Perhaps it is due to the outline of the Casino dominating the track, but the Monaco Grand Prix is always a gamble. A gamble that is controlled and dominated by the talent of the drivers and by the ongoing technological developments of the cars, but precisely for this reason capable of gifting new thrills and emotions every year. On the other hand, the Monaco circuit is the most beloved and the most hated in Formula 1. Certainly, one cannot remain indifferent to its charms, with its 3,337 metres of narrow and winding streets throughout the Principality, a succession of legendary bends which have over the years witnessed inimitable endeavours, such as those of Fangio and Moss, Prost and Senna, and even Vettel. It is a hypnotic challenge for those behind the wheel: as Nelson Piquet said: "It's like riding a bicycle in the living room of your home". Here, drivers will come across the slowest bend (the former Loews hairpin) and one of the fastest (the tunnel) in the entire Formula 1 championship. And this year, with a bold touch of pink, the cars will be guaranteed greater speed thanks to Pirelli's P Zero Pink hypersoft Pirelli soft compound tyres, making their début in a Formula 1 race.
In classic storytelling, Monaco is about glamour, the royal family, the sea, the yachts, and the luxury. But, in addition to this, it is above all the Formula 1 race that provides the greatest turns of events. Even the absence of an unforeseen event constitutes an element of surprise in itself. This unpredictability would seem to be a contradiction if you think that the track has remained true to itself since 1929, when the first ever race was held, and that from the 1950s until the present day, any changes to the layout have been minimal.
The anachronistic and sophisticated tale of Monte Carlo is packed with apparently impossible undertakings and equally incredible failures. This is where Ferrari made its official début in 1950: driving the 125 S made by Enzo Ferrari and fitted with Pirelli tyres was Alberto Ascari, who crossed the finishing line second behind the Alfa driven by Juan Manuel Fangio. And this is where Bernie Ecclestone had his first (unhappy) contact with Formula 1: it was 1958 and the then 28 year-old Englishman tried to swim with the big fish, buying three Connaught cars, putting together a team and showing up at the pre-qualifying round. The very same Ecclestone was behind the wheel of one of these three cars. The stopwatch was merciless and none of them qualified. This disappointment was only the prelude to a long and successful career, not behind the wheel but at the helm of the entire circuit. And, spea-king of misfortunes, we cannot forget Ascari's plunge into the sea (distracted by the public) in 1955 followed by Paul Hawkins ten years later: in both cases, the audience witnessed a spectacular dive into the water without the drivers coming to any harm.
Among the historic stars, mention must be made of Stirling Moss, who won the GP three times (1956, '60, '61) without ever being able to win the World Championship, and Graham Hill, who thanks to his five successes between 1963 and 1969 was nicknamed "Mister Monaco".
One of the most thrilling undertakings is that of Gilles Villeneuve with his Ferrari 126 CK Turbo in 1981, when the Frenchman unexpectedly - four laps from the end of the race - managed to overtake Alan Jones' Williams-Ford, exalting the crowd thanks to his risky yet never reckless driving, in true casino gambler style.
Speeding through the magnetic and elusive setting of Monte Carlo, the star of Ayrton Senna was born in 1984, when he revealed himself to the world while Alain Prost was asking for the race to be stopped by waving his arms about in what seemed at the time to be a challenge between the Brazilian David and the French Goliath. Senna then became "the King of Monte Carlo" thanks to his career wins, a record that remains unbeaten. And then came the magical years of Michael Schumacher at the wheel of the Ferrari, who had a special alchemy with these bends, right up until last year's dual title for Ferrari, still in everyone's eyes, with Alberto and the whole Grimaldi family on stage to reward Vettel and Raikkonen. This is because in Monte Carlo, even the podium is different from all the rest, more elegant and regal, as if wishing to prolong the dream-like atmosphere that is repeated each year.