BBC BLOGS - Andrew Benson
« Previous | Main | Next »

Classic Monaco Grand Prix highlights

Post categories:

Andrew Benson | 08:15 UK time, Tuesday, 19 May 2009

We had an overwhelming response to the Monaco edition of our classic grand prix series - and that's both gratifying for us and hardly surprising given the quality of the events on offer.

The race has a rich and varied history, so it was not easy to pick out only five classic Monaco Grands Prix. And the list we came up with caused a fair bit of heated debate.

It was not so much the races we did pick - 1961, 1981, 1982, 1992 and 1996 certainly all fit the bill as classic events in the Principality - as the ones we did not.

And some of you were particularly forceful when it came to expressing your point of view.

All I can say is that choosing the five was particularly difficult, that we did not do it lightly and that we absolutely intend to continue this series next year. So all those who campaigned vociferously for 1984 can rest assured you will get your turn.

Now, to this week's choices.

There was little doubt as to which was the most popular choice among respondents - and that was the remarkable victory by Olivier Panis in 1996.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

The Frenchman qualified only 14th in his Ligier but was first across the line after an afternoon of extraordinary drama.

I was in Monaco, reporting on the race for Autosport, and the overwhelming feeling at the time was: "How did that happen?" In many ways, I still find it astonishing that Panis came through to win.

The race, which started on a wet track that gradually dried, really should have belonged to either Michael Schumacher, who started from pole in his Ferrari, or Damon Hill, alongside him on the front row in his Williams.

Schumacher was taken out of the reckoning when he most uncharacteristically crashed on the first lap and for a long time after that Hill controlled the race, pulling away into a commanding lead over Jean Alesi's Benetton.

Hill told me over lunch a year or so ago that he rated this as one of the best drives of his career - but he was destined not to follow his father Graham, a five-time winner at Monaco, into the race's history books.

The Renault engine of the Williams suffered a rare failure around half-distance and that handed the lead to Alesi. But he lasted only another 20 laps before suffering suspension failure - and that put Panis into the lead.

The Ligier driver was in that position after working his way to the front of a queue of cars that had built up behind Eddie Irvine's fourth-placed Ferrari in the opening laps.

Panis passed the Ferrari in a forceful move at the Loews hairpin and once Hill and Alesi were out, all he had to do was hold off the McLaren of David Coulthard - who was wearing Schumacher's helmet after a problem with his own - for his only grand prix win and Ligier's first for 15 years. It was to be their last.

Good though that race was, for me, the more compelling event was 1982, which featured one of the most remarkable finishes to a grand prix in history.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

One of the Renault drivers should have won it that year - something that could have been said of many races during a season in which the French team often had the fastest car but so often managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

More often than not, Renault's failures in 1982 were reliability ones but in Monaco it was the drivers' fault the race slipped through their fingers.

Rene Arnoux led from pole until he spun on lap 15, handing the lead to team-mate Alain Prost, who led until three laps from the end, when a shower of rain made the track treacherously greasy.

Prost spun coming out of the harbour-front chicane - then a left-right flick at more than 100mph, unlike the first-gear abomination of today.

That put Brabham driver Riccardo Patrese into the lead, but only for three-quarters of a lap before the Italian himself spun, and stalled, between Mirabeau and Loews.

He managed to bump-start his car as it rolled down the hill but the victory seemed lost - he had been passed by Didier Pironi's Ferrari and Andrea de Cesaris's Alfa Romeo.

Pironi, who drove most of the race without his nose cone because of an early collision, slowed down dramatically - a situation most onlookers initially ascribed to caution on a slippery track, until he stopped altogether, out of fuel, in the tunnel on the last lap.

By now, De Cesaris was also stopped, for the same reason, between Casino and Mirabeau and Derek Daly, who should have been in a position to benefit, had earlier suffered a broken gearbox in his Williams. So it was a dumbstruck Patrese who went to shake hands with Prince Rainier and Princess Grace.

So remarkable is that race that we have decided to show the full Grand Prix programme of the time for that event as well as 1996, plus the shorter highlights of these and the other three.

You can play 1982 and 1996 from within this blog, and the other clips are linked from the bottom of this page. As always, this is limited to UK users of the site because of our rights agreement. If you're in the UK you also have the option of pressing the red button on your digital TV (Freeview, satellite or cable) where you will be able to watch these clips from 0830 on Wednesday.

They will be available on Freeview until 0830 BST on Thursday and on satellite and cable until the end of Friday.

The other three choices had their merits and supporters, too - Ayrton Senna holding off a showboating Nigel Mansell in the closing laps of 1992 for the penultimate of his record-breaking six victories; Gilles Villeneuve quite brilliantly transcending his Ferrari's poor chassis in 1981; and Stirling Moss driving probably the best grand prix of his life to hold off the faster Ferraris in 1961.

On the subject of that race in 1961, one of you wrote that there was 50 minutes of black and white footage from that event as well as a colour recording featuring Murray Walker.

Well, if there is, it is not at Television Centre - the four minutes of highlights is all we have, I'm afraid.

No matter. It, like the other four, is an absolute treat. Enjoy.

Watch short highlights of the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix.

Watch short highlights of the 1981 Monaco Grand Prix.

Watch short highlights of the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix.

Watch short highlights of the 1992 Monaco Grand Prix.

Watch short highlights of the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix.


  • Comment number 1.

    Thanks Andrew. Eager to see 1982.
    I'll be interested to read your thoughts if Turkey 2006 is chosen next time around. I partly disagreed with your modest rating of Massa's performance that day, but all good, debate's good!

  • Comment number 2.

    Well, I am surprised, particularly considering that, as I said previously, 96 was the one I least preferred. However, great news for 82. I emphasise the point I made previously that this was a tough decision. Thanks very much and am looking forward to looking at this on Freeview tomorrow.

  • Comment number 3.

    Thanks for these, but as a Damon Hill fan folowing him since '93 and hoping that WDC for '96, I was gutted when he didnt win Monaco that year ('96) at least to add another Hill on the trophy. Shame that '61 didnt get more votes. Thanks anyway. Oh and what about Hamilton to win this years Monaco race:) would ge nice eh!

  • Comment number 4.

    Just saw this -
    On the subject of that race in 1961, one of you wrote that there was 50 minutes of black and white footage from that event as well as a colour recording featuring Murray Walker.
    Well, if there is, it is not at Television Centre - the four minutes of highlights is all we have, I'm afraid.

    Yes that was me Andrew, Just checked and it looks like an american broadcast with a guy called Bud Palmer, as for the colour footage, its from a 15min film, maybe someone else could provide some history on Murray comentating that one?

  • Comment number 5.


    There is a short colour version of the 1961 race with Murray Walker commentating which was released on "Murray's Magic Moments" video in the late nineties, however, the commentary was done specifically for this release. Also, back then, there was no need to record live events as the live feed would simply be broadcast and recording them on tape was a very expensive process.

    A Mark Webber victory this weekend would be equally nice too!

  • Comment number 6.

    Just watched the clip of the race in '61, classic, no literally classic!

    SM waving as he thanks a backmarker was brilliant, would like to see that on Sunday, doubt it will happen.

    Interesting article on Betfair, outlines the reasons why JB won win the WDC.....

  • Comment number 7.


    Thanks for that info, make sense, I may have that said video then.
    I wonder if the colour footage belongs to the GMRD (gentelmen motor racing diary).
    Mark Webber to win would be good, he deserves it, oh and dont forget barichello, he needs and win and soon.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think this would be a great video to watch as it sounds soo exciting 1996 all the way !!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 9.

    Just finished watching the 1996 highlights it was great but I can't believe how bad the marshalls were they were absolutely terrible. I do believe they might have planned that blue flag incident with Eddie Irvine because obviously they wanted their French driver to win.

    Gonna watch the 82 highlights soon :)

  • Comment number 10.

    Andrew. A couple of questions. Will the BBC consider rebroadcasting GP's in full? I am certain there is much, much demand for it. Channel 9 in Australia broadcasted pretty much all races live from the early 1980's with commentary from Hunt and Walker, so there is another source you could potentially look into if things appear to be missing at the BBC. For the Turkish GP, can we learn the lessons from China and Malaysia and use other REAL and genuine classic GP's instead i.e. use nations which no longer host GP's? Zandvoort (Dutch GP) has hosted some truly spectacular GP's for instance. Then there is Portugal (84, 85, 89), San Marino (82, 85), Austria (all of them were great!), Mexico, South Africa (up to 1985)

  • Comment number 11.

    Dont forget Japan runs loads of classic races from the early 80's the quality is superb, I think some clever chappie added british commentary over the top.
    If FOCA or Bernie allow Japan and Australia to re run then why not good ole blighty?

  • Comment number 12.

    I loved the credits at the start of the 1996 clip. That takes me back to that early morning of the Japanese Grand Prix in 1996... I'm glad the Monaco GP of that year was the top choice as it was one of the most remarkable races of the decade

  • Comment number 13.

    I am disappointed as i have said previously to see a chance of an older race 'bumped' for a race widely available elsewhere i don't know the logic of the thinking of all those who voted for 1996. It can be viewed elsewhere with just one extra click on the mouse you know! Such a golden chance for the BBC to dig out rare unavailable footage and we have a majority vote for something widely available across the net anyway - sheesh!

    Anyway great to see 1982 and 1961 available i love these classic races - thanks Andrew and BBC!

  • Comment number 14.

    By the way i would like to second Senna27's comments. We need to show some races from nations that no longer host GP's when the more modern tracks provide little in the way of vintage action. If we just stick to current nations that host races we could lose all the Canadian, French, Dutch, American etc. races - a tragedy!

    I too would also like to see full races. Does the BBC hold the full races in the archive or do they just have highlights. I know there have been issues with certain programmes like Doctor Who being wiped in the past i wonder if this may have been the policy for full GP's?

  • Comment number 15.

    arguably this race should have gone to Heinz Harold Frentzen in the Sauber,he was ahead of Panis when he touched Eddie Irvine, causing a broken sauber front wing. Panis of course just barged past the sluggish ferrari

  • Comment number 16.

    panis deserved the win really, if you think of the people who made mistakes that were ahead of him on the grid, verstappen, schumacher, frenzten, brundle,barrichello. Panis kept it on the island fair and square

  • Comment number 17.

    Just to let you know that if you're in the UK you also have the option of pressing the red button on satellite or cable you will now be able to watch these clips from 6pm this evening due to some extra availability in the schedule.

    They will then be on Freeview from 830am on Wednesday morning as previously mention by Andrew.

  • Comment number 18.

    Thanks Mike, I have the darn mother in law here and the wife is at work so now I have a reason to just piss her off for an hour or so..LOL
    6pm it is then.

  • Comment number 19.

    Great Race 1996 but so sad to see Salo and Hakkinen bow out in such unfortunate circumstances.

    Great to see Panis on the top step and another strong finish from DC to secure second :).

    Just to confirm, it was a four car finish as Frenzten was still running when Irvine was on his final lap so was on "the lead lap" in that respect before pitting.

    1982 was equally as good in my opinion, for Patrese to go from first to fourth to first in just one laps entertainment is phenominal. Would've been good if De Cesaris would've won, very unlucky driver indeed.

    One quick question though, why was Mansell so far back?

  • Comment number 20.

    Erm, just a quick one. Please forgive my stupidity but the above article gives the impression that we are able to view the whole 1982 and 1996 races, yet neither link produces a video of enough length. I presume 'the full programme of the time' for the 1982 race means that Auntie didn't broadcast the whole lot, however 1996 must have been. Or do you just mean the full highlights programme of the time rather than original broadcast?

  • Comment number 21.

    I remember reading something about the 1996 Monaco GP, though it might be codswollup, that during qualifying Brundle set really fast times in each sector topping a couple of them, but never got the complete lap and ended 16th.

    I remember having my lunch, then hearing a yelp from Murray and ran through to see Damon was smoking. Seeing that circuit makes you realise how much the circuit has been neutered over the past 5 or so years.

  • Comment number 22.

    does anyone know when roughly to expect the 2010 F1 calender. especially the date for the Monaco meeting

  • Comment number 23.

    Sweet - blown away by the film quality of the 1961 race. I was expecting something in black and white, possibly with Raymond Baxter commentating. Shame it's only 4 minutes long though - but if that's all there is ...

    Was this just a news report or something - when did the BBC start covering the races in full?

    Excellent idea though this Classic F1 feature. Cheers

  • Comment number 24.

    "does anyone know when roughly to expect the 2010 F1 calender. especially the date for the Monaco meeting"

    I can't think of the last time that the Monaco GP wasn't in the last weekend of May, just like the Indy 500.

  • Comment number 25.

    Just watched the wonderful 1961 footage. The shot of the cars cresting the hill at Massenet (starting at 1:48 and identified by the commentator as the "top of Sainte-Devote") is breathtaking and beautiful!

  • Comment number 26.

    Hi all,

    Briefly, on the date of Monaco, it is held on the first Sunday after Ascension Day.

  • Comment number 27.

    I would echo jonvic's comments in 13 - I'm mildly bemused that people would shun the chance of seeing truly classic footage of close to 50y ago for footage that's fairly recent and widely available on the internet.

    Nonetheless, I flicked onto the red button this morning before work, caught the '92 highlights... interesting to note that Mansell, *only* a 1x World Champion, was glued to Senna for the closing laps of the race and was unable to find a clean way past.

    Conversely, Schumacher, 7x World Champion, attempted a barge past Alesi at the hairpin in the opening laps.

    I don't doubt that Schumacher was a mercurial talent, but his legacy is nevertheless tainted by his lack of class and sportsmanship. It's not unlike the MP's expenses scandal at the moment in fact - Schumacher usually operated within the letter of the rules, but often he transgressed the spirit of the rules.

    IMO, Mansell's futile hunt and attack of Senna displays a level of sportsmanship and professionalism that evaded Schumacher for much of his career.

    Rant over ;o)

  • Comment number 28.

    Just because i was bored after watching all the video's and waiting for 1st practice I did a little comparison between Stirling Moss's win in 1961 and Alonso's win in 2007 (similar conditions). I found that adjusting times by multiplying by 0.78 Moss's times etc to get a near as possible direct comparison. I found that Moss was approximately 0.37 seconds a lap slower than Alonso and average speed for Moss approx 70.6MPH, Alonso average speed 96.7MPH, The difference of the average lap times over the distance means that Moss would have finished approx 28.86 minutes behind Alonso. I did not factor in the fact that the track in 2007 is 200 meters longer due to increasing brain fade. The point of the exercise is that in 48 years formula 1 cars have made an astoundingly poor increase in performance over the time period or that Monaco has an absolute limit for both drivers and cars, in that no matter how good or how fast you are, there is a maximum ceiling that cannot be passed. Even allowing for limitations placed by FIA rule changes i am surprised at the seeming lack of advancement over 48 years of development at this track. Obviously this doesn't take into account tyre changes etc and is a very rough approximation. Comment welcome

  • Comment number 29.

    FAO: Lotus Climax

    Not that I'm an expert. I think it depends on the race. Monaco, as well as certainly Italy and Britain where broadcast long before the rest and BBC started regular coverage, in some form, of all races around 1978/1979. Some of which were live.

    Hope that helps.

  • Comment number 30.

    You've forgotten one of the classic Monaco Grands Prix.

    1966, won by Jean Pierre Sarti in the Ferrari, & also featuring Pete Aron driving the Jordan BRM, but ending up in the harbour after gearbox problems, which resulted in an accident with his team mate, Scott Stoddard. By the way, Scott was hospitalised & was out of racing for some time after. Because of all this Pete Aron was sacked by Mr Jordan, but after a spell as a commentator for US tv, he joined the new Yamura Honda team.

    Maybe, something from this season, 1966, can be shown at a later race.

  • Comment number 31.

    Thanks for putting the 1982 and 1996 highlights shows up!! I can well remember watching the 1982 race with Prost's high speed crash (I think that footage was used in the opening titles of A Question of Sport for a few years afterwards!) and Pironi running out of fuel in the tunnel and having to get a lift back to the pits with Patrese! 1996 is another one of my favourite GP's ever, I think all F1 fans were delighted at seeing Ligier back on the top step of the podium after so long, I can remember seeing Jacques Lafitte, Ligier's previous winner who was working as an ambassador for the team celebrating with the team after the race. It must have been gut wrenching for Damon Hill to suffer of all things an engine blow up at Monaco and ruin what had been a superb drive. At the time he probably thought he'd be back to win it in a Williams in 1997 but it was not to be!

  • Comment number 32.

    Andrew. Any news on my suggestion to use other GP's not currently in the 2009 schedule to replace Turkey, Singapore and Abu Dhabi? The BBC must have some golden archives for some all time classic races from previous French, Portugese, South African, Mexican, USA, Canadian GP's. I feel as if the Classic GP's for the Malaysian, Chinese and Bahrain events have been a real wasted oppotunity for us enthusiasts.

  • Comment number 33.

    note to prog makers, re listing information...
    is there any possibility of more information on the listings pages, or on the red button info tab ?
    all the page said was " another chance to see " ...
    all day wednesday, the six races were looped, but which ones were part of the schedule was not listed...
    didn't want to miss any, so had to keep watching (not for 8 hours i might add) in case the programmes changed at the programme breaks...
    if listing specifics were included, this would be easier on the viewer...
    why was there only 4 minutes of the 1961 race, the track looked marvellous without the advertising, and wow -the cars looked great !

  • Comment number 34.

    Well Monaco '96 was...interesting to say the least.

    As the pre-race championship table suggested, Damon had dominated the early stages of that season and as a teenage fan I was expecting more of the same at Monaco.

    Schumacher went off. I laughed.

    Hill went off. Seriously gutted.

    Alesi went off, jaw hit the floor when I realised a Liger was going to win the race.

    Not a bad result for DC though given that '96 was a rough ride for him.

    As for Turkey, how does this sound?

    Put all the previous Turkish Grand Prix('05-'08) up for a vote and throw in a 'wildcard' race from a now-defunct Grand Prix perhaps(maybe a Canadian Grand Prix given that they were usually this time of year).

  • Comment number 35.

    WHy in your most recent article do you refer to 'England's Lewis Hamilton' when in fact he represent great britain? I notice in other areas, for example Tennis, Andy Murray is described as British number one. It really gets my back up.

  • Comment number 36.

    Can someone elaborate on "pressing the red button" please. Sorry to have to ask this, but the BBC Sport online schedule makes no mention of these GP replays, and when I try pressing the red button (I have Sky), I can see yesterday's practice session, and the preview for this weekend's race, or some golf, but no mention anywhere of classic Monaco GP replays. Help!

  • Comment number 37.

    try channels 301 and 302 on freeview

  • Comment number 38.

    Thanks, but I have Sky, not Freeview

  • Comment number 39.

    A complete video of Monaco 1961 is available in a series of highlights that are posted on YouTube. Search under "Sterling Moss + 1961" and you will find a series of 6 "highlight" segments that, together, cover the entire race. Hint: Moss passes the Ferrari's in #5.... Terrific fun to watch.

  • Comment number 40.

    why do people love monaco so much its a dictatorship over there i dont understand why no one cares about it.

  • Comment number 41.

    Monaco '82: what a great race. In fact, what a great season! It was sad for the deaths of Gilles Villeneuve and Riccardo Paletti and the horrendous accident Didier Pironi suffered but, all in all, it must be the most varied season in all of F1's history. No less than eleven different winners (count them: Prost; Arnoux; Pironi; Watson and Lauda with 2 wins each and Rosberg; Tambay; Patrese; Piquet; Alboreto and De Angelis with one victory each. And four five NEW winners too: Tambay, Rosberg, De Angelis, Patrese and Alboreto) and SEVEN teams (Renault and McLaren 4 each, Ferrari, 3; Brabham, 2 and Williams, Lotus and Tyrrell, 1). And Andrea De Cesaris should have won one or two races that year as well, for he was impressive at the wheel of the heavy and thirsty Alfa Romeo. And Spa'83 should have been his too. The last time we saw a championship with many different drivers was 2003 but, since then, every year has been a two or three team battle only....Sad.

  • Comment number 42.

    good c


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.