In almost 100 years of frantic races, the Principality has written its legend, as unique as it is spectacular. Much more than just a Grand Prix, this race is one of the three attractions of motorsport, along with the 24 hours of Le Mans and the 500 miles of Indianapolis. Focus on this hat-trick so coveted by the pilots.

The fuzzy origins of the symbol

Before being an unofficial distinction, a symbolic trophy, the Triple Crown is the combination of three mythical motor sport events: the Monaco Grand Prix designed in 1929 by Antony Noghès, son of the president of the Automobile Club of Monaco; the 24 Hours of Le Mans created in 1923; and the Indianapolis 500, IndyCar’s premier race since 1911.

If the consensus is as such, other protagonists of motorsport have brought, over the years, their own definition of the Triple Crown: some prefer to replace the three circuits by the title of the respective championship (Formula 1, IndyCar Series and WEC), while others include the Paris-Dakar or the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s legendary race, in the crown.

Graham Hill, only triple crowned driver

The rarity of the Triple Crown makes the success even more mythical. To date, only British driver Graham Hill, double Formula 1 world champion) has managed to win the Monaco Grand Prix (1963, 1964, 1965, 1968 and 1969), the Indianapolis 500 (1966) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1972).

A legendary feat since by winning Monaco, Le Mans and Indianapolis, Graham Hill has not only gleaned the symbolic distinction of the Triple Crown. He proved by this singular success that he was one of the most gifted and versatile drivers in the history of motor sports.

Beyond the purely mythologized aspect, winning the Triple Crown requires perfect but above all complete technical mastery, as the races are so different. Knowing how to perform in IndyCar, F1 and WEC means that the driver has a high-level ability to adapt, learn and manage.

Formula 1 is above all a so-called speed competition with powerful and automated single-seaters, whereas the 24 Hours of Le Mans remains an endurance event where management is at the heart of driving. As for IndyCar, it is above all a combination of speed and endurance where the driver must manage the settings of his single-seater.

Juan Pablo Montoya, victorious in Monaco in 2003 and in Indianapolis in 2000 and 2015, aboard his McLaren in May 2022, touches the Triple Crown with his fingertips. Marc Lebryk / REUTERS

An obsession for Fernando Alonso

Double Formula 1 world champion with Renault in 2005 and 2006, the Spanish driver finished on the top step of the Monegasque podium twice (2006 and 2007). Same observation in the Sarthe where he won the 24 hours of 2018 and 2019. He only misses a victory in Indianapolis, despite a very good participation on May 28, 2017. While he was enthroned in first place in the race since more than 27 laps, Alonso was forced to retire for a mechanical problem 21 laps from the finish.

Asked about this, the Taurus of Asturias did not hide his determination to join the Briton on the throne of the triple crowned: “If I want to be the best pilot in the world, there are only two optionsexplained Alonso in 2017. Either I win eight F1 World Championships, one more than Michael Schumacher, which is unlikely. Either I win other races, by proving that I can impose myself in cars and on different circuits.»

Six other well-known drivers in automotive history have won two of the three events: Juan Pablo Montoya, Frenchman Maurice Trintignant, Bruce McLaren, Tazio Nuvolari, AJ Foyt and Jochen Rindt. But only Fernando Alonso touched the throne of Graham Hill with his fingertips.

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