From the stands: David Entrican watches the Monaco Grand Prix at Monte-Carlo

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Want the closest possible view of F1 cars in action? Head to Monaco
Want the closest possible view of F1 cars in action? Head to Monaco

Ever thought of going to F1’s most glamorous race as a spectator? David Entrican was at this year’s race and wrote to tell us about his experiences.

Read on to find out what it’s like to spent the Grand Prix weekend in Monaco and have a look at some of David’s terrific pictures from the track.

We were lucky enough to have the use of a friend?s apartment in Antibes, which is between Nice and Cannes on the Cote d?Azur. Combining the Grand Prix with a 2 week holiday meant we could fly to Nice quite cheaply (the flights around the Grand Prix weekend itself are much more expensive) and get the train from Antibes to Monaco each day which took about 50 minutes.

There were generally lots of trains in service and you didn?t have to wait long – though they were often pretty full. We used the ticket machines in the station to buy our train tickets which cost ??13 (??11.17) each return from Antibes to Monaco.

There was a printed sheet available from the stations for the F1 weekend showing train times, but these strangely didn?t show all the trains – for example on the Sunday of the race the first train from Antibes to Monaco looked to be 9am – but finding the standard timetables in the station we realised there were trains going every half hour or so from 5am!

On Wednesday we decided to go to Monaco to soak up the atmosphere and check out the situation for Rocher – the cheapest section and where we were going to watch the race from. Already there were fans chaining garden chairs to fences and trees on the hill to reserve the best spots!

We could walk along parts of the track despite the traffic, hang out near the F1 paddock and see some of the drivers and watch the pits as teams set up their cars. It was much easier to get close to the paddock and drivers than our previous experiences at Silverstone.

For Thursday we had bought tickets for Grandstand V which is opposite the pit entrance. You can watch the two 90 minute F1 practice sessions for free on the hillside (Rocher), but we wanted to get as close as possible to the cars and grandstand V was only six feet away!

It’s much closer than fans can usually get anywhere in the F1 calendar. It was well worth it and we got some great photos as the drivers sped past – even having to use a wide angle camera lens as the cars were so close! It wasn?t the fastest part of the track but a great place to watch from and very loud.

On Saturday we splashed out on seats near the front of Casino Square grandstand. The cars looked very impressive through the corner and we could see them power down towards Mirabeau.

We saw Fernando Alonso smash his Ferrari into the barriers during free practice three as he came into our view at the top of the hill. Then cranes efficiently lifted the wrecked Ferrari out of the way.

Qualifying was good from here, though we?d strongly recommend getting a Kangaroo TV (??60 for the weekend)* which gives sector and lap times as well as video and – most importantly for us – Radio 5 Live UK commentary. The track commentary was in 3 languages and not very comprehensive if you only understand English! We shared one Kangaroo TV between 2 using a cheap headphone splitter and also wore ear defenders over our headphones so we could hear exactly what was happening even when the cars screamed past!

Some grandstands looked a bit empty at times, but others were rammed full. Casino Square was totally full on Saturday, but the grandstand next to the chicane out of the tunnel looked empty, at least on Thursday. The grandstands near the pits T and S still had lots of seats empty until 20 minutes before the race. Then they filled up a lot more, although there were still some places free.

On Sunday we had tickets for the hillside (Rocher), so had an early start to bag ourselves a decent spot and arrived at Monaco station at about 7:50am. Armed with folding chairs and a garden trowel, we climbed ad scrambled quite high up the hill where we had a panoramic view of Monaco and a bird?s eye view of the track. The trowel was a great tool to level our chairs on the steep hill and many others were doing the same! The hill quickly filled up and soon it was very difficult to move around, including getting back down to the toilets situated half way up the hill – beware!

The view was awesome and although the cars were quite small – like watching a live Scalextric track – we could see all the pits stops, the chicane after the tunnel over the harbour (binoculars needed) the cars through the swimming pool corners and down into Rascasse, then out of the last corner and accelerating up towards the start finish. As we?d been close to the action for the rest of the weekend, we enjoyed the extensive view from here for the race and the cars were still seriously loud from up here. Again, Kangaroo TV gave us video, stats and best of all, UK 5 live commentary.

After the racing, it was back to our apartment for a week in the sun, before another cheap flight to the UK. A great holiday all round.

*Kangaroo TV?s website said they were not going to Monaco. We signed up saying we?d like them to come and around 2 weeks before the race they e-mailed us with details of how to rent them through a Monaco ticket agent. This worked smoothly although we only had an hour after the race to get across Monaco to the office and give them back, so we couldn?t hang around! No problems though and well recommended – a friend of our was at the Spanish GP 2009 and resorted to texting friends in the UK to find out what was happening in the pits stops.

David’s pictures from Monaco

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