2012 Update: click here for 2012 Grand Prix for Free
The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the most glamorous and prestigious racing events in the world, but did you know that they have a free day? The Friday before the race is always free, with no ticket required, and with all of the same noise, smells, vibrations, sensations, crashes, and excitement.
This is a chance to try out different seats and vantage points, so if you ever do buy a ticket, you’ll know where you want to be. Friday, May 27, you can see two races: from 9:30-10:15 start with the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup qualification trials, then at 11:15 the first race of the GP2 Series kicks off with 42 breakneck laps around the just over two-mile-long course through the Principality. In 2010, the fastest lap of the weekend was 1 minute 15 seconds.
That’s it: two hour-long races, and it’s time for lunch! The streets reopen to the public at around 1:30pm, when you are free to walk along the track and even peek into the pits, and while you’re at it, take a stroll on the docks to check out the mega-yachts in for the races. While around town keep your eyes open: Many of the drivers have apartments in Monaco, and the Principality will be filled with celebrity spectators, so you never know whom you’ll see…
Here is the race program from the Monaco Automobile Club, and the official ticketing site with a great interactive map of the course and the stands. Choose a day then pass the curser over the various stands to see what the regular price would be. By the way, if you are inclined to buy tickets, they are less expensive here from the source than buying from one of the many ticket broker sites.
As you chose where to sit, consider the underrated but superb vantage point from the Sainte-Devote overpass (section A), where you can not only see the start and finish and follow a third of the course, but you are over a famous turn with so many crashes that they install a stationary crane to quickly pluck the wrecked cars from the track. Best of all, from your perch you can see down into the open GP2 cars to glimpse the driver’s hands trying to manoeuvre the wheel on that tricky turn, but the downside of these seats is that you can’t see the big screen.
Photo credit: Pat Guiney, licensed under creative commons.
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