8 Drivers Who Scored Their Best F1 Result At Monaco

8 Drivers Who Scored Their Best F1 Result At Monaco

The twisty streets of the Principality tend to throw up some unusual races, so it's no surprise that for some drivers it's been the scene of their highest ever finish

There have been many street tracks in the history of Formula 1, but Monaco has always been somewhat unique. Some drivers simply click with it whereas others can struggle, and races tend to either be completely boring or incredibly eventful.

As a result it’s unsurprising that the Monaco Grand Prix has seen some drivers achieve their best ever results, whether that means an unlikely podium or even a surprise victory. Here are just eight of them.

Louis Chiron

Louis Chiron avoided the chaos to finish third in his home Grand Prix
Louis Chiron avoided the chaos to finish third in his home Grand Prix

A Monégasque native, most of Louis Chiron’s racing career took place before the Second World War and he actually took victory at Monaco in 1931. After the war Chiron came out of retirement and despite being 50 years old was among those to compete in the first ever Formula 1 race at Silverstone in 1950.

Monaco was the next race of the season and it was characterised by freak tidal wave on the first lap, which flooded the harbour and caused almost half of the field to retire. Chiron wasn’t one of them, and he used all his experience to guide his Maserati to third place by the end of the race, two laps behind winner Juan Manuel Fangio.

That would turn out to be the only points finish of his Formula 1 career, though at the same track in 1956 he became the oldest driver to start a race (he was 56) and two years later (at 58) the oldest driver to enter a race, though he failed to qualify.

Maurice Trintignant

The light and nimble Cooper was well suited to the twists and turns of Monaco
The light and nimble Cooper was well suited to the twists and turns of Monaco

Frenchman Maurice Trintignant was one of the stalwarts of the early days of F1, indeed for a few years he held the record for most GP entries. He was a pretty decent driver too, taking a string of podiums during his career, but his best results were reserved for Monaco, where he won twice.

His first came in 1955 driving for Ferrari. The two Mercedes looked set to win but Fangio retired with gearbox trouble and then Stirling Moss suffered engine failure. This should have put Alberto Ascari into the lead, but moments after Moss retired he famously crashed into the harbour in what would turn out to be his final race. Trintignant came through it all to win his first race.

In 1958 he was driving a Cooper for Rob Walker’s team, and again benefitted from unreliability of some of the faster cars to take the lead by half distance, but he comfortably held off the two Ferrari’s of Luigi Musso and Peter Collins to win his second and final GP. It also marked the second ever win for a rear-engined car after Stirling Moss had won the opening round in Argentina.

Richard Attwood

Richard Attwood gave Graham Hill a hard time
Richard Attwood gave Graham Hill a hard time

Richard Attwood is best known as a sportscar and Le Mans ace, but like many drivers of the time he also had the occasional dalliance with F1. In the 1960s he made 16 starts and finished in the points on four occasions, two of which were at Monaco. Whilst driving for BRM in the 1968 race he scored his best result by finishing second.

Like many of the drivers on this list high attrition goes some way to explaining the result (there were only five finishers), but the fact is Attwood had just been plain fast during the race. He set the fastest lap (the only one of his career) and was only a couple of seconds behind Graham Hill, who’d just taken his fourth win around the streets in his Lotus 49. And Hill was a man who knew something about how to drive at Monaco.

Lucien Bianchi

Monaco has been a happy hunting ground for the Bianchi family
Monaco has been a happy hunting ground for the Bianchi family

It wasn’t just Attwood enjoying his best result in the 1968 Monaco Grand Prix though. Lucien Bianchi (great uncle to Jules Bianchi - who of course scored his best result at Monaco in 2014) was competing in his first Grand Prix since 1965. He was four laps down on the winner at the end, but in a race where only five cars finished that was enough for third place.

Like Attwood, Bianchi was perhaps more known for his sportscar exploits, and in his 17 Grands Prix third place was by far his best result. It also turned out to be the last time a Cooper finished on the podium, as the team (which won titles with Jack Brabham in 1959 and 1960 and revolutionised the sport with its rear-engined cars) disbanded the following year.

Henri Pescarolo

Pescarolo was a solid third in 1970
Pescarolo was a solid third in 1970

Yep, it’s yet another famous sportscar driver having a good result at Monaco (funny considering how different Monaco and Le Mans are!) but it just goes to show how many brilliant all-around drivers there were in the 1960s and 70s.

Henri Pescarolo is one of the all-time endurance racing greats, but despite starting 57 Grands Prix his F1 career never quite took off in the same way. His most successful season came in 1970 when driving for the works Matra team, and it was during this time that he finished third at Monaco, behind Jochen Rindt and Jack Brabham (who famously lost the win by going off on the last corner), but ahead of Denny Hulme, Graham “Mr. Monaco” Hill and Pedro Rodriguez.

Jean-Pierre Beltoise

Beltoise was pretty much untouchable in 1972
Beltoise was pretty much untouchable in 1972

Jean-Pierre Beltoise finished on the podium a number of times whilst he was Jackie Stewart’s team mate at Ken Tyrrell’s Matra team, but a win always eluded him. After a couple of fruitless years driving for the works Matra team it looked as if he’d never achieve that victory when he joined the waning BRM team for 1972, but at Monaco his day finally came.

Race day was soaking wet and conditions got worse throughout the race. That would immediately make the Ferrari of Jacky Ickx - a wet-weather master - an overwhelming favourite. But from fourth on the grid Beltoise surged ahead of Ickx - and everyone else - to take a lead he would never lose, winning his only Grand Prix, and the last for BRM.

Ickx was a distant second, but he was at least on the lead lap, because the fired-up Beltoise had lapped everyone else. It was a quality performance, and a great example of how getting into the groove at Monaco can yield big rewards.

Olivier Panis

Panis was the deserving winner of one of the all time classic races
Panis was the deserving winner of one of the all time classic races

Only three cars were running at the end of the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix, which gives the impression that Panis’ only F1 victory was down to little more than complete luck. But that isn’t quite true.

Panis had surprisingly been fastest in the dry morning warm-up session, showing that he had pace. Between warm-up and the race a downpour soaked the track, and the wet surface caught out several drivers at the start, including pole-sitter Michael Schumacher. Panis however was having a blinder. Having started 14th he began passing cars left, right and center, and after a perfectly timed pit stop for slick tyres found himself in fourth place.

He was easily the fastest car on track, at times several seconds quicker than anyone else, and he wasted no time in shovelling Eddie Irvine’s Ferrari out of the way at the Loews Hairpin to run third. As such his brilliant drive left him perfectly positioned to benefit from the retirements of Damon Hill and Jean Alesi ahead of him, and he went on to score his only, and Ligier’s final victory.

Jarno Trulli

Trulli was on it at Monaco in 2004
Trulli was on it at Monaco in 2004

Renault had built a decent car in 2004 and Jarno Trulli was in the form of his life as he surprisingly had the measure of team mate Fernando Alonso at the start of the year. There was only one problem - Michael Schumacher and the Ferrari F2004 were better.

They were so dominant that Schumacher won 12 of the first 13 races. The only blip came at Monaco, and Trulli seized the opportunity with both hands. A sensational qualifying lap put him on pole, and he led 72 of the 77 laps en route to his first win, despite coming under huge pressure from Jenson Button in the closing laps. The Trulli train had been something of a runaway.

Unfortunately for Jarno his performances tailed off as the season progressed and he was sacked by Renault before the season was through. There were more good performances for him at Toyota but he never again reached the same level he had that weekend in Monaco.