The long and illustrious life of a Formula One treasure
The Monaco Grand Prix is not only one of the most glamorous races on the Formula One racing calendar, it is also one of the oldest. Run on the tight and twisting streets of Monte Carlo, the event was first held back in 1929, and well over 70 years later much of the circuit remains largely unchanged.
That inaugural race was won by British driver W Williams at the wheel of a Bugatti. Other legendary names to win the Monaco Grand Prix in the pre-war era included Tazio Nuvolari and Rudolf Caracciola.
The race returned in 1948 with Giuseppe Farina taking victory and in 1950 the event gained world championship status. Ten cars retired on the first lap that year and Juan Manuel Fangio went on to win for Alfa Romeo.
The Grand Prix was then absent from Monaco until 1955. On its return it was the Ferrari of Maurice Trintignant that saw off the Mercedes threat to take the chequered flag. However, the race will forever be remembered for Alberto Ascari crashing off into the harbour, a feat repeated just once, by Australian Paul Hawkins ten years later.
Stirling Moss took his first of three Monaco wins in 1956, the others coming in 1960 and 1961. The last of these was undoubtedly his greatest, the Lotus driver holding off the Ferraris of Richie Ginther and Phil Hill to take the flag.
However, it was another British driver who was to become known as the 'King of Monaco'. Graham Hill won the celebrated race on no less than five occasions, including three successive victories from 1963 to 1965, all for BRM. He returned to the top step of the podium again for Lotus in 1968 and 1969.
Jackie Stewart added to the British domination of Monaco with three wins in 1966, 1971 and 1973. In between times New Zealander Denny Hulme took Brabham's first Monte Carlo victory in 1967. However, his win was muted by the death of Lorenzo Bandini who crashed heavily during the race.
Jochen Rindt scored his sole Monaco triumph in 1970 after Jack Brabham crashed at the very last corner to gift him the win. Meanwhile, BRM took their last victory in the principality in 1972 thanks to heavy rain and the driving skills of Jean-Pierre Beltoise.
Monaco's reputation for pile-ups grew in 1974 when Ronnie Peterson survived the carnage to take victory for Lotus. This was followed by back-to-back wins for Niki Lauda in 1975 and 1976, both in a Ferrari.
Jody Scheckter scored the Wolf's team solitary Monaco success in 1977 after a close battle with Lauda. Patrick Depailler triumphed for Tyrrell the following year, before another Scheckter win in 1979, this time at the wheel of a Ferrari, on his way to the drivers' championship.
Carlos Reutemann won for Williams in 1980, the team's first Monaco success. However the race is best remembered for Derek Daly's spectacular accident at Ste Devote, which saw his Tyrrell dramatically take to the air.
Gilles Villeneuve was the 1981 victor, while the following year Ricardo Patrese scored an unlikely win for Brabham. The closing laps saw Alain Prost and Daly crash out, Didier Pironi and Andrea de Cesaris run out of fuel, and Patrese survive a late spin before taking the flag.
Keke Rosberg was the man in form in 1983, making the best of a damp track to see off his rivals and win for Williams. Another wet race in 1984 ended in controversy and a first Monaco victory for Alain Prost. In heavy rain the Frenchman was being rapidly caught by a charging Ayrton Senna. However the race was stopped due to the worsening conditions and it was Prost who took the honours.
Prost won again in 1985 and 1986 to make it three in a row, before Senna ended his reign in 1987 with victory for Lotus. The Brazilian was on course for another success in 1988 until a lapse of concentration saw him hit the barrier at Portier, allowing Prost through for the win.
However, for the following years Senna was the man to beat in Monte Carlo. Five successive victories saw him break Graham Hill's Monaco record to become the unofficial 'king of the streets'. Nigel Mansell gave him a helping hand in 1992. The British driver had been in control of the race, before a late, unscheduled stop dropped him behind Senna. It set up a grandstand finish, with the much faster Williams unable to find a way past the McLaren.
Following Senna's death at Imola, the 1994 Monaco race saw Benetton's Michael Schumacher take victory from the McLaren of Martin Brundle. The German was triumphant again in 1995, with a convincing win over Damon Hill.
Olivier Panis was a surprise victor in 1996 for Ligier. As his rivals fell by the wayside in changeable conditions, the Frenchman came from 14th on the grid to take the chequered flag ahead of the McLaren of David Coulthard.
Normal service was resumed in 1997 with Schumacher back on top of the podium, this time at the wheel of a Ferrari. He won by almost a minute from the Stewart of Rubens Barrichello.
McLaren's Mika Hakkinen took the honours in 1998 before Schumacher led home a Ferrari one-two in 1999. The following season a late suspension problem robbed Schumacher of any chance of victory, David Coulthard taking maximum points for McLaren.
In 2001 Ferrari dominated, as Schumacher led home team mate Rubens Barrichello to clinch a comfortable one-two for the Italian team. It was the German's fifth Monaco triumph, putting him just one win behind Sennas magic mark of six.
Schumacher is still waiting for that sixth Monaco triumph. In 2002, David Coulthard rocketed from second on the grid to seize a lead he would never relinquish, despite intense pressure from first Juan Pablo Montoya and then Schumacher.
Montoya, who was on pole for that race, took his revenge last year when he fended off the close attentions of Kimi Raikkonen and the world champion to become the first man since Graham Hill to win both the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500.