What Makes The Monaco Grand Prix Circuit So Daunting For Sim Racers?

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Sainte Devote. Image: EA Sports / Codemasters
The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the world's biggest events for fans of Formula One and Formula E especially. So why is the Monaco street circuit intimidating to a percentage of sim racers? How does the Principality compare to other tracks in sim racing that have a similar reputation?

With the Formula One circus pitching their proverbial tents in Monaco this weekend, we take a closer look at the Grand Prix circuit and its popularity - or lack thereof in sim racing. How come it does not seem to be as revered as other challenging circuits?

Track Layout

With how tight, technical and treacherous the layout is, the Monaco Grand Prix rack is unbelievably difficult to race on as a beginner or even as an intermediate sim driver. Even the best of the best get it wrong on a regular basis. With tight hairpins and long, sweeping bends with armco barriers lining them make for some of the most intense driving you will ever see in modern Formula One, even if the racing is not always fantastic.

The first corner, Sainte Devote, is infamous for incidents as drivers tackle on of the fastest parts of the track before braking hard whilst turning slightly left. Carnage usually follows in both the real world and in sim.

Turn 4, Casino Square takes drivers right down through the first section of Mirabeau and has been the setting for many accidents as well. Nico Rosberg retiring in qualifying guaranteeing him pole position back in 2014 would be one of the most famous for F1 fans.

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Grand Hotel Hairpin, Project Cars 2. Image: [SIZE=3]RufGTI[/SIZE]

Turn 5 & 7, the second section of Mirabeau, make up one of the most iconic parts of the track. The circuit takes the drivers around the most famous building in Monaco - the magnificent Casino.

The Grand Hotel Hairpin is such a tight corner that drivers can drop to as low as 20 mph. The result of this? Huge pileups and blockages, especially in sim racing when lag and net code issues are rife. Real-life racing does not have it much better either, with traffic jams and slow crashes frequently occurring here.

The infamous Monaco Tunnel that follows shortly after is fantastic to drive in real life and the sim. The echo and the artificial lights make side-by-side racing even more intense, especially with the change in the aero effect. Once you leave the tunnel, you barrel down to one of the tightest and most difficult chicanes to get right on the Formula One Calendar, the Nouvelle Chicane.

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Monaco Tunnel. Image: EA Sports / Codemasters

The swimming pool section at turns 13, 14, 15 & 16 is where a lot of drivers become complacent as the lap is finally coming to a close. Many a public lobby has seen chaos ensue when one driver gets a bit too close to the wall on the right-hand side, sending them barreling into the wall, Charles Leclerc style.

Turn 17, La Racasse - named after an old fisherman’s bar turned high restaurant. The penultimate corner of the circuit has been the scene for some of the best overtakes on the virtual and real tracks. What the corner is especially famous for is Michael Schumacher 'losing control' and causing championship rival Fernando Alonso not to set a competitive qualifying time in 2006. A racasse, by the way, is a type of scorpionfish found in the Mediterranean Sea and is what the old fisherman's bar used to serve its customers.

It is important to mention that not every sim racer is intimidated by the Monaco Grand Prix track, of course. Some will love it and its challenges. However, it is easy to see why the track does not get used all that much outside of the F1 games when it can cause such chaos if not driven to perfection.

There are so many opportunities for things to go wrong, but when you hook up a lap of Monaco and get it right. there is no other feeling like it, regardless of whether you're driving an old turbocharged F1 monster or a vintage Fiat 500.

Accessibility & Comparison​

Having said the track does not get used that much outside of the F1 games, it is available within rFactor 2, Automobilista 2 and the Project CARS series under aliases, usually incorporating 'Azure'. The track is also available to be added in through mods in Assetto Corsa and the original rFactor.

Each version will of course have its quirks and differences, but the demanding nature and damning consequences of a mistake stay the same, regardless of the sim you choose.

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Formula One 2024 Skinpack at Monaco, Automobilista 2.

Monaco has often been compared to other unique and difficult circuits like Bathurst in Australia and the N+rburgring in Germany. But why does Monaco not get the same love that those demanding and punishing tracks get?

Bathurst is also a street circuit with walls on both sides and no room for error - and much faster, too. However, the first and last sectors are much more like a more generic race track with run-off and gravel traps. Monaco is entirely enclosed in armco. Bathurst is challenging in its own right, but with the track available throughout titles like Gran Turismo and countless others, it is much more embedded into sim racing culture than Monaco.

The Nürburgring-Nordschleife has a similar image to Monaco in that it is seen as an achievement to survive an entire lap instead of setting loads of quick laps in quick succession. The similarities end there though, as the track is a permanent feature and does have grass and run-off in the higher-speed braking zones, albeit often very little. Monaco just has barriers and a bruised ego waiting for you if you mess up.

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Mick Schumacher, Monaco 2022. Image : Formula One

Overall, Monaco is an entirely different beast to tame, as similar as it may seem at first. However, it is worth putting in the time to learn the track and pushing your ability as a sim racer to the maximum. Start off learning the circuit in a time trial or practice session environment and slowly add more and more cars to the grid.

Once you are up to speed, you will be racing like a true F1 driver around the streets of one of the most beautiful places in the Mediterranean - but do not feel too confident! Even Ayrton Senna, gigantic lead in hand, managed to crash out of the 1988 Grand Prix completely unforced, after all.

What do you think of the Monaco Grand Prix circuit? Is it a track you love to challenge yourself on? Or maybe it's a track you avoid like the plague! Let us know what you think over on X @OverTake.gg or down in the comments below!
About author
Connor Minniss
Website Content Editor & Motorsport Photographer aiming to bring you the best of the best within the world of sim racing.

Comments

No matter how old i get i can never get to like Monaco in any of it's historic layouts and in any cars. Too narrow to make any passing move, the race is won in the qualifying and in the pitstop, not by actually racing. And i do not care what a "classic" something is, if the racing is not good then it is just a "bad classic".

It is only good for hotlapping.
 
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it's so beauty by night, the codemasters version is very well made.
It's the most iconic track for me today, it can justify for Monaco to buy F1 24.
 
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imho its not daunting its just not good. Really miles from good,
It's not daunting because it's not real. That's also a factor. At a stretch it's only some of DR2.0 stage in VR and some of those old loony road tracks that Fat Alfie makes that ever really get the heart going.
 
I fired up rF2 with the Laser Scanned Monaco (Circuit de Azure) with a F3, that was already a blast.
After getting to know the track, took a 2023 F1 for a spin at it.
With damage at full, no aids.
Such a scary track.
Was doing 1.15's, but i would not survive one and a half hour.
A wall that clips your parts off is always there.
But once you start lapping at that pace you realize what exceptional drivers these guys are.
 
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I have driven Monaco in AC and AMS2, although just by myself. It's a fun and really challenging track to drive but it requires a level of precision that isn't greatly supported by the fidelity of force feedback these two games can provide. It seems like it would be awesome with the level of detail that ACC can provide.
 

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