The Formula 1 season consists of 21 races. All have identical World Championships Points and so have an equal importance in that sphere but, in terms of stature, some races rise clearly above others.
The British Grand Prix, staged at Silverstone, is one such race. It sees 340,000 people pass through the turnstiles during its race weekend. This venue was the host to the very first Formula 1 race in May 1950 and, in such, it holds a high degree of importance within the sport.
Monaco History Lesson
However, no Formula 1 race enjoys more prestige than the Monaco Grand Prix which has a permanent slot of the final weekend in May. The tiny country, sat on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea in southern France, measures less than one squared-mile. So it is a veritable pin-prick on the world map.
But it has hosted Formula 1 racing every year since the sports inaugural 1950 season and staged its first Grand Prix in 1929. On that occasion the race’ fastest lap was 2min 15sec; in 2018 the fastest lap of the race was 1min 14sec. This is important as, remarkably, the course has remained virtually unchanged in 90 years. It is just a few yards longer and means cars have almost doubled in speed.
No two races are alike in Formula 1 but Monaco is a truly unique venue amongst the whole of motorsport. Firstly, being raced through the streets of the tiny country, it is barrier-lined throughout. Secondly, unlike Singapore which is another street circuit on the Formula 1 calendar, the track is undulating with a blind crest and has just a short flat-out section.
Other exclusive features include a tunnel, which is raced through a sweeping blind bend, and a hairpin which cars circulate around at just 30mph. The track is extremely narrow too making overtaking virtually impossible and attempts to pass rivals very dangerous.
Ultimately, when the extravagant backdrop of expensive mega yachts moored in Monaco Harbour, historical architecture (including the renowned Monte Carlo Casino) and Royal Palace are struck from one’s mind’s eye, this race could best be described as a mind numbing parade of expensive fast moving advertising hoardings.
However, this does not mean the best car and driver combinations do not fare best. To the contrary, form per-se holds up well here albeit the Saturday qualifying session is of vital importance. 11 of the last 15 Monaco Grand Prix winners have started from pole position and that figure should be even greater given two of the most recent pole setters – Ricciardo in 2016 and Hamilton in 2015 – lost the race, while leading, as a result of pit-stop blunders by their team.
Ultimately starting positions are rarely shuffled too dramatically at the conclusion of this 78 lap contest. In 2018 for example, the cars/drivers which started 1-2-3-4-5-6 also finished filled the top six places in the same order. Generally speaking if there is any overtaking during the race it will happen when a car is taking a tyre change during pit-stops.
Monaco Grand Prix Betting Strategy
Given the processional nature of this race you would suspect the Monaco Grand Prix is a poor betting medium but it is not. The race is the sixth on the Formula 1 calendar and it follows on from some ‘fast races’ which put very different demands on cars than they will experience here.
Even the leading Formula 1 sportsbooks, such as Pinnacle and William Hill, seem to forget this and they regularly fall into the trap of making recent impressive winners the default favourites to score here.
In recent years the Red Bull team have found themselves far more competitive at low-speed tight turning tracks (like Monaco, Singapore and Hungary) than the ‘speed-circuits’ and this is one race where they can expect to enjoy their best results of the season.
Bet365 and other specialist sportsbooks miss very few tricks though and they are mindful of the historical form which shows a ‘Safety Car’ has been used eight times in the last ten years. Similarly the unforgiving wall-lined circuit always leads to a big number of non-finishers – an average of just 15 cars have been classified as ‘finishers’ in recent times.
Think Fastest Lap
But the ‘Fastest Lap’ market has been a cash cow for shrewd bettors in the past couple of years, the ones that have stopped to consider that only once since 1999 has the pole setter set the fastest lap of the race.
The pole setter invariably starts favourite in the pole setting market but this accolade has regularly gone to the car which pits to apply fresh tyres towards the end of the race and emerges back on the circuit with a clear track – and not a traffic jam – before them. This was the case in 2017 when Sergio Perez claimed his second career ‘Monaco fastest lap’ at odds of 100/1