Unspectacular on Sunday, competing with other destinations and not profitable enough for F1, the legendary Monaco Grand Prix, whose 73rd edition is scheduled for this Sunday, May 29, is coming to the end of its contract.
The yachts in the harbor in the immediate vicinity of the circuit, the spectators at the windows overlooking the finish line, the celebrities in the paddock, the single-seaters which graze the barriers of the track, the imperfections of the asphalt which remind us that the traffic automobile is open on the track for the rest of the year… The Monaco Grand Prix, scheduled for this Sunday, is always a special meeting in Formula 1. Contrary to tradition, the race weekend this year ( 73rd edition) does not start on Thursday, but on Friday (like everywhere else after all). Should this be seen as a bad omen? Because this 2022 edition marks the end of the contract that binds the Principality to F1.
According to The Team, a new contract of three or five years is mentioned in negotiations which are in progress. “We have until the end of the year to conclude. (…) I think we will succeed. I’m even sure of it,” commented Prince Albert II of Monaco in the columns of the daily. .
Almost impossible overtaking
While the Monaco GP is undoubtedly the best known and most prestigious of the year, it also turns out that it is often the least entertaining GP of the season for viewers. With close barriers and very tight bends, its very special layout makes overtaking almost impossible in the race (excluding pit stops). Especially since the single-seaters are constantly becoming wider and longer.
The driving performance is, of course, exceptional. The challenge is a lot of fun for the drivers, who like to push their limits, especially during qualifying. Ayrton Senna’s on-board cameras, in 1988 and 1990, are a treat for any amateur of the discipline. But at a time when F1 decision makers are constantly looking for solutions (changes in the technical regulations) to make the races more thrilling, the spectacle on Sunday proves to be woefully insufficient. To make matters worse, the TV production, which is managed exclusively by the Automobile Club de Monaco, is the subject of recurring criticism.
Monaco to the competition
The shortcomings of the GP meant all the more trouble for those who considered that there were now far too many races on the schedule. This year, the paddock will move on 22 circuits (23 were initially planned, before the cancellation of the Russian GP due to the war in Ukraine). Twenty years ago, the calendar was limited to 17 rounds.
Also, the particularities that have long been specific to Monaco are today contested by other circuits. For the urban and tight layout, Singapore, Baku and Jeddah are credible alternatives. For rhinestones and sequins, there is now Miami and soon Las Vegas. For the historical side, Monza, Spa-Francorchamps and Silverstone still exist.
“Monaco is extremely special, there is a story behind it”
It is in fact no doubt thanks to this last point that the Monaco GP, which has been on the calendar since the creation of F1 in 1950, still seems protected today. “I don’t think you could replace Monaco,” world champion Max Verstappen recently commented. “Monaco has such a history, and of course it takes time to write it. (…) It’s another culture too, which is good to have, because it would be very boring to drive all the time in places with the same culture,” he said as reported by Sports car. The story is the same with Esteban Ocon: “Monaco is extremely special, there is a story behind it, and it’s a way of driving that you won’t find anywhere else”. Ditto for Pierre Gasly: ”It would be a bit of a shock if Monaco were removed from the calendar. (…) Spa and Monaco, these are my two favorite circuits. I think they are part of history and of the Formula 1 DNA and that they had to be on the calendar every year.”
For the Monaco GP to be organized in 2023, the prince acknowledged that the agreement with the American promoter Liberty Media could not be made “under the conditions of the past”. “We will have to work with Liberty and F1, see how we can keep adapting, improving the circuit and the infrastructures to always be efficient and always be able to welcome F1 and the other ancillary events in good conditions”, on -He specifies.
All the thinking about the Rock is also a big money affair. According to the British press, Monaco pays around 14 million euros a year to host F1. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia must pay 50. It is very likely that the bill will increase with the new contract. The price to pay to remain the most prestigious race in the queen discipline of motorsport?