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We Drove the Monaco Grand Prix Course in One of the Last Maseratis of Its Kind

by multimill
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Behind the wheel of Maserati’s Quattroporte Trofeo, its seductive V-8 engine my soundtrack, I navigate the winding roads of Beausoleil with its tight, sharp corners. Then, there it is: Monaco, with its vibrant, centuries-old buildings flanked by the Mediterranean Sea. Years ago, I stayed in nearby Eze for a short weekend respite and vowed I would return to France’s Cote D’Azur, and when I did, it was going to be epic. And so it is.

Pulling into the Hotel de Paris, I notice a crowd of gearheads tracking my car with their cameras in Place du Casino. Yes, that Place du Casino—the fourth turn of the Monaco Grand Prix circuit. Undoubtedly the epicenter of luxury, Monte Carlo is more than just an opulent vacation destination for me. I’m here to experience its rich history, most notably by driving its famed grand-prix route.

Port Hercules from the Hotel de Paris Monte Carlo.

Port Hercules from the Hotel de Paris Monte Carlo.

Sebastien Laforest

Atop my hotel suite balcony, the picturesque harbor view alone makes the months of planning worth it. For the next week, Monte Carlo is my playground. The alluring roar of engines further charges my excitement. Gaze in any direction and there will be an exquisite sports car ripping along the streets. I watch a Lamborghini Huracán make its way up Beau Ridge toward the casino. It’s time to join it.

Save for Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, the Circuit de Monaco is arguably the most famous course in all of motorsport—its breathtaking surrounds without equal anywhere else in the world. Since its inception in 1929, the route has remained relatively unchanged. Racing legend Graham “Mr. Monaco” Hill took home five grand-prix wins here, only to be bested nearly 24 years later by Ayrton Senna, who garnered six.

A view of the straightway that immediately follows the tunnel on the Circuit de Monaco in Monte Carlo.

A view of the straightway after the tunnel on the Circuit de Monaco.

Sebastien Laforest

Immediately following my first turn at Mirabeau Haute is the Grand Hotel Hairpin, where Jensen Button and Pedro de la Rosa collided in 2000, causing the race to stop. Maneuvering the long and wide Quattroporte around the notoriously difficult turn is actually easier than I anticipated. Then again, this isn’t a Formula 1 race, and I’m under no pressure to regulate my speed from one extreme to the other.

Entering the iconic tunnel, the Maserati steadily picks up speed while the symphony emanating from the exhaust echoes exponentially. At this point, there’s an undeniable connection between man and machine as the car gracefully races toward the exit in a manner quite balletic compared to that of Didier Pironi’s experience in 1982, when his Ferrari ran out of gas and came to an ignominious halt during the final lap.

The Maserati Quattroporte Trofeo's 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8.

The Maserati Quattroporte Trofeo’s 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8.

Sebastien Laforest

I make a voluntary stop at La Rascasse to allow a group of pedestrians to cross. Michael Schumacher stopped here in 2006, involuntarily, when he locked his wheels and slid directly into the wall. Race organizers penalized him for purposely preventing rival Fernando Alonso from attaining a better qualifying time. No such drama this day.

The Quattroporte Trofeo might not be the loudest or most expensive car here, but it is a rare breed in its own right. After this year, Maserati will bid farewell to the V-8 engine, which makes this model, replete with Italian craftsmanship, among the last of an era for the marque. When a Ferrari SF90 Spider joins my orbit, a few more laps seem only appropriate. After all, a power train in its twilight cruising with one paving the road ahead seems only fitting on Monaco’s timeless proving ground.

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