Surprise, surprise: new deal for Monte Carlo!

Monaco has agreed a new 10-year deal with Formula 1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone after a meeting in London today.

Ecclestone recently said that Formula 1 could do without Monaco, which is regarded by many drivers, teams and sponsors as Grand Prix racing's blue riband event. The classic race through the streets of the Principality of Monaco was first held in 1929 and, although it is almost impossible to actually overtake, the close proximity of barriers and buildings presents a unique challenge.

Bernie's comments were taken with a pinch of salt by most, and simply regarded as a standard negotiating ploy, with the Automobile Club de Monaco believed to be one of the lowest payers on the calendar. Its president, Michel Boeri, inked today's new arrangement with Ecclestone.

Graham Hill won the famous race five times, a record that was bettered in 1993 by Ayrton Senna, who won for the first time in 1987 and then five times successively between 1989-'93.

Of the currently active drivers, Michael Schumacher has tasted victory in Monaco five times, and also went through one of the most controversial incidents of his career when he deliberately hit the barrier at Rascasse in 2006 in a bid to prevent anyone beating his pole position time.

This year's winner, Mark Webber, admitted that winning in Monte Carlo was 'very special.' After a May 16 date this year, a week earlier than originally planned, next year's Monaco race will be held on May 29.

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