For the 68th time in the championship era, Formula 1 returns to Monte Carlo this weekend for one of the most famous events of them all – the Monaco Grand Prix.
The unique, 3.3-kilometre circuit has played host to some memorable moments over the years, including one of the most special laps in F1 history by Ayrton Senna in 1988, a 1982 win for Ricardo Patrese in the race that no one wanted to win, and an historic victory for Ligier’s Olivier Panis in 1996.
On today’s grid, five of the drivers have taken victory around the streets of Monaco, but Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz will all be desperate to make that six and springboard themselves back into the title fight.
They will strive to do so under slightly different circumstances this weekend though, as Thursday practice has been abolished.
Traditionally, the first two practice sessions have been held a day earlier than usual, before Friday was taken as a day off to celebrate Ascension day.
Less emphasis has been placed on this day in recent years though, and it was used mainly as a way to integrate celebrities and VIPs into the weekend, but this is no longer the case.
The first practice session will take place just after the drivers’ press conference, and this is split into two sessions either side of Formula 2 qualifying.
Practice for F2 will still take place in the traditional Thursday slot.
Leclerc has failed to finish a race in Monaco since his one and only year in F2 in 2017. He retired from both the sprint and the feature race that year, and his fortune has not improved in F1 either.
A brake failure put him out of the race in 2018 with Sauber, before a mistake from Ferrari during qualifying meant that he had to start the 2019 edition from the back.
The 24-year-old then picked up a race-ending puncture while trying to pass Nico Hulkenberg at La Rascasse, and a qualifying crash last year having put the car on pole denied him the chance to contest the race.
Leclerc has recently explained why he has had so much trouble in the Principality.
‘That’s because I like to flirt with the risks. Because on these kinds of tracks you can’t make mistakes. That gives you a lot of adrenaline,” he divulged.
”I’m not going to change that approach and continue to do what I’ve done in recent years: I sleep at home.”
The Monegasque indicates that he was having to push the car beyond its limit to reach the front in 2021, but now that he has a car capable of winning races, he does not need to be quite so over-zealous.
”Last year I took a lot of risks, because I knew I needed a miracle to reach the front row of the grid. This time I will not take the same risks because I know that the points are very important,” added Leclerc.