Monaco GP: Why is F1's jewel so special? Jenson Button explains...

21 May 2019, 12:00 | Updated: 22 May 2019, 11:19

"Exceptional". "Intense". "Extreme". "Special".

The words of Jenson Button on the Monaco GP - an event famously known as the jewel in F1's crown and one that transcends the sport, with its fiendishly narrow streets where some of the sport's most memorable and iconic moments have occurred, in front of a luxury Mediterranean backdrop.

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This weekend, 20 more drivers will be hoping to write their names in the record books as a Monte Carlo winner - either for the first time or again - with F1's most historic grand prix live and exclusive on Sky Sports F1.

Sky F1's Button has won there before, in 2009, and explains that while Monaco is the most glamorous race on the calendar, it is also undoubtedly one of the most difficult and demanding - with barriers in a driver's eyeline at every corner and potential crashes looming with every lap.

"You're so excited about going there but you're also apprehensive because you know one small mistake and you're in the wall." Button, the 2009 world champion, said. "You drive out the pit-lane and it's one of those circuits where you can't just go out flat-out.

"Most of these circuits now, you basically know that if you brake there, you lock-up, you run wide and you come back on, you live to fight another day. In Monaco, it's very different - one slip-up and it's your day over.

"You build up to it, but even the first lap around Monaco feels so fast because you're so close to the walls. It makes it feel like you're doing 200mph, when really you're doing 100.

"It's an exceptional place and just so intense. It's the race every driver really wants to win."

There are several famous corners in Monaco, those that have shaped F1 seasons and legacies. Sainte Devote, Massenet, Casino, Mirabeau, the Nouvelle Chicane, Tabac, Swimming Pool, and finally La Rascasse will evoke memories for many F1 fans and drivers.

But it's also true that if this was not already an existing Grand Prix, Monaco would not be allowed to be added to the calendar for safety reasons. That just adds to Monaco's intrigue - and what makes it such a unique, standalone race.

"To be fair, Monaco shouldn't be on an F1 calendar," adds Button. "It's so extreme. But we all love it as drivers. When you come away with a victory there, it's like winning two grands prix.

"It should be double points!"

On such a narrow circuit, and one that has barely been modified since its first Grand Prix 90 years ago (though there have only been 65 official F1 world championship races there), overtaking is notoriously difficult, especially in today's wider and faster cars.

Daniel Ricciardo's victory last year - when he had an engine issue but still kept Sebastian Vettel at bay - is evidence of that, though that was the first time since 2014 that the pole-sitter had claimed victory.

Button says: "That Saturday is so important. It's the most important Saturday in your F1 career, really."

Ricciardo is one of four drivers to have won in Monaco who are racing this year - along with Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen - but Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen and home hero Charles Leclerc will be hopeful of breaking their duck.

There are few better feelings in F1 than winning in the principality, according to Button.

"When a guy wins the race, and I remember when I won the race, you celebrate with the team, your friends, your family," he says. "But also everyone in hospitality, everyone in balconies overlooking the circuit, all the people on the boats, the grandstands.

"It's a really special place to win a grand prix."

Who will be so lucky this year?

The Monaco GP. It's iconic. It's glamorous. It's the F1 2019 showpiece. And it's live only on Sky Sports F1.

Sky Sports F1 is the home of live and exclusive F1 - and new and existing customers in the UK can now get the channel for just £10 extra a month. Find out more here to watch the 2019 season live

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