The thing with the helicopter flight in the living room has also gathered dust. Tradition alone is no longer enough in Monaco. The race usually resembles a procession, overtaking is almost impossible. What to do? The future of the Formula 1 classic is at stake.
The Automobile Club of Monaco has already announced the “most beautiful week of the year”. Sinfully expensive yachts crowd the harbour, teams set up their accommodation for the Formula One classic in the smallest of spaces within sight of the legendary Rascasse. For the 68th time, Formula 1 races through the small principality. The premier class was already on the Côte d’Azur in the first year of the World Championship. But the question is: for how much longer? “It would be a shame to lose something that has been part of the sport for so many years,” says Mick Schumacher.
Horner: “A Formula 1 without Monaco is unimaginable”.
The 23-year-old son of record world champion Michael Schumacher – also a five-time Monaco winner – is not alone in this opinion. Monaco is Formula 1. That has been an unwritten law for decades, ever since the first races were held in its narrow streets in 1950. “A Formula 1 without Monaco is unimaginable,” says Christian Horner, whose Red Bull team has once again set up its motorhome with rooftop pool on a giant pontoon.
“If the World Championship had to be reduced to one race, it would have to be Monte Carlo”.
Monaco and Formula 1 – what a tempting combination for the rich and beautiful. The fact that the Cannes Film Festival is taking place at the same time could add to the celebrity density in the already tight grid. “If the World Championship had to be reduced to one race, it would have to be Monte Carlo,” the now 82-year-old three-time world champion Jackie Stewart once said. “Driving Formula 1 in Monaco is like flying a helicopter in your living room,” Nelson Piquet, 69 years old and also a three-time champion, once said. Around 1000 times around the bend, around 4000 gear changes. And all that centimetres past the crash barriers.
“Doing a race where you can’t overtake is nonsense”.
Sounds spectacular. It was. It still is. But the myth is in danger of yellowing. Monaco is the battle of the driver against the track. And then against the opponents. Monaco means: it’s practically impossible to get past. “It’s nonsense to do a race where you can’t overtake,” says former driver Marc Surer in a talk on the portal “formel1.de”. His verdict: the track is no longer up to date. And he is not alone in his opinion either.
“We can’t live in the past,” says Mick Schumacher’s Haas team boss Günther Steiner. “If Monaco wanted to be included as a new track and they said: well, we have the lowest entry fee of all the tracks and you go where you can’t overtake – never would Monaco come into the racing calendar,” Horner stressed, in keeping with the motto: “standing still is going backwards.” But Formula 1 has long since shifted up a gear under the leadership of the American media group Liberty Media.
Monaco’s contract ends after this race
The new street circuit in Saudi Arabia offered pure spectacle despite all the human rights and political discussions about the venue. Miami celebrated the premiere this year, Las Vegas will join it next year. Now Monaco has to shift into the next gear. The contract ends after this race.
Friday practice this year
This weekend shows that Formula 1 is also breaking with tradition there. For decades, the drivers in the Principality always practised on Thursday. The reason: the practice day often fell on Ascension Day, but Friday was always (noise)free. This year, training will take place on Friday. Item.
Nevertheless, quite a few drivers, such as world championship leader Max Verstappen from Red Bull, his Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc – a true Monegasque – or even record champion Lewis Hamilton in the resurgent Mercedes can stroll from their flats to the paddock, relaxed and on foot. Sleep in their own beds and rest before Sunday’s race, which may already be decided after Saturday’s qualifying.
Surer suggests an additional loop
One lap is only 3.337 kilometres long. None on the racing calendar is shorter. So why not extend it? Surer suggests an additional loop. “As long as we go past the casino and along the harbour, Monaco is Monaco,” he says.
The head of the Monegasque Automobile Club recently expressed confidence that Formula 1 will continue to make stops in Monaco beyond this season. They are in talks, Michel Boeri was quoted as saying by the “Gazette de Monaco”. It is possible that this weekend will offer the opportunity to start a new Formula 1 future with the race from the past.