Monaco Grand Prix

Formula One is known as the “traveling circus”. From Australia to Bahrain, from Canada to France, from Italy to Japan, each year twenty racing-car drivers travel the globe to compete for the title of World Champion. Celebrating its 90th edition this year, Monaco is the oldest Grand Prix on the calendar. Since its creation back in 1929, the track is basically the same that it has been for all the 77 F1 races ‒ an urban circuit made up of temporarily converted streets with protective barriers on the sidewalks. With rapid changes of elevation, slow-speed corners and the famous tunnel, drivers have always savored the challenge of competing around such a demanding circuit. All the legends of F1 history have raced and won in Monaco ‒ Juan Fangio, Graham Hill, Ayrton Senna, Jackie Stewart, Alain Prost, and Michael Schumacher, with the trophy typically handed out on the podium by the Prince of Monaco.

Among all the circuits, the Grand Prix de Monaco is widely considered to be the “big one” ‒ the most prestigious race to win. No other motorsport event can match Monaco for glamour, atmosphere and spectacle, with single-seaters speeding up to 290 km/h through the tight-and-twisty streets of the city of Monte Carlo.

Behind the scenes of these celebrated victories, a very large and complex logistic machine is set in motion. At just two square kilometers, Monte Carlo’s area is smaller than New York’s Central Park. And not only is it home to 38,000 residents, but when the circus is in town, it attracts around 200,000 spectators. Transforming the city from its everyday activities to the world’s most famous F1 theater in such a confined space with that high population density is thus a remarkable effort. 

If the race control tower is the biggest challenge for the amount of infrastructure that is required, the pits hosting the ten F1 teams can be seen as high-tech architectural episodes overlooking the marina bay. Made of stacked modular units, each pit takes the form of an actual three-floor building.

To build the circuit’s temporary structures including the massive grandstands along the track, private companies hired by the Automobile Club de Monaco employ hundreds of people. The pits are particularly complex buildings. The ground floor is for the race cars and the mechanical equipment; the first floor is shared between the IT infrastructure, track monitors, meeting rooms and engineers’ offices; and the second floor comprises the drivers’ rest rooms and hospitality for sponsors and VIP guests, with a fantastic view of the lower part of the circuit and the pit lane.

Typology: Research article
Location: Monte Carlo, Principality of Monaco
Year: 2019
Client: Domus
Research, text and drawings: Stefano Andreani
Status: Published on Domus N. 1035

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