra number of people brings in a £45 million profit according to the Monaco's Department of Tourism and Conferences. That said the money that is in Monte Carlo is helped considerably by the world's elite have long called Monaco home. It boasts residents that include Bono, Mohamed Al-Fayed, Roger Moore, Ringo Star, and a host of sportsmen and women including British F1 drivers David Coulthard, Jenson Button, and Lewis Hamilton.
Naturally, holidays in Monaco during the Grand Prix can come with an expensive price tag, however last year the Sky Sports F1 programme did a short segment on Luxury vs Limited Budget for a Monaco Grand Prix weekend. You can check out the video below.
In 1956 Grace Kelly, one of the most famous actresses in world cinema, married Prince Rainier after meeting in Monaco following the Cannes Film Festival.
They had three children, including a male heir in Prince Albert who, like his father, has maintained an obsession with racing cars and F1, and continues the tradition of dining with the winner after the race.
So who will he be dining with next Sunday evening? The logical money would be on one of the Mercedes drivers, as they have started this season where they left of the last couple – in dominant form - albeit they did take each other out on the first lap of the last race in Barcelona. Out of the two drivers Lewis Hamilton appears to have the edge in qualifying, but on race day it is Nico Rosberg that has a 43 point lead of Hamilton (who is actually 3rd at the moment) in the Drivers Championship – largely due to the unreliability of Lewis’s Merc.
With overtaking so difficult at Monaco the key to a good race is qualification. More often than not the winner has come from the front row. Last year Lewis qualified on pole, and had the race pretty much in the bag when with 14 laps and a 20 second lead his team decided to pit him thinking there would be enough time to get him back out in the lead, however they misjudged it and he ended up third. And the previous year caused more controversy when in qualifying Rosberg effectively cost Hamilton the chance at pole position by running wide at Mirabeau and bringing out the yellow flags – a move that (for all no charges were brought) was thought by some to be a deliberate act to keep himself on pole.
Regardless of the outcome one thing is for sure; the excitement and danger of the motor racing mixed with the royal patronage and Hollywood glamour will make the Monaco Grand Prix the staple of the race calendar for many more years to come.