Grand Prix de Monaco Historique

As we had mentioned on the home page for this cruise, the 2018 Grand Prix Historique of Monaco (or 11e Grand Prix de Monaco Historique to be accurate) wasn't necessarily a main draw for us on this cruise at the time we booked the cruise, but with finding out more about it in the lead up to the cruise it became an event that we were excited to attend. Well, Gary more so than Linda. We dismissed the notion of booking tickets through Azamara because they were outrageously priced without any indication of what was included to make them so expensive. Instead, we booked the tickets online at a fraction of the cost for the two days we'd be in Monaco.

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    The weekend of classic races is held every other year two weeks before the current Formula 1 race weekend. We knew they were expecting 150 vintage F1 cars as well as other classes of vintage cars to take part in a total of seven series of similar specified cars to make the racing interesting:

    Series A: Pre-war Grand Prix cars and Voiturettes
    Series B: Pre 1961- F1 and F2 Grand Prix cars
    Series C: Sports Racing cars – front engine (1952 – 1957)
    Series D: F1 Grand Prix cars (1961 – 1965)

    Series E: F1 Grand Prix cars (1966 – 1972)
    Series F: F1 Grand Prix cars (1973 - 1976)
    Series G: F1 Grand Prix cars (1977 – 1980)

    Gary at the track

    Gary at the track

    Saturday was for the qualifying sessions and Sunday was race day for all of the series.

    Gary had purchased a new lens for the occasion - a Sigma 150mm-600mm zoom lens that would hopefully get some reasonable shots as the cars came around the Tabac corner leading to the harbour grandstand seats and then made their way through the combination turns 13 and 14 on to the swimming pool section of the track. We figured it would be best to just bring the big camera and lens for the Saturday qualifying sessions and leave the bulky gear onboard Azamara Quest for the Sunday race day for the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique.

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  • Saturday May 12

    Arrival in Monaco & qualifying for the classic cars

    Azamara Quest arrived off the beautiful coast of Monaco a bit ahead of the scheduled arrival time of 8:00am. We had planned to be on a tender as early as possible, so we had an early breakfast at Windows Café with time to get things ready for the day back in our room and still be on a tender boat before 8:00am. It made for pretty good timing for the day's race events - with the first qualifying session scheduled to start at 8:30am.

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      After the short tender ride we had just to navigate the walk from the harbour in Fontvielle to La Condamine - the district of Monaco where our seats were located. Gary remembered enough of the route from the harbour to the area we'd needed to go, but even without that we would have been able to follow the other race enthusiasts heading to the same place. With the walk and the security check leading the to track we arrived just a few minutes after the start of the Series A qualifying session.

      Incidentally, these seats were close to where Gary & Shaun had sat for the Monaco Grand Prix in 2011, but unlike the F1 race, these tickets just specified a section - the seats within the section were open selection for these classic races. We started low in the section at first then slowly made our way up higher for different vantage points.

      Saturday Schedule:

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      • Series A: Pre-war Grand Prix cars and Voiturettes

        The pre-war cars on track as for the first qualifying session were glorious. 16 truly vintage cars with the oldest being from 1926 and the newest being from 1938. It did feel like we had travelled back in time.

        Series A Qualifying

        Series A pole qualifier Michael Gans in a 1935 ERA R1B

        Something that we had wondered before the trip was whether or not these cars would be racing or touring around the track - and it did appear that for these oldest cars of the weekend's racing there was a group really pushing their cars and some that either couldn't or wouldn't push them too much. The lap time bore our this observation with the pole time of 2:04.301 being set by Michael Gans in a 1935 ERA R1B. ERA cars locked out the top three qualifying spots within 0.589 seconds which certainly appeared to be competitive. The slowest qualifying lap set was more than 37 seconds off the pace.

        The whole session was enjoyable, and it was a treat to watch these cars lean into the Tabac corner and those pushing would slide on their skinny grooved tires.

      • Series D: F1 Grand Prix cars (1961 – 1965)

        After a 35 minute break in action the Formula One cars from the early 60s took to the track for their qualifying session. For Gary, the 60s are his favourite era of Formula One cars - these were the first style of toy racing cars he had and this era's flat cigar shaped Lotus in British racing green with yellow and white trim is his classic favourite.

        Series D Qualifying

        Pole qualifier Andy Middlehurst in a 1962 Lotus 25 ahead of a 1964 Brabham BT11 (Climax) driven by Charles Nearburg

        It was easy to see the speed difference between these cars and the pre-war cars that had preceded them on track. 12 of the 32 cars entered in this class were Lotus cars including the iconic Lotus 25 - the first monocoque chassis to be used in Formula One and the car that took Jim Clark to his first World Championship. All of the Lotus cars in this class had been designed by Colin Chapman - the founder of Lotus Cars.

        It was the 1962 Lotus 25 driven by Andy Middlehurst that topped the timing charts to take pole position with a time of 1:48.550 ahead of a 1964 Ferrari 1512 by more that 2.5 seconds followed by a 1963 Brabham BT7 taking third place in qualification. Even though the fight for pole wasn't so close there were plenty of tight battles down the grid and it was wonderful to watch all of these beautiful cars race around Monaco.

      • Series B: Pre 1961- F1 and F2 Grand Prix cars

        The qualifying schedule now went back to the slightly older cars ranging from 1951 to 1960. The visual differences to the Series D cars were striking. These cars were front engine vehicles that were quite bulky in design for the most part compared to the era that succeeded them. The similarities were more with the Series A cars than the Series D cars.

        Series B Qualifying

        Series B pole qualifier Nick Padmore in a 1958 Lotus 16

        Interestingly, though, the speed of the pole lap was 1:53.168 - which would have put that car 5th on the grid for the Series D race. Not bad at all.

        The Series B pole was taken by Nick Padmore in a beautiful Chapman designed 1958 Lotus 16 once driven by the legendary Graham Hill. A 1959 Tec-Mec F414 qualified 2nd followed by a 1960 Scarab F1. The Scarab in particular looked fantastic, but there were plenty of very good looking cars in this series.

        There was one car, a 1951 Gordini T11/15, that had a very decorative livery that we thought that was a modern twist on the car, but it turned out to be authentic to its original racing livery as were all cars competing this weekend.

      • Series E: F1 Grand Prix cars (1966 – 1972)

        The Series E cars ranging from 1966 to 1972 represented the transition in design from the cigar shaped cars to those with angular lines plus the addition of front and rear wings. The in-between design of the squished cigar shape with the front and rear wings looked to be the most attractive of this era, but it was clear to see the evolution of F1 design in this Series from the oldest to newest.

        Series E Qualifying

        Current (Formula One) Red Bull Racing Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey in a 1969 Lotus 49B

        Of particular note to Gary in this series was one entrant: Adrian Newey, the current Chief Technical Officer for the Formula One team Red Bull Racing driving a 1969 Lotus 49B once driven by the great Graham Hill. In his Formula One career alone Newey has designed the cars that have won ten World Constructors' Championships and ten World Drivers' Championships so far. Impressive, to say the least.

        The fastest car in this qualifying session was an unusual looking 1971 March 711 with a front wing that looked more like it was carrying a small surf board on the front of the car. If there is a list of the ugliest cars of Formula One then this car should be on the list. Ugly, but fast. Swedish driver Bjorn Wirdhelm set the pole qualifying lap with a time of 1:34.360 ahead of a 1971 McLaren M19A and a 1971 Surtees TS9B in a great qualifying session.

      • Parades

        For the lunch break in qualifying there were a few parades arranged to keep some action going on the track - starting with a "70 years Porsche Celebration". As part of that celebration, Jacky Ickx was behind the wheel of his 1981 Le Mans winning Porsche 936/81. That car was cool to see on the Monaco circuit.

        Parade - Saturday

        Jacky Ickx in his 1981 Le Mans winning Porsche 936/81

        Another treat was seeing a 1962 Porsche 804 driven by Derek Bell (who, incidentally, drove with Ickx in the Porsche 936/81 to win Le Mans in 1981). The Porsche parade was followed by some classic rally cars touring the circuit and then some parade laps by classic Grand Prix Moto bikes that dated from 1929 to 1957.

        The best parade came last - the F1 Heritage parade with some more notable drivers behind the wheels. Our favourite of this parade was Mika Hakkinen in a 1970 McLaren M14A. All but two of the cars in this parade were also entered in their appropriate series of racing as well.

        Gary had learned from the F1 race in 2011 that the food at and near the track can disappear quickly, so we planned accordingly earlier in day with Linda going to get some of the nice sandwiches that were available in Monaco. It made for a relaxing lunch in the grandstand while the parades were underway.

      • Series C: Sports Racing cars – front engine (1952 – 1957)
        Series C Qualifying

        Chris Ward qualifying on pole in a 1954 Cooper-Jaguar T33 Mk1

        The first series after lunch turned out to be a big surprise - as the only non grand prix class we figured this wouldn't be so interesting and perhaps those driving these vintage sports cars might not be actually racing them. We were wrong on both counts. 30 cars on track ranging from 1952 to 1956 that included some incredibly beautiful cars made by the likes of Aston-Martin, Jaguar, Maserati, Ferrari to name a few. They looked amazing on the Monaco circuit and there was doubt that they were pushing these beautiful sports cars.

        The top three qualifiers were all in Jaguars - with Chris Ward topping the timing chart in a 1954 Cooper-Jaguar T33 Mk1 followed by a 1955 Cooper-Jaguar T38 Mk2 and then a 1954 HWM-Jaguar Sport. Even though these cars weren't previous F1 cars they certainly seemed to embody the spirit of classic racing on this truly classic track.

      • Series F: F1 Grand Prix cars (1973 - 1976)

        The sounds and fervour on track certainly intensified as the F1 cars from the early 70s began their qualifying session. The lap times were the fastest we'd seen so far and it had the look more of racing than of qualifying with 30 cars fighting for their spot on the grid around this tight and narrow street course. Often cars were very close to each other as they came around Tabac and there was growing evidence of contact on some of the cars as the session ticked away.

        Series F Qualifying

        Series F pole qualifier Stuart Hall in a 1973 McLaren M23

        Nearing the end of the session Dany Rollinger lost control of his 1973 Williams FX3B on the exit of turn 14 resulting in a fairly hard impact into the Armco barrier on the section of track leading to the swimming pool section. Rollinger seemed unhurt but the front of the car was a mess. Once that car was clear of the track the action resumed and almost immediately Keith Frieser stuffed his 1973 Shadow DN1 in the same section of Armco. They weren't just touring around.

        Stuart Hall put his 1973 McLaren M23 on pole with a time of 1:31.796. This was the same car driven by former F1 driver Mark Blundell in the F1 Heritage parade earlier. A 1977 McLaren M26 qualified second driven by Michael Lyons - this car, too, we had seen in the parade driven by former F1 driver Eddie Irvine. A 1976 Ensign N176 took third spot on the grid in this eventful and enjoyable qualifying session.

      • Series G: F1 Grand Prix cars (1977 – 1980)

        The final series of the most modern cars for the Historic Grand Prix were split into two qualifying sessions. The first group out were those classified as non-ground effects cars. These cars ranged from 1977 to 1979 and it was Michael Lyons who had qualified second in his Series F car previously now claimed the top spot of this qualifying session in his 1977 Hesketh 308E with a time of 1:31.453. It wouldn't be known until the end of the second session where this would put him on the grid for the Series G race.

        The second group out was those designated as ground effects cars. The race information indicated that the group would be made of of two classes - those with a Ford Cosworth DFV engine and those with something else. All of the cars entered this weekend were with the Ford Cosworth engine. These cars covered the full range of the series from 1977 to 1980.

        Series G Qualifying

        The pole qualifier Martin O'Connell exiting turn 14 in a 1980 ATS D4

        The qualifying was pretty intense in this group as well. Gary happened to capture the moment one car hit the barrier at Tabac late in the session. Frederick Lajoux in his 1978 Arrows A1 had followed behind the 1980 Brabham BT49 driven by Joaquin Folch-Rusinol for a few laps before touching wheels leading to Tabac. The Brabham didn't make it to the corner, but the Arrows went on straight and hit the wall. Lajoux felt aggrieved as he exited car - walking back from his car gesticulating at Folch-Rusinol until he was corralled by the marshals. The replay on the big screen within our view suggested that Lajoux had only himself to blame.

        Martin O'Connell put his 1980 ATS D4 on pole with a time of 1:29.808 followed by Jordan Grogor in a 1980 Arrows D3. Michael Lyons' time in the first group was good enough to put him third on the grid for the Series G race.

      • Heading back to Azamara Quest

        Following the day's qualifying sessions we made our way with the crowd to slowly make our way out of the track area into the streets of La Condamine and then onto the Port of Fontvielle to catch a tender back to Azamara Quest. Light rain fell as we approached the port, so it was good that the wait wasn't long for the next tender back to the ship.

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        White Night Party

        For this evening, Azamara Quest had planned a 'White Night Party' on the open deck with a barbecue buffet set up in the area of the Patio and dining tables set up over most of the open deck. People were already selecting tables by the time we took a look to see what was going on. We opted to get a drink and some tapas in the Living Room and then head back to the room to clean up for dinner in the main Discoveries dining room. We've never been much for the buffet dinners on the open deck, and this evening was no exception to that. We weren't the only ones thinking that - Discoveries wasn't full, but there were still quite a few people making the same decision as us.

        The post dinner 'White Nights Party' was in full swing as we went out to the open deck after we had left Discoveries. We stayed for a while to enjoy the music and then decided to head to Mosaic Café on Deck 5 for some espressos to close out our evening. A long but enjoyable day in Monaco. Tomorrow would be another early start for race day.

  • Sunday May 13

    Grand Prix Historique of Monaco Race Day

    The first race for the day was scheduled to start at 9:00am so we had another early start to the day to get there in good time. We enjoyed breakfast at Windows Café. The weather didn't look anywhere near as nice as it had been the day before - the sky was grey and rain was expected. Oh, well. We prepared as much as we could for the expected weather and set off on an early tender over to the Port of Fontvielle.

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      Sunday morning rain

      A rainy start to Sunday

      One other thing that was a bit different for this day is that we left the DSLR camera with the big lens on board Azamara Quest. Gary figured it would be nicer to watch the races without the big camera gear, and with having the two days at the track it was an easy choice to designate Saturday as the main photo day. The weather forecast would have been a good reason to make that choice too, but the decision was actually made pre-cruise.

      From the tender at the Port of Fontvielle we made the same trip to our grandstand section and were thinking we'd made very good time getting to the track. We were a bit dismayed to find a fairly long line at a security checkpoint for our section, but one of the people there suggested we head to another nearby entrance with virtually no lineup. We followed the instruction and were able to get in much quicker than initially anticipated. The entrances all converged underground in a subway area anyway, so it really didn't matter which entrance was used within a pretty big range of grandstand sections.

      The first race was scheduled for 9:00am but the classic Grand Prix Moto bikes were back on track as we entered our seating section. We made our way straight to the top of the section this time - the top few rows had formed plastic seats rather than just the bench and we wanted to have those seats for today. Much more comfortable. We didn't realize the seat difference on Saturday until it was too late. A lesson we learned for Sunday comfort.

      Sunday Schedule:

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      • Series A: Pre-war Grand Prix cars and Voiturettes
        Series A race

        Series A race action at Tabac

        It was 14 of the pre-war cars taking to the track for the first race of this morning. Conditions were cooler and more overcast than they had been for the Saturday qualifying, but for now at least the rain was being held at bay.

        It was good racing with the second place starter of Paddins Dowling in his 1936 ERA R5B taking the chequered flag ahead of the pole sitter Michael Gans in the 1935 ERA R1B. The remaining podium place was taken by Anthony Sinopoli in a 1936 Maserati 6CM/4CM.

        The was a bit of confusion at the end of the race with it going one lap longer than the scheduled 10 laps. The official classification for the race were based on the 10 laps.

      • Series D: F1 Grand Prix cars (1961 – 1965)
        Series D Race

        A victory lap (complete with wreath) for Series D race winner Andy Middlehurst in a 1962 Lotus 25

        Gary's favourite Series for the weekend was fabulous to watch. The sound and feel of these early 60s cars were just magic on the streets of Monaco. The names that come so easily to mind from this era are those of Sterling Moss, Graham Hill, Bruce McLaren & John Surtees.

        The racing didn't disappoint. How could it? It had 29 Formula One cars from a great era on the grid for this race. As if scripted, the beautiful 1962 Lotus 25 in iconic British racing green once driven by Graham Hill was the Series D winner at the hands of Andy Middleurst. A 1964 Ferrari 1512 of John Surtees heritage now driven by Joseph Colasacco finished second and a 1963 Brabham BT7 (Climax) driven by James King finished third.

        In terms of race pace - 12 of the 29 cars finished on the lead lap of this wonderful 10 lap race.

      • Series B: Pre 1961- F1 and F2 Grand Prix cars

        Some of the most iconic names in Formula One are associated with the era that was covered by Series B. The one that immediately springs to mind is that of Juan Manuel Fangio who won his five Formula One World Championships in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956 & 1957 - all in what would be the Series B era. Other notable drivers of this era are Sterling Moss & Jack Brabham.

        Series B Race

        Series B race action at turns 13 & 14

        There were 23 cars on the starting grid for this 10 lap or 30 minute race. In another anomaly for the race weekend, the chequered flag was waived after 9 laps even though the time limit had not been reached. So, the Series A race went one lap too long and this Series B race went one lap too few. Seemed very odd to us.

        Twelve of the starting cars finished on the lead lap with Tony Wood coming from second on the grid to take victory in a 1959 Tec-Mec F415 ahead of pole sitter Nick Padmore in a 1958 Lotus 16 and Joaquin Folch-Rusinol in a 1959 Lotus 16 to complete the podium. It was the third place finisher Folch-Rusinol that we had seen involved in the crash at Tabac in the Series G qualifying on Saturday.

      • Series E: F1 Grand Prix cars (1966 – 1972)
        Series E Race

        Series E race action at Tabac

        Gary's memory of this era of Formula One will for ever be associated with Jackie Stewart - who won two of his three World Championships in this era (1969 & 1971), with the third being just one year later (1973).

        For this day's race, the class of the 23 car field was the unusual looking 1971 March 711 driven from pole position to victory by Bjorn Wirdheim. The top two positions on the grid stayed in order with Stuart Hall finishing in second place in his 1971 McLaren M19A. Third spot on the podium was taken by Michael Lyons who took his 1971 Surtees TS19 from ninth on the grid.

        This race was a scheduled 12 laps or 35 minutes, and the top 13 cars all finished on the lead lap.

      • Series C: Sports Racing cars – front engine (1952 – 1957)
        Series C race

        Rainy race action for Series C

        It was well and truly raining by the time that the Series C cars were getting set to take to the track. The temperature also felt cooler with the rain. It didn't stop the action, though, with 28 of the classic front engine sports cars making up the grid for this race. The conditions weren't pleasant but the race was still enjoyable. The lap times appeared to be quite a bit slower in the rain, which was understandable.

        The fastest cars from qualifying were mostly still the fastest cars racing in the rain with Chris Ward converting his pole position into a race victory with his 1954 Cooper-Jaguar T33 Mk1. It wasn't a grid order for the victory, though, with fourth on the grid Ben Short in a 1956 Lister Maserati finishing in second place and sixth on the grid Tony Wood taking third place on the podium with his 1954 Lister Bristol.

      • Series F: F1 Grand Prix cars (1973 - 1976)

        There was still rain in the air at the start of the Series F race, but the rain didn't last for the entire race - so the drivers had to deal with changing conditions on the track as the race progressed.

        Series F race

        A rainy start to the Series F race

        Michael Lyons took his 1976 McLaren M26 from second on the grid to the top spot on the podium after the 18 lap race by displacing the pole sitter Stuart Hall in his 1973 McLaren M23 to second place in the race. Third spot on the podium went to the 1974 Ferrari 312B3 at the hands of Marco Werner who had jumped from fifth spot on the grid.

        Interestingly, out of a starting grid of 25 cars only the top 6 finishers ended on the lead lap of this race. The spread of race pace was clearly evident in the opening laps of the race as we could see the front runners heading up the incline of Beau Rivage on the next lap as the slower cars were still to pass in front of us on the lap they were yet to complete.

      • Series G: F1 Grand Prix cars (1977 – 1980)

        With the scheduled time of 6:30pm to be all aboard Azamara Quest we made the decision to leave the grandstand before the Series G race started. Gary was sad to miss it, but it would make for an easier walk back to the Port of Fontvielle to catch a tender back to the ship. Clearly we weren't the only ones making that decision, because quite a few other people were making there way out with us. It would have been nice had there been a bit more leeway in the timing between the race events and the scheduled departure time. Oh well. We did get to see plenty of race action throughout the day even with missing the last race.

        Checking the Series G race results after, Martin O'Connell did convert his pole position into a victory in his 1980 ATS D4, but Nick Padmore jumped from fourth on the grid to a second place finish in a 1978 Shadow DN8. The third spot on the podium was taken by Jordon Grogor in a 1980 Arrows A3. All podium finishers were Class 2 ground effects cars. The top finish from the the non-ground effects cars was Michael Lyons in a 1977 Hesketh 308E in fourth place.

      • Heading back to Azamara Quest
        white night party

        Square Théodore Gastaud

        We made our way out of the track area into the streets of La Condamine and then onto the Port of Fontvielle to catch a tender back to Azamara Quest along with many other people who had the same time constraint as us. Two other cruise ships had tender stations close to the one set up for Azamara Quest at the Port of Fontvielle, so it wasn't just people on the same ship as us heading to the port.

        Back onboard Azamara Quest we made our way to the Living Room as was becoming a bit of a norm for our cruise experience for some drinks and tapas before heading back to our room to clean up for dinner in the main Discoveries dining room. We made our way to Discoveries a bit before 8:00pm and had an enjoyable meal. Following dinner we walked across deck 5 to the Cabaret Lounge to catch the Assistant Cruise Director Meg Young's show. Meg has a nice voice and she mostly sang well known musical hits. It was an enjoyable show, although she didn't quite have the stage presence of most solo performers. We'd suspect the solo act is something new for her in this role onboard Azamara Quest and maybe she will grow into it.

        We finished the evening at Mosaic Café, being served once again by our favourite server who made the best espressos of all of the people who worked at Mosaic Café. She knew what were were likely to order as well. A great way to end the evening after a full day in Monaco while Azamara Quest sailed to our final destination for this cruise - Barcelona.

Monaco Image Gallery

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More Monaco Galleries

We have a few more photos from the Grand Prix Historique of Monaco that you can access via the links below.

About WHITEonline

WHITEonline is the digital home of Gary & Linda White. We’ve been married since 1980 and live just outside Toronto in Ontario, Canada. Linda was born and raised in Toronto while Gary was born in London, England and moved to Canada at the age of 11. We enjoy travelling and taking photos while we travel. WHITEonline provides the opportunity to share some of our photos & experiences.

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