The Monte Carlo Grand Prix gets talked up and oversold every year, but is the track the dullest in the Formula One line-up?
Every year when the Monaco Grand Prix rolls around, the collective whole of the Formula One community loses it. Talks of heritage, history, and incredible value to the sport abound. But let’s take a moment to sit down and consider the drawbacks of this venerated track.
As showcased in Sunday’s race, Monaco is an old-school street circuit to its core. Unlike many of F1’s other participating venues, the Monte Carlo track remains relatively unchanged. As such, it’s not done a very good job of keeping up with the modern demands of Formula One. Like any healthy sport, Formula One should grow and change if it is to remain relevant with the tastes and desires of a both a new and ageing audience. The new ownership, Liberty Media, have made it their mission statement to revolutionise the way the sport is both presented and consumed – and their decisions will affect every corner of the sport.
Monaco was a textbook example of what happens when a sport is no longer suited to the nature of the sport it provides for. When the notion that a race is “decided in qualifying” on any particular track, it really should give you cause to stop and think why that would be the case. As proved in the 2017 Monaco GP, the race was indeed decided by qualifying. Sure, Vettel “overtook” Kimi Raikkonen, but even the overtake, due to poor pit strategy and internal Ferrari politicking, served to draw attention to how uneventful the race was.
With overtaking taken out as part of the spectacle, most of the interest went to the crashes. Which could be also added to the “dull and dreary” category. This is far and away a call for more crashes in the realm of Formula One. We should never wish harm on another, especially in the case of entertainment; what is this, Nascar?
We should do everything to prevent crashes, wrecks, and spills becoming the main source of captivation for the viewer. A French speaking country may carry all the pizzazz of the continent, but lets avoid the macabre spectacles. Liberty Media is aware of this, and they’ve had a direct hand in freeing up the stewards to be more lax about doling out penalties for aggressive driving. A disturbing reality to say the least.
Yet even with this change, the “crashes” in Monaco resulted in two drivers bumping into the same barrier on the same turn, slight bumps into sidepods, and possibly the most fantastic and silly–Pascal Wehrlein’s car resting sideways next to a barrier after being vaulted over by McLaren stand-in Jenson Button.
So after all of the weeks of hype and talking up the race, we’ve been left with a dismal tumble about a cramped street circuit, pitiful retirements, and an overtaking of teammates due to a slip-up in pit strategy rather than one battled out wheel-to-wheel. If Monaco is supposed to entice wonder and attraction to how the “elite” of the world live, then someone needs to tell them that their taste in motor racing is horrid.