Watch one of the biggest wet track races of all time in our 1996 Monaco Grand Prix rerun

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They say rain is the great equalizer in car racing, but in the case of the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix, it was a catalyst for utter chaos, producing one of the most unforgettable street races in Formula 1 – and F1.com will broadcast it live this Saturday at 1500 UK (1400 UTC).

If you’re a fan of the unpredictable – and let’s face it, when it comes to F1, who isn’t? – then this one is for you, because what followed once the lights went out was one of the classic races of the 1990s. Here is just a glimpse of the action of that day in the streets of Monte Carlo…

Context

Williams was the team to beat in 1996 and their FW18 remained in pole position for the first four races of 1996 – three times through Damon Hill and once during Jacques Villeneuve’s first training in Australia. They also won the first five races of the season, with Hill leading the standings.

But it was Michael Schumacher on pole for this one – a sight we’d be used to seeing as the millennium drew closer – with a magnificent lap that was half a second faster than Hill’s in P2.

Given that there had only been three different winners in Monaco since 1984 – Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, who had won in 1994 and 1995 – it seemed unlikely that we would see Hill or Jean’s Benettons Alesi and Gerhard Berger who started behind him take the checkered flag first…

To monitor

Heavy rain fell before the race and an additional warm-up session was scheduled due to weather conditions. A number of pilots chose not to participate in the session in case they broke down and ran out of spare parts, while several spun during overtime on the track.

One of these spinners was Andrea Montermini, who crashed before the race even started. It would therefore be a 21-car race on a very wet track.

To call this a wear race would be an understatement because at the end of the 1st lap there were only 16 cars running and on the 6th lap there were only 13 cars left.

Jos Verstappen, one of the first victims of these dangerous conditions, crashed at first after playing with slick tires.

But there were many others who also got the slippery trail wrong, including some of the biggest names in the sport at the time. In fact, so many cars have dropped out that this race has set an infamous record for the fewest Grand Prix finishers.

The carnage also led a shock winner to cross the field to claim his only career victory in F1 in a spectacle that stunned the Principality.

How to watch

The 1996 Monaco Grand Prix will be broadcast live on the F1 Facebook and YouTube channels, and on F1.com at 1500 UK (1400 UTC) on Saturday 4 April.

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