Out of the tunnel, the cars have to brake hard for the tight left-right-left Nouvelle Chicane. Out of Massenet, the cars drive past the famous casino, Monte Carlo Casino, before quickly reaching the aptly named Casino Square. Named after the organiser of the first Monaco Grand Prix, the corner is a tight right-hander which brings the cars back onto the start-finish straight, and across the line to start a new lap. The idea for a Grand Prix race around the streets of Monaco came from Antony Noghès, the president of the Monegasque motor club, Automobile Club de Monaco, and close friend of the ruling Grimaldi family. Rascasse takes the cars into a short straight that precedes the final corner, Virage Antony Noghès. This change added 0.133 km (0.083 mi) to the circuit – bringing its total length to 3.278 km (2.037 mi) – adding the new portion along the harbour, which followed the layout of the swimming pool and ended in a new chicane around the “La Rascasse” restaurant and a slight climb to the “Anthony Noghes Curve” before rejoining the starting straight. There is a short straight to Tabac, so called as there used to be a tobacconist on the outside of the corner.
The cars snake down Avenue des Beaux Arts, the next short straight, avoiding an enormous bump on the left of the track, a reminder of the unique nature of the circuit. This leads to the tight Mirabeau corner, which is followed by a short downhill burst to the even tighter Fairmont Hairpin (was known as the Station Hairpin before the hotel was opened on the site in 1973; the hairpin’s name changed depending on the name on the hotel). Loews hotel are being built. Although the Mediterranean precipitation pattern leads to Monaco being quite dry by late May, due to the urban and narrow nature of the circuit, rainfall combined with the painted areas and the long tunnel makes wet racing extremely challenging. Brake wear is not a problem during a race in Monaco. As a result, race outcomes tend to be decided by grid positions as well as pit strategies, and the race is extremely hard on gearboxes and brakes.
Instead, the low speeds mean the issue is keeping the brakes up to working temperature. Monaco, in general, has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa), although since the track is only used for a brief period in May, when it is being used it has a narrower temperature range than the principality itself has throughout the year. Driver and former winner Michael Schumacher stated before the 2012 Grand Prix that the additional risk is “justifiable once a year”. 1972 was also the last year for the passage through the old tunnel. Monaco’s street circuit places very different demands on the cars in comparison to the majority of the other circuits used during a Championship season. Many teams use special wing assemblies incorporating extra active planes in addition to those in use for other circuits. The extra space also allowed for the installation of new grandstands and the expansion of the pit lane, which was also equipped with semi-permanent two-storey buildings (instead of the previous tiny prefabricated structures) to better accommodate the teams, the technicians and the material. In 1986, thanks to the expansion of the roadway implemented in the chicane area of the port, the chicane itself was modified and made slower: instead of the previously existing fast change of direction, deemed too dangerous, new curbs were installed to design a double turn at 90 degrees.
The circuit is annually used on three weekends in April-May for Formula One Monaco Grand Prix, Formula E Monaco ePrix and Historic Grand Prix of Monaco. Formula One’s respective feeder series over the years – Formula 3000, GP2 Series and today the Formula 2 championship and Porsche Supercup – also visit the circuit concurrently with Formula One. To date, only three local drivers have won a race at the circuit. Several attempts have been made to improve cramped conditions in the pit garages. Several commentators and drivers have criticised the circuit’s design, saying that it creates boring races. Clancy, Rebecca. “Formula One: ‘Boring’ Monaco GP at risk of being downgraded to a biennial event”. The inaugural Paris ePrix took its spot on the calendar for season two, with the Monaco ePrix reinstated for season three. The third driver to do so was Stéphane Richelmi at the sprint race of the 2014 Monaco GP2 Series round. This was done at the request of McLaren driver Niki Lauda. At the time, neither the Piscine complex nor the “La Rascasse” hairpin existed: after the “Tabac” curve, the route proceeded in the lane that is parallel to today’s starting straight: the two sections (separated only by a row of trees) were joined by a single narrow hairpin called the “Gasometer”.