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Formula 1

A maddening Monaco F1 Grand Prix for Lewis Hamilton

Imagine the world’s fastest cars roaring down Regent Street and heading around Piccadilly Circus. That would be the English equivalent of the madness that is the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix.18081085412_2bd7494e2f_m

by Keithe Photography

Monaco is one of the original F1 tracks and remains the most exciting street circuit race weekend in motorsport. With many stars in town for the Cannes film festival just down the road the race is only part of the glamorous event.

As cars have got faster it has become harder and harder to overtake on the circuit. As ex-F1 driver Gerhard Berger commented before the race, ‘Who has the first corner is half way done.’ That’s a slight exaggeration, and this year it wasn’t to be proved true. Not through any fault of the driver on pole who made it to the first corner in the lead.

Lewis Hamilton was the victim of a strange pitting decision by his Mercedes team. When the safety car came out after a spectacular crash by the young rookie Max Verstappen, Mercedes brought Hamilton in from the lead for new tyres. They had though miscalculated his advantage over his rivals and when he returned to the track he was in third position.

Ouch. That’s called throwing the lead away. Mercedes could relax slightly as their other driver Nico Rosberg won the race, giving him a hat-trick of Monaco wins. But they lost a 1-2 finish and demonstrated what happens when you rely too closely on data and simulations instead of what is actually happening in front of you on the track.

Hamilton had a race to forget. But Monaco retains the charm of its narrow track painted with every-day road markings and traffic signs to Nice and Menton. Blue skies, the Mediterranean and extremely fast racing cars jostling around a town centre. It’s a unique experience.

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Formula 1 Monaco

How to walk the Monaco F1 circuit – a guide for visitors

It’s the time of year when the Monaco police stop enforcing the 50kph speed limit. Suddenly F1 cars appear on the streets of the tiny principality reaching speeds in excess of 250kph. That’s more than twice the UK motorway speed limit, along a narrow race track that weaves between pavements, buildings, a swimming pool complex and the sea.

As the Monaco Grand Prix is run on the streets of the city, you don’t have to visit in May to walk around the track. Granted it’s easier as the Armco barriers and advertisement hoardings easily point the way. You can still follow the track the rest of the year, you just need to know the route. Click here for a detailed map of the track

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We’ll start at the train train station, as this is either where you will arrive, or is easy to find. Once there you need to take the southern exit, one of the signs for which is labelled Jardin Exotique. This will lead to a long pedestrian tunnel. Once outside keep going in the same southerly direction and you will hit the Sainte-Devote corner. The race begins to the right along Boulevard Albert 1st, next to the Monaco Automobile Club building. It’s about 200 metres from Place Sainte-Devote and if you want to walk the entire track in perfect order head down to the start line and then turn around to come back the way you came.

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Sainte-Devote is the first corner. Follow the main road right up the slope of Avenue d’Ostende which will take you past the kink of Beau Rivage. Leave the main road before it curves away to the left and head along Avenue de Monte Carlo, keeping the Gucci shop on your left. This will take you up towards Casino.

Pass the Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo on your left, then turn sharply right down Place du Casino. This leads into Avenue des Spelugues – follow this around the right bend at Mirabeau. The road now leads down to the famous hairpin.

Take the righthand road towards the sea, then turn right onto Boulevard Louis 2nd. Next comes the tunnel. Walk through then dink left onto the Quai des Etats Unis. This leads onto the Route de Piscine, where Tabac bends left to take you to the swimming pool. After that head right onto the Quai Albert 1st. Take a left off this to circle La Rascasse before heading away from the sea and joining Boulevard Albert 1st again. Here you cross the start finish line and start another lap if you want to. 78 will complete the full race distance!

Monaco F1 Grand Prix website