If the Monaco circuit can boast of one thing, which for almost a century, it has hardly changed. Even today, the bends of Saint-Dévote, the Casino, the tobacco shop or the Portier are still present on the Monegasque route. Only the passage of the swimming pool, on the port, changed significantly, at the end of the 90s, with the appearance of a double chicane, the first of which took the name of Louis Chiron.
At the origins
When it comes to bends, the station bend is undoubtedly the one that has changed its name the most. This name may not mean anything to you today but it is the Loews bend, or the Grand Fairmont, or the Grand hotel. Because yes, these three curves are only one: that of the station.
In 1929, Antony Noghès, Louis Chiron and the Automobile Club de Monaco trace in the heart of the principality an extraordinary circuit, 100% urban and laid out in relief, on the side of the city. On April 14, the first edition of the Monaco Automobile Grand Prix takes place, the success is total, the Prince having put his person into the realization of this crazy project.
The high places of the Monegasque city are concerned by the circuit. Already, the tunnel is there, the casino has a place in its own right, just like Sainte-Dévote, the first corner of the circuit. Between the Casino and the tunnel, the descent is steep, fast and very winding. The route passes through Monaco station, and its emblematic left hairpin bend. Each turn becomes legendary, becoming the perfect illustration of the Monegasque meeting. One thing that has not changed today.
But where has the station gone?
1869, the Monte-Carlo station is inaugurated, located in the very center of the principality. Tourism is developing rapidly and from this station, wealthy tourists arriving from all over Europe can go directly to the Grand Casino, via elevators.
1958, Prince Rainier III reorganizes the city, wishing to recover land then occupied by the railroad tracks that cross the city. Not to mention the noise created by the rail. The projects are launched, another station is under construction. 1965, the station in the center of Monaco, that of the bend of the station yes yes, is razed. Farewell in the XIXth century style that we love so much … and the new station is open.
Between 1966 and 1972, the Monaco Grand Prix will pass the hairpin of the station in front of a temporary grandstand. We then speak of the « bend of the old station ».
From this angle, you can clearly see the back of the station, with a « tobacco restaurant, glacier hotel in the station » shop, with a Renault 2087 tow truck and a Renault truck in the colors of Renault oils. We are in 1972, Fittipaldi is ahead of Beltoise, the latter will win this 30th Monaco Grand Prix.
In 1973, the Loews hotel was built. The unobstructed view is blocked but a new postcard is created: the championship’s slowest hairpin will now be located at the foot of the hotel, its rooms making incredible and luxurious stands. From then on, this spot is one of the best known, the bend taking the name of « Virage du Grand Hôtel » in 1998 and then in 2005, with the arrival of the Fairmont Hotel in the Principality, this bend becomes « Fairmont Virage ». The name « Virage du Loews » will remain the most famous today.
Unchanged since 1929
If the bend will have changed its name many times, the bend in itself will never have changed since the creation of the Monaco Grand Prix in 1929. Small detail, this bend, like others in Monaco, also features all the year the red and white colors of the circuit vibrators. A little paint in early May and you’re done.
Another bend from the train station
The turn of the station will not have been in Monaco, no. It is on another circuit traced in town that we find a bend of the same name: in Pau. Indeed, on the non-permanent circuit of Pau, the first bend of the circuit, a wide straight hairpin uphill, is called the bend of the station, connecting avenue Gaston Lacoste to avenue Napoléon Bonaparte. At the foot of this bend … the station.
Pau or Monaco, urban circuits will never cease to fascinate us …
Hello there, and warmly Monaco!
In pictures too
Monaco Grand Prix 1962 – High Quality footage
If the F1 of the 60s makes your eyes soft, I recommend this incredible period report. It includes the 1962 Monaco Grand Prix, spun in exceptional quality. Of course, the bend of the station has its place. To see on the big screen, with very loud sound.