Formula One's most attritional race saw one of its most surprising results, Ligier's Olivier Panis charging to victory around the soggy Monaco streets as all about him fell victim to mechanical gremlins, accidents and collisions.
Starting 14th, Panis was nobody's idea of a likely victor but, from the moment pole-sitter Michael Schumacher slithered into the barriers at Portier as one of five retirements on the opening lap, the race was destined to be a wild ride - even by Monaco standards.
As the track dried through the first half of the race, Damon Hill's Williams
streaked away at the head of the field, with the Briton looking set to become the then first second generation Monaco victor.
However, his Renault
engine unusually gave up the ghost midway through the race, handing the advantage to Jean Alesi - only for the Benetton to suffer a suspension failure 15 laps from home. With Alesi's retirement, Panis, who had climbed through the field due to a combination of blistering speed on a drying track, an aggressive bumping pass on Eddie Irvine into Loews and accidents and mishaps suffered by Jacques Villeneuve, Gerhard Berger and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, took a shock lead.
The Frenchman comfortably held off David Coulthard
- racing in Michael Schumacher's helmet to add to the bizarre ambience - and Johnny Herbert to take the chequered flag, a maiden and only win for the Frenchman and a ninth and final victory for Ligier.
Remarkably, though, the podium trio were the only cars still running by race's end. Fourth place classified finisher Frentzen pitted for good on the penultmate tour, and fifth, sixth and seventh placed classified finishers, Irvine, Mika Salo and Mika Häkkinen, saw their races ended by a bizarre concertina traffic-jam accident five laps from the finish