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Maseratis at the Monaco Historic GP

First held in 1997, the Grand Prix Historique de Monaco has been held regularly every two years since 2000, now reaching its 7th edition.

The unique fascination of the Monaco street circuit is intact, as evidenced by the countless billionaire yachts crowding the harbour ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix, which will be held here on May 16. Taking full advantage of the F1 GP structures, the local Automobile Club de Monaco puts on a fantastic show for classic car enthusiasts with fully up-to-date safety standards.

The skies were mostly covered and threatening throughout the week-end, but thankfully the full programme of races went down with a dry tarmac. And quite a programme it was, with a total of 230 cars divided in 8 classes and spanning the years 1929 (when the first GP was held) to 1984. A sports car class was included in memory of the 1953 Grand Prix, the only one not devoted to single-seaters. From this edition, the Formula Junior race was replaced by two Formula 3 classes recalling different eras.

Maserati presence was particularly strong with eleven entries, to which a pair of Maserati-powered Coopers should be added in the rear-engined 1954-1965 race, as well as a trio of OSCAs in the sports car race. Maserati wrote some glorious pages of motor racing’s history at Monaco. Perhaps its most magnificent victory there was that of Stirling Moss in 1956 at the wheel of the mighty 250F. Considered by many to be the most beautiful single-seater of all time, the 250F was obviously present at this year’s revival, with three variants including the last of the line, the 1958 “Piccolo”. But it was in the pre-1947 class that Maseratis came out in numbers with six cars entered. Alongside various 4- and 6-cylinder models, the star attraction was the very rare 1936 V8RI of Josef Otto Rettenmaier. This very car was first owned by the great French driver Philippe “Phi-Phi” Etancelin, and was thus painted in his trademark light blue livery.

For the record, the great spread in age and in the level of preparation of each car prevented Maseratis from repeating their past exploits in this year’s Monaco Historic GP, but for their owners as for the public this was hardly relevant: to see these stalwarts of yesteryear back in action, at full throttle on this legendary circuit was the true prize, and indeed an immense joy.