Although Monaco doesn’t always give us the best races, being there to see F1 cars speed through narrow streets with millimetre perfect precision remains one of the ultimate spectator experiences. For a street circuit there are surprisingly good, varied views from the grandstands and the closeness of the track creates intimacy amid the grandeur of Monaco.
Monaco tribunes (grandstands) can be bought as one day tickets. At a track where some grandstands are better suited for the practice, qualifying or the race this lets you plan your viewing down to the day as well as get a varied viewing experience of the famous street circuit.
Grandstands beside the grid get a close up window on the most exciting grid of the F1 season. Great for celeb spotting and fascinating to watch teams and drivers prepare for one of the sport’s most anticipated events. If that gets your pistons firing then these seats might be for you.
Be aware though that once proceedings get under way these seats are less grandstand, more ‘blandstand’ and you might start to think about catching an early train. The pits are on the opposite side of the pit building at Monaco and the podium is on the same side of the track, further down.
Your view during the race doesn’t get much more exciting than some very fast, very blurry looking cars driving past you in a straight line (through a wire fence).
Named after the nearby church, Sainte Devote is a tricky uphill right-hander. It’s been smoothed out a bit from what it was but it still presents a challenge to drivers. Coming before the winding, flat out run up the hill to Massenet, the corner is crucial to achieving the perfect lap time.
After the main straight overtaking is always a possibility here, as well as the potential for mayhem on lap one. A young rookie called Aryton Senna impressively passed Niki Lauda here for 2nd place in the 1984 rain affected race. In 2015 another young rookie, Max Verstappen misjudged a pass, damaging his car and careening into the tecpro barriers.
This is a single corner view but a classic one. A low fence makes visibility good, especially at the corner’s apex. For fans lucky enough to secure top row seats, views of Tabac and the harbourfront are an added bonus.
Across the square from Casino de Monte-Carlo, the Cafe de Paris to your left, perhaps no other view feels as quintessentially Monaco as that from Grandstand B.
Exiting Massenet hugging the inside barrier, a lightening fast change of direction sees the cars fling to the inside line, hurtling around Casino Square inches from the barrier.
There’s only one line through here so this is not an overtaking spot, but it is a pleasure to watch drivers work the wheel through this fast left-right section.
Front row seats offer premium views allowing spectators to see down the hill to Mirabeau, where overtakes do occasionally happen.
© Matthew Lamb FLICKR
Seats in Grandstand B are comfortable molded plastic – a step above the flat bleacher style seats that predominate elsewhere. Because of the very low fence, for the most part it’s not a problem getting a clear view of the track, even in the lower rows which makes it a prime spot for photographs.
Downsides are very few. It is one of only two grandstands on this side of the train station so you’ll find a lot more of the merchandise, food and drinks options, as well as the F1 Fanzone centred around the other side of town, some 15 – 20 minutes walk away. On the plus side, you’ll be in pole position for a gin and tonic at the Cafe de Paris after a long hot day in the grandstand.
From Grandstand C you can see Portier and the preceding corner before the cars disappear into the darkness of the tunnel.
Overtaking is not unheard of though it often relies of the car behind having a major performance advantage and some degree of compliance from the car in front.
Nico Hulkenberg showed us how it’s done, pulling off a move on Magnussen in 2014. Jenson Button meanwhile showed us how not to do it in his last race in Formula 1, impolitely flipping Werlein out of the way leaving his Sauber awkwardly resting on it’s side.
And sometimes even the greatest drivers go off here all by themselves. The outside of Portier is the spot where Senna made terminal contact with the barrier while dominating the 1988 race. Famously, he was so furious with himself that he walked straight back to his nearby apartment
This small intimate grandstand lacks the atmosphere and true Monaco feel that characterize grandstands in other parts of the track. This will suit some fans though who might prefer a less crowded environment.
Nearby the Japanese Gardens offer an oasis of peace and tranquility to enjoy during the downtime, as well as permanent toilet facilities and a water fountain to refill drinks bottles.
Grandstand K is a long stand facing the habour that stretches from K1, near Tabac to K6 near the chicane that signals the start of the swimming pool section.
From anywhere in the upper part of the grandstand there’s a vast expanse of visible track, especially for a street circuit. If you want a grandstand that really lets you savour the action rather than a blink and you miss it glimpse then the K Tribune is one of the very best at Monaco.
© The F1 Spectator
The harbourfront in Monaco is perhaps the most recognizable section of any Grand Prix circuit. In the early days nothing separated the competitors from the sea and in the 1950 race, waves even crashed onto the track causing a chaotic scene.
Later on, straw bales were used as a barrier which, perhaps not surprisingly failed to prevent Alberto Ascari’s Lancia from launching into the sea in the 1955 GP.
Exiting the tunnel the cars reach the fastest part of the track, just before braking for the Nouvelle Chicane – one of the circuit’s best overtaking spots.
A bump on the approach to the chicane has caught out many, resulting in some spectacular incidents over the years. After accelerating around the fast, left-hand kink of Tabac drivers reach La Picine.
© The F1 Spectator
Besides a very distant view of the Nouvelle Chicane visible only from some blocks There’s rarely overtaking attempts along this section of the circuit. Nevertheless, the fast, narrow section sees plenty of incident and the quick flick left of Tabac is a favourite spot for Monaco regulars.
Being seated here is an auditory experience as much as a visual one. Standing in the middle of the circuit, the main straight to your rear and the climb towards Casino Square to your left, this is the surround sound experience of Monaco.
The view you get can differ quite a bit depending on which block you’re in from K1 to K6. None of the sections are really bad but each comes with their own pros and cons
For spectators in K1 a clear view extends from Tabac to the exit of the Nouvelle Chicane. This is the closest it’s possible to get to Tabac but understandably far from the first chicane of La Picine. Although this is the closest section to the giant screen, it’s positioning up and to the left at a bit of an oblique angle is not ideal, but by no means a deal breaker.
K3, at the midpoint of the grandstand, fans are in a prime spot to see both the exit of Tabac and entrance to the swimming pool section. It’s also the best place for an overall view of the entire harbour section. Lower seats are best avoided here though as you’ll have a hard time seeing either corner through the fencing.
Further around, the screen might be further away but the positioning is ideal, situated just above where the cars come into view you can seamlessly go from watching the action unfold on the screen to watching in the flesh without needing to turn your head. All of this is quite far away though so it’s worth bringing a pair of binoculars.
Block K6 has a clear view of the apex of the fast entrance to La Picine. This is a great spot for photographing the cars as they bounce over the curbs on entry. It’s a less good view of the harbour overall though and Tabac is out of sight, tucked away behind a melange of armco, catch-fencing and a few million quids worth of yacht.
Back rows of the K Grandstand are premium seats and besides being higher up and slightly more comfortable, come with a hidden bonus.
Peering between the trees to the rear of the grandstand it’s also possible to see parts of the main straight. The corner of K6 is especially coveted, overlooking the start / finish line, pole position spot, the royal box and the pitlane exit.
Because of the trees that line the length of the main straight and can get in the way, having a view to the rear of the stand isn’t a sure thing and you probably won’t see it advertised. For the few lucky fans who do benefit though, these are a dream ticket.
Track views aside, the setting of the K Tribune is second to none making an already special grandstand all the better. When you’re not being dazzled by the sight of F1 cars you can be dazzled by the towering facade of the Monte Carlo skyline and the sun dappled waters of the Mediterranean. Pass the time between track action people watching or thinking about which super yacht to buy next.
On a track that’s changed little since it first hosted F1, some of the most notable changes have been on the section between La Picine and Rascasse.
The starting grid was placed here until 1963; ten years later the two chicanes that make up the swimming pool section were added on land reclaimed from the sea, making room for a new pit complex.
The tricky second chicane has been the scene of many accidents. Demanding perfect precision, sausage curbs lay in wait to launch cars that go off line, with sometimes disastrous consequences.
No need to remind Max Verstappen of this. The Dutch man made a habit of wrecking his Red Bull here in 2017 and 2018. In the race, slow exit speed can give the car behind a chance to pounce or line up a pass into Rascasse. Grandstands N, O, P, L and part of T are ideally placed for views of the swimming pool section.
Further changes to the pit area in 2004 placed the pit lane on the opposite side of the teams garages where it remains today. This lets spectators in grandstand T and L keep a close eye on goings on in the pit lane. A very close eye in fact – not including Paddock Club, these seats are the closest it’s possible to get to the pit lane from any grandstand at an Formula One track.
At the Monaco Grand Prix where overtaking is so difficult, pit strategy is everything and many of the key moments of the race take place in the pit lane.
Just ask Daniel Ricciardo. In 2016 a mix up meant his pit crew had no tyres ready for him when he boxed from the lead of the Grand Prix. Losing valuable seconds as the team scrambled around, the team’s mistake handed a certain victory to Lewis Hamilton.
With so much riding on pulling off the perfect pit strategy at Monaco, Grandstands L and T are an obvious choice for Sunday.
Grandstand O is a large tribune between the smaller N and P tribunes. While the track views are only average, the great atmosphere from so many fans in one area go some way to make up for that and the layered skyline of Monte Carlo makes for an impressive backdrop and some Instagram worthy photos.
From here you’ll have the best view in the house of the first and second chicanes of La Picine. Lower seats fair less well but the extra height afforded to the upper rows makes up for this grandstand being one of the furthest from the race track.
The giant screen opposite is well placed and easy to see wherever your seat is, but do bring a pair of binoculars for the distant view of the pits.
Sandwiching the relatively giant Tribune O, two fun-sized grandstands offer lower priced alternatives at the swimming pool section. Grandstand N overlooking the first chicane and P, the second.
Each feature good views of their respective corners, but distance and fencing make seeing any other part of the track difficult.
Of the two, P is the better option for what is usually a more exciting second chicane as well as a far off view of the pits.
Grandstand L is justifiably one of the most popular Monaco grandstands. The fast left-right chicane precedes a short straight where a brief squirt of the throttle propels the cars towards the un-sighted Rascasse. It’s thrilling to watch the cars bounce over the curb on exit – masterful when it goes right and punishing when it doesn’t.
© The F1 Spectator
There’s no catch fencing blocking the view of the track here so lower rows fair quite well. Seeing into the pits is easier from slightly higher up though and top rows are fitted with more comfortable seats. Crucially though, not just some (looking at you T1), but all fans have a clear view of the chicane.
Annoyingly a footbridge blocks part of the view of the pitlane and it can be a bit of a lottery which seat you end up in, but everyone should be able to see at least some of the pit stops. Naturally if seeing the pits is a top priority for you, Grandstand T is the better choice.
There are three sections of Tribune T; starting with T1, nearest the swimming pool and ending with the small T3 block, close to the penultimate Rascasse corner.
As is the case at most circuits, the teams garages are in the order of the previous seasons constructors championship with the top teams closest to the pit entry, opposite T3.
Seats used to be sold as premium upper or regular lower sections with comfier, individual seats and a clear view of the pits available to the former and bleacher style seats and not much of a view for the latter.
Recent changes made to the pit area make it easier for all levels of the grandstand to have a clear view of the pit lane (though comfort level inequalities persist).
There aren’t many grandstands at Monaco that let you shelter from the rain, but Grandstand T is one such place. Only the top five rows are covered though and in heavy rain you could still get wet, especially if you’re seated on the edge.
Section T1 is a large seating area with over 1500 seats. But if you book early and are lucky enough to find yourself close to the right side end of the stand you’re in a prime position for see cars thread their way through the chicane.
From upper seats you can have a good view of the approach as the cars skirt their way past the swimming pool. Lower seats are just as popular and get you very close to the track, a gap in the fence providing a good photo opportunity as the cars pass the second apex.
The T2 section is too far away from either the chicane or the Rascasse and the track view isn’t the most impressive. There is a view of the pit lane entrance and it will get you closer to the top team garages than T1, but generally of the three it’s the one to avoid.
Cozy T3 is a much smaller section than T1 and T2. From here you’ll get to see cars slowing down for the tight Rascasse corner – an occasional site for late braking dive bombs. Pit lane views are of the top teams garages, near the pit lane entry.
Always a favourite Monaco vantage point Grandstand T is simply the best vantage point for watching the goings on in the pit lane wherever you’re seated, but for a lucky few fans the grandstand offers so much more.
Warning: beware of the unevenly spaced steps in this grandstand.
The view from Grandstand V encompasses the final two corners of the circuit – Rascasse and Anthony Noghes. Some spectators will have difficulty getting a clear view of the former though, especially from the upper right section where a leafy tree branch makes a bit of a nuisance of itself.
Between the corners is the pitlane entrance, though none of the actual team garages or pitstops are visible. Peering up the main straight on race day you’ll see the tail end of the grid.
Grandstand V comes with an extra bonus for fans on a Saturday; in recent years this has been the spot where the top three qualifiers park up and are interviewed after the session.
This is one of the most action-packed sections of track, seeing passing moves into either corner and determined efforts to stay nose to tail with the car in front to stand the best possible chance of making a move on the main straight.
Not all overtaking moves go to plan however. This is a tight sequence of corners and millimetres stand between pulling off the perfect move and looking like a hero or wrecking your car and looking a bit silly.
Case in point – Jules Bianchi pulled of a masterful pass on Kobayashi for one valuable point for Manor in 2014; five years later his Godson Leclerc made contact with the inside amrco barrier, damaging his floor and ending his first Monaco GP for Ferrari here.
I’m Danny, an incurable Formula 1 fan for over 30 years and founder of The F1 Spectator. My aim is to inform and inspire, arming you with helpful tips and advice for your next F1 trip.