Monaco Grand Prix preview: Super-yachts, gaudy glamour & raw racing

Monaco GP
Forget sitting in the grandstand, in Monaco a hot-tub view of the race is the way to go
Monaco Grand Prix on the BBC
Date: 25-28 May Venue: Circuit de Monaco
Coverage: Practice on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra (final practice online only). Qualifying and race on BBC Radio 5 live. Live text commentary, leaderboard and imagery on BBC Sport website and app.

No matter how many times you have seen it, the sheer preposterousness of it never fails to strike you.

Here are the racing cars that less than two weeks ago were rounding Barcelona's Turn Three at 160mph, and soon will be swooping through Eau Rouge at Spa at close to 200mph, being driven on the limit through streets barely wide enough for a Rolls-Royce.

A Rolls-Royce - or a Lamborghini or a Ferrari or any other material symbol-on-wheels of the global uber-rich - is the more 'normal' transport for a trip around the roads of this Mediterranean principality that combines glamour and seediness like perhaps nowhere else on earth.

The glamour; everyone knows about that - the weather, the boats, the cars, the beautiful people, the lovely Beaux-Arts villas clinging precipitously to the hillsides.

Graham Hill wins the Monaco GP
Fans watch 'Mr Monaco' Graham Hill cruise by as he wins the 1965 grand prix

The seediness? Well, Somerset Maugham's observation a century ago that Monaco was a "sunny place for shady people" still applies. Although the conspicuous consumption has grown notably more conspicuous.

The yachts have become super-yachts - some so big they don't fit in the original harbour and resemble floating buildings rather than pleasure cruisers. The elegant villas are in danger of being swamped by modern skyscrapers. And every year there seem to be more supercars crawling around the streets.

Whatever one's feelings about this, though, they are apt to evaporate for a time when the Formula 1 cars go out on track.

Watch at Casino Square or in the tunnel or at Tabac or Piscine and the violence and awe involved in an F1 car on the limit around the streets takes your breath away.

It is F1 at its most raw, the incredible skill of the drivers and performance of the cars forcing a recalibration of one's sense of the possible. And an experience not to be missed.

BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

Justin Bieber and Lewis Hamilton
"Come on mate don't neck it all!" Lewis Hamilton shares his 2016 win with Justin Bieber

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Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at Monaco
From 1984 to 1993, the race was won by only two drivers: Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. Senna's record of six wins still stands
Salle Empire, Monaco
In 2016, lunch on race day at the exquisite Salle Empire terrace would have set you back an eye-watering 1,400 euros. You cannot even see the cars from there!
Hamilton was impressing the fans on his motorbike in the paddock...
...while Massa went for a scooter instead

Bicycle + living room = Monaco

Some people say its a true driver's circuit, but three-time world champion Nelson Piquet was not a fan. "Tell you the truth, I hate Monaco," he said. "It's like riding a bicycle around your living room."

A graphic of the Circuit de Monaco

Haas couture

Who says F1 livery needs to be bright and bold? The Haas team will be debuting this monochrome motif in Monte Carlo...

Haas livery design

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How to follow on BBC Sport

BBC Sport has live coverage of all the season's races on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, plus live online commentary on the BBC Sport website and mobile app - including audience interaction, expert analysis, debate, voting, features, interviews and video content.

Monaco GP & Indy 500 coverage details (all times BST)
DateSessionTimeRadio coverageOnline text commentary
Thursday, 25 MayFirst practice08:55BBC Radio 5 live sports extraFrom 08:30
Second practice12:55BBC Radio 5 live sports extraFrom 12:30
Preview21:00BBC Radio 5 live
Saturday, 27 MayFinal practice09:55BBC Sport websiteFrom 09:30
Qualifying12:55BBC Radio 5 liveFrom 11:55
Sunday, 28 MayMonaco GP13:00BBC Radio 5 liveFrom 11:30
Indy 500From 17:00
Monday, 29 MayReview04:30BBC Radio 5 live, online and podcast

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