Monaco's Famous Formula 1 Corner
It may be the slowest driven corner in Formula 1, but it is also the most famous. Now home to the Fairmont Hotel of Monaco, this corner is referred to by many of the F1 drivers as the Loews Corner, named after a previous owner of the hotel. This is the turn that everyone wants to photograph when they come to Monaco, and it is also the corner where the F1 drivers must judge their braking threshold speed before hitting the apex of the 180 degree turn. The balance and application of power must be delicate so as to not oversteer and crash the car into the barriers.
At Monaco there are steel barriers everywhere with hard continuous braking required throughout all sections of the circuit. A driver's pure skill can win at Monaco over the absolute technical supremacy of the car. Ayrton Senna proved this in 1993 when he won his sixth Monaco Grand Prix driving a McLaren-Ford, which at the time was underpowered against the Williams-Renaults of Alain Prost and Damon Hill.
Monaco's Formula 1 race starts at sea level at the Port where the cars line up on the grid, and this is also the main straightaway for the circuit. When the lights go green, the F1 cars head quickly towards the first turn, a 90 degree right turn called Sainte Devote, named after the church at this corner. This starts the ascent up the long hill to Monte-Carlo's famous Casino, with a right side view of the Port below. Just before the Casino, the drivers brake hard to set their cars up for taking a left turn that passes between the Casino and the Hotel de Paris. The F1 cars then make a quick right which lines them up to go down the hill past the Metropole Shopping Plaza and they brake into a sharp right which heads towards the Fairmont Hotel. A quick downhill burst of power followed by hard braking is required prior to negotiating the 180 degree turn in front of the Fairmont Hotel.
Following the Fairmont, a further short descent occurs at slow speed, followed by braking to balance the car into a sweeping right at the Mirabeau Hotel that then heads straight towards the sea. The cars then brake slightly and make a sharp right just before the sea and head into the famous F1 tunnel that travels under the Fairmont Hotel. Here it is very important to carry as much speed as one can from the turn into the tunnel, so as to be able to achieve a top speed in this fastest part of the circuit. F1 cars have hit a maximum speeds of 300 plus km/h as they exit into daylight at the end of the tunnel. The F1 drivers then brake the hardest of anywhere on the circuit to take a 90 degree left then right then slightly left through a chicane that heads along the side of the Port, with a flotilla of large Yachts immediately on the left.
The turns never stop at Monaco and the next one is a left at Tabac, named after the newsagent tobacco store that runs year-round on the corner. The drivers then head straight with a left, then right, then left around the outside of Monaco's outdoor swimming pool and then a short sweeping curve followed by hard braking into a slow speed U-turn called the Rascasse corner (a restaurant/bar and nightclub). Exiting Rascasse and carrying speed from this corner is extremely important. If you can carry speed from Rascasse then you can gain fractions of a second on the lap time, especially during qualifying runs. Its full application of power after cleanly exiting Rascasse, and you enter onto the staightaway, pass the finish line, and start the process over again.
The Monaco Circuit lap record is held by Michael Schumacher at the 2004 running of the Monaco Grand Prix where he lapped in a time of 1 min 14.439 seconds. The total race length is 78 laps covering 260.52 km (161.879 miles) and one lap of the circuit is 3.347 km (2.092 miles).
The 2009 67th Monaco Grand Prix will be held between May 21-24 with the F1 race to start on Sunday May 24, 2009 starting at 2PM.