Monte Carlo, Monaco [800x450]
Monte Carlo, Monaco [800x450] (Credit: Bryn Lennon - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

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As Formula One gears up for round eight this weekend in Monaco -- the 'jewel' on the F1 calendar -- ESPN breaks down everything you need to know about the weekend's grand prix.

Can Monégasque Charles Leclerc lift the 'curse'?

Would a different format for the Monaco Grand Prix be more appealing for fans? Lewis Hamilton has proposed the idea.

Can Max Verstappen go one better and break Ayrton Senna's qualifying record with a ninth pole position in succession? At last week's Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix Verstappen matched the record with eight since Abu Dhabi in 2023.

Could Verstappen win the championship in a different car? Listen to ESPN's F1 podcast Unlapped. Plus Monaco GP preview.

Where is the best place in Monaco to watch the iconic grand prix? Laurence Edmondson went to find out.

Plus, McLaren has unveiled the green, yellow and blue livery it will run this weekend as a tribute to Ayrton Senna 30 years after he died in May, 1994.

Circuit stats

Ayrton Senna has the record for most pole positions at Monaco (five), and race wins (six). Of the current F1 grid, Daniel Ricciardo (2018), Sergio Perez (2022), Lewis Hamilton (2008, 2016, 2019) and championship leader Max Verstappen (2021, 2023) have all won here previously. 

Distance: 3.337km

Laps: 78

Overtakes completed in 2023: 36

Lap record: 1:12.909, Lewis Hamilton (2021).

This year is the 70th edition of the iconic race. The first was in 1950, and since 1955, the grand prix has never been off the F1 calendar for any reason other than the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

How to watch the GP?

(U.S. only): Sunday 7:30 a.m. ET on ESPNEWS and ESPN+.

Live broadcast coverage in the U.K. is on Sky Sports F1, and BBC Radio 5 live, with Sunday's highlights on Channel 4.

For news, analysis and updates, follow the coverage with ESPN's F1 team Nate Saunders and Laurence Edmondson in Monaco.

Friday, May 24

Free practice 1 - 12:30-13:30 BST / 13:30-14:30 CEST.

Free practice 2 - 16:00-17:00 BST / 17:00-18:00 CEST.

Saturday, May 25

Final practice - 11:30-12:30 BST / 12:30-13:30 CEST.

Qualifying - 15:00-16:00 BST / 16:00-17:00 CEST.

Sunday, May 26

Race starts - 14:00 BST / 15:00 CEST.

What happened last year?

For Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin, the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix was the big 'what if?'.

A mid-race rainstorm presented a golden opportunity for Alonso to sneak ahead of Max Verstappen and secure his first win since the 2012 season.

When he made his pit stop the heavens were just about to open, but with the track still largely dry at the time Aston Martin fitted slick tyres to his car rather than wets, meaning he had to pit again a lap later when the rain intensified.

As was the case for most of the 2023 season, Verstappen and Red Bull made all the right calls to win the race ahead of Alonso and Alpine's Esteban Ocon in third.

Who's going to win this year?

After Lando Norris' victory in Miami and near-victory one week ago in Imola, Verstappen is no longer the clear cut answer to this question.

Both McLarens will likely be in contention, but there's a growing school of thought that Monaco might suit Ferrari more.

For that reason, ESPN is backing Charles Leclerc to lift the 'curse' that has hung over his poor form at his home race and take a memorable victory.

And what for weather? Looking ahead from Thursday, the forecast looks to be to be clear and settled with temperatures around 20°C -- ideal for watching from a yacht.

How the championships look

Max Verstappen still leads the drivers' championship, but his margin has narrowed to 48 points ahead of Charles Leclerc, who can close the gap further with a win at his home race on Sunday.

Red Bull lead the constructors' by 56 points over Ferrari, with McLaren needing a few more race wins to bridge that 58-point gap to second place.

Standings Calendar Teams