F1: Prost, Panis, Trintignant, French drivers win in Monaco – F1 – Monaco GP

Maurice Trintignant: two victories (1955 and 1958)

Maurice Trintignant, actor Jean-Louis' uncle, is a survivor. In July 1948, at the age of 30, he raced in a very serious accident at the Swiss GP. Ejected from his car, the Vaucluse driver suffered a concussion, multiple ribs and broken teeth. In a coma, his spleen bursts, and he is even declared clinically dead (some newspapers announce his death). He wakes up after two weeks of coma, and his wife offers him a teddy bear, which will accompany him during each of his races.

This terrible accident did not prevent him from joining the F1 World Championship in his first season, in 1950, with the Gordini team. Despite disappointing seasons with the French team, he was hired by Ferrari in 1954. And, in 1955, he became the first Frenchman to win a GP of the World Championship, in Monaco. This edition is marked by the famous dive in the port of Lancia by Alberto Ascari. Ninth on the grid, the French took advantage of the combined abandonment of Stirling Moss and the Italian to win.

Maurice Trintignant has won twice in the Principality. (hooly News)

Maurice Trintignant has won twice in the Principality. (hooly News)

His second and last victory in F1, out of a total of 81 races, was also signed in Monaco, in 1958, for the Rob Walker Racing Team driving a Cooper, and in front of two Ferraris, after taking control in the 48th round. Trintignant drove in F1 until 1964.

Jean-Pierre Beltoise: a victory (1972)

It was on two wheels that Jean-Pierre Beltoise, nicknamed "Bébel", began his racing career, notably obtaining eleven titles of champion of France in the early 1960s. And it was in 1967 that he landed in F1, at Matra. Faithful to the French team, he stayed there for five seasons, without managing to glean a single success. But in his first year at BRM, in 1972, the one who also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans 14 times, managed to win in Monaco. An unexpected and unique victory, during an otherwise disappointing season (his nine points scored come from his success in the Principality).

Beltoise led his BRM to victory in 1972. (hooly News)

Beltoise led his BRM to victory in 1972. (hooly News)

Injured very badly in the left arm (he was almost amputated) after an accident during the 12 Hours of Reims in 1964, Beltoise has an elbow blocked. That didn't stop him from pursuing his racing career, and on May 14, 1972 in Monaco, it probably even helped him win. Because the rain is falling on the Principality, and the Frenchman, 4th on the grid and already in the lead at the first corner, on a wet track, can take full advantage of the very strong sensitivity he has developed with his right arm throughout the years. In such conditions, its smoother and smoother handling than that of its rivals does wonders. And he manages to resist the whole race to Jacky Ickx, yet the "king of the rain". Beltoise, after 2h26 of intense efforts, even ahead of the Belgian by 38 seconds. A resounding feat, which unfortunately will never happen again for the French. His victory in Monaco was the only one of his F1 career.

Patrick Depailler: a victory (1978)

Patrick Depailler was the driver of almost one team, Tyrrell, with which he competed in 80 of his 95 F1 Grand Prix races. And he experienced many contradictory emotions with the British team: the joy of becoming the first Frenchman to sign a pole in F1, in Sweden in 1974; the difficulties too, when Tyrrell lost a lot of time developing his 6-wheel single-seater in 1976 and 1977, which did not prove to be as competitive as expected. But Depailler was rewarded for his loyalty and patience in 1978 when he obtained the first of his two F1 successes in the Principality.

Patrick Depailler lifts the winner's cup in 1978. (The Team)

Patrick Depailler lifts the winner's cup in 1978. (The Team)

This year was one of the most successful in his career, with five podiums and 5th place in the Championship. And in Monaco, the Frenchman led 38 of the 75 laps, after having snatched first place from John Watson in the 38th lap following a mistake by the Northern Irishman at the exit of the tunnel. Fifth on the grid, Depailler had already made an excellent start to slip behind Watson at Sainte-Dévote. Once in the lead, the driver Tyrrell was under pressure from Niki Lauda for a dozen laps, but the Austrian let go after a puncture. And Depailler, after 69 Grands Prix, finally won in F1. A second victory will follow the following year in Spain at the wheel of a Ligier.

Alain Prost: four victories (1984, 1985, 1986 and 1988)

Behind Ayrton Senna (six successes), Graham Hill and Michael Schumacher (five), Alain Prost is the driver who most often won in Monaco, with four victories. All obtained at the wheel of a McLaren. "This is a Grand Prix which marks a career of joy and frustration, said the Frenchman to Figaro in 2012 to summarize his relationship to this very unusual race. In Monaco, we realize that a victory is really fragile. ". Which of his four successes in the Principality is the most striking? Perhaps, the first, in 1984, obtained in special circumstances.

Prost, in the Monegasque rain in 1984. (The Team)

Prost, in the Monegasque rain in 1984. (The Team)

Due to the rain, race director Jacky Ickx interrupted the GP on lap 32, while Prost was leading but Senna, who started in F1 with Toleman, was coming back strong. No doubt the Brazilian would have doubled the French before the finish, but, paradoxically, the victory of Prost, who offered him only half the points, may have cost him the world title, lost for half point opposite Lauda. If he had finished the second GP, Prost would have scored six points instead of 4.5.

The smooth driving style of the "Professor" was one of the factors of his success in Monaco, and, by his own admission, it was his 1986 victory that put him best. "Everything was going the way I wanted, I had the feeling, I was in harmony with the car, he explained in 2012. I was in total confidence, on a cloud, I was from Thursday to Sunday, without ever having the slightest doubt. " And he won, after only dropping first place after his pit stop, 25 seconds ahead of his teammate, Keke Rosberg.

Olivier Panis: a victory (1996)

Only three drivers at the finish (a record), and a French winner of the only Grand Prix of his career: the 1996 edition is one of the most legendary in the great and long Monegasque history. Fourteenth on the grid, driving a Ligier which has not won in F1 for 15 years, nothing predisposed Olivier Panis to victory on Sunday May 19, 1996. But the rain, bad luck or the bankruptcy of the favorites, and the vista of a driver who managed some daring overtaking to go for the victory upset the course of the race.

Panis then contested its third season in F1, and had two podiums on its record, already with Ligier, in Germany in 1994 and in Australia in 1995. A shower shortly before the start made the track very wet, and reshuffled all the cards. Michael Schumacher, on pole, started off on the first lap with his Ferrari. Panis, 12th at the end of the first lap, managed to overtake Martin Brundle (Jordan), Mika Häkkinen (McLaren) and Johnny Herbert (Sauber) in the first third of the race to get back into the peloton. And when he stopped at the pits, on lap 28, he was already 7th.

Panis, last French GP winner. (B. Fablet / The Team)

Panis, last French GP winner. (B. Fablet / The Team)

He then benefits from a judicious strategic choice of his stable, and his engine manufacturer. Honda believes that with a first part of the race on a wet track, the Ligier will not need to refuel. She therefore left with full fuel, and Panis made a lightning stop, which allowed her to climb to 4th place. On lap 36, he managed to overtake Eddie Irvine on the pin at the cost of a touch with the Ferrari. Here he is 3rd. Five laps later, the Renault engine of the Damon Hill Williams, then leader, broke, offering 2nd place to the Frenchman. The pilot Ligier has, despite the tension, the presence of mind, after slipping on a plate of oil left by the Williams, to make a voluntary spin to take back the track where he left it, and thus avoid a penalty.

In front of him, there is only Jean Alesi (Benetton), more than 30 seconds away. But, there again, fate smiles on the pilot Ligier, since the Avignon gives up on the 61st lap, suspension folded. At the end of the 75th lap, instead of the 78 planned, after 2h00'45 "of race, Panis may exult. "Since driving, I have never been so happy", he said on arrival.