WORDS BY IAN PAGE | IMAGES BY RED BULL / MERCEDES
It is widely considered that Monaco is considered the jewel in Formula 1’s crown. It’s the race when everything that embodies F1 comes together. Sunshine and champagne, the jet-setting hoi polloi gliding round the paddock in linen suits which cost as much as the cars they glide round in.
Bars and balconies rammed with global icons of wealth, and yachts packed full of glamorous individuals, all to the backdrop of the cars and their drivers at the pinnacle of motorsport, racing inches from the barriers around one of the world’s most beautiful destinations.
Monaco is certainly unique, but it is also guilty of giving us a race with a lack of any real on-track action, so is Monaco just trading on its name?
Having been to the Monaco Grand Prix myself, it certainly is incredible. It’s unlike any other track on the calendar. You get a real chance to get up close and personal with your heroes, rubbing shoulders with motorsport royalty, partying on the track until the wee hours, something you can’t do at any other circuit.
For all the partying and cork-popping - much like a lot of aspects of F1 - the best champagne is reserved for those who can afford it, so what’s left for the rest of us?
F1’s direction has been called into question on many occasions over the last few years and Liberty Media has worked hard to make the “Ecclestone era” a thing of the past, but as the cost of living gets higher, are audiences fed up with watching rich people enjoy themselves?
Historically, Monaco is the place where deals are made; sponsors are wined, dined, and signed. Journalists prioritise team bosses over drivers, suggesting the real focus of the weekend. Monaco is F1’s boardroom but it is also in the sport’s DNA.
Due to the covid pandemic, we had a season without Monaco in 2020 - the first since 1954 - and how much did the sport miss it? From its humble beginnings as a cycle race, it is a race like no other, but it needs to remember those humble beginnings.
I certainly don’t want to lose the glitz and the glam. It’s part of the attraction, it’s the definition of Monaco, but in 2022 it can’t be the only thing it brings to the table. We are racing fans and that’s what we want to see.
More than ever, the race weekend can have the feeling of watching a business meeting with sunshine interrupted by cars. There have been calls for Monaco to be removed from the championship calendar, but it is still clearly the race that has it all.
Maybe I am missing the point? Do we need one race where F1 can go to the extreme? A huge over the top blow out where we can get it out of our system. Monaco without the glamour and the politics would be like the English without tea. Where would we be then?
Maybe it’s just sour grapes. Would I have the same view if I was swishing around rubbing shoulders and downing bubbly?
Let’s not forget that the Monaco Grand Prix is there because of us, the average fan in the street. It’s a cliché I know, but without fans, sport is nothing, and Monaco would do well to remember that.
When you are at the top there is only one way to go...