The glamorous 2021 Monaco GP will take place in just three days from now. Missing from the 2020 calendar, the return of the Monaco GP this year has fans and F1 purists excited, as it is the only track in the season that rates driver skill over the performance of the car. And a big reason for that is the layout. You see, Monaco GP is a street race, in which, the roads that are otherwise open to the general public are cordoned off for the race weekend. That means, the drivers race on the same road on which the local Monegasque crowd walks and drives for the rest of the year.
The track might be the shortest circuit on the calendar, but is dangerously narrow with absolutely no room for error and that’s what makes it one of the most exciting races of the season. Every single section has its own uniqueness and that is what we have listed below. Every corner of the most cut-throat track on the calendar. Now the images are from the game F1 2020, which is why you see some driving assist lines in the centre of the road.

1) Sainte Dévote
Often the venue for many many incidents, Sainte Dévote is the first corner on the Monaco GP. A tight right-hander, which, if not negotiated correctly, can have some serious repercussions. It is also one of the few parts on the track, where overtaking is a possibility. On the first lap, it is advised to stick to the inside so as to get a faster exit, but the first lap will see pretty much everyone flocking to gain position here, and that can mean a huge incident. Now, these might look exciting and entertaining, but accidents aren’t really fun. They bring out the safety car for a long time and pretty much spoil the race.
The corner, which is named after a church that is not too far from the barriers, has seen its fair share of drama over the years. Just ask Max Verstappen (2015) or David Coulthard (1995).

2) Beau Rivage
Once the drivers manage to get past Sainte Dévote, they begin the uphill climb into Beau Rivage.
Translated in English, it means ‘beautiful coastline’, but we doubt any of the drivers get to bask in it and enjoy the beauty while slithering through the bends at nearly 250kph! According to McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo, the TV doesn’t do justice to Beau Rivage as the incline seems to be pretty normal, but when you are seated as low as in an F1 car, things are rather different. One mistake here, and you’d be a passenger, as you slide into the third corner thanks to momentum. Ask Ruben Barrichello (2010).

3) Massenet
A quick left-hander which takes you right into the casino square is named after Jules Massenet, a famous opera composer. Drivers can get a glimpse of the Opera behind the barriers along with the bust of Jules Massenet, but surely won’t be hearing anything apart from those not-so-sonorous V6 hybrid engines. #BringBackTheV10s!
It isn’t an area where you see any incident, but there have been some bold passes on Massenet like the one world champion Lewis Hamilton made on Nico Rosberg (2016).

4) Casino Square
Arguably one of the most popular locations in Monaco is the ‘Casino Monte-Carlo’. Hypercars, supermodels and a lot of bling. But during the race, it is one of the best seats in the house overlooking the beautiful gardens. However, Max Verstappen (2016), David Coulthard and Sebastian Bourdais (2008) didn’t carry much in the form of luck as their gamble didn’t pay off. The fast right-hander opens up to the entry for corner number 5, which is Mirabeau. Get out of here safely, and you are likely to avoid any incident in the next corner, which is known to have had quite a few.

5) / 7) Mirabeau
A corner that is often used as a point of overtaking, Mirabeau, named after a hotel, is full of drama and clashes. Split between two parts, Mirabeau Haute (high) turn 5, and Mirabeau Bas (low) turn 7, it is a set of turns that sandwiches the famous hairpin for which drivers have to drop the anchor and bring the speed down to under 70kph. Over the years, many drivers have taken the plunge on the inside, only to come out with mixed results. Some have made it, and the others, not so much.
Gerrard Berger and Alain Prost were victims here back in 1990.

6) The Hairpin
The slowest corner on the F1 calendar is the hairpin. It is tight, technical and a fantastic place to get a real good look at an F1 car while it’s racing. You need to be in the Grand Hotel though which overlooks the slow and twisty turn. The drivers have to often fully lock the steering wheel to the left to make the corner and since the next one is a right-hander, the movement needs to be swift. Quite an effort for the wrists. Some F1 cars also change the steering ratio for this very corner. It too has seen its share of incidents, but arguably the most famous one has to be that of the lost diamond that was decorated on Christian Klien’s (2004) Jaguar. Sadly, he ended up in a shunt and the diamond, till this day, has not been found. Talk about a treasure hunt!

8) Portier
A tight right-hand corner that hurls you into the tunnel derived its name after a Catholic order and has nothing to do with a Port. It isn’t known for overtaking, but it is in fact, quite famous thanks to the legendary Ayrton Senna (1988) who made one of the very few mistakes in his career. A minute clear of teammate Alain Prost, Senna crashed into the barriers at Portier and lost, which was a sure-shot top step on the podium. Now, Portier might seem docile in comparison to the other corners, but the drivers have to be surgical here so as to not scrape the barriers on the exit and keep the car straight for the fast entry into the tunnel.

9) Tunnel
It isn’t a corner, except a slight bend towards the right. However, it is a section where drivers are flat-out. The challenge is adapting to the change in light as you go from the bright sky and reflections of the sea and jewellery, to a dark fast-paced tunnel. Micheal Schumacher (2012) put his Mercedes-AMG on pole in qualifying and was seen driving one-handed at full pace as he changed the brake bias for the chicane ahead. What a legend!

10) / 11) Nouvelle Chicane

One of the most common overtaking spots on the circuit, the Nouvelle Chicane is full of action. Towards the end of the tunnel, drivers are near the 300kph mark but have to brake hard for the tight left-hander. It is a true test of late braking and drivers often play a huge gamble relying on the slight bit of run-off area on the inside of the first corner. The car needs to be placed perfectly so as to not crash into the barrier. Many drivers are seen utilising the full flex of the barriers by rubbing the outside of the tyres. Something that is particularly exciting to watch in slow-mo as the tyres rumble through and the barrier flexes. Charles Leclerc (2018), Kimi Raikkonen (2008) and Romain Grosjean (2013) pushed just a bit much and had to take the long walk back to the paddock.

12) Tabac
The fastest corner on the circuit, Tabac was named after a tobacco shop that was exactly where the corner is now. It is a high-speed left-hander that requires full commitment and a lot of prayers. Ask Pastor Maldonado (2013) about his horrific crash as he crash-tested his Williams in the entry barrier.
Every driver speaks of Tabac as the most ‘ballsy’ corner on the track as you are surrounded by so much. Barriers, stand and yachts are all distractions you don’t need when you are entering a corner over 200kph.

13) / 14) Louie Chiron Chicane
The original layout was quite different from the new one and after Tabac, it was a straight run to the finish line. However, in the early 70s, the government constructed a municipal swimming pool, giving birth to two chicanes. The first one including turns 13 and 14 is named after the Monaco racer Louie Chiron, who was third on the podium of the first Gran Prix of Monaco back in 1950. These too are exciting given the fast entry drivers make after Tabac. Not many incidents here, but you can never discount it.

15) / 16) Piscine
Also known as the Swimming Pool corner, the entry to 15 and 16 is more technical than dramatic. The entry speeds are slow and there isn’t much room for overtaking either. Here it is all about getting a fast exit and prepare for the DRS zone that comes up soon.

17) La Rascasse
Named after an old fisherman’s bar, today La Rascasse is a high-end restaurant. The second to last corner on the circuit is yet another place where drivers can be cheeky and steal a position, but it also is famous for its incident. The most famous one being that of Michael Schumacher’s halt in 2006, which spoiled Fernando Alonso’s lap and thereby confirmed Michael on pole. It wasn’t illegal, but you have to give it to the race smarts of the 7-time world champion.

18) Anthony Noghes
The last and seemingly easy corner of the circuit is Anthony Noghes, named after the guy who conceptualised the Monaco GP way back in the 1920s. Of course, there was no F1 back then, but the thought of racing on city streets was established and hence, the last corner is a homage to the brilliant mind of Anthony Noghes. It is a slow entry through here as drivers make it past La Rascasse, but after this is the main straight where you need to slam the throttle.

A lucky few have crossed the line in first place and we can only dream of what that feels like.

That was the Monaco GP layout and every corner of it dissected. We sure hope the upcoming race is filled with action and a secret wish also goes out to the rain Gods that can add the cherry on top. Tune into qualifying on Saturday at 6:30 pm IST and for the race on Sunday at 6:30 pm as well. Also, let’s hope it’s not “HAM, VER, BOT” yet again.