Monaco GP: Famous moments that helped shape F1’s legendary race

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2017: Ferrari strategy leaves the Iceman cold
Kimi Raikkonen is famously not the most ebullient of drivers when he finishes on the podium, whatever the step, but even F1’s resident Iceman cut a noticeably frosty figure post-race last year when he lost a race he surely thought he had won.

There was plenty of public outcry aimed at Ferrari’s strategy after Raikkonen, who had claimed his first F1 pole position in nine years on the Saturday, was overhauled through the sole round of pit stops by team-mate Sebastian Vettel after the German’s opening stint was extended by five laps.

Raikkonen returned in traffic, while Vettel reeled off a succession of fast laps and was able to pit and rejoin ahead of the sister Ferrari. The German driver won the race and extended his championship lead, but Raikkonen’s glum post-race demeanour proved just as big a taking point.

2015 and 2016: The Monaco GP isn’t over, until it’s over
Critics who decry F1’s showpiece event for a lack of overtaking could be accused of missing one of Monaco’s main attractions – namely the mental challenge placed on those who take part, drivers and teams.

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Drivers in the groove around the narrow, unforgiving streets can often make it look easy but it doesn’t take much to go wrong in Monaco for the race to change in an instant. Lewis Hamilton in 2015 and Daniel Ricciardo in 2016 know all about that after what would have been impressive victories for both were wrestled from their grasps by operational errors.

In 2015, Hamilton was leading Nico Rosberg by 24 seconds when a Mercedes miscalculation under a Virtual, and then full, Safety Car underestimated the advantage he had in hand as they planned a pit stop. Not only did Hamilton return to the track behind his team-mate and arch title rival, he dropped behind Ferrari’s Vettel too. Then, 12 months later, Ricciardo appeared set to pip a recovering Hamilton but fortunes again turned at a pit stop, this time when Red Bull didn’t have the Australian’s tyres ready. To say Ricciardo was not amused would be an understatement…

2012: Schumacher’s pole that wasn’t
Going purely by the record books, what turned out to be Michael Schumacher’s 18th and final Monaco GP wouldn’t appear to be particularly noteworthy – sixth place on the grid was followed up by a mechanical retirement in the race.

Yet had it not been for a five-place grid penalty hanging over from the previous race in Spain, F1 would have had its oldest polesitter for 42 years – and, if the luck had been on the 43-year-old’s side, quite possibly the oldest race victor in just as long too.

Alas, it wasn’t to be, although the achievement of being the fastest qualifier at that age and in the closing months of an F1 comeback that had otherwise failed to sparkle still represented a story worthy of a place in Monaco’s rich pantheon.

2009: Victor Button on the run
It’s perhaps unfortunate that Jenson Button’s only victory in Monaco is best remembered for what happened after the race than during it (for the record, he dominated and won by a comfortable eight-second margin over Brawn team-mate Rubens Barrichello), but the Englishman’s minor post-race miscue was in keeping with the feel-good factor which surrounded his 2009 title-winning season.

Caught up in the jubilation of the moment on his slowing-down lap, Button forgot that protocol in Monaco dictates that the podium finishers park their car back on the pit straight, rather than parc ferme. So what did the keen triathlete do to right the wrong? Set off on a run, of course, from the pit lane back to where he was supposed to park, taking in the acclaim of the crowd on a rare F1-style ‘lap of honour’.

2006: Schumacher ‘parks’ at Rascasse
F1’s most successful driver won five times in Monaco but hopes of a record-equalling sixth in 2006 went by the wayside – or, perhaps, the quayside – with a ‘stunt’ in qualifying that earned Schumacher widespread condemnation.

Holding provisional pole position heading into the crucial final Q3 laps, Schumacher was lapping slower than his fastest time and appeared to inexplicably lose control at the low-speed Rascasse corner at the end of the lap, with his Ferrari gently nudging the barriers and blocking the track. The resultant yellow flags stopped drivers behind on the road, notably title rival Fernando Alonso, from bettering Schumacher’s time and so the German’s position at the head of the field stood. But with the outcry from all outside Ferrari immediate and stinging, the stewards investigated the incident and, a staggering seven-and-a-half hours later, stripped Schumacher of his pole time and relegated him to the back of the field.

The race saw Schumacher at his very best as he raced from 22nd to fifth, but the damage to both his image and title aspirations was already done.

1996: Panis and the famous three-car finish
There has never been a race quite like Monaco 1996.

On a track which supposedly precludes overtaking, Oliver Panis won the only grand prix of his career, and the French Ligier team’s ninth and final one, from 14th on the grid. But that, quite amazingly, was only half the story on an extraordinary afternoon of racing.

On a wet track, polesitter Michael Schumacher crashed out within half a lap of the race starting. Championship leader Damon Hill then saw his hopes of an elusive victory in Monaco go up in smoke when his Renault engine let go in the tunnel. The lead transferred to Benetton’s Jean Alesi, but he then retired with car damage.

Throw in numerous retirements and incidents further down the field – including a three-way clash which wiped out Eddie Irvine, Mika Salo and Mika Hakkinen – and only three of the 22 drivers who started the race made the chequered flag. Panis, who had earned his win with a strong drive amid all the chaos, was joined on the podium by David Coulthard and Johnny Herbert at the end on the afternoon that remains barely believable some 22 years later.

1992: Senna v Mansell steals the show
‘Epic’ barely does justice to the closing seven laps of 1992’s edition of the Monaco GP as Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell, two of the titans of a heavyweight F1 era, went toe to toe for a victory that really mattered to both men.

For Mansell and his fans aside, there would have been relatively little to remember about this particular race more than two decades on had the Williams driver not pitted from a comfortable lead of that race on lap 71 with what he suspected to be a punctured left-rear tyre. That handed Senna an unlikely lead late in the race but a fourth successive Principality success for the Brazilian was far from won as the returning Mansell cancelled out a seven-second deficit on his new tyres in almost no time at all to put himself right on his McLaren rival’s rear wing.

What followed over the final three laps has become the stuff of legend as Mansell harried, hurried and pressurised Senna with all his might but the Brazilian held firm, kept his McLaren as wide as possible and won a record-equalling fifth Monaco GP. Senna would take the record outright a year later.

But what stands as perhaps F1’s most famous pole lap wasn’t followed up by a race-day win. A serene Senna was leading a recovering Prost but crashed into the barriers at Portier after an apparent loss of concentration. A disbelieving Brazilian famously headed straight from his stricken McLaren to his nearby apartment, not re-emerging until some time later.

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The crown jewel in the F1 calendar returns and you can watch the Monaco GP on Sky Sports F1 this weekend, with Saturday and Sunday’s action also on Sky One. Get Sky Sports F1.

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