There was a palpable buzz around the F1 paddock when the news was confirmed earlier this year that Las Vegas will be added to the F1 calendar in 2023. But at what expense? Something has to go, and rumours persist that this year we might have witnessed the last ever Monaco Grand Prix.
An F1 institution
The first grand prix took place in Monaco in 1929. Many would argue that therein lies the problem – the cars have changed beyond recognition in 93 years, but the circuit is almost exactly the same.
Yet despite the near-impossibility of overtaking, the sheer spectacle of the Monaco Grand Prix attracts millions of viewers, with thousands scouring sites like Unibet sports for the best odds before the all-important qualifying gets underway. After all, at Monaco, if you start first, you’ll probably finish first, too.
And nobody can deny that it is a spectacle. One small mistake and a driver’s race is over. No gravel run-offs here, just hard, unforgiving barriers. Driving at Monaco is without doubt a fine exhibition of driver skill and bravery.
The real problem with Monaco
In fact, the quality and competitiveness of the racing is not the problem here, however much those running F1 might suggest otherwise. You wouldn’t want all 23 races to take place on this sort of circuit, but there is definitely room for Monaco’s unique challenges as part of the mix. If lack of overtaking was the only dealbreaker, a couple of minor track modifications, such as at the chicane at the end of the tunnel, would be a quick and effective fix.
The real issue is that the Monaco Grand Prix belongs to a bygone era in the way it is managed as well as in the nature of the track. This is the only race in which TV coverage is managed by the local TV company – every other race is covered by F1 TV. This has led to criticisms over both the quality of coverage and the events and incidents that get most attention.
There is also regular consternation regarding sponsorship logos and banners. F1 has a portfolio of corporate sponsors whose brands are promoted at every race. But at Monaco, there are additional local deals. This can lead to awkward situations, as happened this year when the luxury watch brand being advertised all around the circuit was a direct competitor to the one that ploughs millions into F1 for the honour of being the sport’s “official sponsor.”
New exciting venues
Liberty Media has lived up to its promise of capturing US hearts and minds – with a Las Vegas grand prix added to the calendar next year, that will make it three in the USA. There are also deals waiting to be negotiated with markets like China and South Africa. It means that nothing can be taken for granted and no race is sacrosanct.
Perhaps it was Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff who summed it up best. After this year’s qualifying, he remarked “F1 is important for Monaco and Monaco is important for F1, but it needs a positive approach from both parties.”
“Incurable thinker. Food aficionado. Subtly charming alcohol scholar. Pop culture advocate.”