|Date 11 May 1997||Course length 3.36 km (2.08 mi)|
|Official name LV Grand Prix de Monaco|
Location Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo, Monaco
Course Temporary street circuit
Distance 62 laps, 207.08 km (128.96 mi)
The 1997 Monaco Grand Prix (formally the LV Grand Prix de Monaco) was a Formula One race held on 11 May 1997 at the Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo, Monaco. It was the fifth round of the 1997 Formula One season. The 62-lap race was won by Michael Schumacher for the Scuderia Ferrari team after starting from second position. Rubens Barrichello, who started the Grand Prix from tenth position, finished second in a Stewart car, with Eddie Irvine third in the other Ferrari. Schumacher's win saw him take over the lead of the World Driver's championship from Williams driver Jacques Villeneuve. Ferrari also took over the lead of the Constructors' Championship from Williams.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen, driving for Williams, started from pole position ahead of Schumacher. However, Frentzen and team-mate Villeneuve both made poor starts down to a case of tyre strategy made by Williams and both drivers later retired from the race from separate accidents. Schumacher won the race comfortably, with a gap of 53 seconds from Barrichello who scored the first podium slot for the Stewart team in only their 5th Grand Prix. The race had been scheduled for 78 laps, but was only run for 62 laps due to the race taking longer than 2 hours to complete. This was largely down to rainy conditions that the drivers encountered during the Grand Prix.
The Grand Prix was contested by eleven teams with two drivers each. The teams (also known as constructors) were Arrows, Williams, Ferrari, Benetton, McLaren, Jordan, Prost, Sauber, Tyrrell, Minardi and Stewart.
Heading into the fifth race of the season, Williams driver Jacques Villeneuve was leading the Drivers' Championship with 20 points, Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher was second on 14 points, 6 points behind Villeneuve. Behind Villeneuve and Schumacher in the Driver's Championship, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, driving for Williams, David Coulthard, driving for McLaren and Eddie Irvine, driving for Ferrari, were all on 10 points. In the Constructors' Championship, Williams were leading on 30 points and Ferrari were on 24 points.
Qualifying saw Heinz-Harald Frentzen qualify on pole in his Williams in front of Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari; third was Jacques Villeneuve in the other Williams. Fourth was Giancarlo Fisichella in the Jordan-Peugeot, while the fifth place was taken by David Coulthard in the McLaren and the sixth by Ralf Schumacher in the second Jordan, showing the good setup the team had found on the circuit.
The warm-up session was dry, with Williams taking first and second places. But about 30 minutes to go before the start, rain began to fall; Williams decided to run both cars with dry tyres, thinking the weather would improve, while Michael Schumacher set the car for intermediate weather conditions. During the warm up lap, the weather worsened, and at the start, Schumacher was quickest. He led by 22 seconds on lap 5. Behind him the Jordans, which both had the car set for rain, took second and third spots, until they were both passed by Rubens Barrichello in the Stewart, who benefited from the Bridgestone wet tyres, which were better than Goodyear's under those conditions.
The start of the race was catastrophic for the Arrows team, as Pedro Diniz, who had opted to start the race on slick tyres, slid straight into the wall on the opening lap, while Diniz' team-mate Damon Hill was involved in a collision with Mika Häkkinen's McLaren on the second lap, eliminating both cars on the spot.
Both Willams drivers went out of the race after they had to pit to change their tyres. Frentzen hit a barrier at the chicane on lap 39, while Villeneuve hit a wall and had to retire on lap 17. Schumacher continued to build his lead until he had about 30 seconds advantage over Barrichello; then he backed off and began to maintain the gap. He made an error on lap 53 at the Sainte Devote corner, in which he went down the escape road and lost 10 seconds, but did not lose his lead. The race was stopped on lap 62 instead of the 78 scheduled because of the time limit of 2 hours, and Schumacher won with a 53-second margin over Barrichello. Eddie Irvine finished third after overtaking Olivier Panis, exacting some measure of revenge for Panis' overtaking manoeuvre that had seen him get past Irvine a year earlier. After losing third place to Irvine, Panis backed off in the closing stages and settled for fourth place. Mika Salo finished fifth despite denting his front wing on debris left from Mika Häkkinen's accident early on, and also despite not making a single pit stop during the race. Giancarlo Fisichella, who at one point was running as high as second place, finished in sixth. The race was the first win for a Ferrari driver since the 1981 running of the Monaco Grand Prix.