WORDS: ELLIOTT HUGHES| PHOTOGRAPHY: ACM
The Monaco Historique Grand Prix hosted eight races, seven for ex-Grand Prix cars and one for ‘50s sports cars, on Formula 1’s most iconic circuit on the streets of Monte Carlo on May 13-15, 2022.
Normally held biannually, the delay of the 2020 Monaco Historique due to the pandemic meant that the 13th edition of the event returned just over 12 months since it was last held in 2021.
In a case of déja vu, a Ferrari F1 driver stole the headlines again this year, after Charles Leclerc crashed Niki Lauda’s Ferrari 312B at Rascasse due to brake failure. Last year, Jean Alesi crashed a similar Lauda Ferrari, the 312B3, after colliding with the Lotus 77 of Marco Werner on the pit straight.
Monégasque Charles Leclerc has long been a victim of bad luck on the streets of his hometown, having failed to finish a Formula 1 race there since his debut with Alfa Romeo Sauber in 2018. Some superstitious fans believe he could be cursed – a fact not lost on the man himself, who lamented on Twitter:
“When you thought you already had all the bad luck in the world in Monaco and you lose the brakes into Rascasse with one of the most iconic historical Ferrari Formula 1 cars.”
British driver Stuart Hall experienced a much more positive weekend. The Le Mans 24 Hours veteran took two pole positions and two victories at the wheel of his 1970s McLaren M19A and M23 in the 1966-72 and 1973-76 F1 races.
Neither of Hall’s victories came easily. A tardy getaway in the 1966-72 race allowed the Matra MS120C of Jordan Grogor to jump him at the start – but Grogor’s lead would prove short lived. The South African relinquished the lead as soon as Tabac, where Hall made a daring pass up the inside and snatched back first position.
A BRM P153 piloted by former F1 driver Esteban Gutiérrez then began to close in on Hall, but his challenge was extinguished by gearbox problems, clearing the way for Hall’s victory. Grogor was then penalised for committing a jump-start and demoted to the bottom step of the rostrum behind the Surtees TS9 of Historic racing veteran Michael Lyons.
The 1973-76 race saw Hall deliver his most impressive performance in one of the most competitive fields of drivers of the entire weekend. Big names included ex-F1 driver Roberto Moreno and triple Le Mans winner Marco Werner, who qualified second and third in their Embassy Lola T370 and Lotus 76 respectively.
Lyons took the win in his Hesketh in the 1977-80 race from lights to flag, after pole-sitter Miles Griffiths failed to start in his Fittipaldi F5A. A startline melee between the Williams FW06 and FW07B of David Shaw and Mark Hazell was fortuitous for Lyons, and meant Mike Cantillon’s Tyrrell crossed the line in an isolated second.
JPS-liveried Lotuses dominated the inaugural 1981-85 class for non-turbo cars by taking all three podium spots. The race was won by Werner in an 87B, followed by Lyons in a 92 and Padmore in the innovative and controversial twin-chassis 88.
German GT racing veteran Claudia Hürtgen impressed in the front-engined pre-61 F1 car race by taking her 1960 Ferrari Dino to pole ahead of Tony Wood in his 1959 Tec-Mec. Wood briefly lost the lead at the start to Joaquin Folch-Rusinol before reclaiming it at the start of the second lap and filling Hürtgen’s mirrors for the remainder of the race.
Hürtgen also entered the 1952-57 front-engined sports cars contest in a Maserati 300S, qualifying fifth and failing to progress through the field. Poleman Fred Wakeman took the chequered flag in his Cooper-Jaguar, followed by a charging 300S duo driven by Lukas Halusa and Guillermo Fierro-Eleta.
There was drama on the penultimate lap of the 1961-65 Formula 1 race when Mark Shaw outbraked himself into the notoriously challenging Ste. Devote corner, sending his Lotus 21 into the barriers. This handed victory to the Ferrari 1512 of Joe Colasacco, who started on pole, followed by Chris Drake’s Cooper T71/T73 in a distant second place.
The oldest and arguably most intimidating race of the weekend was the pre-war Grand Prix and voiturette contest. Mark Gillies and Nick Topliss qualified first and second, although Gillies immediately conceded the lead at the start when Topliss overtook him around the outside of turn one.
Gillies’s speed was enough to erode Topliss’s early advantage, and the battle for the win ended in the closing stages when Topliss collided with a lapped car on the penultimate lap and was forced to retire with damaged suspension. Consequently, Gillies was handed the win ahead of the Maserati of Anthony Sinopoli and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards in a Frazer-Nash Monoposto.
The next Monaco Historique Grand Prix will return to its usual biannual schedule and will take place on May 10-12, 2024. Further details will be announced in due course, and more information can be found here.