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.
To 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.
Add 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?