Darren Cassey heads to Monaco - perhaps the most famous street circuit in the world - to explore the connection between Honda's hybrid supercar and its Formula 1 machinery

Turning on to the start/finish straight, a unique view of mountains and
immaculately maintained, high-rise buildings fill my windscreen. I turn
right through the first corner and head up the deceptively steep hill,
mesmerised by the yachts in the harbour to my right as the sun peaks
above the horizon.

Up early before the army of scooter riders have awoken, I pull a sharp
right and head downhill to the Fairmont hotel - situated on the most
famous hairpin in motor racing - and pause for a moment. This is the
Monaco street circuit, and the car is the Honda NSX.

From May 25-28, the Japanese manufacturer's Formula 1 cars will be
screaming around here - arguably the most famous street circuit in the
world. Today, I'm driving the company's highly desirable supercar at
considerably lower speeds, tracing the track's route through the
bustling principality on France's south coast.

Much like those F1 cars, the NSX is a hybrid. It's powered by three
electric motors and a 3.5-litre petrol V6 engine that combine to make
573bhp. It'll hit 60mph from a standstill in less than three seconds and
with power going to all four wheels the way it pulls you out of a corner
is addictive.

To celebrate the link between race cars and road cars, we're driving
1,200 miles from the team's base in Woking, England, to Monaco via F1
circuits at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and Circuit Paul Ricard in

Despite a previously successful stint together in the sport between 1988
and 1992, the McLaren-Honda team has been having a torrid time since
partnering again in 2015.

Despite the on-track reliability issues, it's fair to say Honda's road
effort appears to suffer no such difficulties, and after 340 faultless
miles we arrive at Spa-Francorchamps feeling surprisingly fresh.

Located in the gorgeous Ardennes forests in Belgium's hilly south, the
track is well hidden. It's not until we reach the quiet village of
Francorchamps with its motorsport-themed restaurants and hotels that
there's any hint of a world-famous race track in the vicinity.

Since our final destination is a street circuit, it seems apt to trace
Spa's classic route, which included many of the country roads
surrounding the closely guarded modern circuit.

Famed for its high speeds, Spa was one of the most terrifying tracks on
the old F1 calendar. Drivers would be flat out for most of the race with
little to no safety protection around the track. And with speeds
averaging 150mph across the lap, there was little margin for error. The
circuit has been modifed in recent decades, but not before many drivers
lost their lives here.

As we retrace the route, houses, trees and telegraph poles pass by mere
feet from the road. It's difficult to imagine the courage it took to
keep the throttle pinned at such speeds.

With visions of the past fresh in our minds, we leave the forests of Spa
and forge a path south through Luxembourg and into France; Metz, just
over the border, will be our first overnight stop.

The next day, 500-plus miles of French motorways pass by with little
drama. We drive through countless tollbooths and turn countless heads.
Few cars this side of a million pounds grab attention quite like the
NSX. At £140,000, it could almost be considered good value...

What's arguably more impressive, though, is the fact we've traversed a
country in a low-slung supercar and still feel fresh at the end of it.
Everything Honda has learned about ergonomics in building mainstream
cars has clearly been put to good use. The seats aren't as supportive as
I'd like, but the interior is spacious and relaxing, if a little
understated compared with the exterior.

With our driving hours approaching double digits, we arrive on the
French Riviera with the sun low in the sky. We make a quick detour to
Circuit Paul Ricard, which will be present on the F1 calendar from 2018,
having been absent since 1990. A friendly but not to be messed with
security guard moves us on quickly.

After a quick play on the roads around the circuit - so good they've
been used for World Rally Championship stages in the past - we plug
Monaco into the satnav and plough on into the night. We make it over the
invisible borderline via a road that carves through a cliff and find our
hotel for some rest. Tomorrow we'll be up before the sun, so we can
drive the track in peace.

Up early before the army of scooter riders have awoken, I pull a sharp
right and head downhill to the Fairmont hotel - situated on the most
famous hairpin in motor racing - and pause for a moment. This is the
Monaco street circuit, and the car is the Honda NSX.

It's surreal being here. Our only companions are workers building the
track; scaffolders piecing together grandstands, road workers repaving
the circuit and police officers shouting and waving at distracted

As we pound the same tarmac that today's F1 legends - including Jenson
Button, who will be making a one-off return to drive for McLaren-Honda
as stand-in for Fernando Alonso - will soon be tearing around, it's hard
not to get caught up in the glitz and glamour. Particularly when you're
driving something as spectacular as the NSX.

Honda has a history of making exciting performance cars, but it lost its
way a little. Until recently. The sharp, angular design and exquisite,
deep-red paint job make the Japanese supercar stand out even among the
super-rich - and there's a perverse enjoyment about cruising around
silently using just the electric motor.

With the sun rising higher in the sky and the Monegasque commuters
clogging the streets, it's time to call it a day. We pull over at a
harbour-side cafe and sip coffee on what will soon be the racing line.

In the warm morning sun, I take a moment to drink in our beautiful
surroundings, and it's immediately clear why the world's rich and famous
are so drawn to this location. Monaco on a race weekend must be simply