The greatest drivers in Monaco Grand Prix history

Monaco

Ahead of this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, we’re taking a look back at the four most successful drivers ever to tackle the world-famous street circuit.

Ayrton Senna

The undisputed master of Monte Carlo, Ayrton Senna won six races at the circuit between 1987 and ’93, and would surely have added to the tally had he not lost his life at Imola in 1994.

Senna first came to prominence in Monaco by chasing down the McLaren of Alain Prost in 1984, eventually finishing the rain-shortened race as runner-up. He got his first win there driving a Lotus in ’87, then joined Prost at McLaren in ’88.

That year he made his only real Monaco mistake. Leading comfortably, he crashed out of the race, and was so distraught that he locked himself in his hotel room. That error clearly pushed the Brazilian to new heights, as he would never again allow himself to be beaten in Monaco.

Graham Hill

With his pencil-moustache and slicked-back hair Graham Hill was the epitome of sixties grand prix cool.

And he backed that up on-track, winning two world titles (1962 & ’68) and - perhaps more impressively - five Monaco Grands Prix.

The pick of the bunch was 1965, which the man himself called “one of the best races I have ever won.” Having built a sizeable lead he was caught out by a backmarker and went straight on at an escape road. Hill had to climb out of the car, push it back on to the track and get going again, dropping him down the order.

What followed was the mother of all comebacks. Hill cut through the pack and re-took the lead not long after half-distance, then pulled away to win by over a minute.

“To win the race after having had to push the car back on to the track and then push-start it was quite something,” said Hill afterwards. That’s putting it mildly, old boy.

Michael Schumacher

Another five-time winner, Schumacher picked up Senna’s mantle as king of the streets. His first came for Benetton in 1994, just two weeks after Senna had lost his life at the San Marino Grand Prix, and he doubled his tally 12 months later by comfortably beating Damon Hill to the win. He added three more for Ferrari in 1997, 1999 and 2001.

1997 was perhaps his finest. In heavy rain Schumacher stormed to a comprehensive victory, beating second-placed Rubens Barrichello by nearly a minute. The Ferrari was not the class of the field that year, but the combination of Schumacher, Monaco and the rain made it unbeatable.

Unfortunately Michael blotted his copybook in 2006 when he stopped his car and blocked part of the circuit in qualifying, allegedly to prevent rival Fernando Alonso from snatching pole. It worked, but Schumacher’s actions were deemed intentional and he was sent to the back of the grid.

He would light up Monte Carlo once more though. In 2012, nearing the end of his disappointing F1 comeback, Schumacher took pole at Monaco, but was forced to start sixth due to a grid penalty carried over from the previous race. Nevertheless, it was an incredible achievement for a 43-year-old who many had accused of being over the hill.

Alain Prost

Had he not come up against Senna, Alain Prost would probably have won seven or eight Monaco Grands Prix. As it is he must be satisfied with four. Still, not bad going.

Prost won three times on the bounce in the Principality, first in 1984 when he was chased home by the emerging talent of Senna. With torrential rain hitting the circuit Prost waved at the stewards to indicate he wanted the race stopped. He later insisted it was because of the weather, but the feeling lingers that he was spooked by Senna’s pace. The Frenchman went on to win again in ’85 and ’86.

But when Senna joined him at the mighty McLaren squad Prost had met his match on the streets. He’d win in ’88 when Senna had his famous lapse in concentration, but even in his all-conquering 1993 Williams-Renault Prost couldn’t overcome his great rival. Incredibly, Senna and Prost were the only two men to win in Monaco over a 10-year period from the mid-80s to mid-90s.