Monaco Grand Prix… for Free!

Monaco Grand Prix May 25-28, 2017

Here’s a secret:  The most glamorous and prestigious racing event in the world, the Monaco Grand Prix… has a free day.

It’s not publicized and most locals don’t even know about it, but the Friday before the big race is always free, with all of the same noise, smells, vibrations, sensations, crashes, and excitement… but no ticket required.

Okay, you won’t see any Formula One‘s on the free day, but you will see the Porsche Supercup as well as GP2‘s.

There are three sessions being held Friday morning, May 26th, 2017:

  • 8am-8:45                    Formula Renault 2.0 Practice Session
  • 9:45-10:15am            Porsche Supercup Qualifying Time Trials
  • 11:15am-12:20pm    The first race of the GP2 Series 

Take your earplugs: the GP2 has 42 breakneck laps roaring through the just-over-two-mile-long course.  In 2010, the fastest lap of the weekend was 1 minute 15 seconds, so you have constant action with each race car screaming by every minute or so (check out the video below for a drivers seat web cam).  Move around and try out different seats and vantage points (normally costing 100’s of euros), so if you ever do buy a ticket, you’ll know where you want to be.

After the races, go have lunch.  The streets reopen to the public at around 2pm, and then 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 exploring the town, keep your eyes open:  many of the drivers have apartments in Monaco, and with the Cannes Film Festival just down the coast, the Principality will be packed to the gills with celebrity spectators of all stripes, and at a minimum you can always count on spying Ivana Trump on her mega-yacht in the Port…

Here is the official race schedule and ticket information, but note that there are no tickets showing for Friday… because it’s free!

How to get there:  To get to Monaco during the race, you can either take the train or take bus #100, but even with both modes of transport reinforced to the max, it’s still sheer madness, especially on the way back.   With the money you save on ‘free day’ you could opt to splurge on your transport, and take the boat from Nice to Monaco for 60€ round trip.  Okay, so it’s not a super-yacht, but it would still be far more enjoyable to arrive on the top deck of a stunningly beautiful 40-minute coastal cruise, than packed like sardines in a bus or train. Reservations are a must.

Monaco hosts a series of Grand Prix type races in the course of the year, so here is the official Automobile Club of Monaco link in English to find out more.

and finally, check out this great clip of James Garner racing the Monaco Grand Prix course in the classic 1966 film Grand Prix:

Related page:  What, you don’t know about the Nice Grand Prix?

Photo credit: Pat Guiney, licensed under Creative Commons.

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