Formula 1 returns to the famous streets of Monaco for the sport’s most legendary Grand Prix this weekend as next chapter of the 2021’s gripping season takes to hallowed sporting ground.
The Monaco GP was one of the world of sport’s many biggest events cancelled outright last year due to Covid-19, meaning it was absent from the F1 calendar for the first time since 1954.
But it is back for 2021 with limited fan attendance of 7,500 people per day for the track action which, as is tradition in Monaco, takes place on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday for F1.
For Daniel Ricciardo, a former winner in the Principality whose McLaren team will run their car in a one-off livery this weekend, the return after a year away is particularly special.
“I’m just excited to go there. It has been two years,” the McLaren driver told Sky Sports F1 after the last race in Spain.
“When our careers are said and done, we can bring a road car here and keep doing some laps of Barcelona, for example, but you can’t do that in Monaco.
“Maybe with the Historic Grand Prix, but it’s a track you don’t get the privilege of driving often at all and to miss it for a year, I just can’t wait to go there.
“It will just be a joy and a pleasure to turn a wheel around there again.”
The feeling is likely to be mutual among the 20-driver field, four of whom will be driving an F1 car around the famous street circuit for the first time.
Lewis Hamilton has appeared in 13 Monaco GPs but won the race for only the third time on F1’s last visit in 2019, triumphing in a battle against Max Verstappen that has proved a pre-cursor to the events of 2021 so far.
The two championships have had wheel-to-wheel scraps in all four races this season, with six overtakes between the two cars.
Hamilton’s back-to-back wins in Portugal and Spain mean he has opened a 14-point gap over his Dutch rival, but that is the equivalent of a single third-place finish.
Verstappen finished second on the road two years ago but was relegated to fourth for an unsafe release time penalty after making contact with Valtteri Bottas in the pit lane. It means the Red Bull driver has yet to register a podium finish that counts in the Principality, although he will be in strong contention to change that in 2021 having, like Hamilton, finished in the top two of every race so far this year.
In addition to Hamilton and Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel are also former winners of the race on this year’s grid.
Monaco is also the first of two consecutive street races on the calendar, with the Azerbaijan GP in Baku following on in a fortnight’s time.
Sky Sports F1’s Monaco GP schedule
5pm: The F1 Show (simulcast for free on Sky F1 YouTube)
6pm: Drivers’ Press Conference
8.40am: F2 Practice
10am: Monaco GP Practice One (Session starts at 10.30am)
12.15pm: F2 Qualifying
1.45pm: Monaco GP Practice Two (Session starts at 2pm)
10.35am: F2 Sprint Race One
7.10am: F2 Sprint Race Two
10.45am: Monaco GP Practice Three (Session starts at 11am)
1pm: Monaco GP Qualifying build-up
2pm: Monaco GP Qualifying
4.05pm: F2 Feature Race
5.30pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook
12.30pm: Grand Prix Sunday
2pm: THE MONACO GRAND PRIX
4pm: Chequered Flag
5pm: Ted’s Notebook
9.30pm: Monaco GP highlights