75th
Grand Prix de Monaco F1

25 - 28 May 2017

The SVM (Sport Vélocipédique Monégasque… Monaco Cycling Sporting Association) was founded in 1890 as a club for cycling enthusiasts in Monaco and its surrounding areas. It became the SAVM (Sport Vélocipédique et Automobile Monégasque… Monaco Cycling and Automobile Sporting Association) in 1907 in step with the inexorable rise of the motor car. On the morning of March 29, 1925, during an Extraordinary General Meeting attended by 55 SAVM members, the club’s President Alexandre Noghès declared that “due to the ever-increasing size of the club, its name should be changed to AUTOMOBILE CLUB DE MONACO”. He added that “cycling is becoming less common as a sport”. The proposal was put to the vote by secret ballot and adopted by 49 votes for, five against and one abstention.

By becoming an ‘Automobile Club’, the association joined a large and growing family of national auto clubs. There remained one hurdle: admission to the AIACR (Association des Automobile-Clubs Reconnus… International Association of Recognized Automobile Clubs), forerunner of the current Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). As the club’s General Commissioner, Anthony Noghès was tasked with taking the Automobile Club de Monaco’s application to the AIACR’s headquarters in Paris.

He returned empty-handed, since the gentlemen of the AIACR considered that although the club did indeed organise sporting competitions, these did not take place within the territory of Monaco.

The 35 year-old Anthony Noghès, with wounded pride and youthful determination then decided to undertake the extraordinary challenge of staging a race in Monaco. The future of the club founded by his father, Alexandre, and Jacques Taffe was at stake. Most importantly of all, he could not let down the Prince, who was Honorary President. The race circuit as it was then defined was substantially the same as today’s, other than the current Swimming Pool complex, which was inaugurated in 1973.

The idea of holding a race in the city was a daunting one. There were the steps between Quai des États-Unis and Quai Albert 1er to overcome, plus more steps alongside the gasometers. There were also the cobblestones and tram tracks between La Condamine and the Casino to consider. Antony Noghès weighed up his options for two years, before finally deciding to confide in the only man he knew who could be counted upon to give a fair and dispassionate opinion: Louis Chiron. As soon as the famous driver heard Anthony Noghès’ plan, he exclaimed, “Fantastic, marvellous, amazing!“

Six months later, on April 14, 1929, Prince Pierre inaugurated the 1st Monaco Grand Prix, and performed a lap of honour in a Voisin Torpedo driven by Race Director Charles Faroux. Louis Chiron was notable by his absence from the start line that day, as the young Monegasque had entered the Indianapolis 500. There were 16 cars on the grid (eight Bugattis, three Alfa Romeos, two Maseratis, a Licorne and a Mercedes SSK) with positions drawn at random. A certain Englishman by the name of W. Williams, who arrived too late to take part in the official practice sessions, got up at dawn on the Saturday and stunned all onlookers with an unofficial practice run. Williams went on to win the Grand Prix in a green 35B Bugatti in a time of 3 hours, 56 minutes and 11 seconds, at an average speed over the 100 laps of 80.194kph. The race was a phenomenal success.

On April 19, 1932, the assembled crowd gave a rapturous welcome to Sir Malcolm Campbell (who had recently beaten the world land speed record at 408.621kph in his now famous Bluebird) who opened the 2nd Monaco Grand Prix at the wheel of a superb black and silver Rolls Royce Torpedo.

From 1938 to 1947, the Grand Prix could not be held due to both financial difficulties and a shortage of competitors, as well as the worsening international situation.

Finally, on May 16, 1948, the almost forgotten roar of engines was once more heard echoing through the streets of the Principality. However on May 9, 1949, Prince Louis II died and the Grand Prix was not held that year.

On May 21, 1950, the 11th Grand Prix was won by the late Juan Manuel Fangio from Argentina. The following year, the race was once again cancelled due to budgetary concerns and because rules for newer faster cars had not yet been drafted.

The 12th Grand Prix was held on request of HSH the Sovereign Prince. However, it was run with sports cars, as the international regulations had still not yet been finalised. In 1953 and 1954, the Grand Prix was not held for the same reason.

On May 21, 1955, the 13th Monaco Grand Prix returned to the streets of the Principality and has been held every year since.

Since then, however, the course has undergone several transformations…
– 1973: the swimming pool section was modified, providing an area for pits on the harbour side.
– 1976: two new chicanes were added at Sainte Dévote and the exit of the La Rascasse hairpin.
– 1986: widening of Quai des Etats-Unis permitted the addition of a new chicane.
– 1997: the original S-bend around the swimming pool was redesigned and named ‘Virage Louis Chiron’.
– 2003: the first phase of new work only affected the southern side of the port. Some 5,000 square metres of land were reclaimed from the sea. The circuit between the second part of the swimming pool section and La Rascasse was moved 10 metres and completely redesigned. A chicane was added to the exit from the second swimming-pool bend,
– 2004: fresh work doubled the width of the Esplanade, where the pits on Boulevard Albert 1er are located, by building over the old track between the swimming pool and La Rascasse. This provided 250 square metres of extra pits space for the teams.