Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis

Monaco's craziest ever Formula 1 tech ideas

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The Monaco Grand Prix is Formula 1’s most glamorous event – and is the one that is at the extreme when it comes to piling on the downforce levels.

Maximum mechanical grip and high downforce are the order of the day, and the unique demands of the Monte Carlo street circuit have prompted some fairly outlandish solutions over the years.

Here, we trawl through Giorgio Piola’s archive to dig out some of the best and wackiest solutions that have cropped up over the years – including several that got pretty quickly declared illegal.

McLaren 1974

McLaren M23 1974 Monaco front wing
McLaren M23 1974 Monaco front wing

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

McLaren M23 front wing, Monaco GP
McLaren M23 front wing, Monaco GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

At the 1974 Monaco GP, McLaren opted to run a narrower nose on its car, which had had its first outing at the earlier Spanish GP. Emerson Fittipaldi's M23 was fitted with a narrowed 'winklepicker' section, which allowed for wider wings.

There were also two narrow upstands that could be seen stood proud of the endplates. These were not for performance reasons but were instead put there to help act as a visual cue – so the drivers could tell easier where the edges of the front wing were.

Ferrari 1979

Ferrari 312T4, 3/4 view, Monaco GP
Ferrari 312T4, 3/4 view, Monaco GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari arrived at the 1979 Monaco GP with a specially commissioned pair of front and rear wings, both designed to improve the car's agility around the streets of the Principality.

The wings were mounted closer to the main bodywork for two reasons. First of all, this allowed a greater depth to the rear wing so it could still comply with the maximum dimensions of the rules – but also less bodywork overhang meant there was a smaller change of collisions with barriers in the event of the drivers getting it wrong.

Ferrari 1980

Ferrari 312T5 wings setup, Monaco GP
Ferrari 312T5 wings setup, Monaco GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

A year later and Jody Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve were presented with a similar arrangement, a shorter car designed to improve the car's downforce and balance. However, the designers had gone one step further this time around, adjusting the T5's suspension and wheelbase (highlighted in yellow).

Jordan 1986

Jordan 196 extra wing Monaco GP
Jordan 196 extra wing Monaco GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

In 1996 Jordan followed in McLaren's footsteps when it introduced its version of the 'mid-wing' for Monaco. Mounted astride the engine cover, this imposing winglet took advantage of the wording in the regulations to produce a reasonable amount of downforce in its own right.

Tyrrell 1997

 
Tyrrell 025 rear view, Monaco GP
Tyrrell 025 rear view, Monaco GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Tyrrell 025 front view, Monaco GP
Tyrrell 025 front view, Monaco GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

When you think of crazy winglets that have appeared at Monaco, Tyrrell's 'X-Wings' have to be toward the top of that list. The oft cash-strapped outfit had found numerous innovative ways of increasing downforce down the years but the X-Wings took things to an all new level, mounted high up away from the sidepods they helped to produce downforce in their own right.

The X-Wings appeared at several races other than Monaco and even started to appear on many of the other cars up and down the grid, before being banned by the FIA on safety grounds.

Meanwhile, the '025' featured other novel features, including their single central front wing pillar, nose winglets and sidepod shovels and winglets.

Ferrari 1999

Ferrari F399 rear wing differences
Ferrari F399 rear wing differences

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ferrari's F399, designed by Rory Byrne, helped the team take a 1-2 finish at the Monaco GP as it deployed a high downforce rear wing. The wing featured many more flaps than ordinarily would be the case, all of which were angled aggressively too, sacrificing straight line speed for downforce because efficiency is not so important in Monaco.

Williams 2000

Williams FW22 extra wings, Monaco GP
Williams FW22 extra wings, Monaco GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Williams employed an airbox winglet at the Monaco GP in 2000 as it sought to improve the performance of its rear wing. The rather wide winglet, similar in design to the one used by Jordan in 1999, undoubtedly created some downforce in its own right but more importantly cleared the path for airflow heading for the rear wing. Looking for additional balance, the team also installed a winglet atop the sidepod for the weekend.

Arrows and Jordan 2001

Jordan EJ11 nose wing, Monaco GP
Jordan EJ11 nose wing, Monaco GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Arrows A22 front view, Monaco GP
Arrows A22 front view, Monaco GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Arrows and Jordan both rocked up to F1's 'Jewel in the Crown' with some rather ungainly winglets in 2001. Both teams used grey areas within the regulations to mount the appendages from the nose and chassis respectively. The unorthodox winglets, which bring to mind the crazy high wings used in the 60's, were immediately put under scrutiny by the FIA and banned before the teams could even qualify with them.

Ferrari 2017

 
Ferrari F10 steering angle, Monaco GP
Ferrari F10 steering angle, Monaco GP

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

Ever stricter aerodynamic regulations have made it difficult for teams to come up with wayward solutions just for Monaco in recent years. However, that doesn't mean that teams still don't need to make alterations, for example, the famous Monaco hairpin is an exceptionally slow corner that requires the cars to be adapted to suit its characteristics.

The teams change the ratio of the steering rack for this corner, in order that more lock can be applied, which also requires that the suspension shrouds be modified so that the wheel and tyre don't foul them.

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Series Formula 1
Article type Special feature
Topic Giorgio Piola's F1 technical analysis