Time F1 said goodbye to Monaco?

Ask this of anyone who has been part of a Monaco F1 weekend and you’ll most likely be given the reasons why it should remain on the F1 calendar. However, the problem is that everyone who has been to Monaco and believes F1 should return each year has been intoxicated by the Monaco elixir and therefore is unlikely to be objective.

Grand-prix-monaco.com says, “The Grand Prix of Monaco is a great mythical race that all the pilots dream to win on the circuit of the Principality. It is the slowest and the hardest of the World Formula 1 Championship.

untitledTo win in Monaco is hard because even a small error in the streets of the principality is fatal. The first Grand Prix of Monaco was won by William Grover-Williams, then followed by others great names like Schumacher, Senna, Prost, Fangio, Graham Hill.”

Monaco is held by drivers to be one of the great Formula 1 venues, and to be the fastest in qualifying here is indeed a badge of honour and testament to a driver’s skill.

Yet this F1 race weekend is ostensibly about privilege, exclusiveness and the rich and the beautiful, which of course fascinates those outside looking in, and to feel in some small way part of that world adds to Monaco’s allure and desirability.

Parties are legendary and the principality goes out of its way to seduce the F1 folk and perpetuate the event’s status as the ‘jewel in F1’s crown’. In days of yore, this was ‘THE’ place for sponsors to entertain their executives and ‘do business’.

Yet in recent years a number of new F1 venues such as Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Singapore have diluted Monaco’s attraction as the exclusive place to do business.

Further, in such times of austerity, big business has been less inclined to be seen by its shareholders to be excessive and spending time and money in one of the most famous playgrounds of the rich and famous. It is a lot less expensive and less ostentatious for them to ‘do the do’ around an F1 weekend in Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Kuala Lumpa – even China.

Also special to Monaco is the quirkiness of F1’s arrangements with this race promoter. In the days before mass refrigeration, it was not possible for the Hotels and shops to be shut off from supplies for 3 consecutive days, so FP1 & FP2 took place on Thursday, and the streets were opened again on Friday for supplies to be brought in – allegedly.

Those in the know have suggested the drivers enjoyed the all night parties on Thursday nights and would not have been fit for practice on Friday. So they got a hangover day to recover before Saturday and qualifying began.

So for those who retain some objectivity on the attractiveness of F1 in Monaco or for you TV only viewers this question is addressed. Just because these hallowed streets were conquered by distant greats like Fangio, Moss, Senna and Prost is that sufficient reason for us to continue to return – to revive memories of what was?

On TJ13 we have discussed the F1 calendar at length this year and the reality is that several of the ‘older races’ and some of the new races are asking for hosting fee discounts. Monaco pays nothing to the coffers of F1. Further, trackside advertising goes to the principality unlike all other venues where the revenue is collected by F1.

Is that right? Monaco is hardly infamous for its social housing problems and card board box dwellers.

Whatever we think of Tilke, Formula 1 track design has gone to a whole new level and part of that is what makes the track safe should there be a crash. Pit lane entrance/exits are designed with safety in mind…

What is absolutely clear, were a street layout of similar configuration to Monaco be proposed to F1 today, it wouldn’t make it onto Todt or Bernie’s desk. Modern Formula 1 cars have a package which includes better grip, acceleration and deceleration than ever before – particularly on a circuit like Monaco. This mean the delta speeds are too close for there to be any realistic opportunity of overtaking on track.

©totallycoolpics.comAdd this to reliability being so strong, there is little chance of position changes except around the pit stop changes and strategies.

Since 2000, 10 of the 12 races have been won from the front row. The race can hardly be called a race, because it’s not the cars dictating the pace, but the narrow circuit and impossibly short straights. I guess you could say in Vettel’s words, we are driving to the pace of the car in front, not our car itself”.

Has Formula 1 outgrown Monaco? Maybe the answer is to do something radical. Why not have Monaco as an F1 exhibition weekend? There could be a series of time trials run to different configurations and championship points awarded accordingly.

So TJ13 readers. What is the value of returning here each year? To stoke F1 nostalgia? To race? To enjoy the atmosphere, parties and glamour?

What would you do with Monaco?

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22 responses to “Time F1 said goodbye to Monaco?

  1. What is the alternative? Substitute it by another boring Tilke-drome? We’ve got way too few traditional tracks left in F1 as it is. F1 without Monaco is like having Kiera Knightly in bed and sleeping on the couch. It just doesn’t make sense.

  2. Heresy…. you can’t scrap Monaco…It’s one of the few races that separates the men from the prats!

    • Welcome DickW – he’s a tweeter everyone – not often seen commenting – yet I’ve managed to provoke him out to join us 🙂

    • like in 2011 where a relatively minor crash causes a safety car, then red flag, which robs Button of a deserved win. This rarely happens at other circuits.

      • That was simply a rules cock-up which allowed everyone a free pit-stop under red flag conditions. It would have been fascinating to see Vettel try and hold off absolutely everyone with his tyres totally gone!

        • a rules cock-up which hasn’t been fixed. So maybe not tyre changes if the red flag is within the final 15 laps of the GP?

  3. The allure is strong, sure.

    I agree that the race itself is not much of a spectacle, but I expect the atmosphere to be quite special…

    I’ll let you know how mythical it is in a few days!

    Crossing fingers I meet some rich and beautiful people who can disguise me when the Security & Exclusivity Guards come past 😉

    • Just tell them you’re with TJ13 and you’ll be fine. Might ask you to leave the grid 5 mins before race starts though.

  4. I’m going to go against the grain again, I say dump it. It’s one if those races that has a massive hype, which entices casual viewers, who then go on to see a snore-a-thon so have no idea that they have seen the worst race! I hope it rains.

  5. Given that most of the drivers “love” driving around Monaco, and a fair few of them live there….I would love the irony of their tax paying for the race.

    If it paid $20 million a year to race there and got the same deal with advertising then it fully deserves it’s place on the calendar.

    However, one thing many people seem to forget is the lack of ticket sales possible compared to other circuits.

  6. Monaco – as the Irishman said to the lost traveller asking for directions “if I wanted to go there, I would not have started here!”.

    Monaco is a modern day enigma – despite processional racing the in-car stuff and close camera work on the TV more than makes up for it. I can only imagine the live atmosphere with the noise, hectic pits and access for teams and spectators alike and I suppose seeing all the beautiful people and their toys in the harbour and outside the casino. Give it a couple more years until another Schumacher makes a nonsense of the rules and blocks the track looking for an end to quallification or even the race.

  7. Where else would we see defensive driving? Hungary maybe for a couple of corners, but apart from that?

  8. I originally was going to agree with adamac39 and say “Make them pay or dump them”. Then I thought, this is the only race where the “owner” can bend down (way down) and whisper in Bernie’s ear – “I own you”.

  9. Think of it as eurovision, right? Watching it in telly is boring, totally boring some times. But if you’re there, well, that’s a different story!

    • “think of it as eurovision, right? Watching it in telly is boring, totally boring some times. But if you’re there, well, that’s a different story!”

      …and singing maybe… see today’s post which features the glamour for some of F1’s most well known journos

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